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Burnett, Charles J.

SHIELD: Per chevron Azure and Argent, in chief between two quills a holly leaf and in base a hunting horn stringed, all counterchanged.

SOURCE, NOTES & CREDITS: The text is from our friend Gordon Casely for which we thank him. We were saddened to learn this morning of Charles J. Burnett, Esq., a Scottish herald for decades born in 1940 had died on Friday, 23 Feb 2024 at age 83. His career included Lyon Court appointments as Dingwall Pursuivant in 1983, Ross Herald in i988 and Ross Herald Extraordinary from 2011 to 2015. Pray for his soul. Appended here is the obituary written for the Order of St. John in Scotland.

Charles John Burnett KStJ (6 November 1940 – 23 February 2024)

Years before he was admitted in 1972, Charles John Burnett gave immensely of his time and talents to the Order. A passionate historian and bibliophile, Charles became an expert on the origins and precepts of the Order long before his admittance, so it was little surprise that his aptitudes quickly became channeled into updating our library and archives. He went on to become our Librarian, and a decade later in 1997, he co-wrote the history of the Order in Scotland with Henry Tilling KStJ.

Chivalry fascinated him, and he quickly cemented his place as Scotland’s expert on Order heraldry. Indeed, heraldry consumed a major portion of his life for in 1977, he founded the Heraldry Society of Scotland, and quite separately was sought out to become an officer of arms at Lyon Court, initially as Dingwall Pursuivant and then Ross Herald, serving under four Lyons.

Strict in discipline and dress – he was never seen other than immaculately attired – Charles’s advice on procedure and protocol was frequently sought by priors and officers of the Order.

Fraserburgh-born and a graduate in fine art from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Charles devoted his professional life to the curating and display of material through posts in several major museums, including the exhibitions division of the Central Office of Information (where he was in the design team for the British Pavilion at the World Fair in Montreal in 1967), the Scottish United Services Museum, and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland. He greatly cherished his final post– chamberlain of Duff House in Banff, a return to his north-east roots.

In the several heraldic exhibitions he organized, including two at Balmoral, he ensured that the heraldry of the Order was always displayed, particularly in context to locality. He knew the aptness of words when marketing exhibitions. Years ago, banners signaling “Angels, Nobles and Unicorns” appeared outside the museum in Queen Street, Edinburgh. Crowds flocked in….and were met by arrays of ancient Scots coinage, the names of which were indeed angels, nobles and unicorns.

Gordon Casely

The artwork is an interpretation of John Hamilton Gaylor

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