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Swedish grant of arms from 1562.
Grant by Clarenceux King of Arms Robert Cooke to Henry Draper of Colnbrook giving him the right to use the arms illustrated; dated 14 October 1571. Source: The National Archives UK

A grant of arms or a governmental issuance of arms is an instrument issued by a lawful authority, such as an officer of arms or State Herald, which confers on a person and his or her descendants the right to bear a particular coat of arms or armorial bearings. It is one of the ways in which a person may lawfully bear arms in a jurisdiction regulating heraldry, another being by birth, through inheritance.

Historically a grant of arms is distinguished from both a confirmation of arms and a private registration of arms. A grant of arms confers a new right, whereas a confirmation of arms confirms an existing right; and a private registration of arms is a record which does not purport to create or confirm any legal right. However a governmental registration of arms by an official government agency, (e.g., Bureau of Heraldry in South Africa) does create and confirm new legal rights.

The College of Arms issues "letters patent" the Bureau of Heraldry issues "certificates of registration". For all intents and purposes it's the same thing. The College of Arms "grants" in the name of the monarch and in South Africa under the Heraldry Act (1962) the certificate is "issued". In both cases the heraldic representation so issued and recorded affords the applicant sole ownership of the unique design.

Marcel van Rossum, OMBB
Deputy Director
Bureau of Heraldry

A grant of arms or government registration of arms typically takes the form of letters patent, which provide self-contained proof, upon production of the letters patent, of the right conferred. For example, a grant or patent[1] of arms from officers of the College of Arms in London, as well as related letters patent such as a grant of an augmentation, a crest, or supporters,[2] will begin with the words "To all and singular to whom these presents shall come..." or variations thereof,[1][3][4] thereby showing that the grant is addressed to anyone in the world to whom it may be presented; this applies equally to grants made to private individuals[2][1][3][5][6] and to grants made to corporate bodies,[7][8][4][9] and also applies to grants made to entities in Australia or any other Commonwealth realm in which the College has heraldic jurisdiction.[10][11][12]

See also


  • G.D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry p. 184 (Oxford 1959).
  1. ^ a b c W. H. Rylands, F.S.A. (1911). "Some Lancashire and Cheshire heraldic documents" (PDF). Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. 63: 178–219. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  2. ^ a b W. H. Rylands, F.S.A. (1908). "Some Cheshire heraldic documents" (PDF). Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. 60: 160–170. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  3. ^ a b J. Paul Rylands, F.S.A. (1916). "Arms and crest of John Westby, 1560" (PDF). Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. 68: 194–198. Retrieved 18 October 2023. TO all and Singuler as well Kinges Herauldes and officers of Armes as nobles gentlemen & others whiche thes presentes shall See or Heare [sic]
  4. ^ a b "Grant of Arms to the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens of Chichester". The National Archives. Retrieved 18 October 2023. To all and synguler aswell nobles and gentills as others to whom these presents shall come [sic, original spelling] [...] To all and singular, as well nobles and gentlemen as others, to whom these presents shall come [Officially modernised spelling]
  5. ^ "Grant of Arms to George Stucley Buck, 1858". UK Genealogy Archives. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Grant of Arms to Captain Sheppard OBE RN". Hemyock Castle. Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Charters of the Boroughs of Loughborough" (PDF). Charnwood Borough Council. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  8. ^ "Grant of Arms". Worshipful Company of Builders' Merchants. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  9. ^ "The Institute's Coat of Arms" (PDF). Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 January 2024. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Document [Grant of Arms to Melbourne Harbour Trust]". Victorian Collections. Archived from the original on 1 January 2024. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  11. ^ "Armorial Bearings of the City of Canberra" (PDF). Australian Capital Territory Heritage Register. 10 April 1996. p. 8. Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  12. ^ "Coats of arms". The Stone Family in Australia. Retrieved 19 October 2023.

This page was last edited on 15 January 2024, at 18:40
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