Thursday, July 28, 2011

Heraldry in High Point, North Carolina, Part 4

Across the street from the old U.S. Post Office building is another Art Deco building, the Guilford County Courthouse. It, too, is now commercial space, but as an historic building, the city has placed a plaque on it.

Just above that plaque is another marker which includes the Guilford County, North Carolina coat of arms. The arms themselves practically shout “designed by the English College of Arms.”

The arms might be blazoned as: Azure a lion passant or, in chief a hand proper maintaining a Cross Calvary bendwise sinister gules between two well heads and in base a buck’s head cabossed or. Crest: Issuant from a crest coronet or a hand proper maintaining a Cross Calvary gules. Supporters: D: A mastiff proper. S: A buck or.

A similar marker (in bronze, it looks like) appears on another historic building further north on Main Street.

The Guilford County website in its discussion of the coat of arms on its seal ( calls the cross a “Passion Cross,” but Parker in his Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry gives the term “Cross Calvary” or sometimes Holy cross for a Latin cross raised upon three steps, and notes that “The Passion Cross ... resembles the true Latin cross in form, but seldom occurs except when it is raised on three steps, and it is then called a Cross Calvary.” The website goes on to note:

“In July, 1981, the Board of County Commissioners adopted the official seal for Guilford County. The seal was a bicentennial gift to the County from Colonel James G. W. MacLamroc, County Historian.

The elements of the coat-of-arms come from the arms of Dr. David Caldwell, prominent educator, minister, physician, statesman and patriot; General Nathanael Greene, commander of colonial troops at the Revolutionary Battle of Guilford Courthouse and namesake of the county seat of Greensboro; and the first and second Earls of Guilford, for whom the County was named.

From the Caldwell arms come the gripped Passion Cross in the crest and on the shield [Burke’s General Armory blazons it a “cross calvary”], and the well heads [which Burke blazons the “tops of wells masoned”] of the shield. From the Greene arms come the buck of the supporters and the buck's head on the shield. From the Guilford arms come the lion of the shield, the ancient crown of the crest, and the mastiff of the supporters.

The motto Courage and Faith was felt to be characteristic of the County's first settlers: the English and Welsh Quakers on the west and south, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the center, and the German Calvinists and Lutherans on the east.

The coat-of-arms/seal was devised by the York Herald[*] of the Royal College of Arms, London, England, under the direction of Colonel MacLamroc.”

* At that time, Sir Conrad Swan, later Garter Principal King of Arms.

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