Elizabethan Heraldry Home

Rights and Duties of Garter King of Arms

(As printed in Munimenta Heraldica, Harleian Society, 1985)



14 Hen. VIII [1522-3]


The original is lost. It is only known from later versions in French and Latin, but it is uncertain whether the original was in English, French, or Latin. The text here printed is a translation from the French and Latin versions printed in J. Anstis, Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter (London, 1724), i. 342-57.

The sections of the original document concerning Garter King of Arms (8-12) are excerpted here. Other sections describe the other officers of the Order: Chancellor, Prelate, Register, and Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.

8. To these is added one King of Arms, who shall be called Garter King of Arms of Englishmen, whom the Sovereign and Companions, for the dignity of the Order will have to be a person of gentle blood, of an honest name, bearing ensigns , born within the Kingdom of England, and to be superior to all the other Officers of Arms, who are subject to the noble Crown of England. He shall have from the Sovereign an annual stipend of forty pounds of lawful money of England, moreover every one of the Companions shall yearly give him for the honour of his degree, a Duke four pounds, a Marquess five marks, an Earl four marks, a Baron forty shillings, a Knight Batchelour twenty-six shillings and eight pence, that he may live and execute the Office more honourably for the credit of the Order. As often as the creation of a Prince, Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, or Baron shall happen, the said Garter shall have the robes which he uses before he receives the robe of that dignity and high degree.

9. To him shall belong the correction of arms and all ensigns whatever, which are usurped and born unjustly; And also authority and power to grant such arms and ensigns to those who by their valiant and laudable actions, their virtues, and honours of their degrees shall deserve them according to ancient custom, and to make letters patent thereon. He in all places, where the King shall walk solemnly shall go next before the Sword, no one interposing except the Constable and Marshal, who themselves shall carry the Rods belonging to their Offices. By him also or by one appointed by him, shall be administered the oath to all Officers of Arms, subjects of the Sovereign, receiving for it as has been customary.

10. He shall likewise have an habit like that of the Register, and baron's service in our Court, for whom a table shall be spread after the Dean of our Chapel and his mess brought in, and other provisions of his diet, as the custom has been, and shall receive lodgings within our Castle of Windsor. And when the Festival of St. George is solemnized and the Sovereign be present, he shall bear his white Rod, of which both ends shall be gilt with gold, and a small banner of the ensigns of the Order above. When also any Lord shall enter our Parliament Chamber, he shall assign him his place according to the honour of his dignity and noble degree, for which he shall receive as it shall seem [fit] to that Lord. And whensoever he is sent, or is in embassy upon the business of the Sovereign, having five servants on horseback, he shall receive daily ten shillings for his labors.

11. The same Garter King of Arms shall diligently and sedulously enquire for the valiant and successful actions, the noble exploits, as well of the Sovereign, as of the Companions of the Order, which he shall faithfully and truly report to the Register, so these may be conveniently reduced by him into writing for perpetual remembrance.

12. This Garter shall also carry or take care to be carried all letters which shall relate to the Brethren or Companions of this Order. And shall signify to the Sovereign or Register the death of any Knight of this Order, that letters of suffrages be made and sent as appropriate; and shall carry or cause to be carried notice of the elections of those who shall be elected, and report their answers. Lastly he shall do, or procure to be done, what the Sovereign, or the Prelate, or Chancellor (who are the principal Officers) shall enjoin relating to this Order.


These three Officers of this Order, to wit, the Register, Garter King of Arms, and the Usher named from the Black Rod, they remaining in their offices, together with their goods and servants, shall remain securely under the perpetual protection and defence of the Sovereign, so that if any injury or violence is offered to them, either by subjects of the Sovereign, or by foreigners, so often as they shall submit their causes to the pleasure of the Sovereign, he with the Companions shall do them justice, or shall procure it to be done according to equity and reason. But if the adverse party shall refuse to submit the cause to the Sovereign, he with the Companions shall have that regard to those Officers, that he shall with due favor defend their cause so far as it is just and equitable.

Within the quire of the said Chapel, while the solemnities are performed, before the Kings stall shall be placed two seats, one before the other, in whereof shall sit the Prelate and the Chancellor or the Order, in the other the Register, the King of Arms, and the Usher.




Bearing Ensigns: I.e., having a coat of arms. Go back.

Five marks: 3 pounds 6 shillings 8 pence. Go back.

Four marks: 2 pounds 13 shillings 4 pence. Go back.

Forty shillings: 2 pounds. Go back.

Knight Batchelour: I.e., a Knight of the Garter who is not a Peer. Knight Batchelor now refers to a knight who is not a member of an order. Go back.

Twenty-six shillings and eight pence: 1 pound 6 shillings 8 pence. This amount is also equivalent to two marks. Go back.

Robes: Often very costly, Garter would sometimes sell the garment back to the new Companion. Go back.

Walk solemnly: in procession. Go back.

Sword: The Sword of State which is carried by a bearer walking just in front of the Sovereign. Go back.

Habit ...: A red satin mantle lined with white taffeta, a shield with the Cross of St. George embroidered on the left breast. This is worn for Order of the Garter ceremonies only. For other ceremonies Garter wears a herald's tabard. Go back.

Lodgings ...: Garter tower, the center tower in the east wall of Windsor Castle. Go back.

White Rod: Photo of reproduction White Rod. Go back.

Above: At the top. Go back.

Any Lord shall enter...: I.e., enter the House of Lords as a member for the first time after being created a peer or inheriting a peerage. Go back.

Letters of suffrages: For masses. Go back.

Quire: Choir. Go back.

Chapel: The Chapel of St. George in Windsor Castle, where the annual Order of the Garter services are held. Go back.



Edited by John Neitz
Designed by Paula Kate Marmor
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4 February 2001

Last updated 12 September 2004