Use of supporters

The use and rights of Heraldic supporters
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Guye Pennington
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Use of supporters

Post by Guye Pennington » Thu May 04, 2006 1:20 pm

Greetings, all! It is my understanding that supporters for personal achievements are now only eligible for Peers. But does anyone know the tradition in other heraldic countries -- Spain, Germany, Russia, Sweden -- etc.?

Many thanks, and have a great day!
Guye W. Pennington
"Victory without honor is defeat."

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Martin Goldstraw
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Post by Martin Goldstraw » Thu May 04, 2006 2:40 pm

In Scotland the net is slightly (a lot) wider.
Supporters are found in the arms of Chiefs of Clans and Heads of Names and also one or two ordinary armigers have managed to obtain, or perhaps I should say keep, supporters because they have managed to prove that their ancestors used them anterior to the creation of "The Register". Up until quite recently one or two English baronets managed to convince Lyon Court that they warranted supporters but none are granted now.

The present Lord Lyon, who is not a peer has awarded himself supporters but that could be because he is a Judge. So far I don't think that any of Scotland's High Court Judges (Senators of the Court of Justice) who are titled as "Lord" but are not peers have asked for supporters, for they are surely eligible for them, but it is suspected that they are standing aloof and refuse to petition a Judge of a lower court (Lyon Court is subordinate to the Higher Courts) because it is beneath them!

There are in England one or two "ordinary" people who have supporters for one reason or another - the Tichborne dynasty springs to mind as being one.

As for the "Continent" (the rest of Europe) it may pay you to get hold of a copy of one of Alexander von Volborth's books.
Martin Goldstraw

The Armorial Register


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M Harden of Cowdenknowes
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Post by M Harden of Cowdenknowes » Thu May 04, 2006 11:15 pm

My understanding is that in Germany, Supporters are merely for decoration and nothing more.

Mark Harden of Cowdenknowes



S A Saint David
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Post by S A Saint David » Sat May 06, 2006 3:08 am

There seems to be a fairly wide variety of approaches when it comes to the issue of heraldic supporters. Roughly five years ago, I registered my achievement in France with the Conseil Francais d'Heraldique, and President Lartigue raised no objections whatsoever to my use of supporters, as this is fully in keeping with accepted heraldic practice there.

On the other hand, the use of helms and/or coronets is greatly frowned upon in traditional French heraldic practice, particularly if one is not directly descended from a noble house. In the Bristish Isles, however, it would seem that everyone is entitled to, at the very least, the use of the so-called "gentleman's helm".

The Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland would allow me the use of the knight's helm (open beaver and affronty) were I to apply for a grant, but has also informed me that the use of supporters is strictly limited to those who are of fairly exalted rank, such as former Presidents of Ireland, persons of ambassadorial rank, etc.

All of this variety certainly seems to keep things interesting, but it can also be rather confusing for those of us who live in the States, as we have no officially recognized national norms of heraldic practice, and are therefore dependent on the opinions of the various state heraldic authorities that exist elsewhere.
S. A. Saint-David,
Chevalier of the French Order of Merit

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J Duncan of Sketraw
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Re: Use of supporters

Post by J Duncan of Sketraw » Mon May 13, 2013 12:40 am

Heraldic supporters have always created a contentious debate especially in those countries where you are free to assume them, or they are classed as mere decoration and you can do more or less what you wish.

But just because you can, should you use supporters........?

This well researched article by Kimon Andreou is worth a read and I do tend to agree with him that it is not recommended to use supporters.
This perception is why I gave the answer “not recommended”. Since supporters are, for better or worse, so closely associated with the highest levels of nobility, the implication is that if one freely assumes supporters, they are pretending to be what they are not. They are posturing as being above everyone else.
John A. Duncan of Sketraw

The Armorial Register - International Register of Arms


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Jeremy Kudlick
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Re: Use of supporters

Post by Jeremy Kudlick » Mon May 13, 2013 1:59 pm

On the other side of 'The Pond', the situation is quite different regarding the use of supporters.

In the United States, heraldry as a whole is not regulated. Therefore, one is not prohibited from assuming supporters, but it is something to be avoided as having the appearance of nobility.

In Canada, however, supporters are granted to individuals who meet certain criteria. After the Nickle Resolution, it is rare for HM to confer knighthoods or peerages on Canadians, but not unheard of. Supporters may be granted to Companions of the Order of Canada, Commanders of the Order of Military Merit, Commanders of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, and Commanders of the Royal Victorian Order. Also entitled to supporters are those who are eligible to be styled "The Right Honourable" as well as those granted the honour, e.g. Robert Watt. Grants of supporters are not hereditary. A more complete list is available at
Jeremy Kudlick

Semper Patriam Servire Praesto

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