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John Alexander Spens, MVO, RD
Arms: quarterly: 1st Or, a lion rampant Gules surmounted of a bendlet Sable charged with three mascles Argent ( ancient paternal arms of Spens )
2nd Lozengy of twelve, four, four and four Azure and Or, and on a chief Argent three cinquefoils Gules ( for the fief of Leuchars Quincy )
3rd Gules, a lion rampant Argent within a bordure Gules charged with eight roses
Gules (for Dunbar of Kilconquar )
4th Gyronny of eight: first gyron Argent, second to seventh gyrons alternately Sable and Or, eighth gyron Azure (for Campbell of Glendouglas )

At the fess point of the escutcheon a crescent OR, the whole (escutcheon) within a bordure invected parted per pale Azure and Ermine.

These are the arms of Michael Patrick Spens of Wormiston who matriculated them
arms on 18 May 1970.

It is believed that John Alexander Spens was a cadet of the house of Spens of Wormiston
who in turn were cadets of the house of Spens of Lathallan according to Burke’s Landed Gentry of Great Britain, The Kingdom of Scotland, 19th Edition, Volume 1. See page 1250 for the entry for John Alexander Spens.

In as much as John Alexander Spens never matriculated arms himself, but was of an important armigerous family, it was decided to use the arms of Spens of Wormiston to indicated that he could have matriculated arms any time he wanted. He could have used the arms of Spens of Lathallan instead of Spens of Wormiston or he could have looked at what his Swedish ancestral cousins did who were started with Sir James Spens of Wormiston (1571-1632) and how he simplified them for use in Sweden. Please view the Spens entry in the WA Auld Scots Folder of the SSA Website to see how the Spens of Wormiston arms were simplified..

John Alexander Spens, MVO, RD (7 June 1933 – 14 January 2021) was a Writer to the Signet, a Society to which many Scottish lawyers belong. He was a partner of the Glasgow based firm of solicitors Maclay, Murray and Spens for 30 years, following his father into that firm. The practice of the law was deeply engrained in this cadet branch of the Spens of Lathallan family. He was a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve for which he was awarded the Reserve Decoration in 1970. He was also a director of Scottish Amicable Life Assurance Society and Standard Property Investment Limited for many years.

He was appointed Carrick Pursuivant in 1974 and was promoted to be Albany Herald in 1985, an office he held until 2011. He took a keen interest in the ceremonial side of a herald’s life. He became an Officer of the Order of St John in 1988 and frequently was present as an Officer of Arms at the Annual Festival of the Order which takes place each year in a different town in Scotland. He appeared at the Scottish services for the Silver Jubilee in 1977 and for the Golden Jubilee in 2002 for which he received both Jubilee medals. He was appointed to be a Member of the Royal Victorian Order in 2000 in recognition of his 25 years’ service as an Officer of Arms. He married in 1961 Fenella Gilroy and had three sons and one daughter and is survived by his widow, two sons and his daughter. R.I.P.

We wish to thank Snawdoun Herald for the biography of John Alexander Spens, MVO.

The artwork is an interpretation by John Hamilton Gaylor.

2021 0121

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