Saturday, April 28, 2018

EDINBURGH | Visit to The Lord Lyon

Coat of Arms of The Lord Lyon King of
Arms of Scotland.
Oxford, April 29, 2018–I was in Edinburgh earlier this week and visited the offices of The Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland.

The office is centrally located in Edinburgh, on West Register Street. 

Unlike most other countries where the heraldry authorities are private or nonprofit and honorific, the Scottish heraldry office was made part of the government. The heraldry code has the force of law in Scotland, and The Lord Lyon can prosecute, which is rare or unique in the world (South Africa can prevent use of a coat of arms).
Approach to the National Records of Scotland,
on West Register Street. There is construction.

The portrait in the lobby of The Lord Lyon is that of past Lord Lyon Sir Malcolm Rognvald Innes of Edingight KCVO WS FSA Scot. He held the post for 20 years, 1981-2001. The current Lord Lyon is the third since 2001.

He was born on May 25 in a year ending in 8. His portrait shows him in the tabard of The Lord Lyon. He is now Orkney Herald Extraordinary.

I had contacted The Lord Lyon's office to ask about the possibility that the stars in the Stars and Stripes were inspired, directly or indirectly, by the mullets in the Douglas or Murray (Moray) coats of arms.

Elizabeth Roads, Snawdoun Herald and Lyon Clerk at the Court of the Lord Lyon kindly responded to my query, wondering how I would associate with Scotland the Washington family, which prior to the emigration of two sons of Lawrence Washington lived in Sulgrave Manor, Northampton, way down south, not far from Oxford.
The National Records of Scotland.

I responded that the family originally lived in Washington on the River Wear, then part of the Palatine Principality and See of Durham, near Scotland. 

Before George Washington's ancestors were called Washington, they were Wessyngton, and before that Hertburn, after the places they resided, near what became the city of Newcastle. 

George Washington's Ancestors

The Ur-Washington was Sir William fitz Patrick de Hertburn, eldest son of Sir Patrick fitz Dolfin Raby and grandson of Dolfin fitz Uchtred. 

Sir Patrick fitz Dolfin Raby was born before 1136 at Hertburn, a younger son of Dolfin fitz Uchtred. Upon his marriage to Cecily de Offerton, he became known as Sir Patrick de Offerton and Le Hirsel. The Le Hirsel land lies on the north bank of the River Tweed two miles NW of Coldstream. He died c. 1190.

Sir William fitz Patrick de Hertburn was born c. 1150 in Hertburn, near Stockton-on-Tees (about halfway between Newcastle and York). He married twice, gaining Stockton lands with his first marriage and gaining royal relatives with his second marriage to Marjory (Margaret) de Huntingdon, Countess of Richmond. Sir William and Countess Margaret were close in age, although this was her third marriage.

Margaret's brothers were William the Lion, King of Scotland, and Malcolm IV, the Maiden King of Scotland. Her father was Henry, Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon, and her paternal grandfather was David I, King of Scotland and saint. Her youngest brother, David Earl of Huntingdon, was ancestor of the de Bruce and Balliol families. Countess Margaret's four times great-grandparents were Beatrix, Queen of Scotland and Crinan the Thane. 

So Hertburn acquired new lands and noble connections  with his new bride. He assumed tenancy of the Wessyngton  lands from the Prince Bishop of Durham at a cost of four pounds per year. He had received the Wessyngton property in trade for his Stockton lands – a good move, since he was already heir to the lands at Offerton, just across the River Wear from Washington. Given his huge step up in status, Hertburn took on the name William de Wessyngton in 1183. He died c. 1190.

Sources for the above include: 1. Audrey Fletcher, Posting as Washington Lass 
2. Archaeology Data Service, UK, 1960 


  • Today The Hirsel is the seat of the Earls of Home, and the 14th Earl, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was British Prime Minister in 1963-1964 when I was a student at Oxford – he contributed an article to a magazine I edited, Oxford Tory. I served as General Agent of the Oxford University Conservative Association when Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, now Baron Selkirk of Douglas, was President.
  • George Washington's hero was General William Braddock of the Coldstream Guards. Together they attacked Fort Duquesne, which was renamed Pittsburgh, after Pitt the Elder, who was the patron of the war against the French in North America. Braddock gave Col. Washington his sash and Washington is shown wearing it in several portraits.
Visit to the office of The Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. L to R: (1) Snawdoun Herald and Lyon Clerk, Elizabeth Roads. (2) Portrait of Immediate past Lord Lyon, Sir Malcolm Rognvald Innes of Edingight KCVO WS FSA Scot, with a magnificent estoile above. (3) Your blogger with what seems to be a tiny coronet in chief.

Visit to The Lord Lyon

Snawdoun Herald again was kind enough to respond and wondered why a family so well-connected by marriage would wish to connect to the humbler (at the time) Douglas arms.

My answer is that the Washington coat of arms was not created until after the Battle of Crécy, by which time the Douglas family was ennobled and well established.

At this point there are so many clues and question marks that I am pausing in my quest. A good time to visit Snawdoun Herald and the office of The Lord Lyon!

Also see: My Visit to the College of Arms in London

CLUBLAND | Some Good Ideas

I have been staying at some Reciprocal Clubs in Scotland and England, and a couple of ideas make a lot of sense to me:

1. Open. Insert chain goes through the sleeve
of a coat and the loop on an umbrella. Put the
bottom of the chain through the locking hole.
REPLACE A CLOAKROOM ATTENDANT.  Instead, use chains and keys. Some clubs in New York have two cloakrooms or add a cloakroom for special events. Surely one cloakroom could be self-service, for people who are not worried sick that someone will steal their coat (has never happened to me in 50 years of using a New York club). 

Every club of course needs a concierge for people with valuables like a computer in their bag, or a suitcase. One club in New York seems to be  totally trusting about books and book bags. 
2. Lock, after first putting a £1 coin in a 
slot (it can be recovered when the coat is 
picked up).

Here's what a London club does. It has a long wall of coat hooks, and you protect your coat from theft or careless coat pickup by locking the coat to the hook with a chain.

With modern computer advances, there must be a more efficient way of doing this that does not require a coin.

Maybe a credit card could be used to close and then reopen the lock. It would also provide evidence if the club had problems with their system or there was a dispute about ownership of the coat.

3. Take away the plastic key, which
opens the lock on your return.
IPHONE RECHARGING. Another innovation I saw at a London club was the use of an iPhone recharging station. 

It looks like a set of post office boxes but inside each one is a plug to recharge an iPhone. This is valuable for people who can leave their iPhone while they have a meal or a drink, and pick it up recharged on their way out.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A HAPPY MARRIAGE | Tomás and Paquita (with Postscript by Brigid)

Paquita (L) Dominguez and Tomás Alvira, seated, with their children..
I have just received a copy of a book written by my sister, Olga Emily Marlin. Titled Our Lives in His Handsit is based on Olga's translations of two books in Spanish by Antonio Vázquez, as well as her own research and her lifelong working association with the youngest of the couple's nine children, Concha Alvira.

New Book by Olga Emily Marlin
(New York: Scepter, 2018)
Just released by New York City-based Scepter Publishers, the book has 33 chapters on the life shared by this Spanish Catholic couple – Paquita Dominguez and Tomás Alvira. They are Concha's parents, and the case for their beatification is being made in Rome. They were the first married members of Opus Dei. The book is a defense of the institution of marriage as well as a celebration of married life as the center of the traditional social network.

The Foreword by Harvard Law School Professor Mary Ann Glendon (former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See) puts the book in the context of the fraying of the threads of a society challenged by those who believe that traditional marriage is constricting rather than enabling.

This book deserves more thought than I have given it so far in the few hours since it arrived in my mailbox from Scepter. But I am impressed enough to order two more and I am sure I will order again in a larger quantity.

The book is about the parents of Olga's co-worker and friend Concha. Olga earlier wrote about her own story, with Concha featured in it, in To Africa with a Dream. It was published by Scepter in 2002 and was republished in a revised second edition by Boissevain Books in 2012.

Olga herself is featured as the eldest daughter in fictionalized family biography, The Mitchells trilogy, published originally by Viking Press and republished by Bethlehem Books.

Meanwhile, here is a short YouTube clip about the couple. It is in Spanish.

Postscript (May 8, 2018): Here is a review of the book by my sister Brigid, to whom I brought a copy of the book on my visit to England in April:
I'm so proud of my sister Olga! 
I have finished her book on Concha's parents (Our Lives in His Hands, Scepter 2018), Tomás Alvira and Paquita Dominguez and was deeply moved. She has done such a good job, turning each chapter into a slightly different subject, and grouping it all to tell an ongoing story which flows so well that the book is hard to put down.
Paquita with baby José Maria.
It is a heart-warming testimonial to two really great people, one working in the world and pouring out his love to all those he met, and the wife giving up her individual personal ambitions to create a perfect home for husband and children. 
I am glad that their case for being beatified is going forward in the Vatican. The world needs such an example of spiritual life, especially when traditional family life is being challenged!
When I finished the book I felt very proud to have such a talented sister! 
I loved the photos and found the one of baby José Maria ecstatic in his mother's arms (see photo) so moving, knowing how short his little life was going to be.