Taigh Moran Chat
RR 2, Northside Road
Wading River, NY 11792
13April, 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 March meeting was held on 19 March and considered the letters from An Tir (12/6), Caid (12/6), Atlantia (12/7), West (12/16), Ansteorra (12/17), and East (12/23). Of 282 actions from this meeting, 218 were positive, 63 were negative and one involved a pended submission for an overall success rate of 77%.

The April meeting will be held on 23 April and will consider letters from Trimaris (11/30), Outlands (12/30), Atenveldt (1/10), Caid (1/10), West (1/13), East (1/25), East (1/26), Outlands (1/28), Ansteorra (1/29) and Meridies (1/29).

The May meeting is tentatively scheduled for 14 May. On that weekend we shall consider Calontir (1/1A), Calontir (1/1B), Atenveldt (2/1), Caid (2/7), Middle (2/7), West (2/10), Middle (2/14), East (2/20), Meridies (2/20), Atlantia (2/21), Outlands (2/28), Atlantia (2/27) and Calontir (2/28). In the event that all submissions cannot be processed in the course of that weekend, the meeting will be completed on the following weekend.

The letters from Trimaris (2/29) and Ansteorra (3/11) will be considered at the Laurel meeting to be held at the Symposium in Calontir. The regular Laurel meeting will be held on 25 June and will consider Atenveldt (3/1), Middle (3/9), Calontir (3/15), West (3/16), Caid (3/18) and Meridies (3/18).


We note with some sorrow that the number of returned elements on this letter would have been considerably lower if it were not for the number of submittors who specifically forbade any changes to their names or the formation of a holding name so that otherwise acceptable armoury had to be returned.

Despite our pleas, most submission forms still do not have a "consumer warning" on the formation of a holding name nor a suitably phrased check box to be checked only if a holding name is totally unacceptable. In these circumstances, if a submittor indicates that no changes whatsoever may be made to his or her name, we must assume that a holding name would not be acceptable and return the entire submission. This has been the case with far too many submissions in recent months when names have had to be returned for conflict or improper formation.

We suggest that any such check line should be put in the negative mode (e.g., "Do NOT create a holding name to register my armoury if the name is unacceptable."), since only those who have an opinion on the issue will bother to check a box. This will not resolve all problems, since some submittors will still refuse to consider a holding name, thinking that a willingness to accept a holding name will affect the "chances" of their desired name passing (it will not), but it will reduce the number of acceptable armorial submissions which must be returned on purely technical grounds.


Recent commentary amongst members of the College and the "test case" submission from Chevron seems to indicate that there is still some confusion on the subject of the degree of protection to be afforded in the case of household names.

As noted in the precedent issued in the cover letter to the September, 1987, letter of acceptance and return only registered household names are protected. Registered names are protected against inclusion in the personal names of individuals not affiliated with that household, against conflicting branch names, Society awards or other household names.

Nowhere in that precedent does it state that personal names are protected against infringement by household names. Indeed, the discussion of the "history" lying behind the precedent alludes specifically to NR21b where it is stated "Conflict will not be considered between household names and personal names or bynames." The interpretation that it is reasonable to interpret this as a "one-way proposition" was very clearly made at that time, with the analogy being made to the "visual conflict test": household names need not consider already registered personal names when the College considers them for registration, but personal names must consider registered household names.

There is a clear basis in reality for this interpretation and it does not seem an overly restrictive compromise to protect the rights of the greatest number of people and cause offense to the smallest number. Despite the feelings of some members of the College that households tend to be ephemeral, the names of households by their very nature affect more individuals: they tend to have a "higher profile" and more individuals have an "ownership interest" in the name and hence feel offended when the household name is infringed. (Note too that the accusations of ephemeral lifespan for the "average household" is probably overstated: Laurel's own circle of acquaintance includes members of at least three dozen households that have been in existence for at least ten years.)

At the same time, the requirements for a registerable household name are considerably more restrictive than those for a surname in a personal name. Household names may not conflict with famous surnames from the mundane world or with well-known places in the mundane world, fiction or myth (so you can be Michael of Bedford without being allowed House Bedford, Malcolm Rudolf MacGregor without being allowed Clan MacGregor, Anton von Heidelberg without being allowed Haus Heidelberg). A personal name can include a surname of place derived from a Society group name, although a household name cannot conflict with the name of an official group (thus Ronald of Würm Wald could register his personal name, but not Haus Würm Wald because that name would conflict with his Barony).

The general effect of these restrictions is not only to prevent offense by prohibiting presumptuous household names but also to protect a very large category of acceptable period names from becoming the personal property of a limited group of individuals (the "heraldic territory" issue raised by a number of commentors). Admittedly, there are a few names from earlier, less restrictive periods which may cause problems, but these would seem to be few in number.

At the same time, for anyone who wishes to use a household name which is not offensive, overtly modern, overly presumptuous and does not fall into one of the categories noted above, the path is open to gain protection for the name by registering it. Since a household name which is not registerable will not be protected, more submittors will hopefully be stimulated to select names for their households that will be acceptable to both the College and the populace at large, while not unduly limiting the options for submittors who wish to choose distinctive personal names formed on either authentic period exemplars or fantasy models.

In one form or another, this issue has been affecting heraldic discussion in the Society for some twenty years and the feelings of many members of the College on the subject of households and household names are very strong so that we do not really expect this issue to go away permanently. Moreover, the current position is admittedly a compromise between the rights of the few and the rights of the many and compromises seldom make everyone happy. Indeed, they seldom make anyone very happy! We are convinced that this is the most equitable compromise that can be made. Whether this is also a viable compromise, only time will tell.


The Board of Directors and many of the members of the College of Arms having agreed in principle that "archiving" of the Laurel files would be Good Thing, a committee is being established to consider the options. Initially, the committee will evaluate the costs and technical aspects of the various options open to us for duplication and preservation of the records of the College of Arms Later stages of the evaluation will include investigation of alternate means of funding the project (grants, fund-raisers amonst Society members, etc.). Anyone who has expertise in this area and/or would like to serve on this committee should contact Laurel as soon as possible.

Your servant,