An Online Newsletter from The Baronage Press
featuring Heraldry and related subjects

Vol. 1, No. 6 - June 1999

The Baronage Press Website
may be reached directly at


Copyright (c) 1999 by Pegasus Associates Ltd and The Baronage Press

Information on subscription is given at the foot of this newsletter.
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* A Welcome
* Not-the-Burke's-Peerage
* Titles for Sale ~ What is Nobility Worth?
* "You Really Can't Be Serious ! ? ! ? ! ? "
* Portraying History Accurately
* To be uploaded in July-September
* Letters to the Editor (1) The Scottish Royal Standard in America
* Letters to the Editor (2) The Sunday Times
* Culinaria ~ Sponsor for the Culinary Arts column
* Looking Around: The Burlington Arcade
* Heirloom & Howard
* Pegasus Armorie
* Our Sponsors and Advertisers



The primary purpose of this newsletter is to link regular Baronage readers to those articles in the magazine that might interest them, so in it you may find mention of the art, symbolism and meaning of heraldry, and, from time to time, of the history, politics, warfare, chivalry, books, cinema and other entertainment to which heraldry has thematic links.

Temporary indisposition among the editorial staff has delayed the publication of some articles intended for June, but recovery and an imminent return from hospital should allow these to appear next month in the July-September issue of the magazine whose upload is expected in late July.

Most of this issue of the newsletter is allocated to notice of the revitalisation of Burke's Peerage & Baronetage as a substantial contribution to genealogical research.

Some years ago, when British newspapers were plagued with industrial unrest (prompted by fears of what the new computerised printing processes would do to traditional jobs), the editorial staff of The Times produced a brilliant spoof issue of their newspaper and named it Not The Times. This negative was imitated later in other productions, notably by the BBC with Not-the-Nine-o'clock-News, and now by this newsletter in an introduction to a major event in genealogical publishing (one whose importance is difficult to exaggerate).


It is not the Burke's Peerage for a number of reasons.

First ~ it has absolutely no relationship to Harold Brooks-Baker, generally described by British and American newspapers (and by his own press releases) as the "Publishing Director of Burke's Peerage". Brooks-Baker's "Burke's Peerage" is a partnership that acquired the name from the liquidator of the original publishing company and now licenses its use to other legal entities that hope they can profit from its image.

Second ~ it has absolutely no relationship to companies such as Halbert's, licensees who have no connection with the original Burke's Peerage, but use that name to fleece the public. Halbert's of Bath, Ohio (as the promotional leaflets describe the operation) sells lists of telephone numbers masquerading as family histories (despite having been pulled into court and admonished many times).

Third ~ it has absolutely no connection to Halbert's European arm, which operates as "Burke's Peerage" with the written assurance of Brooks-Baker that it continues the work begun by John Burke and Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms, 186 years ago, as (©Harold Brooks-Baker) "the guardians of the British Aristocracy" (despite, as has been written here before, there being no such continuity, and despite the original Burke's Peerage being as dead as John Cleese's parrot).

This distinction between the 106th edition of Burke's Peerage & Baronetage (the book, published this month) and the "Burke's Peerage" of Brooks-Baker and of Halbert's is noted, in a relatively general and comparatively restrained way, by both its editor-in-chief and its publisher. The former limited himself to observing that ~

"a wholly separate company called The Burke's Peerage Partnership or some other permutation of the Burke's name ....... was acquired out of receivership by people associated with the former company, by now defunct. The new owners issued numerous press releases but to this day have not brought out a new edition of even one of the old titles. ....... It should by now be clear that it is important to make a distinction between Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, the actual publication, and whatever may issue forth from the offices of whoever owns 'Burke's Peerage."

The publisher in his preface to the second volume notes that since the mid-1980s the authority and prestige of Burke's Peerage ~

"have been exploited for crudely commercial ends by persons displaying minimal concern for scholarship or indeed serious genealogical publishing generally."

He continues (and it is indeed sad that The Times correspondent quoted in our last newsletter failed to read this) --

"It cannot be stated too emphatically that such persons have nothing whatever to do directly with this publication, Burke's Peerage & Baronetage."

Fourth ~ it is not the Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage known to the world's libraries since 1826 as the primary reference for family historians seeking gateway ancestors and the distinguished lines ascending from them. That earlier book, of which 105 editions were published between 1826 and 1970, all restricted by a 19th century technology that set text in solid type and discouraged the expense of unnecessary (?) or seemingly insignificant (?) amendment, was compiled for a market that cared more for legend than truth ~

For truth is deemed a sadly dull and unromantic thing: it is not for truth that men seek, but for that which is pleasant to believe. Poor, ill-clad, shivering truth stands pitiful by the way; for men have ever passed her by in search of that which they desire.

(J. Horace Round, 1910, writing of the fabulous pedigrees in books such as Burke's).

Of course, as the years passed and new editors assumed office intent on rooting out the myths, the number of absurdities diminished. Some honest mistakes remained but, slowly, many of these were corrected as they were revealed. The 1970 edition, although much criticised in the pages of the Baronage website, was an important milestone on this long march. Similarly, the three volumes of the Landed Gentry published between 1965 and 1972 eliminated most of the inventions included in its 19th century editions.

Many of these old books, some rebound several times, are still on library shelves all over the world and are much in use. They should not be discarded. Some of the families they list are unrecorded elsewhere. Some do not appear in earlier Burke's editions, some not in later Burke's editions. But no matter how helpful Burke's books seem, they were never authoritative. They are full of clues, most of which are valid, many of which are ambiguous, and some of which are forgeries. All these clues must be treated with caution. And, often of greater importance for they were harder to recognise before text was computerised, sub-editors' errors have persisted from one edition to the next, so that, for example, a 5th earl in one entry might be cross-referenced as a 4th earl in another (which could allow, perhaps, the corruption of an illuminated family tree comissioned from an expensive heraldic artist).

The 106th edition of Burke's Peerage is not the Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage of olden times. It is rather THE NEW BURKE'S PEERAGE (1st edition, 1999), which is how this newsletter will refer to it, for the differences between old and new are substantial. Principally, these differences are owed to the advantages offered by computerisation, both in correspondence between editors and researchers, and in the book's production, and to the quality of the editors and researchers themselves, for these, in the few family histories we have so far browsed on a borrowed copy, have evidently placed the virtues of 21st century academic integrity above those of 19th century romantic fiction.

Since the announcement of its publication we have received several e-mails asking for our views on its price (£295) and our recommendation on its value. We have not yet had the opportunity to examine a review copy at leisure, and when we have done so we shall include a lengthy review in the BookPost pages, but for the present we should note the following.

The 105th edition of Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage in 1970 contained 3,262 pages in one volume. THE NEW BURKE'S PEERAGE contains 3,347 pages in two volumes. This makes the new version far easier to handle (and, probably, less likely to fall apart with extensive use), and the extra space provided by both the greater width of the pages and by the absence of advertisements has been used wisely to improve legibility.

The traditional narrative layout has been retained with little modification, but some rationalisation in the presentation will assist inexperienced readers' understanding of the progress of the line.

At the beginning of the history of many major families there is a brief note on their origin. This replaces in some cases the fantasies that in the 19th century editions took the ancestors back to "the mists of antiquity", and many genealogists will find these useful, especially where they dispel those legends that "must be true because they've always been a family tradition" (for at least the last two hundred years).

Similarly, at the end of many histories there is a note on the principal residence or seat of the head of the family, giving dates of construction and the names of the architects employed on the work. Journalists will find this innovation extemely useful.

Another innovation, noted gratefully by the staff of The Baronage Press (of whose time so much is spent answering queries on forms of address), is the inclusion of the style of each living member of a family. Again, with journalists in mind, this adds to the case for every newspaper office to have a copy of THE NEW BURKE'S PEERAGE on its shelves.

A formal review will appear in the Baronage magazine later.


The possibility of buying nobility continues to occupy the minds of many readers, and a long series of correspondence between one and this office has recently emphasised the contradiction most seek to escape and cannot ~ if nobility can be bought, is it worth anything? Or, as one wrote last month with the same thought in mind ~ "I don't just want the title of Lord. I want to be a Lord."

In August we intend to look in depth at this ambition and at the market that exploits it.


The popularity of period drama such as the BBC and Merchant Ivory productions (watch out for the most recent BBC series, Aristocrats, the story of the four Lennox sisters, great-granddaughters of Charles II) prompts many readers to e-mail queries about the social customs of recent centuries. Usually these letters criticise scriptwriters and directors, and seek reassurance. Often they are justified, but it can be difficult for dramatists to learn the complicated codes of a society that had little else to study (although in admitting this we do not seek to excuse sloppy research).

"The lady bowed first to the gentleman, and then he returned the bow. Surely this is not correct?"

Well, there are several factors involved here, too complex to explain quickly. But in general it would be correct in England, but incorrect in France. (We shall explain that later.)

To the e-mailed queries prompted by television and the cinema we have to add those from aspirant "Regency" novelists who anxiously and laudably slave to ensure that the ceremonious rituals observed by their characters are absolutely right. Accordingly, to reduce the flow of incoming letters and to provide a readily accessible directory of 18th/19th century etiquette, we shall shortly publish an annex to the Journalists' and Authors' Guide (JAG) to Heraldry and Titles as a series of articles on the more complex rituals. Here, to give a flavour (or warning) of what is to appear, are three extracts from the advice given a hundred years ago "by a Member of the Aristocracy" on the subject of bowing.

"A lady should not bow to another who, being a stranger to her, has addressed a few remarks to her at an afternoon party, as the fact of meeting at the house of a mutual friend does not constitute an acquaintanceship and does not authorise a future bowing acquaintance."

and (BBC drama departments please note)

"Ladies, as a rule, are not too ready to bow to those with whom they have merely conversed in a casual way. In the first place, they are not quite certain of being remembered, and nothing is more disconcerting and disagreeable than to bow to a person who does not return it through forgetfulness of the one who has give it, or through shortsightedness, or through actual intention."

and (please do remember that we are trying to be helpful)

"Short-sighted people are always offending in the matter of not bowing, and almost every third person, comparatively speaking, complains of being more or less sort-sighted. Thus it behoves ladies to discover for themselves the strength and length of sight possessed by their new acquaintances, or the chances are that their bow may never be returned, or they may continue to labour under the impression that they have received a cut direct. Thus many pleasant acquaintances are lost through this misapprehension, and many erroneous impressions created."

We really can't be serious ??? Yes, if we are to portray the past accurately in our plays and films, we can be serious. (Read Neil Postman in the next section.)


One of our regular correspondents, referring to our comments on the travesty of Wallace's life portrayed in Mel Gibson's BRAVEHEART, has sent us the following observations of Neil Postman. They are of especial significance, he noted, because the Web is becoming increasingly TV-like, and because TV, far from being "the great information machine," is "the great disinformation machine."

A most nerve-wracking confirmation of this came some time ago during an interview with the producer and the writer of the TV mini-series Peter the Great. Defending the historical inaccuracies in the drama ~ which included a fabricated meeting between Peter and Sir Isaac Newton ~ the producer said that no one would watch a dry, historically faithful biography. The writer added that it is better for audiences to learn something that is untrue, if it is entertaining, than not to learn anything at all. And just to put some icing on the cake, the actor who played Peter, Maximilian Schell, remarked that he does not believe in historical truth and therefore sees no reason to pursue it.

I do not mean to say that the trivialization of American public discourse is all accomplished on television. Rather, television is the paradigm for all our attempts at public communication. It conditions our minds to apprehend the world through fragmented pictures and forces other media to orient themselves in that direction.

As a medium for conducting public business, language has receded in importance; it has been moved to the periphery of culture and has been replaced at the center by the entertaining visual image . . . When a culture becomes overloaded with pictures; when logic and rhetoric lose their binding authority; when historical truth becomes irrelevant; when the spoken or written word is distrusted or makes demands on our attention that we are incapable of giving; when our politics, history, education, religion, public information, and commerce are expressed largely in visual imagery rather than words, then a culture is in serious jeopardy.

This passage is from Neil Postman's 1986 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, published by Viking and obtainable direct from Amazon through this link.

European readers may order from Amazon with this link to the UK distributors.


We are continuing the system of uploading each calendar quarter's magazine contents in monthly instalments, so the July-September Contents Page will feature new articles only (of which one-third will be accessible immediately). Articles held over from June ~ the second of the articles on the Origins of the Bruces, A View from Maastricht on the Kosovo Crisis, and the first in a new series on the Culinary Arts in History ~ will be included in the July upload.



Born & living in the U.S., and being 13 generations descended from James VI, as is the current Monarch of England, Elizabeth II, but I directly descend from Charles Edward Stuart through Charlotte Stuart, James Wray who came to the American Colonies in 1775, object to the statements in the article on Scottish descendants living in the U.S. not having the right by law to fly the traditional monarch Scottish standard ~ with Lion Rampart etc. in the U.S.

I and my 2 sons have by blood as much or more so right to represent the true Stuart Monarchs than anyone in existence throughout the world. And, it is correct to say, that without any disrespect to his position whatsoever, Lord Lyon (with whom I have corresponded recently) has no authority here. The purpose of standards, tartans & heraldry in the "beginning" of Scottish "time," was to show allegiance to or relation to blood ties & families. I, therefore, can "demonstrate" truer blood/ family ties than all others.

It puts a smile on my face to see the near 80% of the American citizens with Scottish, English, Irish & Welsh lines in their genealogy background showing their support of my ancestors & country roots so proudly. Those in Scotland should be honored that this standard is raised with more reverence than our own American Flag ~ which is often desecrated by the hands of its own citizens ~ where the Lion Rampart flies with total reverence & glory! If this "law" states the Monarch must be present at functions where it is flown ~ then as far as I can decipher ~ as long as my line is alive & well in the U.S. ~ it is legally allowed!

Shelly J. Nauman,
Colorado, U.S.A


Dear Shelly J. Nauman,

Arms of the Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Scots The Scottish "Royal Standard" bears the arms shown here on a conventional shield. The flag may be regarded as if it were a square shield. The arms are those, today, of the Queen of Scots, and of no one else. They are not the arms of the Stuarts (or Stewarts).

You will see that one of the sub-editors has corrected much of your execrable punctuation and spelling, but has left untouched, because it appears twice, your presentation of the "Lion Rampant" as the "Lion Rampart" ~ an error which reveals a significant degree of ignorance of simple heraldry, a subject you here pretend to understand rather better than all others.

We cannot comment on your claim that you and your sons "have by blood as much or more so right to represent the true Stuart Monarchs than anyone in existence throughout the world". You may also be descended from an extraterrestial who lost his way home among the great canyons in your part of the country. We just do not know. However we are competent to comment on the authority of the Lord Lyon. Queen Elizabeth II is the Queen of Scots and has been so recognised by all political parties in all the preparations for the opening of the new Scottish parliament. As Queen of Scots, the fons honorum in our country, she delegates to the Lord Lyon her full authority to adjudicate and to exercise full executive power in all matters affecting the laws of nobility and heraldry. This authority is beyond legal dispute.

You wish to claim that the Lord Lyon has no authority in North America. It may well be that he would have difficulty enforcing a restriction on an American citizen flying in Colorado a golden banner charged with a red lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counterflory, but without his authority that flag is just a golden banner charged with a red lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counterflory. It is not the Royal Banner (known popularly as the Royal Standard) of the Scottish Monarch unless it is lawfully flown.

And so you may, if you wish, go out and flap your yellow cloth around, just as you may call yourself the Duke of Nauman or the Duchess of Naeman if you wish, but the onlookers will only laugh.

Yours sincerely,
Jane Forbes
pp The Baronage Press


To the Editor,

In today's Sunday Times its correspondent Christopher Morgan reports Ian Hamilton QC as having "a healthy disregard for the monarchy".

Why "healthy"? Can you explain?

Puzzled student


Dear Puzzled Student,

The Sunday Times is not the newspaper it once was. Nor is The Times that great newspaper once respected throughout the civilised world. Both are owned by the publishing empire of Mr Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Murdoch is believed by some to be a republican. Perhaps he allows his editors to employ discourteous republicans.

Yours sincerely,
Jane Forbes
pp The Baronage Press

CULINARIA ~ Sponsor for the Culinary Arts column

As mentioned earlier, in July we begin a new column dedicated to interesting and sometimes famous dinners in history. This is to be sponsored by Culinaria, specialist in premium quality olive oils, marinades and dressings (currently available only in the British Isles, but soon also in North America).

LOOKING AROUND: The Burlington Arcade

The magazine features occasional articles on shopping areas of genuine historical interest to ancestor-hunting tourists in the British Isles. One such is the famous Burlington Arcade, of which we have featured a description for several months.

New readers may wish to know that the St Petersburg Collection, featuring the elegant artistry of Theo Fabergé, grandson of the eminent Carl Fabergé, the Court Jeweller to the last Tsar, may be seen at no. 42.


A few of those who respond to our invitation to read the Heirloom & Howard catalogues forget to add their postal address, thinking perhaps that these are online catalogues. They are, of course, printed catalogues with illustrations of armorial porcelain and heraldic antiques printed in full colour in the traditional way.

In addition to their stock of porcelain and antiques, identified and connected to the families that once owned these rare items, Heirloom & Howard have a fine collection of prints featuring old houses and castles and the ancestors (your ancestors ?) who once lived in them. Enquiries are welcomed.


We continue to receive a large number of letters beginning - "Please send me a picture of my coat of arms." These show the widespread influence of the bucketshop heralds who have seemingly persuaded thousands of punters that coats of arms belong to family names.

Pegasus will supply pictures of arms that we are willing to certify as having been borne by named individuals (and those individuals are named on the picture), but Pegasus Armorie is not in the fraudulent business of supplying "arms for names" with the implication that the arms supplied may be lawfully used by the buyer as his or her own.

However, there is undoubtedly a market demand for armorial display. The colours and shapes of heraldry have been so long in our history that they are sunk deeply into our subconscious minds. We respond accordingly to their beauty.

And so Pegasus has begun to produce a series of illustrations that will be suitable for framing and hanging on the walls of bedrooms, halls, studies, libraries, etc. Initially these will be appropriate for Scottish names, and in each case they will feature the badge of the clansmen of that name surrounded by the arms of the families whose daughters have been the ancestors of the present chief of the name.

Additionally, Pegasus Armorie is to work with the Baronage Press to establish an online Register of Scottish Clans. Members of Clans who request that their name be recorded and pay the artists' fees will receive a high-resolution printed certificate embossed with the seal of The British Baronage. An example of one of these has been uploaded (but it is a large picture and may need a minute to download). It illustrates the crest-badge of Clan Stewart set against the scenery near the old Stewart Castle of Gloume. The cloth inside the strap-and-buckle and behind the crest is an old Stewart tartan. (The picture downloaded will be, of course, at low resolution, and unsuitable for printing.)


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The Feudal Herald Vol. 1, No. 1
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