College of Arms Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 22393
Charleston, SC 29413-2393, USA
Telephone: +843-973-0390


Australian Church Heraldist Michael McCarthy at G&B

College of Arms Foundation President John Shannon, author Michael L. McCarthy and Rev. Guy Selvester

The College of Arms Foundation was honored to feature the noted Australian heraldic artist, Michael F. McCarthy, at a meeting at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society on 6 September 2006. Mr. McCarthy discussed a chapter of his handsomely illustrated work, A Manual of Ecclesiastical Heraldry: Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Orthodox (2005) that focuses on the development and use of mitres and pontifical hats by church prelates.

This was Mr. McCarthy’s first visit to the United States, where he stopped for a few days on his way home from the 27th International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences (21 – 26 August 2006) in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Mr. McCarthy is a specialist in church heraldry, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. In addition to his Manual, he has produced the Heraldica Collegii Cardinalium, a roll of arms of the College of Cardinals from 1198-2000 in two volumes. Other publications are: Armoria Sedium, A Roll of See Arms used by the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches and An Armorial of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Australia. All are published by his imprint, Thylacine Press ( and must be ordered directly since no stores in the US carry the titles. A benefit of this event was that the author came with a supply of books which sold well.

By examining the evidence - renderings of papal arms in paintings and manuscripts and on buildings, tombs and objects – Mr. McCarthy charts the evolution of papal and episcopal insignia. Their usage, the way they were displayed in heraldic achievements, evolved and changed over the centuries but we can only speculate as to the reasons why.

Why is the evolution of clerical headgear relevant? The answer is that the “heraldic method of denoting rank has always been by head dress: in the peerage coronets, in the church firstly mitres and then pontifical hats and under the Napoleonic system plumed hats, each with variations for rank.”

The tiara is “the best known ensign of the papacy and the only external ornament of the pope which is truly peculiar to him.” Mr. McCarthy accepts the theory that the tiara was originally a Phrygian bonnet conferred by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine on Pope Sylvester (314-15). [Note: For the many parallels between the Papal and the Byzantine Courts, see Mark Turnham Elvins’ Cardinals and Heraldry (Buckland Publications, 1988).] Over time the shape of the bonnet changed, and coronets were added. Pope Nicholas II (1059-61) displayed the tiara with one coronet to signify his temporal authority. Boniface VIII (1294-1303) is reputed to have added a second coronet. The reason is not known but the author suggests it may have been to represent both spiritual and temporal authority. Benedict XII (1334-42) is credited with the addition of the third coronet, for obscure reasons; but it seems that it was his successor, Clement VI (1342-52) who actually used it.

Archbishops, patriarchs, bishops and abbots wear and display mitres; and all clerics the galero in their episcopal arms. There are variations of each, mitre and galero, reflecting rank, precedent and tradition. When first instituted in 1243 red galeros were for cardinals, of which there were very few at the time. Later popes granted hats to lesser clerics, therefore requiring distinctions to be made. For example: tassels. These are used to adorn the hats, hanging on each side. They can be red, green or black, depending on rank. Today the number of tassels is a direct indication of rank in the Church; it was not so at the beginning. “That the tassels and not the hat would become all important was not then envisaged and indeed for the duration of the Middle Ages was unimportant.”

The talk was illustrated by lively renderings produced by Mr. McCarthy. He featured examples of “regular” cardinals and archbishops’ arms; and also the elaborate arms of German prince-bishops displaying temporal symbols such as swords, crowns and ermine-lined pavilions.

The end of the presentation was reserved for a discussion of the arms of the present Pope, Benedict XVI, which show the tiara as a quasi-mitre. Experts have commented abundantly on the infelicity of the new design.

After a Q & A period, the meeting concluded and the attendees enjoyed some refreshments. Mr. McCarthy sold many copies of his book.

College of Arms Foundation Director John C. Harvey with Rev. Richard Seagraves

Michael C. May and Leah Sarlande

Roger Callan and Dwyer Wedvick

Left: Rev. Martin Chase. Right: College of Arms Foundation Director Brandon Fradd with David V. Skoblow

Prof. Tom and Mary Lynne Bird

Jorge L. Rivera III and James Gibb

Kazie M. Harvey, Lohn R. Laubach and David L. Smisek

Jack Carlson, author of A Humorous Guide to Heraldry

Three dozen heraldists and their friends gathered at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society’s Portrait Gallery on 25 July to hear Jack Carlson describe his adventure with heraldry and how he came to write a book about the subject. Jack who grew up in the Boston area and now is a sophomore at Georgetown University, where he is studying at the School of International Affairs and rows on the crew team, had no trouble holding his audience’s attention.

In his opening remarks, Jack related that he discovered heraldry at the age of seven, when his family relocated to England for one year. The ubiquitous colorful heraldry adorning London’s buildings, shops, vehicles, signs and public monuments appealed to his nascent interest in drawing. That led to a lifelong interest in the subject.

A few years later, when he was 12 or 13, he recalled going to Waterstone’s, a London bookstore, seeking books on heraldry. He found some but none for young readers. During the summer before ninth grade, acting on the old maxim, “If you can’t find it, make it,” Jack decided to write A Humorous Guide to Heraldry published by Black Knight Publishers in 2005. (Copies may be ordered through the College of Arms Foundation at $20 inc. shipping and handling.)

Later he visited the College of Arms with his family and his father, John, asked to see a herald. (Jack’s father, mother Susanne and sister Jill all attended the talk.) The officer on duty was Clive Cheesman, Rouge Dragon. He came to meet them and saw what Jack had written. The herald put Jack and his father in touch with the Heraldry Society who, in turn, helped to get the book published. Jack later spent time gaining work experience at the College with Mr. Cheesman.

The book is a good introduction for children and also enjoyable for adults. Using illustrations from the book, all of which he drew himself, Jack described the elements of heraldry, beginning with “The Shield” and concluding with “What One Does with One’s Arms.” He has managed to summarize what others have taken many more pages to explain. Heraldry is an old science that has evolved over centuries. It is not exactly easy, but Jack has demonstrated that its essence can be conveyed simply and clearly. The book’s focus is English heraldry and Peter Gwynn-Jones, Garter Principal King of Arms of the College of Arms, has proclaimed it to be a “rather good book.”

In demeanor and speaking style, Jack Carlson impressed his audience as well-spoken young man who is passionate about his subject. After a brief Q & A period, his listeners bought up every copy of his book and stood in line to have him write an inscription.

An enjoyable reception followed.

Left: Jack Carlson. Right: Renata Gallagher

Jack Carlson with William P. Johns, President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society

Edward A. Moritz and Rev. Guy Selvester bear their copies of Jack Carlson’s book

John Mauk Hilliard, Gary Shapiro and Prof. Thomas E. Bird

Kenneth H. Durran, Leighton H. Coleman III and Mimi Wilson

John H. Carlson and Jan Maas

Susanne, Jill, Jack and John H. Carlson

College of Arms celebrates Annual Garter Service

The Officers of the College of Arms (Garter and Richmond, as Secretary of the Order) displayed their well-known skill at organizing public ceremonies at this year’s procession and installation service of the Most Noble Order of the Garter at Windsor Castle on 19 June.

The event is one of the most splendid and highly anticipated events in the year. The procession of royalty, knights and ladies, heralds, clergy, officials and soldiers dressed in splendid uniforms, tunics or costumes numbers in the hundreds.

The Order is England’s senior order of chivalry and members are appointed by HM The Queen at her discretion. This year The Queen appointed her two younger sons, TRH The Duke of York and The Earl of Wessex, as Royal members. Non-royals are limited to 25 and include two former prime ministers, the Chief Justice of England, a former ambassador to the United States, and other eminent persons.

State and royal ceremonial has long been the expertise of the College of Arms, which is famed for its proficiency in this area. There is an institutional link between the College of Arms and the Order since Peter Gwynn-Jones, CVO, Garter Principal King of Arms, is the Genealogist by statute; and Patric Dickinson, Richmond Herald, is the Secretary of the Order.

After the installation service, at which the new Knights were conducted to their stalls at The Queen’s command, the heralds hosted their own annual event, known as the Bullycorn Party, at the Ranger’s Lodge in Windsor Great Park. A contingent headed by John Shannon, President; Ellsworth G. Stanton III, MBE, Secretary; and Victoria C. Kirsten, Director, represented the College of Arms Foundation.

The Bullycorn is a celebration of a job well done. Euphoria is produced not only by the cool drinks but also by the setting and the weather, which is nearly always perfect on this day in June. The party is also a family affair for the members and staff of the College, their friends and associates. The Officers traditionally wear their court uniforms: scarlet red court and gold-braided jackets, black breeches, silk stockings, swords and medals.

Attending this year were: Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, Fitzalan Pursuivant Extraordinary; Peter O’Donoghue, Bluemantle Pursuivant; Clive Cheesman, Rouge Dragon Pursuivant; Alan Dickins, Arundel Herald Extraordinary; Michael Siddons, Wales Herald Extraordinary; David Rankin-Hunt, Norfolk Herald Extraordinary; John Robinson, Maltravers Herald Extraordinary; David White, Somerset Herald; William Hunt, Windsor Herald; Robert Noel, Lancaster Herald; Timothy Duke, Chester Herald; Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, York Herald; Thomas Woodcock, Norroy and Ulster King of Arms; Hubert Chesshyre, Clarenceux King of Arms; Patric Dickinson; and Peter Gwynn-Jones.

Right to left: Garter Principal King of Arms Peter Gwynn-Jones, CVO, FSA, Bluemantle Pursuivant Peter O’Donoghue, Mrs. O’Donoghue and College of Arms Foundation President John Shannon.

Left to right: Clafrenceux King of Arms Hubert Chesshyre, LVO, FSA, Stanley D. Heisler and Garter Principal King of Arms Peter Gwynn-Jones, CVO, FSA.

Left: Arundel Herald Extraordinary Alan Dickins. Right: Chester Herald Timothy Duke.

College of Arms Foundation President John Shannon with Garter Principal King of Arms Peter Gwynn-Jones, CVO, FSA.

Left: Maltravers Herald Extraordinary John Martin Robinson, FSA. Centre: Norroy & Ulster King of Arms Thomas Woodcock, LVO, FSA. Right: York Herald Henry Paston-Bedingfeld.

York Herald Henry Bedingfeld with College of Arms Foundation Secretary Ellsworth G. Stanton III, MBE.

York Herald Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, Clarenceux King of Arms Hubert Chesshyre, LVO, FSA, and Herald Painter Gillian Barlow.

Prior to the Garter service at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, on 19 June 2006 members and friends of the College of Arms Foundation gathered for a picnic lunch near Runnymede, where King John was compelled by the English barons to concede the Magna Carta in 1215. Seen in photo are, from left to right: John F.V. Cupschalk, College of Arms Foundation President John Shannon, York Herald Henry Paston-Bedingfeld, Foundation Director Victoria Campbell Kirsten, Curtis M. Estes, Stanley D. Heisler and Foundation Secretary Ellsworth G. Stanton III, MBE.

A Huguenot Armorial in the heart of Manhattan

The College of Arms Foundation seeks to promote appreciation and awareness of heraldry by organizing an annual program of speakers on different aspects the subjects. The 2006 series was inaugurated on 19 April 2006 by Duane L.C.M. Galles with a talk entitled "Heraldry at the Église Française du Saint-Esprit: A Huguenot Armorial in the Heart of Manhattan" delivered at the church in question on East 60th Street. (We are indebted to the Pastor, Rev. Nigel J. Massey, and his parishioners for their gracious hospitality.) In addition to the usual enthusiastic heraldists, a number of members of the Huguenot Society also attended the event, which was followed by a reception in the church’s garden.

The Église Française du Saint-Esprit was founded in Manhattan in 1624. The original congregation included a large percentage of Huguenots and Walloons (French-speaking Protestants from Belgium) who had fled to escape religious persecution. By joining the Dutch colonists in the New World they had greater opportunities to own land and to prosper at their trades. The coats of arms of many leading Huguenot families adorn the walls of the chapel today and Mr. Galles singled out particular shields to illustrate different points in his discourse.

A lawyer by training, Mr. Galles has published many articles on heraldry in Heraldry in Canada, The Coat of Arms, The Double Tressure, American Benedictine Review and the William Mitchell Law Review. He is a member of the Heraldry Society of London, the Heraldry Society of Scotland, the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, and is a member of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historical & Genealogical Society and an Associate Member of the International Academy of Heraldry as well as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is also a member of the Canon Law Society of America and the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Starting at the beginning, he recounted how heraldry arose in the late 12th Century in France. There is a theory that argues that it derived from the use of banners by descendants of Charlemagne. (See Origins of Heraldry by Beryl Platt.) Whatever its origins, it is more or less accepted that the original purpose of heraldry was to identify members of the warrior class.

In the 14th Century, an Italian lawyer, Bartolo di Sassoferrato, wrote an influential work (De insignis et armis) in which he considered the right to arms. He argued that anyone could choose a name and arms so long as they were not used by another; but arms granted by a prince have a greater dignity.

Huguenots were French Protestants and Huguenot heraldry manifests French heraldic influence. In France arms were commonly assumed – possibly with advice from a knowledgeable person such as a herald. Unlike their English fellow-practitioners, French hérauts (heralds) did not grant arms. By the late seventeenth-century, a royal official, the juge d'armes, granted armorial bearings; but these were not noble arms and the entire process was a species of war taxation, since arms at one point were taxed. (This provoked much resistance, particularly from the nobility, and the scheme was eventually abandoned mainly because it produced far less revenue than expected.)

Getting back to the arms on display in the church sanctuary, the simplest arms often feature ordinaries that could well be depicting shield fortifications. Examples among the Huguenot arms at the church are: de Rapalié (Azure three Bars Or); Perrin (Gules three Bars Or); Bayard (Azure three Shells between a Chevron Or); Mercereau (Sable in chief two Stars and in base a Crescent between two Chevronnels Argent).

Basic rules were occasionally ignored in French heraldry, for example by putting color on color or metal on metal. A Huguenot example is Pintard (Sable a Chevron Or between in chief three Stars Argent and in base three Roses Gules seeded Or). Another is Streing (Argent two Halberds crossed in saltire Sable between four Mullets Or).

The arms of Basset (Azure a Bend Or in chief a Crescent Argent cousu Gules a Chevron Or) show a red chief on a blue shield, an apparent violation; however, the chief is deemed to be “cousu” (French for “stitched” or “sewn”) onto the shield, which is not an infringement. Another is the arms of Robert (Gules a Paschal Lamb Argent and in chief Azure three Stars Or), showing a red shield with a blue chief.

There are many crosses. Demarest features a cross Moline. Angevin has a cross couped. The cross in the arms of Le Marchant could be construed as a cross bottony or a cross couped between four bezants.

Animals are common including lions: Broucard (Sable a Lion Or), De Lannoy (Argent three Lions Azure armed and crowned Gules); and birds: Lanier (Azure 17 Squares Or addorsed in Saltire between four Eagles Argent), Coursen (Or three Owls Sable beaked and armed Gules) and Crispell (Gules a sinister Hand clenched and couped between three Swans Argent).

A number of the arms are canting. Reynaud (Azure a Fox Gules on a terrace Vert and in chief Azure three Stars Or); Maupin (Gules three Pine Cones Or); Chatel (Azure a Castle Argent masoned Sable). De Lancey has a gold lance. The L’Hommedieu arms displayed (Azure in chief two Stars and in base a Paschal Lamb Argent between a Chevron Or) are different from the family’s arms as described in Rietstap (a paschal lamb in base).

This was an instructive lecture made more enjoyable by the attractive setting and the fine weather prevailing during the al fresco reception at the conclusion.

Arms of de Caix, Dimont and Basset

Arms of Reynaud, Maupin and Lanier

Arms of Runyon, Billiou and Reynaud

Arms of de Lannoy, de Rapelié and Robert

Arms of L’Hommedieu and de La Montagne

Arms of Girard, DeLancey and Jay

Arms of Coursen and Gouverneur

Jan Maas

Carola Collier and Angelo Sedacca

Christopher Calderhead and Jorge Rivera

Baron Fain, Vic Brandt and Owen Smith

George Van Syckle and Col. David Ramsay

John Shannon with Rev. Guy Selvester

Jean Savage, Rev. Nigel J. Massey and Prof. Thomas Bird

Duane Galles, John Shannon and Rev. Canon John Andrew


Please click here for the latest information on planned events.