Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records

Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records is a legal and heraldic office in Scotland. The holder of this office is appointed by the Crown, and like the Lord Lyon King of Arms receives an annual salary. Lyon Clerk's duties include heraldic research, the preparation of papers, lectures and conducting and assisting with the preliminary business of application for a grant or matriculation of armorial bearings. This includes scrutiny of documents supporting the application. As Keeper of the Records the duties include maintaining the records of the Court of the Lord Lyon, overseeing the preparation of documents, allowing inspection of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland and other records, and issuing certified extracts when required. Until 1867 there was a Lyon Clerk Depute, and in 1986 Elizabeth Ann Roads became the first woman appointed to the office of Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records.

Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records
Arms of the Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records.svg
The arms of office of the Lyon Clerk
Heraldic traditionGallo-British
Governing bodyCourt of the Lord Lyon
Chief officerRussell Hunter Esq., Lyon Clerk


Badge of the office of the Lyon Clerk was approved in 2010.[1] The badge depicts: "On a mount strewn with thistles vert, a lion sejant affrontée gules supporting in each paw a feather Or quilled gules".[2]

In 1669 the Parliament of Scotland passed the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1669, the act confirmed the privileges and emoluments of the: '"Lyon King at Armes and his breethren heraulds and pursevants their Clerk of Court and thair successors".[3] The Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672 mentioned the 'Lyon Clerk' as one of the recipients of all documents, on behalf of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.[4]

The Lyon Clerk, together with the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the Procurator fiscal, the Herald painter and the Macer of the Court constitutes the Court of the Lord Lyon. The Lyon Court is a part of the Scottish judiciary and deals with the subject of heraldry and genealogy in Scotland. The Lyon Clerk assists the Lord Lyon in both his ministerial and judicial work. The Lyon Clerk is appointed by the Crown through the Royal sign-manual, the appointment is then published in the Edinburgh Gazette.[5] The Lyon Clerk's salary is paid for by the Crown. This has been the case since the Lyon King of Arms Act of 1867, when the whole of the Lyon Court and Her Majesty's Officers of Arms were formally made into civil servants.[6] Prior to this reform the Lyon Clerk received fees for every grant and matriculation. In 1837 the Lyon Clerk is paid £19 6s. for a grant of arms with supporters and £15 15s. without, for a matriculation £4 10s. 6d with supporters and £2 17s. without.[7]

The Lyon Clerk have a prominent role in the operations of the Lyon Court. Every submission of application for a grant of arms, a matriculation of arms or the recording of genealogy must be made through the Lyon Clerk. This submission must be done either personally, by an intermediary agent or by correspondence, the Lyon Clerk is required to personally interview and reply to each applicant.[5] As such the Lyon Clerk must take receipt of all documents and evidence submitted by the applicant in each case. Finally after the grant or matriculation has been made the Lyon Clerk must ensure that the resulting patent of arms is properly illuminated and emblazoned for the applicant and for the Lyon Court's register.[8]

As Keeper of the Records, the Lyon Clerk is responsible for the maintenance of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland. This is done through the regular addition of new grants and matriculations. The Lyon Clerk must ensure that members of the public have access to the register by facilitating searches and studies of the records.[8]

Lyon Clerks and Keepers of the RecordsEdit

Arms Name Date of appointment Notes Ref.[9]
Adam or Alexander MacCulloch (1554) Marchmont
James Purdie of Kinaldies (1584) Islay
John Purdy 4 January 1587 Ross
James Borthwick, WS (1594) Rothesay
James Winram (1607)
Robert Winram 1625
George Watson, WS 1625
  Thomas Drysdale 1632 Islay
William Weir 1660
Robert Smith of Gibleston 8 Augustus 1663
  Harry Maule, WS 1709
  Charles Erskine 4 June 1715 Bute
  David Erskine 6 June 1724 Rothesay
  Thomas Brodie, WS 8 December 1769 Lyon Depute
  Robert Boswell of St. Boswells, WS 2 November 1770
James Home of Linhouse, WS 4 May 1804 Lyon Depute
David Clyne, SSC 3 February 1819
Edward William Auriol Drummond Hay 1 April 1823
Alexander Macdonald 5 May 1845 (Ad interim)
  James Lorimer of Kellyfield 7 November 1848 (Ad interim)
3 May 1864 (For life)
  James William Mitchell 6 March 1890 Rothesay [a]
  Francis James Grant, WS 3 September 1898 Rothesay [b]
Harold Andrew Balvaird Lawson, CVO 4 September 1929 Rothesay [c]
  Malcolm Innes of Edingight, CVO, WS 4 August 1966 Carrick
  John Inglis Drever "Don" Pottinger, LVO 9 July 1981 Islay [e]
  Elizabeth Ann Roads, LVO 1986 February 5 Linlithgow
Russell Hunter Esq. 25 June 2018 [g]

Lyon Clerks DeputeEdit

Name Date of appointment[9] Notes
Robert Innes, WS (1675)
James Dallas 1715
David Erskine 1718 Rothesay
No depute 1724–1751
William Richardson 6 May 1751
Robert Donaldson 1755 April 17 Marchmont
William Walker 29 July 1769 Marchmont
James Cumyng 7 November 1770 Herald painter
Robert Ranken 7 November 1773
William Boswell 24 December 1794
Alexander Liston Ramage 7 September 1796
John Blair 12 January 1799
Alexander Boswell 23 January 1801
Thomas Small 2 May 1804 Marchmont
John Edward Touch 20 June 1807
David Clyne (joint) 25 August 1807
Alexander Lambe Robertson
William Thomson (joint)
25 August 1812
De Carteret Mendell 5 November 1819
William Smith 17 May 1823
Archibald Duncan 7 September 1825
William Anderson 8 November 1828 Marchmont
Alexander Macdonald 3 June 1829
William Anderson 7 May 1845 Marchmont
John Whyte 29 June 1863
Robert Riddle Stodart 9 May 1864
James William Mitchell 4 June 1886 Rothesay
Office abolished in 1867.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "No. 26030". The London Gazette. 7 March 1890. p. 1268.
  2. ^ "No. 27012". The London Gazette. 7 October 1898. p. 5863.
  3. ^ "No. 33534". The London Gazette. 13 September 1929. p. 5904.
  4. ^ "No. 18483". The Edinburgh Gazette. 12 August 1966. p. 630.
  5. ^ "No. 20951". The Edinburgh Gazette. 31 July 1981. p. 1023.
  6. ^ "No. 21892". The Edinburgh Gazette. 21 February 1986. p. 247.
  7. ^ Lyon Court [@Lyoncourt] (25 Jun 2018). "Her Majesty the Queen has appointed Mr Russell Hunter to be Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1997 and has degrees in history and law from the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, respectively. He will take up office during July" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  1. ^ "Court Activity 2010". Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  2. ^ "Badges of the heralds of the Commonwealth & Ireland". White Lion Society. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  3. ^ Parliament of Scotland (1669). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1669". Acts of the Parliament of Scotland. 1669 c. 95. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  4. ^ Parliament of Scotland (1672). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1672". Acts of the Parliament of Scotland. 1672 c. 47. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  5. ^ a b Stevenson p.51
  6. ^ a b Parliament of the United Kingdom (1867). "Lyon King of Arms Act of 1867". Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1860–1879. 1867 c. 17 (Regnal. 30 and 31 Vict). Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  7. ^ Great Britain Parliament, House of Commons (1837). House of Commons papers, Volume 39. London: HMSO. p. 16.
  8. ^ a b Stevenson p.52
  9. ^ a b Stevenson pp.447–448

External linksEdit