Since the early 15th century, the Sovereign has delegated the
power to grant new Coats of Arms to the senior heralds or Kings
of Arms. From the start the Officers of Arms were called Kings
of Arms, those of next rank were known as Heralds, and juniors
were known as Pursuivants. All these ranks still exist for
the thirteen Officers of Arms forming the College of Arms today.
Only the Kings of Arms may make grants or confirmations of
Clan Little is one of many heidless (Headless) clans. An
issue arises over the clan crest badge for display by members of
a clan with a dormant or vacant chiefship. Of old the chief of a
clan handed out replicas of his crest to be worn strapped to the
arm by his clansmen going into battle. The non-existent chief of
a heidless clan cannot be present to hand out replicas of his
non-existent crest, so strictly speaking the Border Littles
cannot have a clan badge!
As a compromise the crest of Little of Meikledale of old
within a buckled strap bearing the motto is being displayed as
the Clan Crest Badge of the Littles until such time as a
chief is recognized and pronounces otherwise. Currently funds
are being raised by the Clan Little Society of Scotland to
secure a 'Grant of Shield' (corporate arms) from Lord Lyon King
of Arms. Such a Grant would bring the Society into the category
other such Societies in Scotland.
No one has knowledge of the original design of the ancient
tartan or if one ever existed. None of the border clans
had their own specific tartans until it became “in vogue" in the
century. At that time, “savvy" merchants began designing
tartans for the fashionable and labeling them with clan names.
In 1991 a tartan was designed and patented by Dr. Johnnie Little
of Morton Rig and information on the tartan was furnished to the
Tartan Society in Comries, Scotland, and the Tartan Educational
and Cultural Society in the USA.
The Little tartan is a
combined version of the Wallace Red, Black and Yellow design
toned down and the Black and White check of the Buccleuch tartan
(traditional border shepherd’s pattern). The use of a portion of
the Wallace tartan recognizes the fact that the clan founder,
Eduuard Litill, was a nephew of William Wallace and served with
him in the guerrilla wars of 1296/1297 against the English. The
border shepherd’s pattern identifies with the clan home country,
just north of Langholm, in the Scottish West March.
The Clan Little plant is heather.
Heralds were first mentioned in Western Europe about the time
of the First Crusade in 1095. They acted as
messengers, diplomats and army staff officers. This last
duty required them to be expert in identifying army commanders
by the devices painted on their banners, shields and surcoats
because facial identification was impossible when the head was
completely covered by the great war helm. Heralds also
organized tournaments, and thus gradually became experts not
only in coat armour or ‘coats of arms' but also in ceremonial
matters, which led to their organizing the great ceremonies of
Today the Heralds are appointed by the Queen of England by
letters patent under the great seal of the United Kingdom.
The Heralds were and still are responsible for the great
ceremonies such a coronations, State openings of parliament and