Taigh Moran Chat
RR 2, Northside Road
Wading River, NY 11792
7 May, 1989

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 February meeting was held on Sunday, February 26. The letters considered at that time included East (10/31), Atenveldt (11/1), Calontir (11/5), Caid (11/6), Ansteorra (11/15), Outlands (11/19), Trimaris (11/20), West (11/20) and Meridies (11/27). Of 285 actions, 229 were positive, 55 were negative and one involved a pended item for an overall success rate of 80%.

The March meeting was held on Saturday, March 26 to deal with An Tir letter of August, 1988, Atenveldt (12/1), Middle (12/9), Caid (12/11), Meridies (12/14), Atlantia (12/15), West (12/20), Calontir (12/23), Outlands (12/24) and Middle (12/30).

The April meeting took place on, Sunday, April 30 and considered East (12/30), East (1/1), Calontir (1/10), Caid (1/15), Ansteorra (1/20), Trimaris (1/20), Meridies (1/23), Outlands (1/23) and West (1/24).

The May meeting has been moved to Sunday, May 21. The letters scheduled for that meeting include Calontir (2/1), Caid (2/12), Atenveldt (2/13), West (2/13), Calontir (2/14), Ansteorra (2/16), Outlands (2/24), East (2/25), Meridies (2/26), Atlantia (2/28) and East (2/28). Also to be considered at that time is the November, 1988, letter of intent from An Tir, which had not previously been scheduled because of delayed paperwork. Please note that this letter includes the submission that the title "Companion" is permitted as an alternate title/form of address for a Master/Mistress of the Pelican. If you have any thoughts on this issue, please convey them to Laurel in time for that meeting.

The June meeting is now scheduled for Sunday, June 18. Since the Laurel files will not have been shipped at that point, this meeting will be held in New York. Letter to be considered at that meeting include Calontir (3/1), Caid (3/5), West (3/14/), Ansteorra (3/16), East (3/20), Trimaris (3/20), Meridies (3/21), East (3/23) and Calontir (3/31).

The July meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, 23 July, and should be the first meeting to be held in Atlantian territory. The letters presently scheduled for consideration at that meeting include Middle (4/3), Atlantia (4/15), Ansteorra (4/21), Meridies (4/27), East (4/28) and Calontir (4/30).


As you all know, Laurel will shortly be moving to Atlantia. From June 1, mail for the Laurel Office should be directed to the Post Office box which has been taken out for that purpose: Box 522, Mount Pleasant, SC 29465. The new telephone number in Mount Pleasant will be 803-881-5517 (service should be connected on 30 May, if all goes well). However, if you cannot reach her at this number, the machine will be running at the New York number through at least mid-July, even when Laurel herself is in Charleston so you can try there.

The precise "official moving day" is still somewhat uncertain (too much stuff, too little time). However, it is clear that Laurel will be bouncing between New York and South Carolina for much of June and July. The following dates are fairly firm, but it would be as well to confirm them with Laurel or a member of her staff, if there is a "time destruct" matter that you know will be coming up in June or July. On May 25, Laurel flies to Charleston to interview for new staff, close on a house and help open up the new offices. On June 9, she returns to New York to pack and do work at the office (mundane and Society!). On or about June 20, she will return to Charleston, returning to New York on June 30. For most of the following week she will be focused on packing up as much as possible of the office and her personal goods and chattels. Ideally, on Thursday, July 6, she would wave good-bye to a moving van and drive to the airport to fly to Caid for the Symposium. Upon her return on the following Monday, she would pack in the car those things the movers should not handle (e.g., the computer) and start the drive to Charleston. Note that the later stages of this schedule are probably utopian: the Laurel staff has confidently predicted that she will be making custodial visits to her (packrat) nest in A.S. XV!


Beacon has asked that you add to your mailing lists a new Lambent Herald for Meridies: Lachlan Sinclair Dumas (Jeff Parker, Box 506, Ridgeland, MS 39158; 601-957-1602). Triskele requests that you also add as a commentor Catelina de la Mor (Triste Elliot, 1215 Wheeler Rd. E., Seffner, FL 33584; 813-684-0262).

Triton informs me that Thomas Longshanks is no longer Kraken Herald and should be removed from the roster of the College of Arms. Please amend your rosters to show Allyn O'Dubhda as Kraken Herald of Atlantia. His address remains the same (Alan Dowd, 12502 Oakwood Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192; 703-491-8867). At the same time, Triton asks us to add to the mailing list the Shofar Herald of Atlantia, Jaelle of Armida (Judy Gerjuoy), 1815 H Street NW, Apt. 408, Washington, DC 20006. The address information for Triton, Ibis and Brightleaf remains the same.

Dragon informs us that there have also been significant changes in the Middle's College of Heralds, with several new regional heralds who should be added to your rosters, but not to the mailing list, as they will not be commenting at this time. Gavin MacPherson replaces Elaine Ladd as Lincoln Herald. His address is Richard Blondin, 5457 C Gray Plaza, Scott AFB, IL 62225; 618-744-1606. Arwenna of Kelsey has passed the office of Oaken Herald to Rurik Vladimirovich Zhilnikov (Albert Landeck, 155 Savern Place, Gehanna, OH 43230). The Constellation Herald, Thorvald Redhair, also has a new address (Ron Sargent, 668 Carroll Square, Apt. GW, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007; 312-364-9606).

Dragon has also asked that I restore to the mailing list the Targe Herald of the Mid-Realm, Fiona Averylle of Maidenhead. Inasmuch as recent commentary from Targe has managed to make it across the border from Canada and the lady herself has indicated that she will take special measures not to "fall behind" on her commentary again, you are all asked to place her back on the mailing list.

Finally, an apology to Gereint Scholar, Crux Australis Herald of the West, whose Post Code was still not correct on the last roster. His correct address is Stilgherrian, P.O. Box 213, Prospect 5082, AUSTRALIA.


As you all know, the Symposium this year will be held on the second weekend of July at Marymount Loyola College in beautiful sub-tropical Caid. At this point a wide variety of heraldic and scribal activities are planned (including the ever-popular rules discussion!)

The Symposium registration is only twenty dollars ($20). At this point the menu and precise cost of the banquet is still under discussion, but the autocrats anticipate it will be reasonable. On-campus housing is available at fifteen dollars ($15) per night double occupancy (the autocrats will match you up with a roommate, if you desire: for details see CCOH Form 1066EZ).

Even if you are not yet able to send the autocrats a cheque for your fees, you are urged to drop them a note as soon as possible to let them know you are coming so that they can accurately plan for food, housing, etc. Reservations should be sent to Jasper Greensmith (Glen Fisher), 4551 Montair Avenue, #C1, Long Beach, CA 90808. Baldwin of Erebor has been forced by mundane pressures to withdraw as Heraldic Proceedings editor. Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme will be taking his place (you know where he lives!). The overall autocrat remains Eowyn Amberdrake (Melinda Sherbring), 14124 Lemoli Avenue, Hawthorne, CA 90250; 213-973-1767.


As many of you already know, the latest draft of the revised rules for submission was mailed out to members of the College of Arms last week. Copies of the rules may be obtained by anyone else who is interested by sending a note to the Laurel Office requesting a "rules packet".

To allow collation of comments in a reasonable amount of time, they should be in the form of a separate "rules commentary letter", containing no other business (submissions, roster info, etc.). Those who are members of the College of Arms must send copies of their commentary to the members of the College of Arms mailing list (all members of the mailing list, not merely Principal Heralds!). This last requirement is new and the Laurel staff regrets any additional cost difficulty this may cause to those wishing to comment. However, both Laurel and her staff are all too well aware that many comments on the previous version of the rules were not received by many members of the College, prompting some serious misconceptions on the part of certain members of the College as to the origins of certain "features" of the rules as they now stand. Since time spent correcting these misconceptions has been time not spent on the rules themselves, this cannot continue.

Please note that the deadline for commentary on this draft has to be June 15 if Laurel is to meet the deadline for the next draft imposed by the Board of Directors. This deadline will be enforced. No matter how intelligent, cogent and eloquent your comments, if they are contained in a general comment letter or letter of intent or come in after June 15, they will not be considered when we generate the next draft of the rules!


As the College well knows, it had been Laurel's hope to place reconsideration of the restrictions on the use of the title "Don" in the context of a general reevaluation of the manner in which the Society has generated its alternate titles. However, as the College (and the Board) seems eager for an imminent decision and the second group of individuals to whom collation of the materials for the general reevaluation was delegated have just "undelegated" themselves, it seems appropriate to issue an immediate decision based on current evidence with a promise that the title, like all other non-English titles, will be considered again as part of the general consideration of titles later in the year.

A number of commentors have provided evidence that the title "Don" is not limited to members of the nobility in modern Spanish and was not limited to the peerage in the older times. While much of the material provided to Laurel was undated, there is no doubt that at least some of the examples of non-peerage usage date to our period, if late in the period in most cases.

The issue then becomes whether the documented use of a title, however occasional, in a certain context in period can be considered in and of itself grounds for its acceptance in the Society (i.e., whether the level of "proof" is the same as for given names and other name elements). If it is, then "Don" be permitted for use by any armiger. If it is not, then further limitations may be necessary on its usage in the Society.

Alternate titles in languages other than English were in most cases adopted to meet the needs of members with a non-English persona. This is clear from most of the early Laurel rulings involving alternate titles and is implicit in the Corpora statements on the subject of alternate titles. For example, Revision 2 of Corpora (VII, B.5) notes "The Society recognizes that equivalent titles exist in many cultures, and may be more appropriate to individual members' personae." The current draft proposal for Corpora reflects the same motivation: "The Society recognizes that equivalent titles from other cultures may be more appropriate for individual members."

Clearly, the issue here is the definition of "equivalency". For most of the history of the Society, the definition of "equivalent has generally meant "translation" with equivalents often being derived and documented from lexicographical material. This is in fact explicitly stated in Wilhelm von Schlussel's article on alternate titles in the Proceedings of the Caerthan Heraldic Symposium (pp.78-79) in referring to the requirements for gaining approval from Laurel for an alternate title: "Such a petition should enclose sufficient documentation to prove that the title is the correct and equivalent translation of one of the standard titles.

That this should be the case is not surprising. Many of our early heralds were somewhat lacking in historical and linguistic expertise. Additionally (or possibly as a result), the hierarchy of honours in the Society as expressed in the "standard" titles bore little relation to the historical western European system of honours. Knights are by definition peers in the Society, which they were not in period (although some peers were knights). The title Master/Mistress, which was a distinctly generic honorific with middle class overtones for a good part of our period, is also reserved to the peerage in the Society. Dukes and counts are all royal peers, which was certainly not the case in period (the concept of the title of Duke as a retirement title for a monarch arguably dates all the way back to 1936!).

To deal with this confusion, the Society early on adopted a policy of approximation by translation, preferably a similar sounding cognate translation at that. Forms which were cognate to reserved titles were restricted to those who held the rank associated with the original title, even if the translated term had a broader use in the foreign language. For example, although "dux" in ancient and medieval Latin did not of itself contain any intimation of royal rank, meaning simply "one who leads," this title was reserved to those entitled to hold the Society title of "Duke". The fact that, although it was the source of the title of "Duke", the term continued in much wider use throughout our period in Latin sources was considered irrelevant. Similarly, the Old English noun "cwene", which could mean "woman" in general as well as the wife or lady of a king, has been for years restricted for the use of Society queens.

Using this process (and probably heavily influenced not only by Don Quixote but also by the Guy Williams Zorro series in which it was repeatedly stressed that the title "Don" was used only for hidalgos, defined in this context as nobles of high rank), in the early days of the Society several kingdoms hit upon the use of "Don" as an appropriate equivalent title for members of the Chivalry of a Spanish turn of persona. This was already a long-standing tradition in some areas by the time Laurel joined the Society in A.S. XII and appears in a number of lists of approved alternate titles going back a decade or so, the most accessible of which is probably the listing of alternate titles generated by Wilhelm von Schlussel, who was then Laurel, in the article alluded to above.

Considering the manner in which equivalent titles have traditionally been generated in the Society, the equation of "Don" and "Sir" is actually quite rational. In period English usage, "Sir" appears as a title for those of high rank (for example, the king), even though that individual may never have been knighted and did not belong, even as a lay member, to one of the military orders.

Additionally, it was not only used for non-military peers but also as for others who were considered to be of a certain rank (which was distinctly below the peerage in most cases). For example, clerics were quite commonly afforded the title of "Sir", so much so that by the sixteenth century, the overuse of this phenomenon could be alluded to as a sign of the troubled state of the clergy: "The most ragged ronnagate, and idle idiote among theym, is no less than a syr, which is a Lord in the Latin, as syr John, syr Thomas, syr William" (Bale, as cited in the OED). Lest it be thought that this usage might refer to "debased" clerical members of the old religious orders, consider that the title was also afforded to John Knox by one of his opponents in a work published in 1573: The Refutation of ane Ansver made by schir John Knox.

Copious examples from period historical and literary sources indicate that the title was also commonly used to indicate a Bachelor of Arts of one of the Universities (frequently with the surname, as stated in the OED, but almost as frequently with the given name and surname in university records).

Examination of the usage of "Don in period English, let alone Spanish, shows a surprisingly similar pattern. It was clearly used commonly for those of very high rank as late as the sixteenth century and there is a fairly strong belief in early sources that this was its original usage. In 1724 Richers in a history of the royal genealogy of Spain said "This prince was the first to whom was given the title of Don, which till then they gave only to saints." Prescott, Ferdinand and Isabella, "The title of Don, which had not then been degenerated into an appellation of mere courtesy." As the OED puts it, this is a title that was "Formerly confined to men of high rank, but now applied in courtesy to all of the better classes."

In considering whether "Don" is an appropriate equivalent for "Sir", it is useful to note that the former was commonly used in Spanish documents as a standard honorific for clerics of all ranks. Indeed, since all academics at the early English universities were in minor orders, this is probably the origin of the usage of the term "don" to denote a teacher at one of the older universities, a usage that has been documented by the 1660's in England.

In short, the usage of "Don" as a period title for those who were not of knightly rank parallels quite closely the usage for "Sir" which has been defined by the Board and long Society precedent as a title reserved to those of knightly rank. Moreover, "Don" was used as an alternate for the knightly title in a number of Kingdoms for a long period of time so that there is a considerable weight of Society tradition behind this practice.

This is not to ignore the fact that in more recent times the title has come to be used in several Kingdoms as the pre-eminent title for "swashers", whether this title is reserved to those who have received a certain rank or is applied as a university distinction to all those who fence in the Society ("the dons").

Clearly, there are two competing traditions here and we must consider which of the two has the stronger claim, given the current methods of developing equivalencies. The primary argument in favour of the broader use of the title "Don" is that it was not limited to peers or to knights in period, i.e., the argument based on mundane history. No one denies that this is relevant, but precedent indicates that it is not an overriding consideration in the current system. If it were, "Master" would not be a form of address limited to peers, any warleader could call himself "dux" and the veriest doxy-persona at the War could style herself "queen" since that is also a period usage. Indeed, "Sir" would not be restricted to knights, since there is considerable evidence of use of the title by non-knights and non-peers in period.

On the other hand, the parallelisms in the usage of "Sir" and "Don" in mundane usage are considerable. While both can be used as forms of address for those of extremely high rank (even royalty!), both can also be used for non-peers whose primary qualification for honour is a non-military occupation, most notably the clergy. They are used in many respects interchangeably in a number of late period translations and references and it is clear that in the latter part of the period at least, the two were used in the same contexts (examine Shakespeare's use of "Don" and "Sir", for example).

The question now comes down to the issue of whether the de facto usage of the title "Don" in some areas in a manner that was not formally sanctioned by the College of Arms or the Board should carry such weight that the existing restriction should be withdrawn. This is a difficult issue, since feelings on this run very high (and in some areas are tightly linked to the issue of sanction for a peerage in fencing, which is not within the domain of the College of Arms). The precedent on the issue is clear, however: the existence of unsanctioned usages may not be used as an argument in itself for sanction of those usages. Those who were about when the issue of the title of "marquis" as a royal title came up (as it was widely used in Meridies and other kingdoms) will recall this clearly. That this is yet the case is indicated clearly by the Board's ruling last year that the College may not be compelled to register anything that is against its rules, a ruling made specifically in the context of titles and insignia that may be sanctioned by royalty or used widely in one or more Kingdoms.

The "bottom line" is that the current tradition of generation of alternate titles cannot support the extension of the title of "Don" to be a general title for armigers, as had been petitioned by several members of the College. The Laurel staff remains convinced that a general reevaluation of the manner in which the Society has generated its alternate titles is necessary. The current situation with regard to the restriction on the usage of the title will automatically be reviewed (as will a number of the current equivalents for other titles) as part of that reevaluation.


Some time ago, Star petitioned that the title "Barun" and "Barunin" be considered acceptable for Society use by Barons and Baronesses respectively in addition to the current titles sanctioned for such use in German. This petition had been remanded, like that for "Don", to the general reevaluation of titles. Since this has been delayed, it seems appropriate to make an immediate ruling.

As these titles carry with them all the possible arguments for an alternate title in the current tradition (equivalent usage in period, cognate origins and direct translated meaning, etc.), we see no barrier to usage of these titles and they are hereby sanctioned for use in the Society.


To avoid errors by omission with regard to alternate titles in the future and to compel all commenting members of the College to address the issue of submitted alternate titles in a timely manner, henceforth any proposed alternate title must be submitted as a "line item" in a letter of intent with the same requirements for forms and documentation that are imposed for names. In the interests of equity, no fee will be charged, but the Principal Herald must include the title as a submission, not raise it as an "issue" which tends not to be considered or coherently discussed by many members of the College if they are short of time. (In some cases, I have received only two or three comments on a title alternate on a letter for which fifteen or twenty people have commented.)


Although the deadline for the TI poll was February 1, 1989, due to the late publication of that issue, we took into consideration any responses that arrived prior to March 1, 1989.

Although the poll was set up to allow anonymity, we were pleased to note that over half of the responses included the responder's name, either on the form or the envelope and a large minority included additional comments and/or a letter in a addition to the basic response. As a result, we were able to determine that the responders came from as far afield as Drachenwald and Lochac. The spread of rank and experience ran from present and former royalty, national officers and Board members down to a couple of individuals who indicated that they had only been in the Society a couple of weeks. The numbers of those responding were not enormous, but large enough to be a statistically significant sample.

While there were a couple of attempts at "ballot box stuffing", these do not seem to have been successful enough to negate the usefulness of the poll. Indeed, the attempt that had the most destructive potential (involving the distribution of a modified poll with a rather inflammatory cover letter) seems to have had virtually no effect: examination of the responses on the modified form showed no clear pattern. Some geographic biases were noted, however. Responders from the West Kingdom, where the heraldic establishment has taken advantage of a license granted by a previous Laurel to refuse to pass on household names for registration, had a distinctly greater tendency to be against the registration of household names. Responders from Caid, where the Dolphin Herald reproduced the TI page on cardboard for use by other heralds as a "post card" reply, tended to favour protecting household names only against groups and other households, a stance for which the College of Arms representatives for Caid have been the strongest advocates.

Some results of the poll have been incorporated into the draft rules circulated earlier this month. Others will be covered more completely with the March letter. However, it seems appropriate to make a start here with the simplest of the issues considered, that of the use of "non-human names".


As Badger has quite rightly noted, the portion of the poll dealing with non-human names ("Bambi's Bombshell") was triggered by the number of names falling afoul of that portion of the rules that were submitted and passed through to the College of Arms. Given the screening processes, much of the Laurel staff felt that this might represent an iceberg's tip. The amount of heated correspondence on the issue every time a "Thor the Red" was returned by the College supported this view, the more so since the objections to such a return often appealed to the injunction of a previous Board to "ease up on names" and assertions that the College were a group of research snobs out of touch with the populace.

The poll was an attempt to gain some evidence, one way or another. The results were fairly conclusive, with over three-fifths of the sample supporting the current, fairly restrictive policy. Nearly a quarter of those responding favoured allowing non-human given names, but most of those limited the permissible names to a very small language pool, many of which can in fact be documented as being used in period by humans (and so being legitimate under the current rule).

[pie chart graphic inserted here, showing breakdown of poll results:

61.33% - Continue current policy

23.05% - Non-human given names only

11.33% - Both non-human names and epithets

4.30% - Non-human epithets only]

As the graph on the previous page shows, the support for a radical change in the rules at this time is minimal. As a result, the current draft incorporates virtually no changes to the present policy, a stance which was favoured by the majority of the College of Arms as well. It should be noted, however, that those members of the College who are approached by an irate member of the populace who objects because the name "Odin Starfollower" or "Ermengard the Fairy" has been returned has ammunition to use when accused of elitism: the populace has spoken. (And, if a submittor indicates they did not "vote", one can always point out what has been said of many recent presidential elections: "If you don't bother to vote, then you lose your right to complain at the results.")

Your servant,