11 Oct 1906 - NSW Coat of Arms

#OnThisDay 11 October 1906 the Coat of Arms of New South Wales was granted by Royal Warrant. The Coat of Arms depicts a rising sun, with lion and kangaroo supporters and a shield with blue (azure) field with silver (argent) cross voided red (gules). The cross has a gold (or) star on each arm and a gold (or) lion in the centre. There are golden fleece in the first and fourth quarters and a wheat sheaf in the second and third quarters of the cross.

Case Study

State arms of New South Wales

On 20 November 1905, Alfred Lyttelton QC, Secretary of State for the Colonies, sent a circular from Downing Street noting he had been advised by Garter, Sir Alfred Scott-Gatty, that New South Wales had 'no Official Arms recorded to it in the College of Arms' and suggested that 'a formal application should be made for a Coat of Arms'. NSW responded favourably to the approach and the NSW Government Printer, William Applegate Gullick (1858-1922), developed the design of the arms for the State in collaboration with the College of Arms in London.

On 11 October 1906, King Edward as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland executed a Royal Warrant addressed to the hereditary Earl Marshal of England 'to whom the cognizance of matters of this nature doth properly belong'. Until this time, the arms of NSW were the Royal arms of the United Kingdom, or simply the Royal arms.

By this Royal Warrant, the King granted and assigned 'Armorial Ensigns and Supporters for the said State of New South Wales' thereby creating what is known as the State arms of New South Wales. These arms were "to be borne for the said State on Seals, Shields, Banners and Flags according to the law of Arms." Since 2004, use of the State arms has been governed by the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act 2004 (NSW).

It seems that the Royal Warrant exists in at least four contemporaneous forms:

  1. The Original Warrant with original artwork, the arms being described in the Warrant by way of an heraldic blazon. The original Warrant is held by Garter King of Arms on behalf of the Earl Marshal of England.
  2. The registration copy in the Register of Arms of Dominions and Colonies, folios 315-317 at the College of Arms.
  3. The certified copy of the Register copy which was sent out to NSW but has not yet been located within the records of the NSW State government.
  4. A further certified copy retained within the Colonial Office which has not yet been located. The heraldic blazon as described in the Royal Warrant is:

Azure a cross argent voided gules charged in the centre chief point with a lion passant guardant, and on each member with a mullet of eight points or between in the first and fourth quarters a fleece or banded argent and in the second and third quarters a garb also or: And for a crest, on a wreath of the colours a rising sun each ray tagged with a flame of fire proper: And for the supporters, on the dexter side a lion rampant guardant: And on the sinister side a kangaroo both or, together with this motto, "Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites," (Recently arisen, how brightly you shine).

This description is repeated in the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act 2004.

The original Royal Warrant was addressed by the King to the hereditary Earl Marshall of England who exercised a supervisory role over the College of Arms. It directed him to have it "recorded in Our College of Arms in order that our Offi cers of Arms and all other Public Functionaries who it may concern may take full notice and have knowledge therof in their respective departments."

The Warrant was duly recorded and a copy was extracted from the entry in the College's records, certified as a faithful copy by Garter, transmitted to the Governor of New South Wales, Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, being received on 31 December 1906, sent by the Governor to Premier and Treasurer Joseph Hector Carruthers, before being sent to the Treasury on 17 January 1907. A transcription was then published by the Governor's command in a Supplement to the New South Wales Government Gazette No.24, 22 February 1907, pp.1345-1346. Though the State arms in the Royal Warrant were in colour, in the Gazette they were rendered in monochrome with hatching representing the heraldic colours.

For some years members of the Australian Heraldry Society have sought to locate the certified copy of the original Royal Warrant which had been sent to the then Governor of NSW in late 1906 and had been printed in the Government Gazette on 22 February 1907 at his command. They were unsuccessful in locating that copy or of obtaining a copy of the register pages from the College of Arms and sought the assistance of State Records NSW to do so.

In late 2014, State Records NSW was able to obtain colour digital images of the original Royal Warrant from the College of Arms thus making this significant document once more accessible in New South Wales. The Royal Warrant is here reproduced, courtesy of the College of Arms.

To find out more about the State arms see The NSW Coat of Arms Guide »

Sources and Acknowledgement

State Records NSW: AGY 1767, Governor; NRS 4512, Despatches, circulars and cables from the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary and copies of despatches to the Secretary of State, 1905 [12/2063.2] and 1906 [7/1536.2].

State Records NSW: AGY 49, Treasury; NRS 14125, Registers of letters received from government departments (A series), 1907 [9/1487] A1907/719.

Richard d'Apice AM AAIH, "Royal Warrant of King Edward VII assigning Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty for the State of New South Wales dated 11 October 1906," Heraldry News: The Journal of the Australian Heraldry Society Inc, No.68 (March 2015), pp.22-32

(This case study was first published in the State Records NSW Annual Report, 2014-2015)