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Various Algonquian tribes inhabited the area prior to European settlement. The Dutch were the first Europeans in Connecticut. In 1614 Adriaen Block explored the coast of Long Island Sound, and sailed up the Connecticut River at least as far as the confluence of the Park River, site of modern Hartford, Connecticut.

By 1623, the new Dutch West India Company regularly traded for furs there and ten years later they fortified it for protection from the Pequot Indians as well as from the expanding English colonies. They fortified the site, which was named "House of Hope" (also identified as "Fort Hoop", "Good Hope" and "Hope"), but encroaching English colonists made them agree to withdraw in the 1650 Treaty of Hartford, and by 1654 they were gone.

The first English colonists came from the Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Original Connecticut Colony settlements were at Windsor in 1633; at Wethersfield in 1634; and in 1636, at Hartford and Springfield, (the latter was administered by Connecticut until defecting in 1640.) The Hartford settlement was led by Reverend Thomas Hooker.

In 1631, the Earl of Warwick granted a patent to a company of investors headed by William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele, and Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke.


Achievement of Robert Rich 2nd Earl of Warwick, (1587-1658) Lord High Admiral of England

By Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-’77)


Arms: Gules, a chevron between three cross bottony Or.

Crown: The crown of an English earl

Crest: A basilisk Argent

Supporters: Two deer proper.


Arms of Fiennes Viscount Say and Sele


Arms: Azure, three lions rampant Or, 2&1

Crown The coronet of a viscount

Crest: On a wreath of the colors a dog sjeant Argent collared Or

Supporters: Two dogs Argent collared or



Arms of Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke


Arms: Sable on a cross within a bordure both engrailed Or, five pellets. [1]


They funded the establishment of the Saybrook Colony (named for the two lords) at the mouth of the Connecticut River, where Fort Saybrook, was erected in 1636. Another Puritan group left Massachusetts and started the New Haven Colony farther west on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in 1637. The Massachusetts colonies did not seek to govern their progeny in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Communication and travel were too difficult, and it was also convenient to have a place for nonconformists to go.

Connecticut colony was created in 1631 by Patent of Warwick. At the sale of Fort Saybrook to the possessors of the clony in 1644 the act was sealed with a seal on which a vineyard of fifteen grape vines and in chief a hand coming from a cloud holding a ribbon inscribed sustinet qui transtulit. This seal became the model for all later seals cut in 1689, 1711, 1784, 1842, 1882 and 1931. The number of grape wines was reduced in 1711 to three. In 1784 the cloud around the hand disappeared.



The motto "Qui Transtulit Sustinet," (He Who Transplanted Still Sustains), has been associated with the various versions of the seal from the creation of the Saybrook Colony Seal. While the origin of the motto is uncertain, the late Charles J. Hoadly, a former State Librarian, suggested in an article entitled "The Public Seal of Connecticut," which appeared in the 1889 edition of the Connecticut State Register and Manual, that the motto is taken from Psalm 80 verse 9: Vineam de Ægypto transtulisti ejicisti gentes et plantasi eam (Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.") It means ‘He Who Transplanted Still Sustains’.


The Seal


A Picture of The Original Seal

First Seal


Connecticut's first seal was brought from England by Colonel George Fenwick in 1639. It was the seal of the Saybrook Colony and was turned over to the Connecticut Colony at about the time that it purchased the land and fort at Saybrook Point from Colonel Fenwick in 1644. The seal was used by the General Court (General Assembly) from that time forward, but there is no clear record of who had custody of the seal. On October 9, 1662, the same day that the new Royal Charter was read aloud at Hartford, the assembly formally declared that the seal would be kept by the Secretary of the Colony and used as the Seal of the Colony on necessary occasions. It remained the colony's seal until October 1687, when Sir Edmund Andros took control of the colony's government and the seal disappeared. It is presumed to have been destroyed.

Seal of 1689


Self-government returned to Connecticut in 1689, but for a number of years only a poorly fashioned substitute seal was used. It was not so well cut, it is a trifle larger, the hand bends downward, and the motto reads, ‘SVSTINET QVI TRASTVLIT



Seal of 1711

Print of the seal of 1711


On October 25, 1711, a meeting of the Governor and Council (the upper house of the assembly) resolved, "that a new stamp shall be made and cut of the seal of this Colony, suitable for sealing upon wafers, and that a press be provided with the necessary appurtenances, for that purpose, as soon as may be, at the cost and charge of this Colony, to be kept in the secretary's office."

This seal was considerably larger than its predecessors, neasuring 21/8 inches in length and 13/4 in breadth. Instead of fifteen vines there are but three, and there is a hand about midway on the dexter side, pointing to them. The motto, which is on a label below the vines  is ‘Qui transtulit sustinet,’and around the circumference is the legend ‘Sigillum coloniæ connecticensis’.


Seal on 40 shillings bill, 1775


The three vines may have been intended to represent the three colonies, New Haven, Saybrook, and Connecticut (Hartford), which, by 1665, had merged to form the Connecticut of that time.


After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, the inscription on the colonial seal was no longer appropriate. Therefore, in May of 1784 the General Assembly directed the Secretary to alter the inscription to read "SIGILL. REIP. CONNECTICUTENSIS." The resolution reads:

“’Whereas the circumscription of the seal of this State is improper and inapplicable to our present constitution, Resolved by this Assembly, that the Secretary be and he is hereby empowered and directed to get the same altered from the words as they now stand to the following inscription, namely, “Sigill. Reip. Connecticutensis.”’

However, when a new version of the seal was prepared, the inscription contained the words spelled out -- SIGILLUM REIPUBLICAE CONNECTICUTENSIS (Seal of the State of Connecticut), though in its shortenend form it appears in engravings of that period. At the October session in 1784, the new seal was approved and ordered to be lodged with the Secratry to be used as the seal of this State as law directs. The size of this seal was 22/3 inches in length by 17/8 in breadth. It was engraved on a silver plate soldered to a brass shoe or base. The silver plate was given to Yale College after a new seal was produced.



“Article fourth, section eighteenth iof the constitution adopted in 1818 declares that the seal of the State shall not be altered: but it is singular that neither in that instrument nor in any law or resolution is the seal ascertained or described. In 1840, it was resolved, ‘That the Secretary of State be instructed to ascertain the proper seal and bearings of this State, and report to the next General Assembly; and also, whether any legislative enactment is required for a proper description of said seal.’ Mr. Hunman was at that time Secretary, but, as the subject would have required considerable investigation, he made no report at all.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were two State seals in use: one for sealing with wax or wafer, which was produced in accordance with a resolution passed October, 1842, which directed that it should be similar to the one then in use. The resolution  as originally drawn up provided that the new seal might be of smaller dimensions and circular instead of oval; but these provisions were struck out in the House of Representatives, probably upon constitutional grounds, and the seal was made of similar form and size with the preceding one, except that it is a trifle broader; the workmanship also is better; there are three clusters of grapes on each vine, whereas the old one had four on each of the upper and five on the lower one. There has been no subsequent alteration to the official state seal. In 1931, the General Assembly required that all representations of the state seal conform to the description in Chapter 54 of the Public Acts of that year. This legislation also prohibited reproduction of the seal except by or under the direction of the Secretary of the State.

1931-‘61 Black & White version

Inofficial Coloured version


The Arms


A coat of arms for the colony is mentioned for the first time in a decree of the Governor of the Council of 14 June 1709. Here it is written that the mortgage bonds have to be stamped with  “the arms of the colony or the drawing of three grape vines as in the report of the council.” Usually the arms show three grape vines in their natural colours on a white field within a golden frame. The motto is in black lettering on a white ribbon with golden edges.

A version of the first seal which, because its being surrounded by a garland of oak, can be interpreted as a state emblem is provided by Eugene Zieber in his Heraldry of America (1909):


First Arms


Arms of Connecticut by Amos Doolittle, 1787


In the 19th century flags and other decorations were sometimes added.






19th century


The present law about the arms and seal of the State of Connecticut reads:


Connecticut Statutes, Title 3, Chapter 33, Sections 3-105 and 3-106.




SECTION. 3-105.


Sec. 3-105. Arms of the state. The following-described arms shall be the official arms of the state: A shield of rococo design of white field, having in the center three grape vines, supported and bearing fruit. The vine located in the center of the shield and the vine located on the right side of the shield shall ascend in a counterclockwise manner. The vine located on the left side of the shield shall ascend in a clockwise manner. The bordure to the shield shall consist of two bands bordered by fine lines adorned with clusters of white oak leaves (Quercus alba) bearing acorns. Below the shield shall be a white streamer, cleft at each end, bordered with two fine lines, and upon the streamer shall be in block letters the motto "QUI TRANSTULIT SUSTINET". A drawing of said arms, made in conformity herewith and filed in the office of the Secretary, shall be the official drawing of the arms of the state.

(1949 Rev., S. 178; 1953, S. 61d; 1959, P.A. 328, S. 1; 1961, P.A. 76, S. 1; P.A. 90-156, S. 1.)






Sec. 3-106. Seal. The great seal of the state shall conform to the following description: It shall be a perfect ellipse with its major axis two and one-half inches in length and its minor axis two inches in length, the major axis being vertical. Within such ellipse shall appear another ellipse with its major axis one and fifteen-sixteenths inches in length and its minor axis one and one-half inches in length. The inner ellipse is separated from the outer ellipse only by a line two points one-thirty-sixth of an inch in width and with the space between the two ellipses, being seven-thirty-seconds of an inch, forming a border. In said space shall appear, letter spaced and in letters one-eighth of an inch in height and of twelve point century Roman, the words "SIGILLUM REIPUBLICAE CONNECTICUTENSIS", beginning and ending one and one-sixteenth inches apart in the lower space along such border. In the center of the inner ellipse shall be three grape vines, two above and one below, each with four leaves and three clusters of grapes intertwined around a support nine-sixteenths of an inch high, and the base of the supports of the two upper vines one inch from the base of the inner ellipse and eleven-sixteenths of an inch apart. The base of the lower support shall be nine-sixteenths of an inch from the base of the inner ellipse and halfway between said bases shall appear the motto "QUI TRANSTULIT SUSTINET", in number three, six point card Roman letters, or engraver's Roman letters, on a ribbon gracefully formed, with the ends of the ribbon turned upward and inward and cleft. A drawing of said seal shall be filed in the office of the Secretary and shall be its official drawing.

(1949 Rev., S. 179, 8490; 1953, S. 3280d; 1959, P.A. 328, S. 2; 1961, P.A. 76, S. 2.)


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


Governor, Secretary of the State, Senate




Secretary of the State

The office of the Secretary of the State was created under the Fundamental Orders of 1638/39 and is, therefore, one of the original offices of government in Connecticut. From its inception, the duties of the office of secretary included overseeing elections and the keeping of public records. In 1662 the secretary also became the keeper of the colonial seal. The responsibilities of the office have grown tremendously since that time, but the secretary is still the constitutional and stautory keeper of the public records and the state seal. The motto on the secretary's seal, REIP. CONN. SECRET. ET SIGILL. CUSTOS (Secretary of the State of Connecticut and Keeper of the Seal), is a reflection of the history of the office. [2]






Connecticut State Area Command






That for regiments and separate battalions of the Connecticut Army National Guard:  From a wreath of colors, a grapevine supported and fructed Proper.


The grapevine appears as the device of Connecticut as early as 1759.


The crest for color bearing organizations of the State of Connecticut was approved on 12 July 1923.


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A silver color metal and enamel device 31/32 inch (2.46 cm) in height consisting of a blue hexagon, one side up, on which is a silver rococo shield bearing three green grape vines with purple grapes, each vine interlaced with a vertical green support, issuing from a green mound.


The shield portion of the arms of Connecticut was approved by the State General Assembly of 1897, and is described as follows:  ***"A shield of rococo design argent white silk, having embroidered in the center three grape vines, supported and bearing fruit in natural colors."***


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the noncolor and nonstandard bearing units, State Staff and State Detachment, Connecticut National Guard on 4 April 1930.  It was redesignated and amended to change the description of the design for the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Connecticut Army National Guard on 31 March 1970.  The insignia was redesignated for Headquarters, State Area Command, Connecticut Army National Guard effective 30 December 1983.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




On a yellow equilateral triangle one point up, each side of which measures three inches (7.62 cm), the crest of the Connecticut National Guard:  On a wreath of six twists alternating white and red, a grape vine supported and fructed proper.


The grapevine appears as the device of Connecticut as early as 1759.  As the predominant population within the state was of English origin, the twists of the wreath are white and red.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Connecticut National Guard on 30 November 1949.  It was redesignated with the description amended for the Headquarters, State Area Command, Connecticut Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-475)



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-04-04



[1] An entry in Burke’s Peerage (p. 427) reads: Greville (Baron Greville); Algernon William Fulke Greville 2nd Lord Greville, has been confirmed by royal licence, in the surname and supporters of Greville. Sa on a cross within a bordure both engrailed or, five pellets a crescent for diff. Supporters - on either side a swan, wings inverted ar. ducally gorged gu. charged on the breast with a pellet. Crest: - out of a ducal coronet gu a demi swan wings expanded and elevated ar. Motto - Vix ea nostro voco

[2] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895.  The  Connecticut State Register & Manual with permission of the Secretary of the State.