Achievements of Leslie Taylor Center
Ensigns Armorial granted by The Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, Writer to Her Majesty's Signet,
 and recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland (Volume 86, Folio 30)

Images can be powerful symbols: of authority, of ownership, and of eminence.  They often have universal appeal and instant recognition.  Since early times, personal images have been used to identify people, places and things, and have been found on flags, clothing, jewellery, and arms.  The concept of a "coat of arms" evolved from its early military applications, where large banners were rallying points for a lord's liveried armies, and his personal armour, clothing and jewellery identified his property. The renaissance brought renewed interest in the romantic ideals of the mediaeval age, and armorial bearings once again flourished, through its art form of heraldry and the related language, blazon.  As symbols of eminence and power, armorial bearings eventually became an "honour" to be issued and regulated by the Crown, the fons honorum, or "fount of honours."  Today, heraldic authorities are responsible for marshalling, recording and granting arms to eminent subjects of the Crown, and it is still accepted by many today that in order to become armigerous (a person who has been granted armorial bearings), one must have entered the "port of gentility" and possess the qualities and nature of a gentleman (or woman).  

Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a Family Coat of Arms.  Ensigns Armorial or Armorial Bearings, have been granted since around the 12th century, and have always been granted to a single individual.  It is a monomark, a unique identifier of an individual.  No two people may bear the same arms at the same point in time.  Arms are heritable property, and as such may be passed down through the generations.  It is customary for the arms to pass from father to eldest son (heir apparent) down through history.  If there are no sons, the arms may be borne by a daughter (known as an heraldic heiress) to be passed on to one of her male offspring,  but only if he adopts the surname of last male holder of the arms.  If the topic of Heraldry interests you, there are excellent reference materials on the internet, and in particular, a number of great articles at the Heraldry Society of Scotland website which you may visit by clicking here.

Although arms are granted in a few European countries, in the English speaking world the granting authorities are England, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.  In order to be granted arms by the Scottish authority, The Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland, her Majesty's representative for Scotland, you must be either a British subject, or the direct traceable descendant of a British subject, and meet other criteria that indicate your sutability to be counted among the "Armorial Noblesse of Scotland".  A coat of arms is the outward indication of nobility (Edmondson, Complete Body of Heraldry, p. 154), and arms are officially described as "Ensigns of Nobility". (Nisbet's Heraldry, iii, ii, 65) A patent of arms (Letters Patent) is a Diploma of Nobility. (Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Scots Heraldry, p. 20)

Being a British subject of Scottish descent, I petitioned the Lyon Court for the above achievement in April 2004, which was approved about nine months after the application, and the Letters Patent granting the arms was received in July 2005.  

Letters Patent

Click on image for larger view.

The design of the arms follows typical heraldic practices.  The field of the arms (background) is blue (Azure) and is representative of the blue water that surrounds my island home.  The main charge (figure on the field) is a Centaur.  It is customary in heraldry, to have your arms be a "cant" (pun) of either your name or some meaningful attribute about you.  Often arms have charges which represent the occupation or profession of the holder, but as the arms are handed down over time this significance is lost, but cants on the surname last forever.  An excellent example of this are the arms of the father of the late Elizabeth, the Queen Mother shown below.  

Arms of Bowes-Lyon

Born Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, her father's arms consist of a quartered shield, having three archer's bows (Bowes) in the second and third quarters, and a blue lion (Lyon) in the first and fourth  quarters.  This has to be the all-time great example of canting arms.  I chose to go with canting arms for my armorial and selected the Centaur (Center) as my primary charge.  Additionally, it is also my astrological symbol (December).  The two crosses Patteé in the chief (top) portion of the shield are representative of my Masonic attachment, my two sons and my faith (Lutheran).  The Blazon (description) of my arms is:  Azure, a centaur salient his bow and arrow in full draught, the arrow in bend, in chief two crosses pattée Argent.  

Under Scottish law, younger sons are not entitled to enherit their father's arms, but may matriculate those arms in their own name with a suitable difference.  The eldest son may use the father's arms during the lifetime of the father by attaching a label of three points to the arms.  On the death of the father, the heir removes the label, and the undifferenced arms become his.  During medieval times it is believed that when father and heir rode into battle, it was customary for the heir to cover his shield (arms) with a piece of fabric having three points (flaps).  If the father was killed in battle, the heir removed the fabric to show that he was now the holder of the arms.  Shown below are the arms of my eldest son (heir apparent) Brian and the proposed arms for my younger son David.

Arms of Brian Richard Center

Brian Richard Center

Proposed Arms of David William Center

David William Center