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College of Arms

The College of Arms is a British institution responsible for granting coats of arms in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It also grants arms to citizens of other Commonwealth countries that do not have their own heraldic authorities (currently only the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa have heraldic authorities).

Table of contents
1 The officers
2 Grants and descent of arms
3 Name Changes
4 See also

The officers

The Earl Marshal, whose office is held by the Duke of Norfolk, oversees and controls the College, though he is not a member of that body. A coat of arms may not be granted without the consent of the Earl Marshal. Furthermore, the Earl Marshal may hear cases and controversies relating to the use of arms in the Court of Chivalry.

There are two types of "heralds": heralds in ordinary and heralds extraordinary. They are further categorised as Kings of Arms, Heralds, or Pursuivants. Only the heralds in ordinary are official members of the College. The heralds in ordinary are:

The heralds extraordinary are: The various heralds conduct their own private business in heraldry and genealogy, receiving only nominal salaries as officers of the College (₤49.07 for the Garter Principal King of Arms, ₤20.25 for the other Kings of Arms, ₤17.80 for the Heralds, and ₤13.95 for the Pursuivants.)

Grants and descent of arms

The Kings of Arms grant coats of arms by letters patent. Before they can even consider the granting of arms, an application must be made to the Earl Marshal, and a fee paid. If the Earl Marshal finds the application satisfactory (there are no specific criteria), he may grant a Warrant authorising the Kings of Arms to proceed with the designing of arms. After the designing process concludes, the Kings of Arms grant letters patent authorising the grantee to use the arms blazoned therein.

Arms are inherited by all of the legitimate sons of an individual. (Women only inherit if there are no male heirs.) In order to differentiate between brothers, "cadency marks" may be used. The cadency mark includes a label, which is a white horizontal strip with three small rectangles suspended from the same, and is drawn on the upper part of the shield in the coat of arms, and a particular mark on the middle rectangle. The eldest brother uses a blank label during the life of his father, and no label when holding the arms in his own right. The marks of the other brothers are as follows: the second eldest, a crescent; the third, a mullet; the fourth, a martlet; the fifth, an annulet; the sixth, a fleur-de-lis; the seventh, a rose; the eighth, a cross Moline; and the ninth, a double quatrefoil. (For an explanation of the aforementioned heraldic terms, see heraldry).

Arms may also be transferred to non-descendants by a Royal Licence, which is granted or rejected on the advice of the Home Secretary.

Name Changes

The College of Arms is also responsible for recording the changes of the names. In order to change one's name, one must apply for a "deed poll" to be entered on the College's registers and published in the London Gazette. (The deed poll is not entered on the registers, but is still published, if the name change does not amend the surname.)

Alternatively, when a Royal Licence is granted for a transfer of arms, the change of the surname of the transferee to that of the transferer may be permitted by the Licence itself, without the need for a deed poll.

See also