Think of the times you have purchased a new address book and in transcribing, you omit the people you have lost contact with for some reason. Anyone who is on FaceBook has come across a post of "cleaning out my friends list", the ones who are perhaps barely-known acquaintances or friends of friends get chopped. Well it seems the College of Arms did something similar in 1888. They culled their list of gentlemen!
The College of Arms in London is responsible for granting coats of arms and maintaining pedigrees and genealogies. The Heralds are the guys that do all that, under the King of Arms. The Heralds Visitation is when they go out to different counties and check out the pedigrees for coats of arms.
The other day I happened upon this book ...
"A List of persons who were disclaimed as gentlemen of coat-armour by the heralds at the visitations of the various counties of England" – published in 1888
Oopsie! It seems the College realized that former Heralds didn't do a thorough background check and some "gentlemen" had no right to the Coat of Arms they were claiming. The Royal Proclamation of 1417 stated more or less: no man should assume arms unless he held them by right of inheritance or by the donation of some person who had the power to give them.
So the college had a list made up of "gentlemen" there were doubts about and issued this warrant...
It's a little more complicated than that, and I urge you to read the short introduction that explains the whys and wherefores. The gentlemen were from all occupations...
Following is the link to the book that holds the list of the "Disclaimers at the Heralds Visitations" (with a few A-C's addended in the back). Also a link to books of Heraldic Visitations of early years that contain some genealogies. You can also get more information at the College of Arms, and at their website under the About Us/Officers of Arms tab, you can see where the different Heraldic offices are and the names of past Heralds. (Looks like they need a Herald in Chester... anyone up for the job?)
Did you know that Canada has a Heraldic Authority?