Saturday 3 May 2014

In Memoriam: Mark Turnham Elvins and Peter Drummond-Murray -- kindred spirits cut from different cloth

The small world of British Catholic heraldry has become even smaller. Over the past three weeks, two legendary and learned figures have died: Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick (24 November 1929 - 13 April 2014) and Mark Turnham Elvins OFMCap (26 November 1939 - 1 May 2014).

I was glad to be a friend and colleague of both and, although we had not been in contact for many months, they shall be missed. Although very different personalities, they were equally rich in character and their interests were remarkably similar: heraldry, monarchy, chivalry and the military-religious orders, Jacobitism and the Stuarts, the Catholic church. Mark had worked for Debrett's, Peter had contributed to Burke's Peerage. Both belonged to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrik as Slains Pursuivant to the Chief of the Name and Arms of Hay --
The Earl of Erroll, Lord High Constable of Scotland

Mark Turnham Elvins OFMCap as a professed in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
with Colonel James Bogle at the Royal Stuart Society's wreath-laying ceremony
at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, 2007
Having served with the Honourable Artillery Company, Mark Turnham Elvins reached the rank of Captain in the Royal Army Chaplains' Department before converting to Catholicism and becoming Assistant Curate at Arundel Cathedral and Chantry Priest to the Duke of Norfolk. A professed in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Turnham Elvins was appointed Warden of Greyfriars, Oxford in 2007, a year later becoming Guardian of the Friary (Greyfriars) following the dissolution of the permanent private hall.

In 2007, on behalf of the Royal Stuart Society, I co-organised a special commemorative wreath-laying ceremony and luncheon at the Royal Hospital Chelsea to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Henry, Cardinal Duke of York, the last male member of the Royal House of Stuart. I invited Mark Turnham Elvins to lead prayers at the statue of King Charles II immediately before the placing of wreaths. Having been involved with Stuart societies in the 1960s, Mark had lost contact with many in this field and he was delighted to reconnect with several old friends, most notably David Beattie and the Reverend David Skeoch. 

Mark Turnham Elvins OFMCap leads prayers at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, 2007.
Clockwise: Mark Turnham Elvins, The Earl of Lauderdale (Hereditary Bearer of the National Flag of Scotland,
shown here carrying the banner of the Royal Stuart Society), and the four wreath bearers:
 Philip Bonn, Lord Aylmer, Rafe Heydel-Mankoo, David Lumsden of Cushnie. 

Mark was a prolific writer, particularly on subjects related to heraldry and the Church. One of his most notable publications was the excellent Cardinals and Heraldry (the foreward of which was written by the Archbishop of Birmingham, Maurice Couve de Murvilee, and the preface of which was written by John Brooke-Little, then Norroy & Ulster King of Arms). The Heraldry Society continues to hold an annual "Mark Elvins Lecture"    

Peter Drummond-Murray was a successful stockbroker and businessman who served as Chancellor of the British Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta from 1977 to 1989. Appointed a Knight Grand Cross in 1988 he was elevated to the highest rank of Bailiff Grand Cross in 2013, a few months before his death. Genealogist for the Order in Scotland, Peter Drummond-Murray was justly proud of his noble and illustrious Jacobite forebears -- and no doubt they would have been equally proud of his enthusiasm for the Stuarts. Peter Drummond-Murray was instrumental in commissioning a beautifully painted seize-quartiers (16 noble quarterings) of Charles Edward Stuart and his brother Henry, the Cardinal Duke of York, copies of which were sold by the Royal Stuart Society (pictured below).

A sometime chairman of the Heraldry Society of Scotland, Peter Drummond-Murray's most notable publication was a roll of the martyr ancestors of the British Knights of Malta. "Blood of the Martyrs", which he co-authored with Sir Conrad Swan (then Garter King of Arms), was published in 1993. 

In 1982 Peter Drummond-Murray became one of the private heralds of Scotland when he was appointed Slains Pursuivant to the Chief of the Arms and Name of Hay -- The Earl of Erroll, High Constable of Scotland. In 2006, Peter wore his tabard as Slains Pursuivant in the 2006 Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences in St. Andrews Scotland. The Congress was probably the largest gathering of heralds in tabard since medieval times.

Three Scottish private heralds in 2006 -- Front: Slains Pursuivant (the late Peter Drummond-Murray) and
Garioch Pursuivant of the Chief of the Name and Arms of Mar -- The Countess of Mar (the late David Lumsden of Cushnie). Rear: Finlaggan Pursuivant of Clan Douglas (The Hon. Adam Bruce, now Unicorn Pursuivant of Arms in Ordinary of the Court of Lord Lyon)

Peter Drummond-Murray once told an elderly friend who was despairing that all of their friends were dying: "Look on the bright side -- all our enemies are dying too." With the death in short succession of both Mark and Peter I fear the scales are considerably out of balance.

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