Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,744 members have registered
2,396 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

Honorary Appointments


General Information

The Guild of One-Name Studies is empowered to appoint a number of Honorary positions under our Constitution. These positions are that of Patron, President and a maximum of four Vice Presidents. The first of these appointments was made in 1985 and these were made following recommendation by the Committee and Trustees of the Guild to the membership, initially annually until the Constitution change that was agreed by a ballot of members on 21st November 2015. At the Annual General Meeting in April 2016 the President and Vice Presidents were appointed under Clause 10.3 of the Constitution for a period of five years.

The present are listed as follows, with the year that they were initially appointed to their Honorary position:

  • Derek Palgrave, President, 1988
  • Alec Tritton, Vice President, 2006
  • Col (Ret) Iain Swinnerton, Vice President, 2007
  • Howard Benbrook, Vice President, 2011
  • Peter Walker, Vice President, 2015
  • Peter O’Donoghue, Patron, 2017

A list of those previously appointed is available HERE  to members.

President and Vice Presidents

All the current appointees are members of the Guild, conducting a One-Name Study. Under Clause 10.3 of the Constitution the Honorary appointees are deemed full members of the Guild and none can serve on the Guild Committee as Trustees whilst in an Honorary position, although several of them continue to support the Guild in postholder positions. All those appointed to an Honorary position do so in an unpaid capacity. The President usually gives an address at the Guild Conference & AGM and has a role within our Complaints Procedure, should any matters not be resolved through the earlier stages of that process and under Section 12 of the Constitution which deals with Expulsion of Members. The President and Vice Presidents also interact with members of the Committee throughout the year.


In 2016, the Committee acknowledged that there was a provision within the current and former Constitutions to appoint a Patron, although that position had not previously been allocated.  The position of Patron is Honorary and it is the duty of the Trustees when seeking individuals for Honorary appointment to select an individual who is supportive of the aims and principles of our Organisation. After deliberation, it was considered that in agreement with Clause 4.h) that the Committee and Trustees could seek an individual who would enable us to maintain our position and develop further as a global Surname organisation within the genealogical community by securing the widest possible public awareness of One-Name Studies[1].

The Trustees did not undertake this decision lightly; we understood there were significant Organisations within the genealogical field who had not successfully located and appointed a Patron, despite having had one previously. After discussions with the President who is well known in the genealogical arena and versed in heraldry it was suggested that we could approach Mr O’Donoghue at the College of Arms. The Trustees and Committee discussed the potential appointment and two of our number met with Mr O’Donoghue who considered the matter and was delighted to accept our proposal to be the Honorary Patron of the Guild, an organisation with whom he had had prior dealings.

The Patron selected for appointment at the 2017 AGM is Michael Peter Desmond O’Donoghue. He was appointed to the position of York Herald of Arms in Ordinary at the College of Arms in London in 2012, prior to that he served as the Bluemantle Pursuivant at the College of Arms from 2005. During 1993-1994 he was President of the Cambridge University Heraldic and Genealogical Society. He has worked as a professional genealogists and researcher and is the usual spokesperson for the College on BBC television programmes “Who Do You Think You Are” (UK, USA and Irish versions)[2], subsequently made available globally. Mr O’Donoghue has over 20 years’ experience in the field and has given numerous lectures and written in several publications.

Under Clause 4.o) of the Constitution the Trustees are empowered “to do such other lawful things as are necessary for the attainment of the said Objectives”[3]. The Trustees firmly believe that overall membership of genealogical organisations is in decline, yet we are frequently succeeding and growing the Guild including more individuals joining from countries outside the UK. Our aim is to continue to raise the profile of the Guild globally and this is being addressed under our marketing plan. By appointing Mr O’Donoghue who has a position with The College of Arms, which is a well-respected organisation with jurisdiction in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and numerous Commonwealth countries which represent a good deal of our members, we are providing an opportunity to increase our platform for global awareness and in turn membership growth. We also meet our educational objective by raising the awareness of people in the skill of One-Name Studies on a global scale.

Policy & Guidance on Appointment

Previous Trustees have not formally created a policy or Job Description for any of the Honorary appointments. This is probably because those appointed to the Honorary positions are members who have previously undertaken an active role within the Guild, therefore they are already aware of the aims and objectives of the Guild. 

With the appointment of a Patron who initially was external to the organisation this necessitates a change to the current process, focusing on recommended best practices outlined by the Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector[4]. We believe the role of Patron will evolve organically, just as the roles of President and Vice President have done in the past. There will be regular communications between the Committee and Trustees, Patron, President and Vice Presidents, concerning any guidance or notification of opportunities for the Guild to succeed in its endeavours; this is in addition to communication from us confirming their appointment, thanking them for their service and identifying any matters as is necessary.

The Committee and Trustees are very appreciative of the time and attributes provided by those who hold Honorary appointments with the Guild of One-Name Studies.

1,287 total views, 2 views today