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A writer, blogger, historian, and web designer born in New York, educated in Argentina, Scotland, and South Africa, and now based in London. read more

Insiginia of the Society of Colonial Wars

DEPRIVED OF THE hereditary principle by the lamentable break with Great Britain in 1783, Americans were eventually driven to inventing a hereditary social hierarchy, even more stringent than that of the mother country. Blood is the only qualification for membership of the numerous hereditary societies that dot the United States, unquestionably foremost among which is the Society of the Cincinnati. The Society of Colonial Wars, however, is one of the more prominent of the dozens of hereditary societies, and each state organization has devised its own seal or emblem. Below are exhibited a handful of examples.

The emblem of the General Society (the nationwide organization) consists of the colonial arms of the nine original colonies marshalled together on a single heraldic shield. With Connecticut in the middle, clockwise from the top left are (and I hope I am correct): Virginia, New Netherland, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Carolina.

The emblem of the SCW of New York features the arms of New Netherland.

The typical flag of the various SCWs is the Cross of St. George surmounted by the emblem of the particular society. Above is the banner of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York.

The seal of the SCW of Massachusetts is a modification of the colonial seal of that land.

The Connecticut emblem is my favorite, with the arms of England and Connecticut quartered on a shield, a crown as a crest, and surrounded by a scroll.

The banner of the Connecticut society.

The Maine society, featuring the Stuart royal arms in a vesica-shaped seal.

The Louisiana society, featuring the arms of France and an American eagle quarters with the Spanish arms of Castille and Leon.

The Floridian society, another vesica-shaped seal, incorporates the elements of the arms of France, Castille, and Leon into a single shield.

The emblems of the Colorado and Ohio societies are similar. On the left, Colorado features two shields. One depicts the British royal arms quartered alongside those of France and Spain, while the second is the coat of arms of the State of Colorado. Ohio, meanwhile, features the Ohio arms on a shield on the left, while the right shield features the arms of Virginia and Connecticut quartered. Both Virginia and Connecticut had claims on the land which is now the State of Ohio.

Finally, the emblem of the Missouri society: the Spanish and French arms quartered, with the clumsy state arms of Missouri included in chief.

This post was published on Sunday, October 21st, 2007 8:07 pm. It has been categorised under Design Heraldry History Military.
2 Nov 2007 6:50 pm

An American who finds the break with Britain lamentable ? Intriguing… Are you the last of the American loyalists ?

Andrew Cusack
2 Nov 2007 6:59 pm

I am a Loyalist, but I am by no means the last one.

Chris N
20 Mar 2009 12:49 am

Here’s a comprehensive list of U.S. hereditary societies:

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