I’ve been a Herald since Pennsic 42, and in all that time I have heard many incorrect things about both Name and Art Heraldry. This post covers some common misconceptions about Registering a Name. I also have a post that explains how to choose your SCA name.
SCA Membership Cards, called “Blue Cards”
Many misconceptions revolve around membership cards.
My name is on my Blue Card, so the Heralds have Registered it! The Heralds have absolutely nothing to do with membership cards. Whatever name you choose to put into the Membership Registration Form will be printed. One herald had “King Richard the Lionheart” on his Blue Card just to prove this. (Heraldic rules will not allow you to register names of important people in history.)
I can’t Register my Name and Heraldry until I have an Award of Arms! There is no award prerequisite to register Heraldry in any kingdom. If the person does not yet have an Award of Arms, their heraldry should be referred to as their “Device.” I have found that most people who pay attention to this distinction are Heralds, so this post uses “heraldry” as an inclusive term.
My name is on my Award of Arms scroll, so the Heralds have Registered it! Many people do not have Registered Names or Heraldry when they receive an Award of Arms. Scribes will write the name you use on your Award and leave a space blank for your Heraldry.
I’ve been using this Household Name and Badge for decades, so it’s Registered! A large fighting household in the Midrealm discovered at Pennsic 46 that their name and badge was not registered. (This was corrected.)
I need a Blue Card to Register my Name with the Heralds! Heralds do not care if you are a Paid Member of the SCA. All we ask for is your legal name and date of birth. We will help you complete the paperwork so you can submit it with the registration fee.
I have to be 18 to Register my Name with the Heralds! Really, we just need your name and date of birth, because things are registered to you, not your persona. Parents can submit name and armory paperwork on the day their child is born. Children can also register their Name and Art Heraldry. Registered Names and Heraldry can always be changed.
Once my name is Registered, it’s permanent! All Registered Items can be changed or Released. Releasing a name or other registered thing is free; changing it requires a submission fee.
I have to do all of the research on my name myself! There are Name Heralds who have become Laurels for Period Name Research. You absolutely do not have to look it all up on your own. I always ask what time period or culture you would like to take your name from, and then I email a group list to ask for experts for that period.
I want to register a funny or crude name, but the Heralds won’t let me! As long as appropriate documentation is provided and the name is not Offensive, Presumptuous, or Obtrusively Modern, the Heralds will register it. Here some registered examples: Brick James Beech, Crow Barr, Effing Thomas, Helena Handbasket, Hillarius Clock Werk, Margarita Martini, Monkey Makgee, Oliver Oxen Free, and Violet Hughes. A few names that did not pass for being too modern include Portia Audi and Ragnar Drogo.
You’ll never get that past the Heralds! No kidding, there I was: checking in at the War of the Roses. After I handed my Blue Card (shown above) to the Gate, the person checking me in would not believe that anyone with the legal name of Anakin could register the last name Veðardóttir. I pulled out my phone and showed him the registration on the Ordinary & Armorial. (All the names above link to their entries on the O&A.) Heralds love puns, and even if only a few people get the joke, we’re happy.
I want a German name and French Heraldry, and the Heralds won’t let me do that! Heralds will look at the name you are registering only to make sure it will not be presumptuous when combined with your Heraldry. The last name Tudor and the Tudor Rose are allowed charges. If you attempt to register them both, you would appear to be presumptuous. I am a Viking, and my Heraldry is not something a Viking would use. My Heraldry shows that I am a Ravenclaw and a Tamora Pierce fan.
The question I have learned to ask is, “Have you paid the College of Heralds for your name and heraldry registration?” If the answer is no, then you have not registered anything.
How do I know when my Name and Heraldry are passed? The registration process takes roughly nine to twelve months after submission. Your Baronial Herald should be able to look up. If they are unfamiliar with the heraldic database, you can send me a note at my blog handle at gmail.