The Academy Client's Guide

These are frequently asked questions. Before you send in a request, look at these--it will probably save you time. If you are a herald assisting your own clients, you may find information that you need in our FAQ for Heralds.

When you're done, you can send your question to the Academy.

I Want To Register My Name or Arms...

The College of Arms is the organization in the SCA which registers names and armory. We're not affiliated with them, and we don't register arms. The College of Arms has a set of rules which determines whether or not a submission will be registered. When we look at a question, we only look at historical evidence. You may be able to register a name or device that isn't historical if you want to, but we encourage everyone to use names or arms that would have been found in history. If you want to register your name or arms, then you need to contact heralds in your kingdom. Many kingdoms have heraldic discussion mailing lists.

Though the Academy has separate goals from the College of Arms, you may be able to use evidence from Academy correspondence to support a name or device submission, or find the evidence yourself using one of our articles.

What Happens After I Contact the Academy?

We'll read your question and try to decide whether we can answer it. We may ask you for more information or discuss whether your needs match the Academy's goals. If we can answer your question based on previous research, we'll send you a summary of that research.

If answering your question requires new research, and we have researchers and letter writers available, we may accept your question for a formal Academy report. Formal reports are stored in our archive of past reports; you can search the archive for relevant information. Formal reports are often quite complicated: they usually take two to three months to complete, but depending of the amount of work we have to do and the manpower we have available, they may take much longer. Once a report is finished, we'll send you a copy and add the report to our archive.

I'm Looking for My Ancestor...

We don't have the resources to find information about specific people. We investigate the history of names, but not the lives of the people who had those names--so we can tell you that "Chapman" is an old English word for "merchant," but we can't tell you anything about William Chapman from Sussex. If you want information on genealogy, the Yahoo index on genealogy is a good place to start. The Academy will not answer questions about the origins of your ancestors.

If you want information the linguistic origins of your name, we can help but it's probably easier for you to learn how to do the research yourself. Detailed dictionaries of English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and German names are available in English and they'll give you a good start.

If you need more detailed information or can't find your name there, we'll be happy to help you. Please give us as much information as you have about your family name and we'll see what we can do.

What Is My Family's Coat of Arms?

The short answer is that there's no such thing as a "family coat of arms"! For more information, see our article on the subject. We will not respond to questions which ask for information about family arms.

Is My Name on the Problem Names List?

Some of the names people often ask us about are either purely modern or otherwise problematic. We've collected some articles on common problem names. If your name is on the list, check out the article on it for more information.

I Want a Scottish Name...

There are a lot of misconceptions about Scottish names. Before you send a question about a Scottish name, please read Scottish Names 101 by Effric neyn Kenyeoch vc Ralte. It will save you time and confusion. If you write to us without having read this article, we'll probably just ask you to read it.

I Want to Do Research Myself...

We have a number of articles on doing your research yourself. If you're a herald or just interested in looking up information on your own, these should be helpful. Many useful resources are in the Medieval Names Archive. The FAQ for Heralds has some suggestions for locating other resources.

I Want To Use Academy Research In A Name or Device Submission...

The Academy's research can be used just like any other source to support a submission to the SCA College of Arms; but like any other source, it has to be used correctly. We send two kinds of letters to our clients, and they should be used in slightly different ways.

As explained above, we can often answer questions based on past research. In those cases, we will send a summary of past research. This is not a formal Academy report, but it is a reliable source. Include a complete copy in your submission, along with copies of the Academy reports we cited in the summary; and printouts of any web pages pages we cited, including the URL, publication or access date, the author, and title. If a web article is many pages long, print the title page and any page that includes a piece of information we used.

Formal, numbered Academy reports are easier to use in submissions. Although we're not part of the College of Arms, the Laurel, Pelican, and Wreath Sovereigns of Arms (chief heralds of the SCA) have said that people who want to register their names or armory will usually not need to include photocopies of documentation referenced in formal letters from the Academy of S. Gabriel. If you want to submit your name or armory, just provide a summary of the information contained in the letter, including the report number, and all relevant sources cited [Note to submissions heralds]

If the CoA decides that photocopies are necessary, they will contact the Academy and we will send the necessary copies. Kingdom or local heralds with questions or concerns about this policy should contact Laurel.

This notice was posted with the approval of the Laurel Queen of Arms on 29 May 1997, updated with the approval of the Laurel and Pelican Sovereigns of Arms on 26 April 2000 and 28 June 2000, and updated with the approval of the Laurel, Pelican, and Wreath Sovereigns of Arms on 29 August 2001, 3 August 2004, 29 January 2005, 16 July 2008, and 27 September 2012.

This page maintained by Jim Trigg (known in the SCA as Blaise de Cormeilles), and Sara L. Uckelman (known in the SCA as Aryanhwy merch Catmael),

Last updated 17 December 2009