Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Was “Sable Basilisk” Really “Rouge Dragon”?

A brief article in The Daily Mail on Monday, June 25, 2012, noted the passing of Count Robin Ian Evelyn Milne Stuart de la Lanne-Mirrlees, Baron of Inchdrewer and Laird of Bernera, at the age of 87 on June 23. He was involved in helping author Ian Fleming research James Bond’s adventures for Fleming’s novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

In the book, Bond’s cover as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray was based on the count who was then the heraldic researcher at the College of Arms in London. Mirrlees was Rouge Dragon Pursuivant at the College of Arms from 1952 to 1962. (He was succeeded in that office by Sir Conrad Swan, later Garter Principal King of Arms.) In December 1962, he was named Richmond Herald, a position he held until 1967. (In this office he was succeeded by J.P. Brooke-Little, later Norroy and Ulster King of Arms and then Clarenceux King of Arms.)

The fictional Sir Hilary Bray bore the title of Sable Basilisk Pursuivant, a play on Mirrlees’s own title of Rouge Dragon Pursuivant.

The full story, which includes among others a photograph of the count in front of his farmhouse on the island of Great Bernera in the Outer Hebrides, can be found on-line at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2164294/Dashing-Scottish-aristocrat-bed-hopping-ways-inspiration-James-Bond-dies-aged-87.html?ITO=1490

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