What are the rules or guidelines for publishing the arms of others?
To get to the point, my wife and I are preparing a book on her Anglo-Irish Palmer ancestors and we want to include not only the arms of all her ancestors for twelve generations, but also the quartered arms of her Palmer ancestors (Palmer quartered with Smyth and Ralphson). However, her deceased English cousin, the legitimate heir of the Palmer arms, requested several years ago that we not post his arms on our website and we have complied. We did not post the full achievement of the Palmer arms and only show the individual component arms of the quarters (see http://mcguinnessfamily.org/palmer-arms.htm, also see http://mcguinnessfamily.org/palmer-armorial.htm).
What is the etiquette of using the quartered Palmer arms in our book? And more generally, what is the etiquette of reproducing ancestral arms online and in publications?
The book is not a profit making venture, we will explain that all these ancestral arms cannot be used as personal arms, and we will make it very clear that, as they descend from an illegitimate son of Major James Palmer, they have no right to use the Palmer arms as their own, lastly, we will not reproduce the color image of the full Palmer achievement prepared by the Ulster King of Arms. Would we still be violating heraldry etiquette by publishing the Palmer arms quartered with Smyth and Ralphson?
I cannot image that authors of books on heraldry track down all the contemporary owner of the arms they display and discuss in their books and get permission to reproduce the arms. It would seem to me that displaying the arms of others for educational purposes, with a notice that the arms cannot be used as personal arms except by legitimate heirs, should fall within the principle of fair use.
I look forward to reading the collective wisdom of this group on this topic. Thank you.
Just my two cents worth, but it seems there are really two or three questions here:
* legal - intellectual property and copyright - which AFAIK would apply only to particular emblazonments "owned" under copyright law by the cousin in question, not to redrawn renditions in a different style.
* general practice among writers / compilers ( others can hopefully comment on this point)
* fostering or damaging family ties with a cousin who doesn’t want his personal info or arms published, even if not illegal or generally considered "bad form" by writers / compilers generally.
If it was me (which of course it isn’t) I would honor a cousin’s wishes to not be included, because the feelings of family are more important than what the law or general custom might allow. Even though the particular cousin is deceased, ignoring his wishes might offend or alienate his heirs. But if you were to contact his heir(s) and explain the situation, they might feel differently and it would be their call.
Assuming nothing changes, however, the approach you describe sounds quite logical and fair.
I agree that contacting the daughters of my wife’s cousin and seeking permission would be the proper approach if I wanted to strictly follow etiquette, but I really do not know his daughters and do not relish dealing with them. It would be awkward to approach them. My wife’s cousin was kind enough to share some family information with us before his death, but he made it very clear that my wife’s ancestor had to be a bastard.
As you know, here in America we do not pay much attention to legitimacy or primogeniture, but in the United Kingdom these still seem to matter. My wife’s cousin did not even know that he had a great uncle Thomas and did not believe us until we sent him copies of family letters and photographs clearly establishing that Thomas Palmer was the brother of Major General Henry Wellington Palmer, his grandfather, and both were the sons of Major James Palmer, the Inspector General of Prisons and Lunatic Asylums in Ireland. Once he got over the shock, he communicated with us, but was always somewhat suspicious of us. I believe this is because he realized that Thomas was an older son than his grandfather and perhaps he thought we wanted to claim family heirlooms.
The truth of the matter is that we simple do not know if Thomas was legitimate or illegitimate because we have been unable to find a birth record for him due in part to the destruction of so many Irish records. From our research we know that Major James Palmer called him his “eldest son” in several letters, but it is never made clear who his mother is. We also know of two other children of the Major whose legitimacy is not well established, James, Jr., and Alicia. If either James Palmer, Jr., who was indeed the eldest son, or Thomas Palmer were found to be legitimate, then the 1908 Palmer Confirmation of Arms (see http://mcguinnessfamily.org/palmer-arms.htm) would require correction because Henry Wellington Palmer was not the “only son” of Major James Palmer. Furthermore, both James, Jr., and Thomas would have a claim to the Palmer arms. Lastly, the 1908 Palmer Confirmation of Arms states that the arms are “to be borne and used hereafter by … and the other descendants of his great grandfather the said Venerable Henry Palmer, Archdeacon of Ossory.” Again, assuming they are legitimate, James, Jr., and Thomas would qualify as descendants, as they would be the grandsons of the Archdeacon of Ossory.
I am assuming that the 1908 Palmer Confirmation of Arms when it refers to descendants, that they mean legitimate male descendants using the Palmer surname. Is this correct?
For a number of reasons, we suspect that James, Jr., is illegitimate, and we remain uncertain regarding the mother of Alicia and Thomas. But what is clear from our communication with my wife’s cousin and the 1908 Palmer Confirmation of Arms is that her ancestor Thomas was ignored and forgotten. All we know is that Major Palmer in his will only acknowledged the two children from his last marriage, namely Priscilla and Henry Wellington Palmer. However, this could simply be a case of preferential treatment of his second wife and his youngest children. He had already set up his older children by providing for them: James, Jr., he arranged to have a commission in the 1st West Indies Regiment; Alicia was married off to William Smartt, the official in charge of the gaol in Co. Meath, and Thomas was given help in settling in Michigan after trying a sailing career in the East India Company.
I really do not want to dredge all this up with my wife’s distant English cousins just to get their approval to include simple art work of the Palmer arms to share with readers of the book we are doing. There is no danger of damaging my wife’s relationship with these cousins as she really has no interaction with them. I cringe on having to present all this information just to get approval to portray arms for educational purposes. My wife and her family are not interested in claiming the Palmer arms or any family heirlooms. A few years ago we registered arms for her McGuinness family with the American College of Heraldry (see http://mcguinnessfamily.org/registration-of-arms.htm). They are happy with these arms.
Sorry to doddle on about this, but it is a confusing situation that is not easy to state simply.
One more note, I have before me a sketch of the Palmer arms quartered with Smyth and Ralphson done before 1816 by Patrick Kennedy, who was a pursuivant to the Order of St. Patrick and herald painter in Ulster’s office. This drawing is slightly different from the 1908 Confirmation of Arms, but it is likely what Major James Palmer used. Ulster would have likely added differences to the arms in 1908. Perhaps I should just use this as the drawing and explain the differences in the text.
I’m an American and a Southerner, so I don’t have English sensibilities, but here’s what I would do:
1. You write:
we sent him copies of family letters and photographs clearly establishing that Thomas Palmer was the brother of Major General Henry Wellington Palmer, his grandfather, and both were the sons of Major James Palmer, the Inspector General of Prisons and Lunatic Asylums in Ireland.
So you’ve established that your wife’s ancestor, Thomas Palmer, was the son (likely illegitimate) of Major James Palmer.
2. Under the section of the book discussing Major James Palmer illustrate the arms that he bore, if it can be proved that he bore the Palmer arms that you’ve discussed, making it clear to title them as "the arms of Major James Palmer". If you’re unable to prove that this ancestor actually bore these arms, keep going back in the genealogy until you do hit a documented arms-using ancestor. I’d sidestep the 1908 confirmation altogether, since it postdates your common ancestor.
3. Hedge your bets and say something like, "Because we have been unable to find any documentation which proves that Thomas Palmer was a legitimate son of Major James Palmer, the Palmer arms illustrated here do not descend to our family without difference, according to the Irish Law of Arms. It is therefore inappropriate for members of our family to display these arms as their own."
I know that Major James Palmer used arms. An aunt of my wife use to have the family letters and at least one of them had a wax seal with the arms. Unfortunately, these letters are now lost and the photocopy we have is not clear. In addition, I know that when he retired, I think around 1850, his co-workers gave him a piece of silver with his arms engraved on it. His great-grandson still owned this artifact and he said the arms were similar to the 1908 grant.
I do like your approach. I can point to the 1816 arms that Kennedy provides and illustrate those arms. I can then simply explain that the tinctures are wrong for the Ralphson quarter and point out the few other discrepancies between the 1816 and 1908 arms and crest without displaying the 1908 arms.
I do feel free to illustrate just the Palmer quarter of the arms. Another distant Palmer cousin, this one in Australia, shared with us an illustration of the Palmer arms done by Ulster in 1935 for her great-grandfather. She has given me permission to replicate the drawing.
This should be sufficient. It is just bothersome. I have to include the text of the 1908 Confirmation of Arms because of the genealogical content is further proof of links between generations. It will just be odd not to include a drawing of at least the shield and crest.
One other point, none of my wife’s family have an illusions that the Palmer arms belong to them. They all descend from Emma Palmer, the daughter of Thomas Palmer. Since Thomas never laid claim to the arms, Emma and her sisters cannot be heraldic heiresses, and none of them married armigers anyway. We just want to include the arms for educational purposes in the book. It is so much easier for people who do not understand a blazon to grasp an illustration.
This might be much to do about nothing. I just noticed that the National Library of Ireland has posted all their grants and confirmations to the web. If you point your browser to http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000529301#page/473/mode/1up, then you will be able to view the 1908 Palmer Confirmation of Arms.
It would appear that the full Palmer achievement is now readily accessible to the general public.