Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Norroy King Brings Suit"

So read a headline in the New York Times for May 5, 1901. To continue:

Proprietor of a "Heraldic Office" committed for Trial for Impugning Authority of Heralds’ College.

London, May 4.–That venerable institution the Heralds’ College is jealous of its ancient privileges, and has no intention of allowing them to lapse with the twentieth century.

William Henry Weldon, Norroy King of Arms, has brought a curious libel suit against Ellis Marks, proprietor of the British and American Heraldic Office, on the ground that Mr. Marks, in a circular to the Mayors of new municipalities, applying for order to provide them with a coat-of-arms, impugned the authority of the Heralds’ College. Mr. Marks said he could do for £5 what the college would charge £130 for doing. The circular maintained that the college’s charter had lapsed and that it was in "a bad way and bolstered up by falsehood."

For expressing these sentiments Mr. Marks has been committed for trial. Counsel for Norroy King of Arms averred that the Heralds’ College was the only body which could legally grant bearings and was "so old that it was almost lost in antiquity."

It transpired that Mr. Marks’s criticisms of the college were not very productive, for the British-American concern stopped doing business in January.

Apparently, rather like Mark Twain's, "rumors of [the College of Arms’] death are greatly exaggerated."

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