James Balfour Paul

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James Balfour Paul
File:Coat of Arms of the Court of the Lord Lyon.svg
The coat of arms of the Office of the Lord Lyon King of Arms
Lord Lyon King of Arms
In office
Preceded by George Burnett
Succeeded by George Swinton
Personal details
Born (1846-11-16)16 November 1846
Died 15 September 1931(1931-09-15) (aged 84)
Resting place Dean Cemetery
Nationality Scottish

Sir James Balfour Paul GCVO GCStJ FSAS (16 November 1846 – 15 September 1931) was the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the officer responsible for heraldry in Scotland, from 1890 until the end of 1926.


He was born in Edinburgh, the second son of the Rev. John Paul of St Cuthbert's Church, Edinburgh and Margaret Balfour, at their home, 13 George Square in Edinburgh.[1] His great-grandfather was Sir William Moncreiff, 7th Baronet.[2] He was educated at Royal High School and University of Edinburgh.

He was admitted an advocate in 1870. Thereafter he was Registrar of Friendly Societies (1879–1890), Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates (1883–1902), appointed Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1890, and made a Knight Bachelor in 1900[3] and KCVO in 1926.[4]

Among his works was Scots Peerage, a nine-volume series published from 1904 to 1914.[2]

He tried two interesting heraldic cases in Court of the Lord Lyon, the first being in 1909, when Sir Colin Macrae claimed the right to use the coat of arms as Chief of the Name of Clan Macrae, which was opposed by Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap. The second was action brought against Mrs. Fraser Mackenzie by Colonel James Stewart-Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth, in connection with the bearing of arms in right of her father. In the second case, the Lyon's ruling was upheld on appeal by the House of Lords.[2]

He was also admitted an Esquire and then a Commander of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and was a member of the Royal Societies and University (Edinburgh) Clubs. He was also Secretary of the Order of the Thistle.[2]

He resided at 30 Heriot Row, Edinburgh. Sir James married, in 1872, Helen Margaret (d. 20 December 1929), daughter of John Nairne Forman of Staffa, WS. They had four children: three sons and a daughter. One son, John William, also became a heraldic officer, while another, Arthur Forman, became an architect and partner of Robert Rowand Anderson.

Sir James is buried with other family in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh, in the north section immediately east of the opening in the wall between the original cemetery and the north extension.

Published works

  • History of the Royal Company of Archer (1875)
  • (ed.) Record Series of Registrum Magni Sigilli, (1882-3)
  • Handbook to the Parliament House (1884)
  • Heraldry in relation to Scottish History and Art (1890).
  • An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland (1893) 1st ed., (1903) 2nd ed.
  • Memoir and Remains of John M. Gray in 2 vols. (1895)
  • (ed.) The Scots Peerage Vol. I (1904), with successive volumes up to Vol. IX (1914)
  • (ed.) Accounts of the Lord Treasurer of Scotland Vols. II-XI, 1900-1916
  • "Ancient Artillery, with some notes on Mons Meg" in The Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, volume 50, 1915-1916, pps: 191-201.
  • (ed.) Scottish History Society, Diary of the Rev. George Ridpath, Minister of Stichill


  1. http://digital.nls.uk/directories/browse/pageturner.cfm?id=83401383&mode=transcription
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Sir James Balfour Paul, Scottish Herald and Antiquary". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 16 September 1931. p. 17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "New Year's Honours". The Times. 1 January 1900. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "New Year's Honours". The Times. 1 January 1926. p. 12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed, and Official Classes, 1903, London, p. 1156.

Further reading

  • Douglas, Sir Robert (1904–1914), Paul, Sir James Balfour (ed.), The Scots Peerage (nine volumes ed.), Wood's<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> — Volume IX contains the index for the other eight volumes.

External links

Works related to Obituary: Sir James Balfour Paul at Wikisource

Heraldic offices
Preceded by
George Burnett
Lord Lyon King of Arms
1890 – 1927
Succeeded by
George Sitwell Campbell Swinton