Cape Town Civic Arms

Heraldry in Africa
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Arthur Radburn
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Cape Town Civic Arms

Postby Arthur Radburn » 06 Apr 2013, 15:30

Today, 6 April, is the 361st anniversary of the establishment of the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope by Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company. From that settlement grew Cape Town and the Cape Colony, from which the colonisation of the rest of south Africa was later launched.

Van Riebeeck was armigerous, although no evidence of his use of arms at the Cape appears to have survived. His arms -- Gules, three annulets Or -- were carved on his tombstone, which was sent from the East Indies to Cape Town in the 1930s and is now displayed in a museum :


They are also displayed on a stained glass window honouring him in his birthplace, Culemborg :


In 1804, the government authorised the Cape Town municipal authority to use Van Riebeeck's arms on its seal :


In 1894, the town council expanded the arms by placing them on a golden shield. In 1899, the council had them formally re-granted, with the addition of a crest and supporters, by the College of Arms :


The blazon is : Or, an anchor erect Sable, stock proper, from the ring a riband flowing Azure and suspended therefrom an escocheon Gules charged with three annulets of the field.

Crest : Upon the battlements of a tower proper a trident in bend dexter Or, surmounted by an anchor and cable, in bend sinister, Sable.

Supporters : On the dexter side, standing on a rock a Female Figure proper vested Argent, mantle and sandals Azure, on her head an estoile radiated Or, and supporting with her exterior hand an anchor also proper, and on the sinister side standing on a like rock a lion rampant guardant Gules.

(The Letters Patent for the arms and crest must be among the most verbose ever issued from the College : 1070 words, as compared to 36 in the original 1804 grant.)

This version of the arms was used for about a century. The arms have been supplanted by an emblem which has no place on a respectable heraldry forum. On ceremonial occasions, though, the mayor still wears the old mayoral chain, dating from 1892, which displays the original arms. The Cape Town Cricket Club also still uses the original arms, authorised by the town council back in the 19th century.
Arthur Radburn
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Chris Green
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Re: Cape Town Civic Arms

Postby Chris Green » 06 Apr 2013, 15:55

So the Van Riebeeck arms in the 1899 grant are not an inescutcheon but an "escocheon" hanging from a blue riband. An original (and unique?) method of including one CoA in another. If anyone can think of any other such ingenious methods of including one coat in another I shall split this off as a new thread.
Chris Green
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Bertilak de Hautdesert

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Re: Cape Town Civic Arms

Postby Mike_Oettle » 15 Feb 2015, 20:44

Actually, Chris, the anchor was part of the original grant of 1804. Although the Batavian Republic was an egalitarian state on the French revolutionary model, it sent out a commissioner (senior in rank to the governor) who was very armorially minded.
His name was Jacob Abraham Uitenhage de Mist, and he granted arms to each of the five drostdijen of the Cape Colony, as well as to the Raad der Gemeenschap Kaapstad (Cape Town Community Council).
Each device was a shield hanging from an anchor (serving as a single supporter, as is often encountered in Dutch armory), and the drostdijen or district courts had shields of arms associated with the founder of the district town: that of Stellenbosch showed a version of the arms of Governor Simon van der Stel, that of Tulbagh the arms of Governor Rijk Tulbagh, that of Swellendam the arms of Governor Hendrik Swellengrebel, that of Graaff-Reinet arms associated with Governor Willem Jacob van de Graaff, and that of Uitenhage (the newest drostdij) his own family arms.
For the arms of Cape Town see
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