Don Pottinger

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John Inglis Drever "Don" Pottinger (1919–1986) was a Scottish officer of arms, artist, illustrator and author. He is remembered for the publication, with Sir Iain Moncreiffe, of Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated.

Early life[edit]

Pottinger was born at Carnoustie, Angus in 1919. He was the second son of Reverend William Pottinger, and younger brother of William George Pottinger, known as George. He himself was known as Don from childhood because he was unable to pronounce his given name properly. Pottinger was educated in Edinburgh and planned to go to art college there.

Pottinger's plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. He served in the British Army throughout North Africa and Italy and ended his service in Palestine in 1946. During the war, Pottinger took time off to marry Fay Keeling.

After he was demobilized, Pottinger returned to his art studies in Edinburgh. In 1947 he won the Chalmer's Prize from the Royal Scottish Academy. He completed an MA in Fine Arts in 1951.

Heraldic career[edit]

Pottinger's training led to a career in portrait painting, and Pottinger painted many of the most prominent people in Scotland during the 1950s. In 1949, Pottinger was commissioned to paint the official portrait of Lord Lyon King of Arms, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney.

During the sittings for the portrait, Pottinger was delighted by his conversations with Learney about the art of heraldry. This led to an appointment as a part-time herald painter at the Court of Lord Lyon King of Arms. Another result of this commission was Pottinger's meeting and collaboration with Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, on the 1953 book Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated. This book was a best-seller and was reprinted three times in its first year. No small part of the success were Pottinger's "cheerful" illustrations.

In the same year, Pottinger was appointed Falkland Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary. This was followed in 1958 by an appointment as Linlithgow Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary in 1958, Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary in 1961[1] and Islay Herald of Arms in Ordinary in 1981. Also in 1981, Pottinger was appointed Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records at Lyon Court. Throughout his heraldic career, Pottinger continued to paint portraits and other works for a variety of clients.

In 1985, Pottinger was made an Honorary Senior Fellow of Renison University College, located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, for his contributions to heraldry.[2]

Don and Fay Pottinger lived in the New Town, Edinburgh. Pottinger also continued as Islay and Lyon Clerk until his death in 1986.

Published works[edit]

  • Moncreiffe, Sir Iain; Pottinger, Don (1953). Simple Heraldry Cheerfully Illustrated. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
  • Moncreiffe, Sir Iain; Pottinger, Don (1954). Simple Custom Cheerfully Illustrated. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
  • Moncreiffe, Sir Iain; Pottinger, Don (1956). Blood Royal Cheerfully Illustrated. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
  • Moncreiffe, Sir Iain; Pottinger, Don (1985). Bartholomew's Clan Map of Scotland. Edinburgh: John Bartholomew and Son. ISBN 0851527329.
  • Pottinger, Don (1976). Kings and Queens of Great Britain: Chart. London: Elm Tree Books. ISBN 0241894530.
  • Pottinger, Don (1978). Tower of London. London: Elm Tree Books. ISBN 0241899303.
  • Pottinger, Don; Cousins, Geoffrey (1974). Atlas of Golf. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd. ISBN 0171520092.
  • Pottinger, Don; Grant, Michael (1958). Greeks. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
  • Pottinger, Don; Grant, Michael (1960). Romans. London: Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd.
  • Pottinger, Don; Nicolson, Iain (1973). Simple Astronomy. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-684-13640-6.
  • Norman, A.V.B.; Pottinger, Don (1966). Warrior to Soldier 449–1660 A brief introduction to the history of English warfare. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Educational) Ltd.
  • Norman, A.V.B.; Pottinger, Don (1994). The Medieval Soldier. New York: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 1566193818.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edinburgh Gazette. 30 December 1960 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Cuthbert Brandt, Gail, Bold and Courageous Dreams: A History of Renison University College, 1959-2014, pg. 131


  • Campbell, Ilay (2002). "Three Bookplates by Don Pottinger". The Double Tressure. 25: 72–6.

External links[edit]

Heraldic offices
Preceded by
Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk
Falkland Pursuivant
Succeeded by
Malcolm Innes of Edingight
Preceded by
Linlithgow Pursuivant
Next known title holder:
Elizabeth Roads
Preceded by
Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk
Unicorn Pursuivant
Succeeded by
Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw
Preceded by
Islay Herald