Women’s Names among the Scots and Irish

Genealogists tend to make a hash of women’s names because they don’t know, or don’t acknowledge, the cultural rules that would have applied at a particular time and place. The names of pre-Modern women in Scotland and Ireland is a particularly difficult area. So often people tell me they just want a rule of thumb. … Read more

Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta

Secret societies

The Royal Black Association of the Ancient, Exalted, Illustrious Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta was a Scottish chivalric association. It was closely associated in the beginning with Orange Order, although frequently at odds with it. It seems originally to have been synonymous with various “Black” organizations that evolved into the Royal Black Institution by … Read more

Knights of St. John & Malta

Secret societies

The Knights of St. John and Malta was a Canadian and U.S. chivalric association. Originally a branch of Religious and Military Order of the Knights of Malta in Scotland, it was chartered as an independent organization in 1875 it was chartered as an independent organization under the name Supreme Grand Black Encampment of North America. The name of the organization … Read more

Heraldic Lore

“Swan, (lat. cygnus, fr. cygne): this graceful bird has for various reasons been a favourite charge in armorial bearings. Swans are generally blazoned as proper, i.e. white, else they are described as argent, but they are frequently beaked and legged of other tinctures. The bird is generally borne with expanded wings, and it seems desirable … Read more

Company of Saint John


The Company of Saint John is a chivalric confraternity founded in 1914 as Rock Island Commandery (Illinois) as a local chapter of the Knights of St. John and Malta, an order that claimed to be a branch of the historic Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. The original patron was St. George, the patron saint … Read more