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Lord Lyon Society
Sunday, August 22, 2021




The office of Lord Lyon was first recorded in the 14th century, but is regarded as originating in the office of High Seannachie to the Monarchs of Celtic Scotland, who was the Royal Poet and Keeper of the Royal Genealogy. The Office of the Court of the Lord Lyon keeps a vast and unique collection of records relating to heraldry, genealogy and Scottish history covering five centuries. The Lord Lyon Society was set up to give public access, both at home and internationally, to the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland together with the relevant Court books containing petitions and correspondence. The final stage of the process will provide access to the general archive of material held within the Office.

The Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland (“the Register”) was established in 1672 by the Lyon King of Arms Act of the same year. In 2022, the Register will be celebrating its 350th anniversary, and the Society will be formally launched to mark the anniversary.

There will be a series of events held to mark the celebration both in Scotland and online overseas, to promote within all our communities accessibility to the content of the collection. The Society will increase awareness of the collection and its contents as well as promoting its accessibility for the general public. At the same time, the project for the development of the Society will begin the digitisation, and hence an alternative method of preservation, of the documents for future use.

This will be of interest not only to heraldists and genealogists, but to anyone engaged in social history within Scotland and in the Scottish diaspora.

There are around 100 volumes of heraldic entries within the collection, as well as the associated Court books and correspondence. In 2022, the Society will be able to establish accessibility to the Register – or at least to some of its contents – through the digitisation of the Register and via the Society’s website. It is proposed that viewing of the Register shall be freely available to members of the public.

This will comprise the main thrust of the development stage of the Society, alongside engagement with the public to promote awareness and access to the contents of the collection. It is also hoped that, during the 350th anniversary year, we can build a strong list of “supporters” in Scotland and overseas.

Once the development stage has been completed and during its implementation, further work will be done by the trustees to identify sources of funding from heritage funds in order to continue the digitisation of the Court books and other records over a three year period. This is future work, and it is the development work of engagement and raising awareness with the general public and others that is essential to our ability to progress to the continuing digitisation phase.

In addition to the above, in 2022 a series of events to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Register will take place in six locations throughout Scotland and, hopefully, also overseas online events. The creation of the necessary digital platform to give the public access to the Register is the essential component in this early stage and will form the basis for our future activities.

In summary, the purpose of the Lord Lyon Society is to make the significant collection of records available to people in the United Kingdom and throughout the world who have connections with Scotland. In addition to this public accessibility we consider it vital to ensure that the collection is preserved for future generations.

Aims of the Lord Lyon Society

The Society is an independent charity registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator. The purposes of the Society are as follows:

(1) To promote Scottish heraldry, genealogy and related arts heritage and culture.

(2) To advance heraldic genealogical and Scottish heritage through education and engagement with young people.

(3) To aid and support the protection and preservation of the records, archives and collections of the Court and Office of the Lord Lyon.

(4) To aid and support the digitisation of those records and to make them accessible to the public at no cost.

(5) To support and promote the contribution by the Scottish diaspora, especially within the Commonwealth, to heraldic, genealogical and cultural education.

The trustees of the Society are:
The Lord Lyon, Dr Joseph J Morrow, CBE QC FRSE
Robin Blair, CVO – former Lord Lyon
Very Revd. Professor Iain R Torrance, KCVO – former Dean of the Chapel Royal in Scotland
Professor Gillian Black – Law School of the University of Edinburgh
Russell G Hunter – Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records
Fiona Mckay Secretary to the Trust.

Budgetary projections for the development stage
Please see Appendix 1.

General comments: The Society is a vehicle for raising funds to achieve the aims outlined above, in particular the accessibility for the public of the Register and wider collection and its long-term preservation in digital form. The Register and records of the collection are unique and often described as the “garden of the history of the Scots”. The Register is physically contained in around 100 bound volumes of vellum sheets, which are at present in good condition but fragile. The preservation digitally of these documents will be a major achievement for the future. While the first entry in the Register dates from the year 1672, there are even earlier non public records which are held within the Lyon Office.

The development stage of the Society is an essential part of the project’s timeline. When fully operational at the end of 2022, it will take a further 3 years to digitise the collection which is located in New Register House in Edinburgh.

I would wish to record my personal thanks and those of the trustees for consideration of this matter.

Dr Joseph J Morrow, CBE, QC, FRSE
The Rt Hon Lord Lyon King of Arms

The Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh



Website design with effective hosting, certification and maintenance:
£8,000.00 +VAT £1,500.00 = Total £9,500.00

Production of publicity material incl. promotional leaflets and educational material:
£2,100.00 +VAT £420.00 = Total £2,520.00

Inaugural Society lecture to celebrate 350th Anniversary of the Register
£750.00 = Total £750.00

One full year’s programme of Anniversary events incl. six events held in different parts of Scotland to promote the Society’s aims and a school competition on heraldry and calligraphy (which will include the payment of heraldic artists in support of this part of the project)
£5,500.00 = Total £5,500.00

External IT consultancy in relation to the digitisation of the Register and accessibility to the public
£2,500.00 +VAT £500.00 = Total £3,000.00

Total projected costs* £21,270.00

*Development stage costings are obtained by the trustees through quotes based on established providers

Bank Account details for funding the Lord Lyon Society

IBAN – GB36BOFS80110000447430
SWIFT – BOFS GB 21 012
Bank – Bank of Scotland, 6 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3JT
Sort Code – 80-11-00
Account Name – Lord Lyon Society
Account Number – 00447430

Joe Morrow

Dr Joseph J Morrow

2021 0822
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