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The Armorial Register - International Register of Arms - McPherson, N.G.

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Last Update: 09/05/2024

Norman George McPherson KHT, OLJ, CStN, FSA Scot.

Registered: The International Register of Arms, 26th Jan. 2016. Registration No. 0381 (Vol.3).

Arms: Per fess Or and Gules, a barrulet wavy Argent fimbriated above Sable between in base a lymphad oars in action of the First sails furled and rigging all Proper flags and pennons Argent and in chief a Highland Targe Proper charged at its centre with a wildcat salient Or between a dexter hand couped at the wrist grasping a dirk erect and a cross crosslet fitchée of the Second.

Crest: A demi cat-a-mountain rampant guardant proper Grasping a pole bearing a banner Azure with Or fringing.

Motto: Ca Canny Till Ye Ken

Grant: The Court of the Lord Lyon, 11th March 2015 (Vol. 89 Page 120) Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland.

The design, created by the armiger himself, is illustrated here by Anthony Maxwell.

The Arms of Norman
                                                George McPherson

In 2012, encouraged by Gordon Casely, the armiger petitioned David Sellar, the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, for a grant of armorial bearings.  The date of the petition was 3rd December 2012 and the design was submitted on the 28th September 2013 with final approval and Letters Patent issued on 14th May 2014. The finally agreed Letters Patent were issued under the signature of Dr Joseph Morrow, successor to David Sellar, in 2015

With a McPherson surname, the arms required significant and recognisable content from the personal arms of the chief of Clan Macpherson. This was accomplished by retaining the main elements with changes and additional items added for personal individualisation.

A targe bearing a salient wildcat in the centre representing McBain was incorporated for the armiger’s maternal grandmother’s ancestry which had a strong influence in his heritable line. Placed between the dexter hand couped at the wrist grasping a bloody dagger (this was given to Clan Macpherson by King Robert the Bruce for their loyalty) and the cross crosslet fitchée (designating the religious heritage of Macpherson,  Son of the Parson, defining the line from Muiriach the Parson of the original Clan of the Cat). In order to accomplish the lymphad was contained wholly in the base.  The blue (Azure) background was changed to  red (Gules) with the lymphad bearing white (Silver) pennon and flags being the red and white colours of the city of the armiger’s birth, Aberdeen.

Favoured among the various suggestions behind the lymphad in the base is that it represents the galley of the Catty Clan, forerunner of the Clans of the Cat, a nomadic tribe in Europe, which set sail from Germany ahead of the conquering Roman armies and landed in the North of Scotland.

A wavy separation between the chief and the base, white in colour, represented the importance of the sea within the armiger’s working career in the merchant navy and thirty two years in the oil industry both off and onshore. White is considered as silver (Argent) and no two metals can touch each other so a separation was required between the Gold (Or) background of the chief and the wavy line, so black (Sable) was chosen to comply with heraldry laws and represented oil floating on the water. 

Knowing Lord Lyon favoured armigers using their native language and dialect the Doric motto “Ca Canny Till Ye Ken” (Display caution until you know) continued the theme of the Clan Macpherson motto “Touch Not the Cat but a Glove” (Do not touch the cat whose claws are unsheathed) warning of the ferocity of the Clan.

With the relevance of the wildcat and his position of personal Banner Bearer to the Chief, a demi-cat holding a banner was thought to be an appropriate choice for the crest. The armiger’s request for a banner in the colours of the Chief, Gold over Blue, was found to be unacceptable, as Lord Lyon deemed this to be the start of new arms so long debate resulted in a compromise with Lord Lyon Dr Joseph Morrow to colour the banner with solely Azure (blue) fringed with Or (gold) giving two identity indicators and illustrating the main colour changes from those of the Chief’s arms to those of the armiger.

The arms are illustrated with the armiger’s orders as an Officer in the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, Knight in the Confraternity of the Knights of the Most Holy Trinity and his award of the Cross of Merit of Saint Nicodemus of Palermo by Archbishop Lorenzo of Palermo and all Italy.

The armiger born in Aberdeen is a Burgess of Guild for the City of Aberdeen and Royal Burgh and has traced his paternal family line back to a small farm called Balinloan in the Strathavon valley around 1750 and his maternal line through his grandmother (McBain) back to Inverness around the same date.

Active within the Clan Macpherson Association he has recently served three years as Scottish Branch Chairman. Presently he is Personal Banner Bearer to Clan Chief Sir William Allan Macpherson, member of the Executive and Museum Advisory Committees together with being a Guardian of the Clan Museum in Newtonmore. He is a council member of the Clan Chattan Union of Clans and on a wider basis, a founder member of the Highland Clan Partnership Group and committee member of the Association of Highland Clan Societies he is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and a member of the Heraldry Society of Scotland.


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The Armorial Bearings of Norman George McPherson