The Right Honourable the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the head of the Lyon Court, is the most junior of the Great officers of State in Scotland and is the Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heradry in that country, issuing new grants of arms, and serving as the judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the oldest heraldic court in the world that is still in daily operation.
The historic title of the post was the High Sennachie, and he was given the title of Lord Lyon from the lion in the Coat of Arms of Scotland.
The post was in the early nineteenth century held by an important nobleman, the Eart of Kinnoull, whose functions were in practice carried out by the Lyon-Depute. The practice of appointing Lyon-Deputes, however, ceased in 1866.
The Lord Lyon is responsible for overseeing state ceremonial in Scotland, for the granting of new Arms to persons or organisations, and for confirming proven pedigrees and claims to existing arms. He also registers and records new clan tartans upon request from the clan chief. The Lyon Register (officially the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland), on which the Lord Lyon records all Scotland's coats of arms, dates from 1672.
As Lyon Court is a government department, fees paid for granting coats of arms are paid to the Treasury. The misuse of arms is a criminal offence in Scotland, and treated as tax evasion. Prosecutions are brought before Lyon Court, Lord Lyon being the sole judge. Appeals from the Lyon Court can be made to the Court of Session in Edinburgh. There is no appeal if the Lord Lyon refuses to grant a coat of arms, as this is not a judicial function, but an exercise of his ministerial function, although an appeal by way of judicial review may succeed if it can be shown that the Lord Lyon acted unreasonably.
The current Lord Lyon is Dr Joseph John Morrow KStJ, QC, DL, who is ably assisted by Mrs Elisabeth Roads LVO, OStJ, FSA Scot, Lyon Clerk and Keeper of the Records.
The list of Officers of the Lyon Court in Scotland are:
Dr. Joseph J. Morrow, QC, Lord Lyon King of Arms
Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw, Baronet, QC, Rothesay Herald of Arms
Elizabeth A. Roads, LVO, Snawdoun Herald of Arms
The Hon. Adam Bruce, WS, Marchmont Herald of Arms
Mark D. Dennis, Esq., Ormond Pursuivant of Arms
Yvonne Holton, Dingwall Pursuivant of Arms
Liam Devlin, Esq., Unicorn Pursuivant
Sir Malcolm Innes of Edingight, KCVO, WS, Orkney Herald Extraordinary
Robin O. Blair, Esq., CVO, WS, Angus Herald Extraordinary
W. David. H. Sellar, Esq., MVO, Islay Herald Extraordinary
John Stirling, Esq., WS, Linlithgow Pursuivant Extraordinary
George Way of Plean, Falkland Pursuivant Extraordinary