Charles Wilfrid Giles was born in Southampton on 24 October 1893, the son of Charles Giles, sometime Chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. He was educated at Emanuel School in Battersea in London, and served in the First World War in the Royal Army Service Corps. Between 1919 and 1922 he read history at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He then worked on the parliamentary staff of the Press Association before being appointed as secretary of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers in 1928. In 1946 he became secretary of the Public Works and Municipal Services Congress and Exhibition Council.
He became a leading authority on heraldry, and wrote a number of books and articles on the subject. He was credited by John Brooke-Little as initiator of the concept and name of The White Lion Society.
He also wrote the standard histories of his old school, Emanuel, and of his old college, Sidney Sussex.
His heraldic publications included:
- The Romance of Heraldry (1929)
- Civic Heraldry of England and Wales (1933, 2nd edition 1953)
- Shakespeare's Heraldry (1950)
- Boutell's Heraldry (2nd revised edition) (1954)
- The siege of Caerlaverock rendered into rime (1960)
- Heraldry in Westminster Abbey (1961)
- Motley Heraldry (1962)
- Looking at Heraldry (1967)
Other works included:
- The History of Emanuel School (1935; later editions, revised and supplemented by other authors, 1948, 1966, 1977)
- Sidney Sussex College: a short history (1951; revised edition 1975)
- The Wimsey Family: A Fragmentary History Compiled from Correspondence With Dorothy L. Sayers (Gollancz, 1977). In another association with Sayers, Scott-Giles prepared the diagrams and maps illustrating Sayers' translation of Dante's Divine Comedy.
Honours and appointments
Scott-Giles was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1953, and in 1957 became Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary. In 1970 he was awarded the Julian Bickersteth Memorial Medal by the trustees and council of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.
Following his retirement he settled in Cambridge, where he was made a Fellow-Commoner of his old college, Sidney Sussex.
- The spelling of his second Christian name varies. It appears as "Wilfrid" on the title pages of several of his books, such as The Romance of Heraldry (1929) and The History of Emanuel School (1935), and in the London Gazette notice of his appointment as Fitzalan Pursuivant in 1957; but as "Wilfred" in the London Gazette notice of his change of surname in 1928, and in his obituary in The Times in 1982.
- M. M. (12 March 1982). "Obituary: Mr C. W. Scott-Giles, Influential writer on heraldic matters". The Times. p. 14.
- Godfrey, Wagner and London 1963, p. 257.
- "News in Brief". The Times. 27 July 1928. p. 11.
- "no. 33433". The London Gazette. 26 October 1928. p. 6984.
- White Lion Society website
- Smith, Robert M (July 1950). "Review: Shakespeare's Heraldry". Shakespeare Quarterly. Folger Shakespeare Library. 1 (3): 183–184. doi:10.2307/2866427. JSTOR 2866427.
- Dante Alighieri. The Comedy of Dante Alighieri the Florentine. Tr. Dorothy L. Sayers. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 3 vols: Hell (1949); Purgatory (1955); Paradise (1962).
- "no. 41163". The London Gazette. 30 August 1957. p. 5101.
- "Heraldic Award". The Times. 16 March 1970. p. 12.