Norroy and Ulster King of Arms

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Norroy and Ulster King of Arms
The arms of office of the Norroy and Ulster King of Arms
Heraldic traditionBritish
JurisdictionEngland north of the river Trent and Northern Ireland
Governing bodyCollege of Arms

Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is the provincial King of Arms at the College of Arms with jurisdiction over England north of the Trent and Northern Ireland. The two offices of Norroy and Ulster were formerly separate. Norroy King of Arms is the older office, there being a reference as early as 1276 to a "King of Heralds beyond the Trent in the North". The name Norroy is derived from the Old French nort roy meaning 'north king'.[1][2] The office of Ulster Principal King of Arms for All-Ireland was established in 1552 by King Edward VI to replace the older post of Ireland King of Arms, which had lapsed in 1487.

Ulster King of Arms was not part of the College of Arms and did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Earl Marshal, being the heraldic authority for the Kingdom of Ireland (the jurisdiction of the College of Arms being the Kingdom of England and Lord Lyon's Office that of the Kingdom of Scotland).

Ulster was Registrar and King of Arms of the Order of St Patrick. Norroy and Ulster King of Arms now holds this position, though no new knights of that Order have been created since 1936, and the last surviving knight died in 1974. Heraldic matters in the Republic of Ireland are now handled by the office of the Chief Herald of Ireland (a part of the Genealogical Office in the National Library).

The arms of the new office of Norroy and Ulster King of Arms were devised in 1980 based on elements from the arms of the two former offices. They are blazoned: Quarterly Argent and Or a Cross Gules on a Chief per pale Azure and Gules a Lion passant guardant Or crowned with an open Crown between a Fleur-de-lis and a Harp Or.

The current Norroy and Ulster King of Arms is Robert Noel, who succeeded Timothy Duke in 2021.[3]

Norroy Kings of Arms until 1943[edit]

The coat of arms of the Norroy King of Arms, in use by circa 1500: Argent, a cross gules & on a chief per pale azure & gules a lion passant guardant crowned with an open crown between a fleur de lis and a key, all or.
The coat of arms of Norroy King of Arms, taken from Lant's Roll c. 1595
Thomas Hawley served as Norroy from 1534–1536.
Peter Le Neve served as Norroy from 1704–1729.
Sir William Weldon at the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902.
Arms Name Dates of office Notes Ref
Peter de Horbury (1276)
Andrew (1338)
John Othelake 1386–1399
Office holders referred to as Lancaster King of Arms.
This title was used for the King of Arms of the northern province in the reigns of Henry IV, V and VI, instead of Norroy.
Richard Bruges 1399–1426
John Ashwell 1426–1436
William Boys 1436–1447
William Tyndale 1447–1464
The title reverted to Norroy King of Arms.
Thomas Holme 1464–1477
John Writhe 1477–1478
John Moore 1478–1493
Roger Machado 1493-1493
Christopher Carlill 1493–1510
Thomas Benolt 1510-1510
John Yonge 1510–1516
Thomas Wall 1516–1522
John Joyner 1522-1522
Thomas Tonge 1522–1534
Thomas Hawley 1534–1536
Sir Christopher Barker 1536
William Fellows 1536–1546
Gilbert Dethick 1546–1550
William Harvey 1550–1557
Lawrence Dalton 1557–1562
William Flower 1562–1588
Edmund Knight 1592–1593
William Segar 1593–1603 Morgan Coleman had also applied for the position.[4]
Sir Richard St George 1603–1623
Sir John Burroughs 1623–1634
Sir William le Neve 1634–1635
Sir Henry St George 1635–1644
Sir Edward Walker 1644–1645
William Ryley 1646–1658
George Owen 1658–1660
Sir William Dugdale 1660–1677
Sir Henry St George 1677–1680
Sir Thomas St George 1680–1686
Sir John Dugdale 1686–1700
Robert Devenish 1700–1704
Peter Le Neve 1704–1729
Stephen Leake 1729–1741
John Cheale 1741–1751
Sir Charles Townley 1751–1756
William Oldys 1756–1761
Thomas Brown 1761–1773
Ralph Bigland 1773–1774
Sir Isaac Heard 1774–1780
Peter Dore 1780–1781
Thomas Lock 1781–1784
George Harrison 1784–1803
Ralph Bigland 1803–1822
Edmund Lodge 1822–1838
Joseph Hawker 1838–1839
Francis Martin 1839–1846
James Pulman 1846–1858
Edward Howard-Gibbon 1848–1849
Robert Laurie 1849–1859
Walter Blount 1859–1882
George Cokayne 1882–1894
Sir William Weldon 1894–1911
Sir Henry Burke 1911–1919
Charles Athill 1919
William Lindsay 1919–1922
Gordon Lee 1922–1926
Sir Arthur Cochrane 1926–1928
Sir Gerald Wollaston 1928–1930
Sir Algar Howard 1931–1943
Title combined with Ulster King of Arms

Ulster Kings of Arms until 1943[edit]

The coat of arms of the Ulster King of Arms; Or, a cross Gules and on a chief Gules a lion passant guardant between a harp and portcullis all Or.
The coat of arms of Ulster King of Arms, also taken from Lant's Roll
Sir Bernard Burke, helped publish Burke's Peerage in 1826. His son Henry Farnham Burke became Garter King of Arms.
Sir Arthur Vicars served as Ulster from 1893–1908.
Arms Name Dates of office Notes Ref
Title formerly Ireland King of Arms
Bartholomew W. Butler 1552–1566
Nicholas Narbon 1566–1588
Christopher Ussher 1566–1588
Daniel Molyneux 1597–1629
Daniel Molyneux and Adam Ussher 1629–1633
Thomas Preston, 1st Viscount Tara 1633–1655
Sir Richard Carney 1655–1660
Sir Richard St George 1660–1683
Sir Richard Carney and George Wallis 1683–1698
William Hawkins 1698–1722
William Hawkins and John Hawkins 1722–1759
James McCulloch 1759–1765
William Hawkins 1765–1787 Knighted 17 March 1783
Gerald Fortescue 1787–1788
Rear Admiral Sir Chichester Fortescue 1788–1820
Sir William Betham 1820–1853
Sir Bernard Burke 1853–1892
Sir Arthur Vicars 1893–1908
Sir Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson 1908–1940
Vacant, duties performed by Thomas Ulick Sadleir (Deputy Ulster)
Duties in the Republic of Ireland taken up by the Chief Herald of Ireland

Norroy and Ulster Kings of Arms from 1943[edit]

Sir Algar Howard became the first Norroy and Ulster King of Arms in 1949.
Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld held the title from 2010 to 2014.
Arms Name Dates of office Notes Ref
Sir Algar Howard 1943–1944 Howard was descended from the Dukes of Norfolk; he was born in Thornbury Castle, where he lived for many years.[5] Educated at King's College London,[6] he was later admitted to the Inner Temple as a barrister. His first appointment at the College was in May 1911 as Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary and he attended the Prince of Wales' investiture that year.[6] He was promoted to Rouge Dragon Pursuivant that October, followed by Windsor Herald in 1919 and Norroy King of Arms in 1931, to which was added Ulster King of Arms in 1943.[6] After he resigned as Garter, he served as Extra Gentleman Usher to the Queen from 1952 till his death, aged 89, in 1970.[5][7] [6]
Sir Gerald Wollaston 1944–1957 A grandson of Sir Albert William Woods,[8] Wollaston was educated at Harrow School and then Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1893 with a law degree.[9][10] He was called to the Bar in 1899, but joined the College three years later as Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary for the coronation of Edward VII. Appointments as Bluemantle Pursuivant (1906), Richmond Herald (1919), and Norroy King of Arms (1928) followed.[9] Having served as Henry Farnham Burke's deputy for a year,[9] he succeeded him as Garter and oversaw the coronation of George VI; his experience and knowledge of ceremonial proved useful in assisting the young Earl Marshal. Earlier in his career, he was often called on to counsel in peerage cases.[10] A "most painstaking and skilled herald with special bent to ceremonial", he published The Court of Claims in 1902, 1910 and 1936.[9] After his Gartership, he served as Norroy and Ulster until his death in 1957.[10] [9]
Aubrey Toppin 1957–1966
Richard Graham-Vivian 1966–1971
Sir Walter Verco 1971–1980
John Brooke-Little 1980–1995 Brooke-Little was educated at Clayesmore School and New College, Oxford, where his interest in heraldry grew and his friends included the future Garter, Colin Cole. He joined the Earl Marshal's staff in 1952 and was a Gold Stick Officer at the coronation in 1953. Appointed Bluemantle Pursuivant in 1956 and Richmond Herald in 1967, Brooke-Little also served as Registrar at the College (1974–82), Norroy and Ulster King of Arms and Registrar of the Order of St Patrick (1980–85) and director of the Heralds' Museum from 1991 until his retirement. He founded the Heraldry Society in 1947 and was its Chairman for fifty years, after which he was its President; he edited its journal, The Coat of Arms, until 2004. His published work included updated editions of Boutell's Heraldry and Fox-Davies's Complete Guide to Heraldry. According to the Telegraph, he was the "brightest and ablest herald of his generation", but did not attain Gartership partly due to his "chaotic working practices". He died in 2006. [11][12][13]
Hubert Chesshyre 1995–1997 After attending Trinity College, Cambridge, and Christ Church, Oxford, and graduating from both universities, Chesshyre became Rouge Croix Pursuivant in 1970, before serving as Chester Herald between 1978 and 1995 and Honorary Genealogist to the Royal Victorian Order from 1987 to 2010. He has been a member of the Westminster Abbey Architectural Advisory Panel and the Heraldry Society's Council. Along with Thomas Woodcock, he co-authored the Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Armorial, volume 1. [14][15]
Thomas Woodcock 1997–2010 Woodcock was educated at Durham University and Darwin College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1975, but started work as a research assistant to Sir Anthony Wagner that year. He was appointed Rouge Croix in 1978, Somerset in 1982 and Norroy and Ulster in 1997. He has co-authored a number of works on heraldry, including The Oxford Guide to Heraldry (1988) and all four volumes of Dictionary of British Arms: Medieval Ordinary (1992–2014).[16] [17][18]
Patric Dickinson 2010 Dickinson was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, and was President of the Oxford Union in 1972. A research assistant at the College of Arms since 1968, his first heraldic appointment was ten years later, when he became Rouge Dragon Pursuivant. Promotions to Richmond Herald (1989) and Norroy and Ulster King of Arms (2010) followed, before he became Clarenceux. Having served as the College's Treasurer since 1995, Dickinson was also the Earl Marshal's Secretary from 1996 to 2012 and has been President of the Society of Genealogists since 2005. [19][20]
Sir Henry Paston-Bedingfeld 2010–2014
Timothy Duke 2014–2021
Robert Noel 2021–present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Norroy". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2 July 2023. Word origin C15: Old French nor north + roy king
  2. ^ Burke, Bernard, Sir (1884). "The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales; comprising a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the present time". London : Harrison & sons (Internet Archive). Retrieved 2 July 2023. "Norroy King of Arms", the most ancient of the heraldic sovereigns in England possesses as his province, England north of the Trent. He is the North King — "Norroy." The English Heralds bear the designation of "Windsor", "Chester", "Somerset", "Lancaster", "York" and "Richmond" the Pursuivants, are known by the names of "Rouge Dragon", "Rouge Croix", "Bluemantle" and "Portcullis." The date of the creation of the historic and dignified office of Garter King of Arms may be fixed with certainty to have been between May and September, 1417. The first Garter was William Bruges, originally styled "Guyenne King of Arms" and subsequently "Garteir Roy d'Armes des Anglois." By the constitution of King Henry VIII., it was provided that Garter should be Sovereign within the College of Arms above all the other officers...{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Crown Office". The London Gazette. TSO (63317): 6712. 9 April 2021. Retrieved 2 May 2021. The Queen has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 6 April 2021, to grant unto Robert John Baptist Noel, Esquire, the Office of Norroy and Ulster King of Arms, vacant by the promotion of Timothy Hugh Stewart Duke, Esquire.
  4. ^ Joseph B. R. Massey (2021). "The Saxon Connection: St Margaret of Scotland, Morgan Colman's Genealogies, and James VI & I's Anglo-Scottish Union Project". Royal Studies Journal. 8 (1): 109. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Sir Algar Howard", The Times, 16 February 1970, p. 10
  6. ^ a b c d Godfrey and Wagner 1963, pp. 72–73
  7. ^ "Howard, Sir Algar (Henry Stafford)", Who Was Who [online edition April 2014] (Oxford University Press)
  8. ^ Godfrey and Wagner 1963, p. 69
  9. ^ a b c d e Godfrey and Wagner 1963, pp. 71-72
  10. ^ a b c "Sir Gerald Woods Wollaston", The Times, 5 March 1957, p. 10
  11. ^ London Gazette, 27 June 1995 (issue 54085), p. 8847
  12. ^ "John Brooke-Little", The Telegraph, 16 February 2006
  13. ^ "Brooke-Little, John Philip Brooke", Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2015; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, April 2014
  14. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 2 May 1997 (issue 54755), p. 5289
  15. ^ "Chesshyre, (David) Hubert (Boothby)", Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, Nov 2014
  16. ^ "Woodcock, Thomas", Who's Who, 2015 [online edition October 2014] (Oxford University Press)
  17. ^ Thomas Woodcock, "St George, Sir Henry (1581–1644)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008
  18. ^ Godfrey and Wagner, pp. 55-56, 90
  19. ^ "No. 59536". The London Gazette. 6 September 2010. p. 17131.
  20. ^ "Dickinson, Patric Laurence", Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014 ; online edn, Nov 2014
  • The College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street : being the sixteenth and final monograph of the London Survey Committee, Walter H. Godfrey, assisted by Sir Anthony Wagner, with a complete list of the officers of arms, prepared by H. Stanford London, (London, 1963)
  • A History of the College of Arms &c, Mark Noble, (London, 1804)
  • List of Ulster Kings of Arms

External links[edit]