by Daniel Cogné
Associate Member of the Académie internationale d'héraldique

The National Archives of Canada owns a very important collection of Seals of Sovereignty. Among them is a Royal Seal attached to a famous Charter relating to Canadian history (MG 18 F 36). Passed under the Great Seal of Scotland in 1625, this document created Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy a baronet and granted him a tract of land in Nova Scotia. It is interesting to note that the word Canada was used in the description of the land.

Obverse of the Seal of Charles I

Obverse of the Seal of Charles I as King of Scotland

On the obverse of the Seal, King Charles I, crowned and armoured, is holding the reins of his horse and brandishing a sword with his right hand. In the lower part of the seal, a city (Edinburgh?) can be seen. Two royal badges, the thistle of Scotland and a Tudor rose, are depicted on the bardings of the galloping horse. Above the animal, we find a large fleur de lys -- a reminder of the claim of the English kings to the throne of France since Edward III -- and a portcullis. On the edge of the seal, within two circles, appears the motto taken from the Psalm 77:8 Deus Judicium Tuum Regi Da (Give to the King, O God, Thy Faculty of Judgement).

Reverse of the Seal of Charles I

Reverse of the Seal of Charles I as King of Scotland

On the reverse of the seal is to be found a superb impression of the Royal Arms of Scotland: Grand-quarterly, 1 and 4, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counterflory Gules (Scotland); 2, Quarterly, I and IV, Azure three fleurs de lys Or (France Modern), II and III, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or (England); 3, Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland). The shield is ensigned by the Royal Crown and encircled with a collar of thistles, St.Andrew's badge, and the Garter. Supporters: Dexter, a unicorn Argent, armed crined and unguled or, royally crowned proper gorged with a coronet composed of crosses paty and fleur de lys Gold, a chain affixed thereto of the last passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back supporting a lance proper from which flies to the dexter a banner Azure, charged with a saltire Argent (Scotland); Sinister, a lion rampant guardant Or, royally crowned proper supporting a like lance from which flies to the sinister a banner Argent, charged with a cross of Gules (England). On the edge of the seal are the royal titles CAROLUS. D. G. MAG. BRIT. FRAN. ET HIB. REX.

This Royal Seal, one of the true heraldic treasures in Canada, is probably unique outside the British Isles.

(Reference: Heraldry in Canada/L'héraldique au Canada, Speakers Journal, Vol. XXIII, NO. 5, December 1989)

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