Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records

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Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records
Arms of the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records.svg
The arms of office of the Lyon Clerk
Heraldic tradition Gallo-British
Jurisdiction Scotland
Governing body Court of the Lord Lyon
Chief officer Elizabeth Roads, Lyon Clerk

Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records is a legal and heraldic office in Scotland. The holder of this office is appointed by the Crown, and like the Lord Lyon King of Arms receives an annual salary. Lyon Clerk's duties include heraldic research, the preparation of papers, lectures and conducting and assisting with the preliminary business of application for a grant or matriculation of armorial bearings. This includes scrutiny of documents supporting the application. As Keeper of the Records the duties include maintaining the records of the Court of the Lord Lyon, overseeing the preparation of documents, allowing inspection of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and other records, and issuing certified extracts when required. Until 1867 there was a Lyon Clerk Depute, and in 1986 Elizabeth Ann Roads became the first woman appointed to the office of Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records.


Badge of the office of the Lyon Clerk was approved in 2010.[1] The badge depicts: "On a mount strewn with thistles vert, a lion sejant affrontée gules supporting in each paw a feather Or quilled gules".[2]

In 1669 the Parliament of Scotland passed the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1669, the act confirmed the privileges and emoluments of the: '"Lyon King at Armes and his breethren heraulds and pursevants their Clerk of Court and thair successors".[3] The Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672 mentioned the 'Lyon Clerk' as one of the recipients of all documents, on behalf of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.[4]

The Lyon Clerk, together with the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the Procurator fiscal, the Herald painter and the Macer of the Court constitutes the Court of the Lord Lyon. The Lyon Court is a part of the Scottish judiciary and deals with the subject of heraldry and genealogy in Scotland. The Lyon Clerk assists the Lord Lyon in both his ministerial and judicial work. The Lyon Clerk is appointed by the Crown through the Royal sign-manual, the appointment is then published in the Edinburgh Gazette.[5] The Lyon Clerk's salary is paid for by the Crown. This has been the case since the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1867, when the whole of the Lyon Court and Her Majesty's Officers of Arms were formally made into civil servants.[6] Prior to this reform the Lyon Clerk received fees for every grant and matriculation. In 1837 the Lyon Clerk is paid £19 6s. for a grant of arms with supporters and £15 15s. without, for a matriculation £4 10s. 6d with supporters and £2 17s. without.[7]

The Lyon Clerk have a prominent role in the operations of the Lyon Court. Every submission of application for a grant of arms, a matriculation of arms or the recording of genealogy must be made through the Lyon Clerk. This submission must be done either personally, by an intermediary agent or by correspondence, the Lyon Clerk is required to personally interview and reply to each applicant.[5] As such the Lyon Clerk must take receipt of all documents and evidence submitted by the applicant in each case. Finally after the grant or matriculation has been made the Lyon Clerk must ensure that the resulting patent of arms is properly illuminated and emblazoned for the applicant and for the Lyon Court's register.[8]

As Keeper of the Records, the Lyon Clerk is responsible for the maintenance of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. This is done through the regular addition of new grants and matriculations. The Lyon Clerk must ensure that members of the public have access to the register by facilitating searches and studies of the records.[8]

Lyon Clerks and Keepers of the Records[edit]

Appointment[9] Name Heraldic office Gazette
(1554) Adam M'Culloch Marchmont
(1584) James Purdy of Kinnaldies Islay
1587 January 4 John Purdie Ross
(1594) James Borthwick, WS Rothesay
(1607) James Winram
1630 Robert Watson, WS, of Newhall
1632 Thomas Drysdale Islay
1660 William Weir
1663 August 8 Robert Smith of Gibliston
1715 June 4 Charles Erskine Bute
1724 June 6 David Erskine Rothesay
1769 December 8 Thomas Brodie, WS Lyon Depute
1770 November 2 Robert Boswell, WS
1804 May 4 James Home, WS Lyon Depute
1819 February 3 David Clyne, SSC
1823 April 1 Edward William Auriol Drummond Hay
1845 May 5 Alexander Macdonald (interim)
1848 November 7 James Lorimer (interim)
1864 May 3 James Lorimer (for life)
1890 March 6 James William Mitchell Rothesay [a]
1898 September 3 Francis James Grant, WS Rothesay [b]
1929 September 4 Harold Andrew Balvaird Lawson, CVO Rothesay [c]
1966 August 4 Malcolm Innes of Edingight, CVO, WS Carrick
1981 July 9 John Inglis Drever Pottinger, LVO Islay [e]
1986 February 5 Elizabeth Ann Roads, LVO Linlithgow

Lyon Clerks Depute[edit]

In 1867 the office of Lyon Depute was abolished.[6]

Appointment[9] Name Heraldic office
(1675) Robert Innes, WS
1715 James Dallas
1718 David Erskine Rothesay
1724–1751 No depute
1751 May 6 William Richardson
1755 April 17 Robert Donaldson Marchmont
1769 July 29 William Walker Marchmont
1770 November 17 James Cumyng Herald painter
1773 November 7 Robert Ranken
1794 December 24 William Boswell
1796 September 7 Alexander Liston Ramage
1799 January 12 John Blair
1801 January 23 Alexander Boswell
1804 May 2 Thomas Small Marchmont
1807 June 20 John Edward Touch
1807 August 25 David Clyne (joint)
1812 August 25 Alexander Lambe Robertson
William Thomson (joint)
1819 November 5 De Carteret Mendell
1823 May 17 William Smith
1825 September 7 Archibald Duncan
1828 November 8 William Anderson Marchmont
1829 June 3 Alexander Macdonald
1845 May 7 William Anderson Marchmont
1863 June 29 John Whyte
1864 May 9 Robert Riddle Stodart
1886 June 4 James William Mitchell Rothesay

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 26030". The London Gazette. 7 March 1890. p. 1268. 
  2. ^ "No. 27012". The London Gazette. 7 October 1898. p. 5863. 
  3. ^ "No. 33534". The London Gazette. 13 September 1929. p. 5904. 
  4. ^ "No. 18483". The Edinburgh Gazette. 12 August 1966. p. 630. 
  5. ^ "No. 20951". The Edinburgh Gazette. 31 July 1981. p. 1023. 
  6. ^ "No. 21892". The Edinburgh Gazette. 21 February 1986. p. 247. 


  1. ^ "Court Activity 2010". Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  2. ^ "Badges of the heralds of the Commonwealth & Ireland". White Lion Society. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  3. ^ Parliament of Scotland (1669). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1669". Acts of the Parliament of Scotland. 1669 c. 95. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  4. ^ Parliament of Scotland (1672). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672". Acts of the Parliament of Scotland. 1672 c. 47. Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  5. ^ a b Stevenson p.51
  6. ^ a b Parliament of the United Kingdom (1867). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1867". Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1860–1879. 1867 c. 17 (Regnal. 30 and 31 Vict). Retrieved 2012-03-12. 
  7. ^ Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons (1837). House of Commons papers, Volume 39. London: HMSO. p. 16. 
  8. ^ a b Stevenson p.52
  9. ^ a b Stevenson pp.447–448

External links[edit]