The Oxford University Heraldry Society can boast of being the
oldest heraldry society in Britain, being founded on St. Matthias Day
(14th of May) 1835 in the rooms of the Rev. Mr. Hughes at Magdalen
College. It was then known as the Oxford University Genealogical and
Heraldic Society and its first members were the Keepers of the Bodleian
Library and University Archives, the Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Arthur
Staunton Larken (latter Richmond Herald). Other members included the
Secretaries of the English and Scottish Societies of Antiquaries and Sir
William Woods, Clarenceux King of Arms. The Society commissioned a
herald painter to draw up a roll of arms of the members which with the
Societyís library is now lodged at the Bodleian.
Alas this early venture fell upon desuetude and in the 1930ís
disappeared from the Universityís list of societies. It was not until
1949 that an undergraduate at New College named John Brooke-Little and
another from Brasenose, named Colin Cole re-founded the Society. These
two were to become Clarenceux King of Arms and Garter King of Arms
respectively. However by 1955 the Society was again dissolved with heavy
debts. The redoubtable John Brooke-Little and Colin Cole revived the
Society again in 1958.
Brother Mark Turnham Elvins was a member of the Society from 1960 to 61
and then again from 1966 to 67 when he became Honorary Secretary. At the
start of 1967 he found he was the only officer left extant, the rest
having vanished into the ether. In vain he searched for the records and
previous officers and once more the Society failed. Then in 2005 Michael
Burtscher of St. Johnís revived the Society once more, only to disappear
again in 2008. Brother Mark supported us in this the fifth re-launch,
which aims to emulate the success and continuity of its Cambridge
Sadly, Brother Mark passed away in 2014.
For a fuller appreciation of his life and work, click here.