The head of the College of Arms is the Duke of Norfolk by virtue of his hereditary office of Earl Marshal. This office has been in the family of Howard, of which the Duke is the head, since 1677. An Act of Parliament made this hereditary function after the Howard family had held the Marshalship intermittently since 1483. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk is pictured to the right.Under the Duke are three kings of Arms – Garter, Clarenceux, and Norroy; six Heralds – Windsor, Chester, Lancaster, Richmond, Somerset and York; four Pursuivants or followers, the lowest of the Heralds who were originally attendants upon the Heralds as they in their turn were upon the nobility and the Sovereign. The four Pursuivants are Rouge Croix, Blue Mantle, Rouge Dragon and Portcullis. Kings, Heralds and Pursuivants are all loosely included under the general term of Herald today. Most of these picturesque titles are English and derive from geographical sources, unlike the majority of heraldic terms which are French.
The Garter office was instituted by Henry V for the service of the Most Noble Order of the Garter and Garter King was on this account given precedence over, and control of, the remaining Heralds. In his patent Garter was called the principal King of English Arms. Clarenceux and Norroy are older than Garter, having been instituted respectively by the Duke of Clarence ( from which comes Clarenceux ), third son of Edward III, and by Edward II. The jurisdiction of the Garter King is concerned with the Arms of peers and baronets, and he is also the secretary of the Earl Marshal and as such it is his business to deal with all manner of issues that arise. There are many tasks that Garter may be called upon to do, among them is the question whether arms can be granted for eample to a corporate institution which is engaged in making profits. The jurisdiction of the other two Kings is provincial, Clarenceux having control over matters in the South, East amd West of England, while Norroy ( from north roi (king)) controls the Northern part of England above the river Trent, in the Midlands.