Coat of arms of New South Wales

Last updated

Coat of arms of New South Wales
Coat of Arms of New South Wales.svg

State Badge of New South Wales.svg

State Badge of New South Wales
Armiger Elizabeth II in Right of New South Wales
Adopted 11 October 1906
Crest Rising sun
Torse Silver and Blue
Escutcheon Lion and Four Star on Red Cross, Two Fleece and Two Wheat Sheaf
Supporters Lion and Kangaroo
Motto Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites
"Newly risen, how brightly you shine"

The Coat of arms of New South Wales is the official coat of arms of the Australian state of New South Wales. It was granted by royal warrant of King Edward VII dated 11 October 1906.

Coat of arms unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon

A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon, surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the full heraldic achievement which in its whole consists of shield, supporters, crest, and motto. A coat of arms is traditionally unique to an individual person, family, state, organization or corporation.

New South Wales State of Australia

New South Wales is a state on the east coast of Australia. It borders Queensland to the north, Victoria to the south, and South Australia to the west. Its coast borders the Tasman Sea to the east. The Australian Capital Territory is an enclave within the state. New South Wales' state capital is Sydney, which is also Australia's most populous city. In March 2018, the population of New South Wales was over 7.9 million, making it Australia's most populous state. Just under two-thirds of the state's population, 5.1 million, live in the Greater Sydney area. Inhabitants of New South Wales are referred to as New South Welshmen.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.



The shield shows a blue (azure) field with a silver (argent) cross voided red (gules) with a gold (or) star on each arm of the red cross and a gold (or) lion in the centre known as the 'Lion in the South'. There is a golden fleece in the first and fourth quarters, and a wheat sheaf in the second and third quarters, both of these charges being gold (or), with the golden fleece having a band or ribbon around it coloured silver (argent).

Escutcheon (heraldry) main or focal element in an achievement of arms

In heraldry, an escutcheon is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses.

Lion (heraldry) element in heraldry

The lion is a common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises courage, nobility, royalty, strength, stateliness and valour, because historically it has been regarded as the "king of beasts". Lion refers also to a Judeo-Christian symbolism. The Lion of Judah stands in the coat of arms of Jerusalem. Similar looking lion can be found e.g. in the coat of arms of the Swedish royal House of Bjelbo, from there in turn derived into the coat of arms of Finland, formerly belonging to Sweden, and many others examples for similar historical reasons.

Quartering (heraldry) method of joining several different coats of arms together

Quartering in is a method of joining several different coats of arms together in one shield by dividing the shield into equal parts and placing different coats of arms in each division.

The crest is a rising sun with each of the sun's rays tipped with a little reddish-orange flame, on a wreath or torse of blue (azure) and silver (argent).

Crest (heraldry) top component of an heraldic display

A crest is a component of a heraldic display, consisting of the device borne on top of the helm. Originating in the decorative sculptures worn by knights in tournaments and, to a lesser extent, battles, crests became solely pictorial after the 16th century.

The supporters are a golden (or) lion on the dexter (viewer's left) and a golden (or) kangaroo on the sinister (viewer's right). The supporters are usually depicted standing upon the motto ribbon as they hold the shield in an upright position.

Dexter and sinister

Dexter and sinister are terms used in heraldry to refer to specific locations in an escutcheon bearing a coat of arms, and to the other elements of an achievement. "Dexter" means to the right from the viewpoint of the bearer of the shield, i.e. the bearer's proper right, to the left from that of the viewer. "Sinister" means to the left from the viewpoint of the bearer, the bearer's proper left, to the right from that of the viewer.

Kangaroo сommon name of family of marsupials

The kangaroo is a marsupial from the family Macropodidae. In common use the term is used to describe the largest species from this family, especially those of the genus Macropus: the red kangaroo, antilopine kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, and western grey kangaroo. Kangaroos are indigenous to Australia. The Australian government estimates that 34.3 million kangaroos lived within the commercial harvest areas of Australia in 2011, up from 25.1 million one year earlier.

The motto contains the Latin inscription "Orta recens quam pura nites" which, in English, means "Newly risen, how brightly you shine".

Motto Short sentence expressing a motivation

A motto is a maxim; a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of an individual, family, social group or organization. Mottos are usually found predominantly in written form, and may stem from long traditions of social foundations, or from significant events, such as a civil war or a revolution. A motto may be in any language, but Latin has been widely used, especially in the Western world.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

The official blazon , or heraldic description, is contained in the royal warrant, and reads: Azure a cross argent voided gules charged in the centre chief point with a lion passant guardant, and on each member with a mullet of eight points or between in the first and fourth quarters a fleece or banded argent and in the second and third quarters a garb also or: And for a crest, on a wreath of the colours a rising sun each ray tagged with a flame of fire proper: And for the supporters, on the dexter side a lion rampant guardant: And on the sinister side a kangaroo both or, together with this motto, "Orta Recens Quam Pura Nites," .

Blazon art of describing heraldic arms in proper terms

In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image. The verb to blazon means to create such a description. The visual depiction of a coat of arms or flag has traditionally had considerable latitude in design, but a verbal blazon specifies the essentially distinctive elements. A coat of arms or flag is therefore primarily defined not by a picture but rather by the wording of its blazon. Blazon also refers to the specialized language in which a blazon is written, and, as a verb, to the act of writing such a description. This language has its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax, which becomes essential for comprehension when blazoning a complex coat of arms.


The blue field and white cross are derived from the earliest Australian coats of arms which show the Southern Cross that is visible in the skies of the southern hemisphere. The designer of the Arms 'voided' the white cross by laying a red cross within it, representing the red cross of St George as used on the ensign of Britain's Royal Navy, and placing a golden, 8-pointed star on each arm of the cross. This symbolises the maritime origins of NSW, with seafarers relying upon the Southern Cross to navigate the seas, and the role of the navy in protecting the State. [1]

The 'Lion in the South' is taken from the three golden lions on a red field on the arms of England, and symbolises both the sovereignty of NSW and the offspring of an old country. It represent the origins of the founders of the Colony of New South Wales as well as the independence of their succeeding generations. [1]

The Golden Fleece contains several layers of allusion: the wealth of NSW derived from its pastoral industries, especially wool; ideas of honour and chivalry in the Order of the Golden Fleece, the origins of New South Wales' merino flocks being in a gift from the King of Spain, commander of the Order, to the King of Great Britain; and to the heroic search by Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the golden fleece. [1]

The wheatsheaf, or garb, also contains several layers of allusion: to the agricultural wealth of New South Wales, especially wheat growing; and to the convicts, many of whom, through their toil in producing food for the early colony, were rewarded with grants of land upon which they established the farms and rural landscapes of eastern New South Wales. [1] These allusions were clear to educated men and women at the time, and those with an interest in the political economy of New South Wales at the turn of the 20th century.

The rising sun in the crest has been used in the heraldry of New South Wales since the 1820s, essentially to symbolise hope in the future. It also depicts the geographical position of New South Wales, which faces the sun rising every morning over the Pacific Ocean. The blue and white wreath or torse shows the two principal colours in the shield, which are often used as the sporting colours for New South Wales, although there is much variation in the shade of the blue in common use.

Of the two supporters, the lion symbolises the origins of many of the people of New South Wales in the early 20th century in the British Isles. The designer particularly stressed that this was not an English or Scottish or Irish or Welsh lion, but British, to represent the coming together of many different people in a new land and forming a new people. [1] It could today be understood as symbolising the multicultural nature of contemporary New South Wales society. The kangaroo has been used as a supporter in popular New South Wales heraldic practice since 1806, although this is its earliest official use. It symbolises the land and natural resources of the State, [1] and can also be understood today as representing the Aboriginal peoples who have survived colonisation and today are an integral part of New South Wales society.

The motto was first devised in 1879 for the International Exposition held in Sydney, [2] and was adopted as the State motto in 1906 to clearly replace an older motto on official seals that referred to the State's convict origins. [1] This motto reinforced the positive symbolism of the Arms with its message of hope in the future.


The Coat of Arms was designed by the NSW Government Printer, William Applegate Gullick, who had arrived in the colony as an infant with his parents. His father worked in the printing industry, and Gullick later served an apprenticeship in the printing trades with John Sands & Co, the colony's leading printers and stationers. He was appointed Government Printer in 1896, and was responsible for New South Wales postage stamp designs until 1913. Gullick was commissioned by Premier Carruthers in 1905 to design the Arms, and after some negotiation with the College of Arms in London he produced the design that was finally granted by the King. Gullick also had a role in the design of the Australian Coat of Arms.

The State Arms are described in section 4(4) of the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act 2004 (see below) as the Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty of the State. Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty are the symbols of intangible public authority which belong to independent states and are used by their representatives (such as government agencies) and leaders. [3]

The royal warrant granting the Arms states that they are "...for the greater honour and distinction of Our State of New South Wales be borne by the said State on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags and otherwise according to the Laws of Arms." These laws are derived from medieval English civil law, and relate to the authority to grant Arms, and the regulation of their use, although the enforcability of these laws in New South Wales is unclear.

The publication of the royal warrant in the NSW Government Gazette on 22 February 1907 confirmed their status as the official Arms of the State of New South Wales. The making of unauthorised copies of the Arms was prohibited by section 3 of the Unauthorised Documents Act 1922, and this remained the only piece of heraldic legislation in New South Wales until 2004. Although the State government made various attempts to use the Arms in a uniform manner, and despite the clear direction in the royal warrant about their use, there was wide variation in their use and uncertainty about their status. This was most notable in the courts, where the Royal Arms continued to be used to show the separation of executive and judicial powers.

In 2003, the NSW Parliament passed the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act 2004, which patriated the Law of Arms to some degree regarding the Arms of the State. The Act definitively established the NSW Coat of Arms, to be known as the State Arms, as the Arms of the State of New South Wales, and required the use of the Arms wherever the authority of the State of New South Wales, or of the Crown in Right of NSW, is being represented. The Royal Arms, henceforth to be known as the UK Royal Arms, are no longer to be used for this purpose, and since then there has been an ongoing program of replacing the UK Royal Arms with the State Arms in public buildings, places, seals and documents. The Act provides an exemption from such replacement when a representation of the UK Royal Arms (such as a stone carving of the facade of a courthouse) is considered by the Heritage Council of NSW to contribute to the cultural significance of a heritage listed building.

Future developments

The State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act specifically provides for the Arms to be further 'ornamented', and it is possible that 'ornamented' versions of the State Arms could be prepared in the future to reflect the separation of executive, judicial and legislative functions, reminiscent of the manner in which the UK Royal Arms were used by the courts prior to 2004.

See also

Related Research Articles

Coat of arms of South Africa coat of arms of South Africa

The present coat of arms of South Africa was introduced on Freedom Day 27 April 2000. It replaced the earlier national arms, which had been in use since 1910. The motto ǃke e: ǀxarra ǁke is written in the Khoisan language of the ǀXam people and translates literally to "diverse people unite". The previous motto, in Latin, was Ex Unitate Vires, translated as "From unity, strength".

Coat of arms of Prince Edward Island

The coat of arms of Prince Edward Island was begun when the shield and motto in the achievement were granted in 1905 by royal warrant of the King Edward VII.

Coat of arms of Nova Scotia

The coat of arms of Nova Scotia is the heraldic symbol representing the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. It is the oldest provincial achievement of arms in Canada, and the oldest British coat of arms in use outside Great Britain. It is blazoned as follows: Argent, a saltire azure charged with an escutcheon of the Royal Arms of Scotland.

Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom coat of arms

The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, or the Royal Arms for short, is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom. Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the British royal family; and by the British Government in connection with the administration and government of the country. In Scotland, there exists a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of which is used by the Scotland Office. The arms in banner form serve as basis for the monarch's official flag, known as the Royal Standard.

Coat of arms of Western Australia

The coat of arms of Western Australia is the official coat of arms of the Australian state of Western Australia. It was granted by a royal warrant of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia dated 17 March 1969.

Coat of arms of British Columbia

The coat of arms of British Columbia is the heraldic symbol representing the Canadian province of British Columbia. The arms contains symbols reflecting British Columbia's British heritage along with local symbols. At the upper part of the shield is the Union Jack, representing the United Kingdom. The lower portion of the shield features a golden sun setting into the ocean, representing the province's location on the Pacific.

Coat of arms of Australia coat of arms

The coat of arms of Australia, officially called the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, is the formal symbol of the Commonwealth of Australia. A shield, depicting symbols of Australia's six states, is held up by the native Australian animals the kangaroo and the emu. The seven-pointed Commonwealth Star surmounting the crest also represents the states and territories, while floral emblems appear below the shield.

Flag of New South Wales state flag of New South Wales, Australia

The current state flag of New South Wales was officially adopted by the government of New South Wales in 1876.

Coat of arms of Romania coat of arms

The coat of arms of Romania was adopted in the Romanian Parliament on 10 September 1992 as a representative coat of arms for Romania. It is based on the Lesser Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Romania, redesigned by Victor Dima. As a central element, it shows a golden aquila holding a cross in its beak, and a mace and a sword in its claws. It also consists of the three colors which represent the colors of the national flag. The coat of arms was augmented on 11 July 2016 to add a representation of the Steel Crown of Romania.

Coat of arms of New Zealand coat of arms

The coat of arms of New Zealand is the heraldic symbol representing the South Pacific island country of New Zealand. Its design reflects New Zealand's history as a bicultural nation, with a European female figure on one side and a Māori rangatira (chief) on the other. The symbols on the central shield represent New Zealand's trade, agriculture and industry, and a Crown represents New Zealand's status as a constitutional monarchy.

Royal Badge of Wales badge of Wales

A Royal Badge for Wales was approved in May 2008. It is based on the arms borne by the thirteenth-century Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great, with the addition of St Edward's Crown atop a continuous scroll which, together with a wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the four countries of the United Kingdom, surrounds the shield. The motto which appears on the scroll, PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD, is taken from the National Anthem of Wales and is also found on the Welsh designs for £1 coins minted from 1985 until 2000. The badge formerly appeared on the covers of Assembly Measures; since the 2011 referendum, it now appears on the cover of Acts passed by the National Assembly for Wales and its escutcheon, ribbon and motto are depicted on the Welsh Seal.

Emblem of Thailand coat of arms

The national emblem of Thailand is called the Phra Khrut Pha. The Garuda was officially adopted as the national emblem by King Vajiravudh in 1911. However, the mythical creature had been used as a symbol of royalty in Thailand for centuries. The Garuda is depicted on seals, which are used by the King of Thailand and the Government of Thailand to authenticate official documents and as its primary emblem.

Coat of arms of Sydney

The Corporate Logo of the City of Sydney was adopted by the City Council in 1996. It includes a graphic artist's "version" of parts of the actual arms.

Coat of arms of London County Council

The London County Council was granted a coat of arms in 1914 and a heraldic badge in 1956. The coat of arms can still be seen on buildings constructed by the council before its abolition in 1965.

Coat of arms of Leeds

The Coat of arms of Leeds City Council derives its design from the seventeenth century. In 1662 the Borough of Leeds received a new charter which created the office of mayor, and the arms seems to date from about this time as they incorporate part of the arms of the first mayor. These arms were recorded at the heraldic visitation of Yorkshire in 1666. By the time that the borough was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, silver owls had been added both as crest above the shield, and as supporters on either side. These additions were not authorised, however, and in 1920 application was made by Leeds County Borough Council to the College of Arms to have these additions officially granted. In the following year the grant of crest and supporters was made, with the colouring of the owls altered to "proper", or natural colourings. Gold ducal coronets were added to the supporters for further heraldic difference.

William Gullick Australian publisher, photographer and stamp inspector

William Applegate Gullick was a publisher and inspector of stamps in New South Wales, Australia. He was an early photographer and designed the Coat of arms of New South Wales.

Coat of arms of the City of London

The coat of arms of the City of London is the official coat of arms of the City of London, which is one of a number of cities and boroughs in Greater London.

Coat of arms of the London Borough of Camden

The coat of arms of the London Borough of Camden is the official heraldic arms of the London Borough of Camden. The arms were granted on 10 September 1965. The borough was formed by the merger of three former boroughs, the Metropolitan Borough of Hampstead, the Metropolitan Borough of Holborn and the Metropolitan Borough of St. Pancras, and symbols from their old coats of arms were taken over to the new borough arms.

A national coat of arms is a symbol which denotes an independent state in the form of a heraldic achievement. While a national flag is usually used by the population at large and is flown outside and on ships, a national coat of arms is normally considered a symbol of the government or the head of state personally and tends to be used in print, on heraldic china, and as a wall decoration in official buildings. The royal arms of a monarchy, which may be identical to the national arms, are sometimes described as arms of dominion or arms of sovereignty.

Coat of arms of the Prince of Wales Coat of arms of the Prince of Wales

The coat of arms of the Prince of Wales is the official heraldic insignia of the Prince of Wales, a title traditionally granted to the heir apparent to the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, formerly the Kingdom of Great Britain and before that the Kingdom of England.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Gullick, William Applegate, The New South Wales Coat of Arms, with notes on the earlier seals, Government Printer, Sydney 1907
  2. Pont, G., 'Corroborree Interrupted: food, wine and festivity at the Sydney Exhibition', in Proudfoot, P., et al., Colonial City, Global City: Sydney's International Exhibition 1879, Crossing Press, Darlinghurst 2000: 150
  3. Fox-Davies, A.C., A Complete Guide to Heraldry, Dodge Publishing, New York 1909; facsimile Bonanza Books, New York 1978: 607


Gullick, William Applegate, The New South Wales Coat of Arms, with notes on the earlier seals, Government Printer, Sydney 1907.

Gullick, William Applegate, The Seals of New South Wales, Government Printer, Sydney 1914.

Legislative Council, Report on the Proposed State Arms Bill, NSW Parliament, Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice, Report 23, Sydney December 2002.

'Royal Warrant Granting Armorial Ensigns and Supporters for the State of NSW', Government Gazette, Supplement, Sydney 22 February 1907: 1345-1346.