The First Use of Arms (in preparation)
The Origins of Quarters (in preparation)
Excesses in Later Centuries (in preparation)
The Return to Classical Heraldry (in preparation)
The Structure of Buthlaw's Armorial (in preparation)


The two most commonly used dictionaries of arms (or Ordinaries) are Burke's General Armory, which gives the blazons of arms associated with the surnames it lists, and Papworth's Ordinary of Arms, which gives the surnames most often associated with the blazons it lists. The best Ordinary is published by Lyon Office, but that lists Scottish arms only. None of these dictionaries is illustrated.

Papworth's is a very useful book, although limited in its range. Paradoxically, Burke's would have been more useful if it had been limited. Its beginnings lay in the custom of Burke's researchers noting down every coat of arms they encountered, regardless of legitimacy, and while their notes were restricted to the editorial office, to be read only by those who understood the laws of arms, they had some real value. Unfortunately, once they had been published for the amusement of the general public it was assumed that they constituted an authority, and for over a century they have added a wholly unjustifiable veneer of respectability to the many various schemes aimed at selling "your own coat of arms" to ancestor hunters.

Buthlaw's Armorial is an illustrated dictionary of pronominal arms which began with his notes on early Scottish families. All those featured in it have been recognised by heraldic authorities as being legitimate for the time and the country in which they were used. The decision to list pronominal arms, which means those arms belonging to the bearer in right of the name (although there are of course other criteria additionally), returns the reader to the mediaeval times in which heraldry originated, before coats began to gather the many quarters that later centuries believed desirable to support ancestral claims. The notes below will help to explain that decision.

(The five sections which are to follow are still in preparation.)

Readers seeking a home in London as a base for their ancestral heritage hunting
should find everything they might require in the properties of Savoy Estates.
Details of their availability appear regularly in The Baronage Press

Buthlaw's Armorial Volume 1 (first draft example)

The Baronage Contents page