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Law of Succession

John Donald
Publication Date
01 September 2010
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited

Law of Succession

Origins and Background of the Law of Succession to Arms and Dignities in Scotland
by Sir Iain Moncreiffe - Find out more about the author

'It is impossible in a short review to convey adequately the riches contained in this book of exuberant learning,' - Edinburgh Law Review

The visual magic of Scots heraldry (strewn with lyons and galleys aplenty) and the bizarre ring of names such as Swinton of that Ilk, Thane of Cawdor, or The Macneil of Barra – of offices like Great Marischal of Scotland – and of remarkable duties such as bearing the crown in public (most recently at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999) – all reveal something about the rich and fascinating heritage and constitution of Scotland and its neighbours, near and more distant. Quite in his element, Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt. traces the Scots law of succession to heraldic arms and ancient dignities from the earliest recorded period to the twentieth century. He crafts a masterful study of Scotland and its peoples, through an investigation into such rules of inheritance from their origins in the medieval Scottish kingdom and its antecedents. Readers interested in the law behind genealogy and heraldry will appreciate the attention given to the importance of surnames and clans in Scotland’s distinctive heritage. The author places the Scottish experience within its wider European, and indeed global, context. Published for the first time since its completion as a PhD thesis in 1958, this long-recognised reference work for heralds and lawyers conveys the author’s trademark flair and style.

The book has a foreword by Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, now umquhile Slains Pursuivant to the earl of Erroll (eldest son of the author), and an editor’s introduction, written specially for this published edition commissioned by the St Andrews Fund for Scots Heraldry, which frames the work’s relevance to current Scots law, heritage and history.

Sir Iain Moncreiffe studied French and history at the University of Oxford (from 1938) and Scots law at Edinburgh University (LLB 1950, PhD 1958). During the Second World War he served in the Scots Guards. He joined the court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1952 and became Albany Herald of Arms from 1961. Regarded as an expert in the peerage, heraldry and related matters, he is perhaps best known for publishing Simple Heraldry (1953), Simple Custom (1954), Blood Royal (1956) and The Highland Clans (1967). He died in 1985.