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Heraldry: reference sources

This is a selective list of reference sources relating to heraldry which are available in the Humanities Reading Room. The shelfmark of each item is given at the end of every citation.

General | Great Britain | Europe | Russia


D. Williamson, Debrett's Guide to heraldry and regalia. London: Headline, 1992.

Great Britain

The authoritative source of information for Great Britain is the College of Arms.
Family coats of arms
Royal arms
Public arms

Family coats of arms

A.R. Wagner, Records and collections of the College of Arms. London: Burke's Peerage, 1952
J.B. Burke, General armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison, 1884.
A.C. Fox-Davies, Armorial families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour. 7th ed. 2 vols. [bound in 3]. London: Hurst & Blackett, 1929.
J.W. Papworth and A.W. Morant, Papworth's ordinary of British armorials. Reproduced from the original ed. of 1874. Bath: Five Barrows, 1977.
A.R. Wagner (general ed.), Dictionary of British arms. London: Society of Antiquaries, 1992-
P.G. Summers, How to read a coat of arms. 2nd ed. London: Published for the Standing Conference for Local History by the Bedford Square Press, 1979.
HLR Enquiry Desk 929.6 P
Enquiries conducted by heralds under the authority of Royal Commissions into the authenticity of arms and pedigrees of armigerous families in their provinces (1530-1686) were called visitations. Most are indexed in Marshall, Whitmore and Barrow (listed under on the Genealogy reference sources page) and many have been printed by the Harleian Society, whose publications are on the open shelves in the Humanities Reading Room. Separately published visitations can be traced in the catalogue under the heading for the College of Arms.
C.R. Humphery-Smith, Armigerous ancestors: a catalogue of sources for the study of the visitations of the heralds in the 16th and 17th centuries with referenced lists of names. Canterbury: Family History Books, 1997.

Royal arms

W.J. Petchey, Armorial bearings of the sovereigns of England. 2nd ed. rev. London: Published [for the] Standing Conference for Local History [by] Bedford Square Press, 1977.
HLR Enquiry Desk 929.82 P

Public arms

A.C. Fox-Davies, Book of public arms. London: Jack, 1915.


J. Fairbairn, Fairbairn's Book of crests of the families of Great Britain and Ireland. 4th ed. rev. and enl. by A.C. Fox-Davies. 2 vols. London: Jack, 1905.


C.N. Elvin, Elvin's Handbook of mottoes. Rev. with supp. and index by R. Pinches. London: Heraldry Today, 1971.


J.B. Rietstap, Armorial général précédé d'un dictionnaire des termes du blason. 2 vols. London: Heraldry Today, 1965. Reprint of 2nd ed., 1884-1887. Supplements and Planches.
Almanach de Gotha: annuaire genéalogique, diplomatique et statistique 1763-1959/60. Gotha: Perthes, 1763-1960. Annual. Not published 1945-1958.
Until 1940 this was in two sections:
1. Annuaire genéalogique (genealogies of royal and princely families of Europe).
2. Annuaire diplomatique et statistique (statistical and descriptive information about countries, with lists of principal executive, legislative and diplomatic officials).
This work began in 1763 as the French edition of the Gothaischer Hof-Kalender. It changed its title many times. The British Library has only: 1775; 1780; 1788-1833; 1837-1940; 1942-1944
(1775; 1780)
[Another set] 1772; 1775; 1776; 1780; 1784; 1785; 1789; 1790; 1792-1794; 1796-1811; 1813-1837; 1871; 1881-1897; 1903; 1907; 1909.
[Another copy of vols] 1784; 1789; 1796; 1815.
First part is now basically continued in: Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels. 1951- . (In progress)
Reappeared in 1998 as: Almanach de Gotha. London: Almanach de Gotha Ltd, 1998-. Annual.
Annuaire de la noblesse de France. [Royalty, peerage and nobility of Europe] London: Annuaire de la France, 1843- . [The most recent edition is on the open shelves]
J. Louda and M. MacLagan, Lines of succession: heraldry of the Royal families of Europe. London: Macdonald Illustrated, 1991.(Repr. of 1981 ed.)
Repr. London: Little, Brown & Co. (UK), 1999.
HUR Enquiry Desk 929.7094


Russia: sources for genealogy and heraldry. [Handlist in blue binder Miscellaneous 1, item 3]
HLR Enquiry Desk
D.R. Mandich and J.A. Placek, Russian heraldry and nobility. Boynton Beach: Dramco, 1992.

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