The Herald as a Local Officer
Date Written: June, 1986
Last Updated: December, 2017
Author: Originally by Adam Elfchaser, Major Rewrite by Eilis O'Boirne

Policy Level: Informational
Intended Audience: All Heralds and other officers
Abstract: An overview of the non-heraldic things you may end up doing as a local branch herald, with some comments on how you may be able to do your job better.

If you are the herald for your local branch, you will have some duties that go beyond field, court and book heraldry, which are covered elsewhere in this Handbook. One of your biggest duties could be summed up as “general branch support”. While you are part of the Kingdom’s College of Heralds, and are expected to participate in the College’s activities when you can, you will also be expected to be a responsible officer of your branch. In fact, many times the herald is the officer in the branch who has received the most training, and you may find less-experienced officers turning to you for advice on how the Kingdom works. (Remember…if you don’t know, ask a superior officer…) You should attend all local business meetings, and should make an effort to attend any “Arts Nights” or fighter practices if you are able to do so. Many times, those are the places you will make contact with people who are interested in finding names and devices. You should also support your local events in more ways than heraldically. Volunteer to pick up the meat for the feast and stay to help clean the hall. A good herald is a good officer is a good citizen of the branch. Help out where needed.

If you can, develop a working relationship with the local marshal. Field heraldry is an important part of the pageantry of the fighting and the two officers need to coordinate heraldic needs for each tourney. Ideally, field heralds should also be trained marshals as it is sometimes (especially in a small group) necessary to have one person do both marshalling and field heraldry. The reverse is also true and you can volunteer to train fighters to do field heraldry so that they may fill both roles. The more people in a branch who can fill each role, the less each individual will have to do – and one of those trainees may turn out to be your successor!

As an officer, you will report to your Kingdom (and Principality, if any) superior as requested or if anything really unusual happens. In the West, the only heralds required to make regular reports are the Principality Heralds and the Titled Staff Heralds. The only regular report required of branch heralds is that they return their annual roster letter confirming that they wish to continue in office.

Your seneschal may wish you to report on matters heraldic at business meeting, and you should be prepared to give a brief and cogent report on whatever has happened since your previous report. If you have many new members in your branch, you may volunteer to hold a heraldic workshop (or to have senior staff members of the College come in to conduct such a workshop). The workshop could be on the duties of heralds, or on how to choose a name and device, or on the award structure and how to address people. Remember that, in the West, the branch heralds do NOT send submissions of names and armory on to Kingdom. They are sent in by the individuals themselves. However, it is a nice touch to be aware when someone in your branch has had something registered, and to compliment them on the new (name, device, badge).

If you live in a Barony, your Baron and/or Baroness will rely on you to officiate at their courts. If you are not able to do so, it is part of your responsibility to find someone else competent to do so. It is also your responsibility to care for the local herald’s tabard, and to make sure that the local ceremony book is up to date and in good order before any event. If the Crown (or Coronet) is visiting, they may have someone from their heraldic staff to take care of their courts, but you should offer to assist in any way that you can. Especially if you live in a remote area, it is a good idea to print off the award ceremonies for the Kingdom (and Principality, if any) and read through them, so that you will be prepared if you are pressed into service.

An important part of being a local officer is finding and training a successor. While there are no terms set by the College for holding a local office, there may be a limit imposed by your branch. Even if there is not, you should always be aware of others in the branch who may be interested in the office and willing to be a deputy and possible successor. (You should also have any files and other materials belonging to the office ready to turn over at a moment’s notice – modern job transfers happen, and being ready is much better than scrambling…) Holding the same office for more than four or five years may mean that you are keeping the office from someone new who is looking for a chance to serve.

Being an officer in the SCA can be work, but it will also help you grow skills that will be invaluable in all parts of your life. Enjoy your time as a branch herald, and consider whether you wish to switch to another local office at the end of your term, or whether you wish to move up in the College… we would be happy to have you!