English heraldic body formed in 1484. There are three kings-of-arms, six heralds, and four pursuivants, who specialize in genealogical and heraldic work. The college establishes the right to a coat of arms, and the kings-of-arms grant arms by letters patent. The office of king-of-arms for Ulster was transferred to the College of Arms in London in 1943.
The College of Arms is presided over by the Earl Marshal (whose office is hereditary in the family of the duke of Norfolk), and consists of the Garter King-of-Arms; the Clarenceux King-of-Arms (with jurisdiction south of the River Trent); the Norroy King-of-Arms, who now also holds the office of Ulster King of Arms (with jurisdiction north of the Trent as well as in Northern Ireland); the heralds (named Chester, Windsor, Lancaster, Richmond, York, and Somerset); and four pursuivants (named Bluemantle, Portcullis, Rouge Dragon, and Rouge Croix). The College has no jurisdiction in Scotland, whose heraldry is under control of the Lyon King-of-Arms.
When the college was set up by Richard III, it incorporated the heralds attached to the royal household; it was reincorporated by royal charter of Philip and Mary 1555. The heralds-extraordinary appointed by the crown are not members of the College of Arms.
The records of the College of Arms include medieval rolls of arms (that is, lists of coats of arms); copies of grants and confirmations of arms by the kings-of-arms (who perform this function on behalf of the sovereign subject to the consent of the Earl Marshal); records of the visitations and of the funerals of the nobility and gentry; pedigrees, which are officially entered after scrutiny by specially appointed examiners; and royal warrants relating particularly to armorial bearings and precedence. The records are maintained by a staff of ‘Herald Painters and Scriveners’.