Court of the Lord Lyon
The Court of the Lord Lyon is the heraldic authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.
The Lord Lyon is the sole King of Arms in Scotland and the office dates from the 14thCentury. He is Head of the Heraldic Executive and the Judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon which has jurisdiction over all heraldic business in Scotland. The Lord Lyon is also responsible for State Ceremonial in Scotland.
An Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1592 gave the Lord Lyon responsibility for prosecuting as a criminal offence anyone who uses unauthorised Arms. The Court has its own Procurator Fiscal, an independent official prosecutor.
In 1672 a further Act of the Scottish Parliament authorised the creation of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland which is maintained by the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records. The Register contains an official copy of every Coat of Arms granted in Scotland since 1672.
Coat of Arms
The origin of the Coat of Arms was a jacket or tabard worn by a mediaeval Knight over his armour in order to identify himself. Nowadays the expression “Coat of Arms” is generally applied to what is officially called an “achievement”, which consists of various parts: a shield, helmet, mantling, wreath, crest, motto and sometimes supporters and decorations.
There is a widespread misconception that a family or a clan can have a family or clan Coat of Arms. Many heraldic and clan web sites and other media suggest that a person has the right to use the family or clan Arms. This is completely incorrect.
A Coat of Arms belongs only to one individual person and can only be used by that person and no one else.
In order for a person to be able to use a Coat of Arms it is necessary for that individual person to apply for a personal Coat of Arms to be granted to him or her.
What is permitted is for a member of a clan to use the clan crest. Usually what is referred to as the clan Coat of Arms is in fact the personal Arms of the Chief of the Clan which can only be used by that Chief.
Chiefs of Clans
Clansmen and clanswomen