Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
British Grants of Arms, 1570-1721

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, May 2012

Summary Information
Title: British Grants of Arms
Creator: Macartney, George Macartney, Earl, 1737-1806
Inclusive dates: 1570-1721
Bulk dates: 1684-1700
Extent: 1 volume
This bound volume contains individual manuscript copies of documents, which grant persons or institutions of England or Ireland the right to claim and bear hereditary coats of arms and, in some cases, admission to the peerage or alteration of their noble titles. The documents are arranged in three sections, dating from 1666 and 1684-1694 (Section I), 1570-1700 (Section II), and 1716-1721 (Section III).
Language: The material is in English, Latin, and French
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

2003. M-4294.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

British Grants of Arms, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


In British heraldry, the coat of arms is a symbolic, visual representation of nobility. Individuals with a coat of arms were almost exclusively upper class, land-owning gentiles with military obligations. Arms passed down through families hereditarily. Beginning in the late 14th century, the King held complete control and jurisdiction over the armory, including the ability to grant arms without hereditary prerequisite. Although the King could and occasionally did directly grant arms, he delegated the responsibility to the Earl Marshal (first in military rank below the King) or the King of Arms.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This bound volume contains individual copies of documents, which grant persons or institutions of England or Ireland the right to bear hereditary coats of arms or admit members to the peerage. The volume was once owned by Earl George Macartney; his bookplate appears on the inside front cover. The documents are arranged in three sections, dating from 1666 and 1684-1694 (Section I), 1570-1700 (Section II), and 1716-1721 (Section III). The first two sections (103 pages and 77 pages, respectively) are separately paginated and indexed. The third section consists of 18 non-paginated, non-indexed pages. Many of the earliest items are likely 18th-century copies.

The documents in Sections I and II are predominantly grants allowing Englishmen to establish or bear hereditary coats of arms, signed by the Garter King of Arms, Norroy King of Arms, and/or the Earl Marshal. They present justifications for a named individual to bear a coat of arms or assume a noble title, often mentioning their high standing and ancestral longevity. Those items related to heraldic devices often provide details about the badge to be granted. Many documents are accompanied by pencil sketches, ink drawings, and colored drawings of coats of arms. Several items reflect notable individuals and institutions, such as Sir George Jeffreys (p. 17); Francis Nicholson, then governor of Maryland (p. 93, 1693/4); and the College of William and Mary (pp. 96-97, May 14, 1694). A few documents in Section II are petitions sent to officials, requesting them to grant coats of arms or similar favors.

The third section holds 18 pages of copied documents, which bestow noble titles upon the following individuals in England and Ireland between 1716 and 1721:

  • John Beaumont, Viscount
  • Thomas Parker, Baron
  • James Stanhope, Viscount
  • Matthew Aylmer, Baron
  • Philip Wharton, Duke
  • George Carpenter, Baron
  • William Grimston, Baron
  • Lionel Cranfield Sackville, Duke
  • William Posonby, Baron
Subject Terms

    • Charles II, King of England, 1630-1685.
    • College of William and Mary.
    • Devices (Heraldry)
    • Elizabeth I, Queen of England, 1533-1603.
    • George I, King of Great Britain, 1660-1727.
    • Henry VI, King of England, 1421-1471.
    • Heraldry--England.
    • Heraldry--Ireland.
    • James II, King of England, 1633-1701.
    • Mary II, Queen of England, 1662-1694.
    • Nicholson, Francis, 1655-1728.
    • Nobility--England.
    • Nobility--Ireland.
    • Titles of honor and nobility--England.
    • Titles of honor and nobility--Ireland.
    • William III, King of England, 1650-1702.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Devices (Heraldry)
    • Bysshe, Edward, Sir, 1615?-1679.
    • Dugdale, John, 1628-1700.
    • Dugdale, William, Sir, 1605-1686.
    • Evershed, Jo.
    • King, Gregory, 1648-1712.
    • Marsh, Lawrence.
    • Norfolk, Henry Howard, Duke of, 1655-1701.
    • Spencer, Jo.
    • St. George, Henry, Sir, 1625-1715.
    • St. George, Thomas, Sir, d. 1703.
    • Walker, Edward, Sir, 1612-1677.
    Genre Terms:
    • Documents.
    • Grants of arms.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    British Grants of Arms,  1570-1721 [series]
    Section I:  1666, 1684-1694 (103 pages)
    Section II:  1570-1700 (77 pages)
    Section III:  1716-1721 (18 pages)
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Fox-Davis, Arthur Charles. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1909.