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Donald Smith McKee

Arms: Azure, on a chevron Or between two bears' heads couped argent, muzzled gules in chief, and a double-headed griffin sejant erect and affrontee argent, armed gules, beaked, langued and winged Or in base, two dexter hands issuant from the ends of the chevron, each grasping a dagger pointing to the centre Proper.

Crest: a gauntleted dexter hand paleways Proper, grasping an antique anchor in bend sinister, the flukes uppermost Or


Granted: The Court of the Lord Lyon 26th January 2001. Lyon Register Volume 82, Folio 93.

I am one of the thousands I am sure, who know that they are of Scottish ancestry but have been unable to trace to a particular person and therefore are unable to matriculate arms. I had the extreem good fortune to have been chosen for a task that resulted in my being granted arms.

It starts sometime before 1995 with Charles Burnett (Ross Herald) and Mark Dennis hatching the scheme over drinks and cigars. They were painfully aware that Lyon's collar of office, the one that he actually wore, was not as depicted on his arms but was a collar of SS's with a pendant of a Hanoverian Horse. For "Scotland's other King" this seemed a travesty, to say the least. Their scheme was to have the St Andrew Societies of the Diaspora each contribute a link for a new collar to set things right.

Mark was then from the San Francisco area and a member of The St Andrew Society of San Francisco and he had it take the lead in the project. It was my good fortune to have earlier done projects for that society, working through Mark, including a collar for their chieftain. So when this came along he asked me if I were interested. I nearly collapsed.

Of course the biggest challenge was to penetrate the bureaucracy of forty societies around the world. It wasn't that they didn't want to be a part of it, it was just that they are all volunteer organizations and things do fall through the cracks. Thank heavens I did not have to deal with that part. But in the end the scheme worked and in November of 1998 a collar of thistles and rue with a pendant of St Andrew was presented to The Lord Lyon. It is six feet in length and weighs two and one half pounds in solid gold. It was valued at eighty thousand US dollars although the collective societies paid far less than that.

In the end Lyon thought that what I had done for Scotland was worthy of a grant of arms. I am eternally grateful both for the privledge of making the collar and for the arms. I regard them as a little boy's dream come true. Although I am not above boring people to death about them.

While this is a grant of arms Lyon insisted that the clan connection be maintained so the blue shield, the chevron, the hands grasping daggers and two of three bears' heads are directly from the arms of the Chief of Mackay. However, the chevron is gold because I am a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and could not stand to bear the colors of a chief rival, the Air Force Academy. Fortunately there were two Mackays in the seventeenth century who had gold chevrons so Lyon let me have that. The biggest difference, of course, is the griffin. While not a mark of difference as such it sort of serves as one. Griffins have been a source of fascination for me since I was young and two of my earliest sculptures were of griffins. Its most important feature is the gold wings. I was a Naval Aviator so my pilot wings were gold. I was also qualified to wear Navy/Marine parachutist wings which are also gold. The two heads rather fit with a tendency to do things which would seem to be mutually exclusive. I have a masters degree in engineering but I make my living as an artist. I have competed for years as both a Highland Dancer and a Scottish heavy athlete, often at the same Highland games.

In the crest the dexter hand paleways respects the Mackay crest. The gauntlet is simply military and because I think they're cool. The anchor refers to both the Naval Academy and the Marine Corps. The hand grasping the anchor as a weapon derives from a cartoon depiction of Bill, the Navy goat, about to "Beat Army".
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