Back to U.S.A.



New Hampshire was described for the first time by Captain John Smith in 1614. A grant was made in 1622 to John Mason and Thomas Gorges of land from the Merrimack to the Kennebec River and the next year the first settlement was made at Portsmouth, and one at Dover, New Hampshire. In 1629 this grant was divided and a separate one made to Mason of the part west of the Piscataqua River, called New Hampshire, and to Gorges that east of the river, called Maine.


Arms of Mason

Arms: Or, a lion rampant Azure.

Crest: A mermaid with comb and glass proper.


In 1641 Massachusetts claimed jurisdiction over New Hampshire, and maintained it until 1679, when it was decoded by the English court of appeal that the authority exercised by Massachusetts was illegal, and New Hampshire was made a separate Province.


The Seal


John Cutt was appointed the first President, his commission bearing date 18th September 1679, and on the 1st of January, 1679-80 he received  his commission and the seal frist used by the Province.

The arms on this seal were the royal arms of the period and the legend was: SIGILLUM PRÆSIDENTIS ET CONSILIS DE PROVINCIA NOVÆ HAMPTONIÆ IN NOVA ANGLIA. This seal was used by John Cutt and his successor, Richard Waldron in 1680 and 1681. On the accession of Edward Cranfield  in 1682, who was commissioned lieutenant-governor the legend was changed: SIGILLUM PROVINCIÆ NOSTRÆ NOVÆ HAMPTONIÆ IN NOVA ANGLIA.

This was also used by Walter Barefoote, Deputy Governor, who succeeded Cranfield in 1685, till the following year, when New hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Narragansett (Rhode Island) were united under a single Royal Province with President Joseph Dudley at the head for a year until Sir Edmund ASndros was appointed Governor in 1687. On his overthrow in 1689, when Massachusetts resumed under her old charter, she took New Hampshire under her protection with Simon Bradstreet as Governor

In 1692 Massachusetts received her second charter, and New Hampshire was re-established as a separete Province with John Usher as Lieutenant-Governor, acting for Samuel Allen of London, the Governor.

The seal used at that time bears the crowned  coat of arms of William and Mary, surrounded by the Garter, between the cypher of William and Mary and the initials R.R. (Rex, Regina) and the motto DIEV ET MONT DROIT below. The legend reads: sig : prov : n’ræ : novæ hampton : in : nov : anglia.

The Province Seal of New Hampshire

William and Mary 1692-`1694  [1]


In 1776 the Colony of New Hampshire adopted a new seal. The legend reads: colony of new hampshire . vis unita fortior. It displayed a codfish, five arrows bound together and a pine tree, being a rebus of the last part of the legend, the dutch word Vis (= fish) for for the codfish, the bundle of arrows (also from the dutch emblem of the realm) for unity, and the pine tree for strength. The motto may also be read composed of the emblems for the codfish for her coast, the pine-tree for her interior and the five arrows for the the five counties of the jurisdiction of New Hampshire

Seal of the Colony of New Hampshire 1776

Seal of the Republic of New Hampshire, 1777


The seal was used only in the year 1776 being supersed by a similar device with the motto  SIGILL : REI-PUB : NEO : HANTONI : VIS: UNITA : FORTIOR.


In 1784 the familiar ship on thestocks appears on the State seal, with a rising sun, which in a design accepted in 1785 was omitted, and the motto now used sigillum reipublicæ neo hantonensis is the legal one adopted February 12, 1785.

The present seal of New Hampshire was adopted in November, 1784, but owing to some irregularity in the prceeding it was thought necessary to confirm it in February 1785. The description then made was ‘A field encompassed with laurels; round the field, in capital letters, “Sigillum Reipublicæ Neo Hantonensis,” on the field, a rising sun, and a ship on the stocks, with the American banners displayed.’”  [2]

Seal of New Hampshire 1785

The ship on the stocks an English cutter


The legislature choose  the seal to depict a ship on stocks to reflect Portsmouth having become a major shipbuilding center during the war years. Over the years, various items for shipment were also shown on the frontal dock in the seal.


In 1919, New Hampshire Historical Society Director Otis G. Hammond, on the order of the Governor and Executive Council of New Hampshire, wrote a history of the state seal and flag. Hammond described how because the law governing the design of the seal was not very specific, when the dies wore down and had to be redesigned, the artists and sketchers had injected surprising details into the seal, such as rum barrels on the dock, sometimes including people standing beside them. In 1931, after Governor John G. Winant began his second term, he named a committee to produce a seal devoid of controversy. The General Court approved the committee's recommendations, later enacting a law codifying the official design of the state seal.


The present seal of New Hampshire was adopted by an act of the State legislature  approved on 29 April 1931, to take effect on 1 January 1931. [3]

The act reads as follows:


“Section 4 of chapter 8 of the Public laws is hereby amended by striking out the whole thereof and substituting therefore the following:

4. The seal of the state shall be 2 inches in diameter, circular, with the following detail and no other: A field crossed by a straight horizon line of the sea, above the center of the field; concentric with the field the rising sun, exposed above the horizon about 1/3 of its diameter; the field encompassed with laurel; across the field for the full width within the laurel a broadside view of the frigate Raleigh, on the stocks; the ship's bow dexter and higher than the stern; the 3 lower masts shown in place, together with the fore, main and mizzen tops, shrouds and mainstays; an ensign staff at the stern flies the United States flag authorized by act of Congress June 14, 1777; a jury staff on the mainmast and another on the foremast each flies a pennant; flags and pennants are streaming to the dexter side; the hull is shown without a rudder; below the ship the field is divided into land and water by a double diagonal line whose highest point is sinister; no detail is shown anywhere on the water, nor any on the land between the water and the stocks except a granite boulder on the dexter side; encircling the field is the inscription, SEAL • OF • THE • STATE • OF • NEW HAMPSHIRE, the words separated by round periods, except between the parts of New Hampshire; at the lowest point of the inscription is the date 1776, flanked on either side by a 5-pointed star, which group separates the beginning and end of the inscription; the whole form and design to be as follows:


Seal adopted 29.04.1931

Coloured version



Frigate USS Raleigh, 1776


The Raleigh on the present seal is one of the first 13 warships sponsored by the Continental Congress for a new American navy, built in 1776, at Portsmouth. The water stands for the harbor of Portsmouth, and in the yellow-colored spit of land is granite, a strong igneous rock, representing both New Hampshire's rugged landscape and the sturdy character of her people.


The Arms and Emblem


Designing a coat of arms for New Hampshire, the scene of the seal was placed on a heraldic shield. These proposals have never resulted in an official adoption of a coat of arms for New Hampshire.


The arms of New Hampshire

On Thomas Doolittle’s “A display of the United states of America”, 1787


Arms of New Hampshire

From: State Arms of the Union, Boston 1879


The state emblem of New Hampshire was introduced in 1945. It consists of a representation of  a rock formation called “The Old Man of the Mountain”, surrounded by the motto state of new hampshire live free or die.  


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay


The emblem was put on the state's license plate, state route signs, and on the back of New Hampshire's Statehood Quarter, which is popularly promoted as the only US coin with a profile on both sides



New Hampshire Statehood Quarter

The Old Man of the Mountain, 26.04.2003


The Old Man of the Mountain was carved by glaciers and was first recorded as being discovered by a surveying team around 1805. It was 400m above   Profile Lake in Franconia Notch State Park, and was about 12 m high and 8 m wide. The official state history says several groups of surveyors were working in the Franconia Notch area at the time and claimed credit for the discovery.

The Old Man was famous largely because of statesman Daniel Webster, from New Hampshire, who once wrote: "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."

The writer Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Old Man as inspiration for his short story "The Great Stone Face", published in 1850, in which he described the formation as "a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness".

The formation came down in spring 2003.








Sleeve Patch


Car Emblem


New Hampshire State Area Command






That for regiments and separate battalions of the New Hampshire Army National Guard:  From a wreath of colors, two pine branches saltirewise Proper crossed behind a bundle of five arrows palewise Argent bound together by a ribbon Gules the ends entwining the branches.


The bundle of five arrows and the pine are from the seal adopted by the Colony of New Hampshire in 1776.


The crest for color bearing organizations of the State of New Hampshire was approved on 21 December 1923


Distinctive Unit Insignia



A Gold color metal and enamel device 2.54 cm in height overall consisting of a Gold shield with a raised reproduction in enamel of the crest and wreath authorized for the State of New Hampshire Army National Guard:  On a wreath Argent (White) and Gules (Red) two pine branches saltirewise Proper (Green) crossed behind a bundle of five arrows palewise Argent (White) bound together by a ribbon Gules (Red) the ends entwining the branches.


The bundle of five arrows and the pine are from the seal adopted by the Colony of New Hampshire in 1776. The twists of the wreath are white and red as the State was colonized by the English.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the New Hampshire Army National Guard on 5 February 1971.  The insignia was redesignated effective 30 December 1983, for Headquarters, State Area Command, New Hampshire Army National Guard.


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia



On a blue shield 6.99 cm in height and 6.19 cm in width overall, a bundle of five arrows, three in front and two in rear, points to top, within a circle composed of nine stars, the one at base twice the size of the remainder, all yellow.


Blue and yellow are the colors of the state flag of New Hampshire.  The nine stars represent New Hampshire as the ninth state to ratify the Constitution thereby making the Constitution effective.  The bundle of five arrows, taken from the New Hampshire State Seal (1776), represents the five counties of New Hampshire bound together into a common state government.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, New Hampshire National Guard on 7 March 1956.  It was redesignated on 30 December 1983, for Headquarters, State Area Command, New Hampshire Army National Guard.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-289)



Back to Main Page



© Hubert de Vries 2015-04-16



[1] The province seal of New Hampshire under William and Mary, 1692-1694 A paper read by request before the Bostonian society, at the stated monthly meeting, held June 12, 1888;Published 1889 by Old state house [T.R. Marvin & son, printers] Boston

[2] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895.

[3] New Hampshire Laws 1931 and Special Session 1930: New Hampshire Public Acts and Joint Resolutions of the Legislature of 1931 and Special Seession of 1930, ... published by the Secretary of State (The Clarke Press, Manchester, New Hampshire, 1931) P. 44. Shankle, Georg Earlie: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers and other Symbols. The H.W. Wilson Comp.. New York, 1951