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The Name of Lyon
Clan Lyon is perhaps most famous today as the clan into which HM The Queen Mother was born (August 4th, 1900) as the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Clan Chief. Her surname was Bowes-Lyon, acknowledging the family of the heiress Mary Eleanor who married the 9th Earl and brought with her the fortune of her father George Bowes, the owner of Streatham Castle.

(The 9th Earl and his children took the surname of Bowes in place of Lyon, which left the clan chiefless; the 11th Earl changed this to Lyon-Bowes; and the 13th Earl made the final change to Bowes-Lyon.)

The Queen Mother's arms are shown on the right.

arms of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother
arms of the Queen Mother emphasising Bowes-Lyon
The Bowes-Lyon arms, quarterly 1 and 4 Argent a lion rampant Azure armed and langued Gules within a double tressure flory-counterflory of the second, 2 and 3 Ermine three bows strings palewise Proper, appear to the sinister (on the right as viewed from the front) impaled by the Royal Arms as borne in England (the Scottish equivalent is slightly different). The arms of both families are said to be "canting" arms (i.e. they are puns on the two surnames Lyon and Bowes).
arms of Bowes-Lyon
Arms of Lyon with double tressure
So the pronominal arms of Lyon feature a lion rampant and the double tressure flory-counterflory often called the "royal tressure". But this blazon is not one that came into existence in this present form. The royal tressure in Scotland has always been a charge that has been added ~ either to mark a blood connection with the Royal Family, or as a special mark of favour from the King, or as a special award to a foreigner. Thus before the charge was added, the arms existed as Argent a lion rampant Azure (at which time the lion was not in fact then always armed and langued Gules). This was the basic coat to which differences were added for cadets, as shown below.
arms of an early Lyon cadet
arms of an early Lyon cadet arms of an early Lyon cadet These are the arms of Lyon cadets recorded respectively in the MSs of Sir James Balfour, Porteous and Rose, as noted by Lyon Depute Stodart.
arms of Le Seigneur de Lion from Armorial de Berry
The first Lyon coat known is that recorded among the Scottish coats in the Armorial de Berry assembled for Charles VII of France by Gilles le Bouvier in the 15th century ~ Argent a lion Azure, overall a riband Gules (in France a single lion was then always rampant) and shown here on the right. This was assigned to "Le seigneur de Lion" and the timing of le Bouvier's visit to Scotland, 1450-55, suggests that it was then borne by Patrick Lyon, 1st Lord Glamis. The riband was certainly a difference commonly in use as such during the early years of heraldry, and here it implies quite clearly that Lord Glamis, Chief of the Name in Scotland, recognised that the right to the undifferenced arms, Argent a lion rampant Azure, lay somewhere else in the family. Where might that be?
The Name of Lyon - page 2
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© 2002 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates