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The Bearing of Arm by Women decreed by the Kings of Arms in 1997

THE ARMS OF WOMEN

GARTER KING OF ARMS, CLARENCEUX KING OF ARMS
AND NORROY AND ULSTER KING OF ARMS

Further to the ruling of the English Kings of Arms dated 7 April 1995 we, Garter, Clarenceux and Norroy and Ulster Kings of Arms, do rule, ordain and decree as follows:

1.   An unmarried woman may continue to bear her paternal arms on a lozenge, oval or similar vehicle of display (not being an escutcheon or a colourable imitation thereof) or on a banner.


lozenge 1


Oval 1
Banner 1

2.   A married woman may continue to bear her paternal arms marshalled on a shield or banner with those of her armigerous husband in the normal way.


Husband impaling wife

Husband - wife in pretence
Banner husband impaling wife
Banner husband wife in pretence

3.   Whether or not her husband is armigerous, a married woman may bear her paternal arms alone on a shield or banner differenced by a small escutcheon of a contrasting tincture in the canton, centre chief point or other suitable position depending on the design.


Shield married woman's paternal arms
Banner married woman's paternal arms

4.   A widow may continue to bear her paternal arms marshalled with those of her late husband on a lozenge etc. as in paragraph 1.

Widow's lozenge

Widow's oval pretence

5.   Whether or not her husband is armigerous, a widow may bear her paternal arms alone on a lozenge or banner differenced by a small escutcheon as in paragraph 3.


Shield widow's paternal arms
Banner widow paternal arms

6.   Whether or not a woman is entitled to paternal arms, she may bear her husband's arms alone on a shield or banner differenced by a small lozenge of a contrasting tincture in the canton, centre chief point or other suitable position depending on the design.



Husbands arms differenced for wife
Banner husband's arms differenced for wife

7.   Whether or not a widow is entitled to paternal arms she may bear her late husband's arms alone on a lozenge, oval or similar vehicle of display (not being an escutcheon or a colourable imitation thereof) or on a banner differenced by a small lozenge as in paragraph 6.


Lozenge arms of husband differenced for widow


Oval husbands arms differenced for widow
Banner husbands arms differenced for a widow

8.   The husband's arms in paragraph 6 and 7 will be borne "by courtesy" and remain the arms of the husband. In cases such as a grant of supporters to a woman peer, Lady Companion of the Garter or Dame Grand Cross, the woman must have arms of her own.

9.   Divorced women should (as hitherto) revert to their paternal arms on a lozenge until remarriage; the use of a mascle to indicate divorce will be optional.

Lozenge paternal arms optional mascle indicating divorce

10.   Women who are peers in their own right, Lady Companions of the Garter or Dames Grand Cross may wish to bear arms on a lozenge regardless of their marital status. If they wish to show that they are married they may add a small escutcheon as in paragraph 3.

Peeress
Peeress married

11.   Children of an heraldic heiress (living or deceased) shall be allowed to quarter her arms provided they are armigerous and their mother's father is dead.

Quartered arms

12.   A woman grantee is to be considered as the representative of her arms which may be transmitted as a quartering to her descendants during her lifetime and thereafter, unless the patent specifies otherwise.

13.   Grants of arms in memory of deceased female ancestors will be at the discretion of the Kings of Arms who will not normally allow such grants to extend beyond the petitioner's grandparents. Any woman so commemorated must have been eminent in her own right.


F = Father (ie paternal arms)
M = Mother
H = Husband
W = Wife


The information on this page is, by way of being a legal ruling, freely available and in the public domain. The images are however, produced by Martin S J Goldstraw and are the subject of copyright.

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