THE SEAL OF OLIVER CROMWELL
by Daniel Cogné
Associate Member of the Académie internationale d'héraldique
The Seal of Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector
Here is a great specimen of British sigillography related to Canada. The seal of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658, is affixed to a letter to Captain John Leverett concerning the affairs of Acadia. This rare document was signed at Whitehall on 18 September 1656 (National Archives of Canada, MG 18, F 4. Photo N101676). Unfortunately, this paper impression lacks detail - something which is very common when wax is not used.
The Arms depicted on the seal are as follows: Quarterly, 1 and 4, Argent on the cross of St.George Gules (England); 2, Azure, the saltire of St.Andrew Argent (Scotland); 3, Azure, a harp Or stringed Argent (Ireland); on an inescutcheon in pretence Sable a lion rampant Argent (personal Arms of Cromwell).
It is most interesting to note that the Arms of France have been removed, reflecting the change of policy towards the claim to the throne of France.
The Royal Supporters have been superseded by one supporter only: a lion sejant erect affronté, laureate, holding the shield in its paws. The heraldic custom of placing one animal behind the shield as a supporter is very rare in the armory of the British Isles.
Engraved in the upper part of the seal, the Motto Pax Quaeritur Bello (Peace is sought by war) is adapted from the Roman historian Cornelius Nepos Epaminondas.
To my knowledge, this impression is the only one to be preserved in Canada.
(Reference: Heraldry in Canada/L'héraldique au Canada, Speakers Journal, Vol. XXIII, NO. 5, December 1989)