The Court of Chivalry Part 3

When the two methods used by the English Heralds to control arms, the Visitations and the Court of Chivalry, had been removed there existed no means of controlling arms for 219 years in England and Wales. The ordinary Courts of law had no recognition of Coats of Arms except in what was known as “ names and arms clauses”. These were clauses in a will whereby the person that died willed that the beneficiary should take the name and the Coat of Arms of the deceased as one of the conditions of inheriting his estate. The Probate Court then dealt with the matter and required the person to comply with the deceased wishes as a matter of interpreting and carrying out the deceased’s will. The change of names and Coat of Arms had to be registered with the College of Arms because the court had to have official proof of the change. There was also a tax on the use of arms, but this was purely a financial matter and was levied on Coats of Arms whether registered at the College of Arms or borne of a man’s own free will. This tax was not abolished until 1945.For over 200 years the curious position existed that a man could do as he liked in matters armorial in England and Wales but in Scotland he was regulated by very strict heraldic law; there was no existing legal compulsion on a person to seek the confirmation of the College of Arms on Coats of Arms that he had assumed for himself. The realization of this fact indicated that the practice of the College of Arms would suffer drastic reductions. A move was made to revive the Court of Chivalry in 1954. On December 21st 1954 in the Lord Chief Justice’s Court at the Royal Courts of Justice a test case came before the revived Court: The Mayor, Alderman and Citizens of the City of Manchester v. the Manchester Palace of Varieties Ltd. The Earl Marshal was present in full robes, as well as the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard, who wore the robes of a Doctor of Civil Law, and six of the Officers of Arms. The Officers of Arms, in robes with swords at their sides were the York, Chester, Lancaster and Somerset Heralds and the Rouge Dragon and Blue Mantle Pursuivants. The joint registrars of the Court were Mr. Wilfred Maurice Phillips and Anthony Richard Wagner, the latter being Richmond Herald. The cause of the dispute was the unauthorized use of the Manchester Coat of Arms by a music hall proprietor.


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