The Cambridge University Heraldic & Genealogical Society

Frequently Asked Questions

In this context, “frequently” may mean as rarely as once.

Collegiate Heraldry at Oxford

“I want to learn something about Oxford collegiate heraldry. Is there an Oxford equivalent to The Cambridge Armorial?”

The nearest thing we know of is this:

Francis Pierrepont Barnard and Major T. Shepard, Arms and Blazons of the Colleges of Oxford, London: Oxford University Press, 1929

Here are two hyperlinks:

How to Tie Bands

This isn’t really anything to do with either heraldry or genealogy but I’ve spotted your instructions about tying a bow-tie. Do you know how to tie (academic) bands - the sort with long tapes?

One of our members wears bands about a dozen days per year. He has prepared a page.

J.C. Horton, Ph.D. (Churchill College)

Links to London Gazette

“Your links to pages in The London Gazette look very interesting. Although I can reach the Gazette site itself, your links to the PDF files (where separate pages can be seen) don’t seem to work for me. What’s wrong?”

We are aware of the problem but don’t know what the real solution is. The best we can suggest is that you try different browsers – some seem better than others. We have just as much trouble ourselves!

J.C. Horton, Ph.D. (Churchill College)

Bronze Seal Found

“I have found an interesting bronze seal (picture attached); can you tell me anything about it or, at least, how to discover something?”

Consult the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The database of objects found is rather interesting and offers the possibility of searching for heraldic objects and mapping their distribution across the country. The finds liaison officers are often well-known to local metal-detectoring groups and can be very helpful.

Anon, M.A. (Gonville and Caius College)

An Appointment to the Order of the British Empire

“My great uncle was an O.B.E. but I don’t know of the circumstances leading to his appointment; how do I find out?”

There are two appoaches you can try.

  1. Contact the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood:
    Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood,
    St. James’s Palace,
    SW1A 1BH
  2. The London Gazette.

J.C. Horton, Ph.D. (Churchill College)

Promotion in an Order of Chivalry

“If somebody has been appointed C.B.E. and later D.B.E., do both sets of initials appear after her name, or just D.B.E. i.e. is she Dame Mary Bloggs, D.B.E. or Dame Mary Bloggs, D.B.E., C.B.E.?”

The answer is simple: “Dame Mary Bloggs, D.B.E.”.

Being appointed a D.B.E. when one is already a C.B.E. is promotion. (Just as a captain promoted to major is now Major Jones and not Major Captain Jones.) However, if Mary Bloggs, C.B.E. is appointed a Dame in a different order (e.g. Royal Victorian Order), she becomes (e.g.) “Dame Mary Bloggs, D.C.V.O., C.B.E.”. The appointments are independent of each other.

The ordering of the letters depends on the rank first and only then on the order. Thus, someone who holds the ranks the other “way round” (i.e. is a Commander in the Royal Victorian Order and a Dame in the Order of the British Empire) is “Dame Mary Bloggs, D.B.E., C.V.O.” (and not the other way round). The seniority of the orders only comes into play when the rank is the same. A dame in both orders is “Dame Mary Bloggs, D.C.V.O., D.B.E.” (and not the other way round).

J.C. Horton, Ph.D. (Churchill College)

Borradaile Room, Selwyn College

“Can you tell me something about the Borradaile Room in Selwyn College?”

The Borradaile Room at Selwyn College is named after Lancelot Alexander Borradaile (1872-1945), who was a fellow of Selwyn College. Borradaile was a noted zoologist, and I believe that his Manual of Elementary Zoology was in use as a standard textbook until a few years ago. Within Selwyn College, he is also remembered for having wood-panelled his set of rooms (D7 in Old Court) in a somewhat extravagant style rather out of keeping with the generally restrained Victorian architecture of the college.

N.J. Bell, M.A., Ph.D. (Selwyn College)