March of History for South of Scotland as Heraldic Office Revived

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A Lockerbie resident has become the first person to be awarded a heraldic office associated with the South of Scotland for nearly 100 years. Philip Tibbetts has been appointed as an Officer of Arms at Scotland’s heraldic authority, the Court of the Lord Lyon, and given the title of March Pursuivant Extraordinary.

Philip already works for the Lyon Court in the role of Honorary Vexillologist, serving as Scotland’s official flag expert. It has been in recognition of this work that he has been promoted to being an Officer of Arms at the Court. Last year he was also awarded an Order of the Scottish Samurai.

The March Pursuivant Extraordinary office was specifically granted to Philip in recognition of his residency in the South of Scotland. The title ‘March’ being a reference to the Eastern, Middle and Western Marches that spanned the Scottish Uplands and formed the border with England. This is equivalent to the modern administrative areas of Dumfries & Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

The office was first recorded in 1515 when it was assigned to William Brown of Balmangan, – a small hamlet near Kirkcudbright. The last holder was Sir Thomas Wolseley Haig who served for four years from the office’s last award 98 years ago in 1923.

Philip’s previous work as Honorary Vexillologist has seen him work all over Scotland helping communities to develop official flags to be recorded next to the Saltire in the Court’s Public Register, which turns 350 years old next year. In the course of this work Philip was asked to design the green & white flag of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.

In addition to continuing his existing role, Philip will now help perform the various ceremonial duties of the Lyon Court – ranging from supporting individuals looking to register their own coats of arms to processing at the opening of the Scottish Parliament.
Other new appointments to the court include Colin Russell from Carluke and Gillian Black, a professor of law at the University of Edinburgh, as Falkland and Linlithgow Pursuivants Extraordinary respectively.

Philip Tibbetts, March Pursuivant Extraordinary, said, “Working with communities across the country has always made me incredibly proud and I am now immensely honoured to have been appointed as an Officer of Arms. Especially so to have helped resurrect the long vacant office associated with the South of Scotland. In addition to my existing and new duties I hope to represent the South of Scotland with pride and will help any person, community or body here if I can”.
Dr Joseph Morrow CBE, Lord Lyon, said “I was delighted to commission Philip Tibbets as March Pursuivant Extraordinary. Philip brings a number of skills to the position of the Officer at Arms within the Court of the Lord Lyon. The post of Officer at Arms is soaked in the history of Scotland and the revival of the use of the title March Pursuivant after nearly 100 years is another significant milestone in that history.