An uncle of mine by marriage, who was a very distinguished historian, once asked me, when I was a young man, whether I was interested in Heraldry. I said that I was not. ‘I'm glad of that,” he said, “heraldry strikes me as being for a historian about on the same level of interest as stamp collecting.” – Maurice Keen, in the Preface to Origins of the English Gentleman
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
I recently ran across an article I hadn't seen before about an old heraldic roll of arms that had been found in a London antique shop o...
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Genealogical Speakers Guild
Monday, December 7, 2015
Heraldic Controversy in Cambridge, Massachusetts
In a recent article at the Boston Globe entitled “Harvard Law will scrutinize use of slaveholders' seal,” journalist Steve Annear covers the controversy which has arisen over the inclusion of a colonial coat of arms in the logo/coat of arms used by the Harvard University School of Law.
The arms of the Law School could be blazoned Azure three garbs or, a chief of Harvard (Gules on three open books argent garnished or the word VE-RI-TAS [Latin: Truth] sable).
This controversy arises in the wake of the decisions in some of our southern states to remove the Confederate battle flag from certain public venues because of its adoption and use by those opposing equal rights for blacks in this country in the 1960s and since.
The main portion of the shield - Azure three garbs or - are the arms of Isaac Royall, as found on a baptismal basin donated by him to St. Michael’s Church in Bristol, Rhode Island; on his bookplate; on a two-handled cup in the possession of the First [Congregational] Church of Medford, Massachusett; and on the tomb of Isaac Royall and his father, William Royall, in Dorchester, Massachusetts (Bolton’s American Armory, Charles Knowles Bolton, The F.W. Faxon Company, Boston, 1927, pp. 142-143). (Bolton’s work, which heraldic scholars have noted has many errors in it, is the only work in which I have found these arms.)
Isaac Royall left in his will land for Harvard College to sell and establish the first law professorship in his name. However, he was a slaveowner, and further, “Royall's father ‘treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, including burning 77 people to death,’ according to a statement from the law school.” Hence the controversy, and following a call from students, Martha Minow, dean of the law school, formed a special committee to study, discuss, and make recommendations about the use of the arms to represent the school.