Coat of Arms
The College Seal
The Hampden-Sydney College Seal symbolically combines liberty, religion, and academics to produce the formula for a successful college career.
In 1783, a seal was authorized for Hampden-Sydney, "to be engraved with proper devices," for use on the diplomas of her graduates. The die for the seal was first engraved in 1784. The seal is a circle divided into three sections: an upper half and two lower quadrants. Though the figures within the seal have been changed somewhat since the original, the symbolism still exists.
- In the lower right-hand corner, there is an orator, presumably a preacher.
- In the lower left-hand quadrant, there is a man kneeling on a rock in front of an open book (originally the word "Liberty" appeared below the book, but has since been deleted).
- In the top half of the seal, on the right side, there is a table with books on it. On the left side, there is a flask (the laboratory kind) with a ribbon around the neck, and a rolled-up diploma.
The Coat of Arms
Through the generosity of the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., the College was able to secure an authentic coat of arms and other "armorial bearings" from the College of Arms, an office of the Royal Household, as part of the bicentennial celebration, 1972-76. The Kirby Foundation has designated the "achievement of arms" a gift in honor of Professor John Brinkley 1959, who was the liaison with Mr. John Brooke-Little, then the Richmond Herald, in designing the arms.
The specifications of the arms can be simplified from the arcane language of "blazon."
- On either side there are two blue pheons (particularly nasty spearheads) against a gold background - this feature is from the Sydney arms.
- At top and bottom are blue eagles against a silver background - this feature is from the Hampden arms.
- The Hampden and Sydney quarters are separated by a red saltire (St. Andrew's cross), representing the Church of Scotland.
- In the middle is the College's unique device, an open Bible with the Greek words of John 8:32 ("Ye shall know the truth").
A touch of good-natured humor came in the presentation. The Latin text of the "letters patent" conferring the arms is dated July 4, 1976, and Mr. Brooke-Little - who with the Queen's special permission appeared in full herald's uniform - made the presentation on Yorktown Day, October 19, 1976.