THE GENEALOGICAL OFFICE, DUBLIN CASTLE.
This article originally appeared in Burke's Landed Gentry 1937, 15th Edition.
The office of Ulster King of Arms, which had existed from 1552, when it was instituted by Edward VI, was terminated on 31 March, 1943, and on 1 April, 1943, all the
sanctions which had previously been performed by Ulster were formally invested in the Chief Herald, whose office, as was Ulster's, is at Dublin Castle. The six north-eastern counties of Ireland, which had formerly come under the jurisdiction of the Ulster King of Arms, were, in April, 1943, included in the office of the Norroy King of Arms, whose title thereafter was changed to "Norroy and Ulster."
The Chief Herald was sole jurisdiction within the state of Ireland on Heraldic matters and the College of Arms in London at present grants official recognition to grants of arms and confirmation issued by the Genealogical Officer of Eire within the limits of his jurisdiction. They also recognise the Genealogical Office as competent to deal with armorial matters in the case of non-British subjects of Eireann descent.
Edmondson, in his Heraldry (1780), states that it was in the sixth year of RICHARD II that mention was first made of Ireland King of Arms. From then until the time of EDWARD IV, who appointed Thomas Ashwell to the office, there was a regular succession of Ireland King of Arms. During the period between that Monarch's death and the erection of the first Ulster King of Arms, it is not known whether the title of Ireland existed, or what was done concerning Heraldic government in the country. The title of Ireland was changed to Ulster by EDWARD VI, who appointed Batholomew Butler to the office by patent dated 1 June, 1552. The King himself, however, in his Journal records it as a new institution : "Feb. 2-There was a King of Arms made for Ireland whose name was Ulster, and whose province was all Ireland ; and he was the fourth King of Arms and the first Herald of Ireland."
From the time of the appointment of Butler until the death of Sir Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson on 22 December, 1940, there was a continuous succession of Ulster Kings of Arms. After his death the functions of the office were performed by the Deputy Ulster, Thomas Ulick Sadleir, Esq., until the transerance of Heraldic jurisdiction in Ireland to Edward MacLysaght, Esq., M.A., D.Litt., M.R.I.A., the present Chief Herald.
We have the authority of the late Sir Nevile Wilkinson, K.C.V.O., Ulster King of Arms 1908-40, for the following outline of the functions of that office :-
The jurisdiction of Ulster King of Arms extended, after 1552, over the whole of Ireland, and he was the sole authority by Royal Letters Patent under the Great Seal for issuing Patents of Arms and recording family pedigrees of persons of Irish descent. These patents were of three kinds ; firstly, grants of arms to non-armigerous persons ; secondly, confirmation of arms which had been in use without heraldic authority for three generations (or 100 years) ; thirdly, exemplifications of arms to persons who had obtained a Royal Warrant to change their name and arms.
After the establishment of the Irish Free State Ulster King of Arms became Secretary as well as Registrar and Knight-Attendant of the Order of St. Patrick. He was at one time the senior and only permanent member of the Staff of H.E. the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and was responsible for the arrangements connected with State Visits of the Sovereign, the proper conduct of Levées and Drawing-rooms, and the promulgation of Royal Proclamations. Since the appointment was for life, Ulster was permitted to appoint a Deputy when occasion arose. During the tenure of Sir Nevil Wilkinson a collection of objects of Heraldic interest was formed in Dublin Castle, and is open to the public. The Heralds in Ireland wore Tabards and uniforms similar to those worn by the Heralds in England, but Ulster wore a Harp pendant to his collar of SS, and a badge of on which was enamelled the Quarter of Ireland from the Royal Arms, impaled with the Saltire of St. Patrick. Although Bartholomew Butler, the first to hold the office of Ulster, had previously been York Herald, the Irish King of Arms was not in any way subject to, or under the control of, Garter King of Arms or the English College of Arms. Nor was he under the authority of the Earl Marshal of England, whose jurisdiction was then, as now, confined to that country (Opinion of Law Officers, 23 April, 1810). The complete Roll of Ulster Kings of Arms is as follows :-
1 June, 1552. Bartholomew Butler, previously York Herald.
7 July, 1566. Nicolas Narbon.
30 June, 1588. Christopher Ussher.
28 June, 1597. Daniel Molyneux.
25 April, 1629. Daniel Molyneux and Adam Ussher.
21 Sept. 1633. Thomas Preston.
15 April, 1643. William Roberts, LL. D.
Richard Carney was appointed Principal Herald by Cromwell, 19 Feb. 1655.
20 Aug. 1660. Richard St. George. Resigned 1683.
1683. Sir Richard Carney, (Kt. 6 April, 1684).
25 May, 1683. George Wallis jointly with above.
1692. Richard Carney junior.
13 April, 1698. William Hawkins (No. 1), d. 23 Nov. 1736.
1736. John Hawkins, d. 14 Aug. 1758.
22 March, 1759. James McCulloch, d. Nov. 1764.
17 May, 1765, Sir William Hawkins (No. 2) (Kt. 17 March, 1783), d. 26 March, 1787.
26 April, 1787. Gerald Fortescue, d. 27 Oct. 1787.
31 Jan. 1788. rear-Admiral Sir Chichester Fortescue, R.N. (Kt. 21 Feb. 1788).
1820. Sir William Betham (Kt. 14 July, 1812) d. 26 Oct. 1853. Previously Deputy Ulster King of Arms.
1853. Sir John Bernard Burke (Kt. 22 Feb. 1854), C.B. (1868), d. 12 Dec. 1892.
1893. Sir Arthur Edward Vicars (Kt. 15 Aug. 1896) K.C.V.O. (1903), F.S.A. (1913), resigned 1908, d. 14 April 1921.
1908. Major Sir Nevile Rodwell Wilkinson (Coldstream Guards), Kt. 1920, K.C.V.O. (1921), K.G.St.J. (1913), F.S.A. (1911), d. 22 Dec. 1940.
GEORGE DAMES BURTCHAELL, K.C., F.S.A., Ireland, Athlone Pursivant, Deputy Ulster 1910-11 and 1915-21, d. 18 Aug, 1921.
THOMAS ULICK SADLER, Deputy Ulster, 1921-43.