Taigh Moran Chat
RR 2, Northside Road
Wading River, NY 11792
31 January, 1988

Unto the members of the College of Arms and any others who may read this missive, greetings from Alisoun MacCoul of Elphane, Laurel Queen of Arms!

The enclosed letter includes all submissions processed at the January Laurel meeting. This meeting was held on 24 January considering the letters from Atenveldt (10/1), Caid (10/4), West (10/21), Ansteorra (10/23) and Outlands (10/24). Of 114 actions, 90 were positive and 24 negative for an overall acceptance rate of 79%.

At Estrella War the letter from Caid (11/8) will be considered at an extraordinary Laurel meeting. Due to the exigencies of travel, comments for that session must reach Laurel by 10 February. The regularly scheduled meeting will beheld on 21 February. At that time we will consider Atenveldt (11/1), An Tir (11/11), Middle (11/21), West (11/18), Outlands (11/23) and Atlantia (11/25).

The March meeting is scheduled for 19 March. That session will consider Trimaris (11/30), An Tir (12/6), Caid (12/6), Atlantia (12/7), West (12/16), Ansteorra (12/17), and East (12/23).

The April meeting is tentatively set for 16 April. At that time we will consider Outlands (12/30), Calontir (1/1A), Calontir (1/1B), Caid (1/10), West (1/13), East (1/25), East (1/26) and Ansteorra (1/29).


As we all expect by now, the publication of a Roster of the College of Arms immediately triggers a mass migration by members of the College (yes, we know that it only seems that way!). Within twenty-four hours of the December letter and roster being mailed by Codex, we received no less than four changes and more have rolled in since then.

Aten informs me that Marcus le Silex, Solar Herald, has changed his mailing address: Mark Chittenden, P.O. Box 22555-158, Tempe, AZ 85716. There is also a correction to the spelling of the Society name of the Regional Herald for Artemisia: Letitia des Montagnes Bleues.

In the East, Marten Bröker, Badger Herald, has moved: Robert Koerner, 191 Elm Avenue, Teaneck, NJ 07666; (201) 907-0649. The address for the Standard Pursuivant, Elaigne Kerr, remains the same, but she now has a telephone: (617) 875-9239.

In Meridies, Sionann ni Domnall replaces Geoffrey FitzAlain as Pennon Herald. The address for Sionann, who previously served as Lambent Pursuivant, remains the same. However, Ammalynne Starchild Haraldsdottir, Ember Herald, has moved: Linda Helm, 9 Trafalgar Square, Birmingham, AL 35215.

In the West, Alison von Markheim has assumed the office of Compline Herald. Her address remains the same and she will continue to comment. In her stead as Brachet is Keridwen o'r Mynydd Gwyrdd: Heather Rose Jones, 5838 Fremont Street, #3, Oakland, CA 94608; (415) 654-6635.


As most experienced heralds know, the better part of the heraldic "public relations problems" derives from problems in the interaction of the individual and the heraldic establishment in the course of the submissions process. Three specific complaints compose over ninety percent of the reported dissatisfactions with the process: arbitrariness in decision making, arrogance or discourtesy on the part of heralds and delays in the processing of submissions, the latter often linked with lack of notification of the results of the submissions process.

For the first complaint, the solution is education and rules which are easier for the non-technician to understand. This project has already been initiated, although it needs to proceed farther and with greater speed. For the second complaint, education of heraldic staff and "weeding out" of those who are into power trips is necessary. Most Kingdoms are working on this. For the third problem, two things are necessary: prompt notification and prompt processing. My predecessors have addressed the former problem by requiring the principal herald or designated surrogate to notify the submittor of action upon his or her device. Recent events convince me that it is time to address the latter problem.

Over the last few months, the Laurel Office has received a significant number of queries from submittors in a wide range of Kingdoms as to the fate of devices which had been submitted months (or, in a couple of cases, years!) before. In most cases, these submissions were still in process inside the submittor's Kingdom.

At the same time, the commenting process in the College has been periodically "swamped" by floods of submissions from one or more Kingdoms who find it necessary to clear a backlog of submissions which has accrued during several months of "heraldic silence". Many commentors have indicated to me that they are not looking forward to the next few months when a series of "backlog" letters must be researched and commented on. The problem is compounded by the fact that such backlog letters tend inevitably to be less thoroughly researched before they leave the home Kingdom: no matter how competent the heraldic researchers of a Kingdom, the need to research sixty or seventy submissions at once limits the amount of research time that can be devoted to any one submission.

This being so, it is our opinion that a "Performance Standard" for the timely processing of submissions is necessary. It is clearly not acceptable for a submission to be held for three to six months on the Kingdom level purely because no letter of intent has been sent out during that time. Therefore, commencing with the beginning of A.X. XXIII (i.e., with the month of May, 1988), the following administrative standard shall apply:

It shall be the responsibility of the Principal Herald of each Kingdom, either directly or through a designated deputy, to send out a properly researched letter of intent to the College of Arms at least once every other month. This requirement of one letter in each sixty day period is a minimum; issuance of letters of intent on a monthly basis is strongly encouraged to ensure the timely consideration of all submissions by the College of Arms.

Note that this Performance Standard merely "quantifies" a pre-existing requirement. For many years, ensuring timeliness in the processing of submissions has been the responsibility of the Principal Herald of each Kingdom. This requirement has been enforced with greater or lesser riguor from time to time, but has always existed. This requirement is designed to give Principal Heralds a clear benchmark for adequate performance , both for themselves and for submissions deputies (this latter has been requested in a couple of cases by Kingdoms where removal of a submissions deputy for performance failures has become a "political issue".)

Principal Heralds of Kingdoms which fail to meet the minimum standards should be prepared to offer satisfactory explanations of that failure. Note that the desire to save money by "saving up" submissions until there are an adequate number to fill a six page letter of intent is not a satisfactory explanation: this is unjust to the individual submittor. Particularly note that a statement that "we haven't received any submissions at Kingdom level in three months" will not be regarded as a satisfactory explanation: If not one submission has been produced by an entire Kingdom in sixty days, we must presume that there is something seriously amiss in the internal functioning of the College of Heralds of that Kingdom, a situation that in itself warrants careful examination.

After many years of improving timeliness in submission of names and armoury to the College of Arms, 1987 saw a material decline in the regularity of submissions processing in a number of Kingdoms. If one considers the year as a whole, only three Kingdoms would have met this minimum standard of a letter every other month: the West, Atenveldt and Caid. Several Kingdoms have already taken steps to remedy this situation, instituting administrative reforms and replacing non-performing personnel, with results that were beginning to show by year's end. Hopefully, those Kingdoms where submissions are still a problem will follow their example so that at the end of A.S. XXIII, Laurel will be able to announce that all twelve Kingdoms met the minimum standards during the entire calendary year.



As most of those receiving this letter are aware, Laurel's warrant expires in the third quarter of 1988. At this time, she is still undecided whether it is in the best interests of the Society and/or her own sanity to request the Board for a continuation in office.

To facilitate making an informed decision, she would request feedback from the members of the College and other "concerned citizens" on the issue. At the risk of sounding like Mayor Ed Koch of New York, "How am I doing, folks?" Responses will be kept confidential, if requested, passed to the Board, if requested, and should be honest: both Alisoun and Bambi regard it as no favour to her to state to her that her job performance is "just fine", when in fact you feel it has been poor at best, but cannot think of anyone to replace her. (The Laurel staff has found the lack of acrimonious criticism of the incumbent Laurel almost scary, given the correspondence from previous eras!) Even if the performance review is generally favourable, suggestions for areas of improvement are desirable: even if there is a change in the holder of the Laurel Office, such suggestions will help to focus attention on weak spots in the office.

At the same time, resumes are requested from those who desire to take over as Laurel in August. They are also requested from those who would be willing to take the job, if the current incumbent deems it inadvisable to continue in office. Not only is it desirable to give the Board as wide a choice of options as possible, but also the availability of suitable successors inevitably will have a bearing on Laurel's ultimate decision.

Minimum requirements for the job involve a familiarity with the procedures of the College of Arms and the issues currently before the College (current membership in the College is desirable, but not required), experience in submissions processing at a senior level (e.g., service as a Kingdom or Principality submissions officer) and demonstrated administrative aptitude (based on mundane or Society experience) and a willingness to devote considerable amounts of time to submissions processing and general administration (this typically involves at least two weekends a month and a couple of evenings a week plus availability for random telephone calls from all time zones).

It also necessary to be able to house the Laurel library and files (now up to seven four draw file cabinet, a couple of miscellaneous two drawer files and two large bookshelves )in a reasonably accessible manner. It is theoretically possible to house them with a staff member, rather than in Laurel's own abode, but that staff member would have to be a very good friend since access at all hours is required.

Finally, the computer issue. It is probably still theoretically feasible to fun the office without full-time access to a computer or serious word processor. Practically speaking, the current Laurel staff (which is using two computers!) deems it virtually impossible to perform the duties of the office without access to a serious computer system and a letter quality printer (laser or impact).

Feedback letters should reach Laurel by 15 March. Resumes should be sent to both Laurel and the Laurel Ombudsman (John Trimble, 696 S. Bronson Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90005) by 1 April at the very latest.

Your servant,