Coats of Arms of Famous Americans

Most of the information comes from Bolton's Armory. It is based on evidence such as bookplates, tombstones, and the like. It is therefore indicative of what the individuals themselves used.

Presidents

George Washington (1732-99)

George Washington was rather fond of heraldry, as the following quote suggests:

    It is far from my design to intimate an opinion, that Heraldry, Coat-Armor, etc. might not be rendered conducive to public and private use with us; or that they can have any tendency unfriendly to the purest spirit of Republicanism. On the contrary, a different conclusion is deducible from the practice of Congress, and the states; all of which have established some kind of Armorial Devices, to authenticate their official instruments.

George (of a patrician bent, it is true) used his arms (Argent, two bars beneath three mullets gules) on seals and book-plates. These arms appear on the flag of the District of Columbia.

John Adams (1735-1826)

Arms: Gules six crosses crosslet fitchee argent 3, 2 and 1, on a chief or 3 pellets, on the center one a fleur-de-lis and on the other two a lion passant guardant.

These are the arms of Boylston; John Adams' mother was Susanna Boylston. John Adams used them on a bookplate, and to seal the Treaty of Paris in 1783 (which ended the War of American Independence; note that Seward sealed the Alaska Purchase with a personal seal as well); later, after his embassies to Holland, France and Great Britain, he added a lion, a fleur-de-lys and a lion passant to the arms. His grandson Charles Francis Adams (1807-86), son of John Quincy Adams, also used them on a bookplate.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)

Arms: Quarterly: 1, A stag trippant by a pine tree above a fish naiant, all within an orle of thirteen mullets (Adams); 2, Sable a fess coticed or between three martlets (Smith); 3, Gules seven mascles 3, 3, 1 or (Quincy); and 4, Gules 6 crosses crosslets fitchee argent 3, 2 and 1; on a chief or three pellets, on the center one a fleur-de-lys and on the other two a lion passant guardant (Boylston).

The Adams quarter was designed by John Quincy Adams; they come from a bookplate (see Bolton's Armory). The four quarters represent his four grandparents: John Adams (1691-1760), Susanna Boylston, William Smith and Elizabeth Quincy.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Roosevelt descended from Klaas Martensezen Van Roosevelt, who came from Zeeland to New Amsterdam in 1649.

The arms were: Argent on a mount vert a rose bush with three roses in full bloom proper. The crest is three ostrich feathers per pale gules and argent, the motto: Qui plantavit curabit. The arms are obviously canting.

Source: Matthew's Armory and Blue Book.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)

Same family as Theodore. The Delano (originally de La Noue) arms were argent fretty sable on a chief gules three wolves' heads erased or.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)

When Eisenhower received the Order of the Elephant in Denmark in 1945, it was required of him to acquire a coat of arms so as to fill his stall in the Order's hall. His family arms were Or, an anvil azure. He added a crest (five stars of five points, recalling his rank as General of the Army) and a motto: Peace Through Understanding.

Source: NEHGS Roll of Arms 565.

John F. Kennedy (1915-63)

In 1961, the Chief Herald of the Republic of Ireland granted arms to John F. Kennedy, then President of the United States. The arms are: Sable three tilting helms in profile or lined gules and a bordure per saltire gules and ermine. The crest is an arm proper, armed argent, holding four arrows proper.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica, NEHGS Roll of Arms 586.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-73)

Richard M. Nixon (1913-94)

Both Johnson and Nixon (as well as vice-president Spiro Agnew, 1918-96) were granted arms by the American College of Heraldry and Arms (founded in 1966 in Maryland), according to L. G. Pine's article on Heraldry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I have not found a description of those arms, nor do I know if this organization still exists.

Ronald Reagan (b. 1911)

Reagan had arms registered in Switzerland around 1984.

The arms are: Or, a bear rampant sable, armed and langued gules holding between its forepaws a mullet argent; on a chief of the second, standing on a ducal coronet of the first a falcon argent, armed and langued of the third, wings displayed and inverted. Crest: On a gentleman's helmet proper a demi-horse sable, unguled or, charged on the shoulder with an actor's mask of the last. Motto: "Facta non verba".

Bill Clinton (b. 1946)

THe arms were granted by the Chief Herald of Ireland on June 15, 1995.

They are: Or a lion rampant gules charged with three bars argent holding in the dexter paw a branch of olive proper between in the dexter chief and sinister base a cross crosslet fitchée sable and in the sinister chief and dexter base a shamrock slipped vert. Crest: an anchor erect azure on the stock the letters SPES argent. Mantle: gules doubled argent. Motto: "An leon do bheir an chraobh". (For further information see an article by Sean Murphy on rec.heraldry on Oct. 15, 1999).

Figures in American History

Captain John Smith (c. 1580-1631)

Arms: Vert a chevron gules between three Turk's heads couped proper the turbans or.

Registered in 1625 by the College of Arms (NEHGS Roll of Arms 151).

Peter Stuyvesant (c. 1610-72)

Arms: Per fess or and gules in chief a greyhound chasing a hare and in base a running stag all proper.

(NEHGS Roll of Arms 414).

William Penn (1644-1718)

Arms: Argent on a fess sable three plates. Crest: a demi-lion rampant gorged with a collar sable charged with three plates. Motto: Dum clavum teneam.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-90)

Arms: Argent on a bend between two lions' heads erased gules, a dolphin embowed of the first between two martlets or.

Note that the arms of both Penn and Franklin are recalled in the arms of the University of Pennsylvania: Argent on a chevron sable three plates, on a chief gules a dolphin embowed between two open books argent.

Paul Revere (1735-1818)

Arms: Argent three bars gules overall on a bend sinister of the field three fleurs-de-lys sinisterways.

On a bookplate of the patriot Paul Revere and one of his father Paul Revere Sr (Apollos Rivoire). They are reproduced in David Hackett Fischer's book Paul Revere's Ride (Oxford University Press, 1994).

John Paul Jones (1747-92)

Arms: Quarterly gules a stag statant (Jones) and ermine on a fess azure three crosses crosslet argent (Paul). Crest: a stag's head erased. Motto: Pro Republica.

From his seal. The arms were adopted when he was knighted by Louis XVI (Bolton's Armory).

Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816)

Arms: Quarterly Gules a lion rampant reguardant or and Argent three torteaux in fess.

Arms also used by Lewis Morris (1671-1746), governor of New York, his grandfather; and by other members of the Morris family.

Albert Gallatin (1761-1849)

Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson, of Genevan descent. Arms: Azure a fess argent between three besants.

Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809)

Descended from General Robert Lewis, immigrant from Wales to Virginia. (1638). Arms: argent a dragon's head and neck erased vert, holding in the mouth a bloody hand proper. Crest: a dragon's head and neck erased vert. Motto: omne solum forti patria est.

Source: Crozier's Armory, p. 85; Vermont's America Heraldica, p. 171.
arms of Lewis

Robert E. Lee (1807-70)

Descended from Colonel Richard Lee, York Co. (1641). Arms: Gules a fess chequy azure and or between ten billets argent, four in chief, three, two and one in base. Crest: on a straff raguly fessways, a squirrel sejant proper cracking a nut, from the dexter end of the staff a hazel branch vert fructed or. Motto: ne incautus futuri.

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

I have found arms for 23 out of 55 signers. In each case the arms were used by the signer or members of his immediate family.

  • GEORGIA
    • Button Gwinnett
    • Lyman Hall
    • George Walton
  • NORTH-CAROLINA
    • William Hooper
    • Joseph Hewes
    • John Penn
  • SOUTH-CAROLINA
    • Edward Rutledge: Argent on a chevron azure between three crescents, two lozenges gules. His bookplate.
    • Thomas Heyward, Jr: Azure on a chevron engrailed azure between three martlets sable, as many cinquefoils or. His bookplate.
    • Thomas Lynch, Jr: Azure a chevron between three trefoils skipped or; on a chief argent three roses gules and a crescent sable for difference, a canton charged with an embattled wall or. His father's bookplate.
    • Arthur Middleton (1742-87): Argent fretty azure a canton sable. On his tomb.
  • MARYLAND
    • Samuel Chase (1741-1811): Gules four crosses flory argent, on a canton azure a lion passant or. Used in the family. But the arms on the set of China export that he ordered for himself are "argent on a bend sable a rose of the first, in chief three mullets pierced of the second", the arms of his aunt Margaret Townley (Metropolitan Museum of Art BUlletin Winter 2003, p. 38).
    • William Paca
    • Thomas Stone (1743-87): per pale or and sable a lion rampant counterchanged. Used by his ancestor William Stone, governor of Maryland.
    • Charles Carroll, of Carrollton: Gules two lions combatant or supporting a sword argent hilt and pommelled of the second.
  • VIRGINIA
    • George Wythe: Azure three griffins passant or. On his bookplate.
    • Richard Henry Lee: Gules a fess chequy azure and or between ten billets argent, four in chief, three, two and one in base.
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • Benjamin Harrison: a chevron ?
    • Thomas Nelson, Jr: per pale argent and sable a chevron between 3 fleur-de-lis counterchanged. On his tomb.
    • Francis Lightfoot Lee: Gules a fess chequy azure and or between ten billets argent, four in chief, three, two and one in base.
    • Carter Braxton
  • PENNSYLVANIA
    • Robert Morris (1734-1806)
    • Benjamin Rush (1745-1813): Gules on a fess or between three horses courant argent three roundels vert. His bookplate.
    • Benjamin Franklin: Argent on a bend between two lions' heads erased gules, a dolphin embowed of the first between two martlets or.
    • John Morton
    • George Clymer
    • James Smith
    • George Taylor: ermine on a chevron gules between three anchors azure erect three escallops argent. His bookplate.
    • James Wilson (1742-98)
    • George Ross
  • DELAWARE
    • Caesar Rodney: Or three eagles displayed purpure.
    • George Read (1733-98): Gules a saltire between four garbs or. (From Burke's American Families of British Descent; Vermont, America HEraldica, p. 52, says he used it).
  • NEW-YORK
    • William Floyd
    • Philip Livingston (1716-78): Quarterly Argent three cinquefoils gules within a tressure flory vert, and Sable a bend between six billets or. Used by his father and grandfather on their seals.
    • Frank Lewis
    • Lewis Morris (1726-98): Quarterly Gules a lion rampant reguardant or and Argent three torteaux in fess. Used by his grandfather Lewis, his brother Gouverneur, his uncle Robert Hunter.
  • NEW-JERSEY
    • Richard Stockton
    • Jno. Witherspoon
    • Francis Hopkinson: Argent on a chevron gules between three estoiles gules three lozenges argent within a bordure vert. His bookplate.
    • John Hart
    • Abraham Clark
  • NEW-HAMPSHIRE
    • Josiah Bartlett (1729-95)
    • William Whipple
    • Matthew Thornton
  • MASSACHUSETTS-BAY
    • Samuel Adams (1722-1803)
    • John Adams (1735-1826):  Gules 6 crosses crosslets fitchee argent 3, 2 and 1; on a chief or three pellets, on the center one a fleur-de-lys and on the other two a lion passant guardant. Arms of his mother, which he used.
    • Robert Treat Paine: Azure a bend raguly or between 6 estoiles of 6 points.
    • Elbridge Gerry
    • John Hancock: Gules a hand couped and erect argent, on a chief of the last three cocks of the first. On his seal.
  • RHODE-ISLAND AND PROVIDENCE
    • Stephen Hopkins (1707-85)
    • William Ellery: Per chevron azure and argent a bordure engrailed or. Born his grandfather.
  • CONNECTICUT
    • Roger Sherman: Or a lion rampant sable between three oak leaves vert. Water-color in his possession.
    • Samuel Huntington: Azure a harpy displayed, hair flowing or. Born by Ruth Huntington of CT, 1820: a relative?
    • William Williams (1731-1811): Sable a lion argent langued gules. (Attributed to the whole lineage in Matthews' Colonial Families; not known if he used it).
    • Oliver Wolcott (1726-97): Argent a chevron ermine between three chess rooks sable .

Signers of the Constitution

The National Archives has a list of the signers with links to complete biographies and portraits of each signer.

  • New Hampshire
    • John Langdon
    • Nicholas Gilman
  • Massachusetts
    • Nathaniel Gorham
    • Rufus King: Sable a lion rampant ermine between three crosses patty fitchy or. Used by him on silver.
  • Connecticut
    • Wm: Saml. Johnson: Argent a chevron gules between three lions' heads couped crowned. Used by him.
    • Roger Sherman: Or a lion rampant sable between three oak leaves vert.
  • New York
    • Alexander Hamilton: Quarterly, gules a mullet argent between three cinquefoils, and Gules a heart or between three cinquefoils. On a bookplate.
  • New Jersey
    • Wil: Livingston
    • David Brearly: Argent a cross potent gules, in the dexter point a fleur-de-lys gules. Bookplate.
    • Wm. Paterson
    • Jona: Dayton
  • Pennsylvania
    • B. Franklin: Argent on a bend between two lions' heads erased gules, a dolphin embowed of the first between two martlets or.
    • Thomas Mifflin (1744-1800): Or a chevron azure in decter chief a mullet gules. Later governor of Pennsylvania. Zieber.
    • Robt. Morris (1734-1806): unrelated to the Morrises of New York.
    • Geo. Clymer
    • Thos. FitzSimons
    • Jared Ingersoll (1749-1822): Or two pales gules. On his bookplate.
    • James Wilson (1742-98)
    • Gouv Morris (1752-1816): Quarterly Gules a lion rampant reguardant or and Argent three torteaux in fess. (See above).
  • Delaware
    • Geo: Read: Gules a saltire between four garbs or.
    • Gunning Bedford jun: Three lions' gambs couped erect within a bordure engrailed. From his tomb.
    • John Dickinson: Azure a fess ermine between two lions passant or. Bookplate.
    • Richard Bassett
    • Jaco: Broom
  • Maryland
    • James McHenry
    • Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
    • Danl Carroll
  • Virginia
    • John Blair--
    • James Madison Jr.
  • North Carolina
    • Wm. Blount
    • Richd. Dobbs Spaight
    • Hu Williamson
  • South Carolina
    • J. Rutledge: Argent on a chevron azure between three crescents two lozenges gules. Used as temporary seal when he was president of the independent government in 1776.
    • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    • Charles Pinckney: Argent five lozenges conjoined in pale sable within a bordure engrailed of the last.
    • Pierce Butler
  • Georgia
    • William Few
    • Abr Baldwin


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    Last modified: Feb 08, 2004