The time a new coat of arms was proposed for the Royal Naval College

The Royal Naval College was established at Greenwich Hospital in January 1873. While recently perusing through the College archives held at the National Archives at Kew, I found a letter written to the Admiralty in February 1873 suggesting a new coat of arms for the nascent college.


I have the honour to submit for the consideration of their lordships a sketch for a new coat of arms for this College, to take the place of that hitherto borne by Greenwich Hospital.
The motto I suggest is “Tam Marte quam Minerva”
I have the honour to be, Sir.
Your obedient Servant,
<signature not legible>

Accompanying the letter was an envelope containing a small but detailed sketch of the proposed new coat of arms and also a folded version of the existing Greenwich Hospital coat of arms, presumably for comparison purposes.

Although not legible in the letter, the name in the bottom left corner suggests the sender’s name was Griffiths.

The accompanying example of the Greenwich Hospital coat of arms appears to be gold embossed on leather.

Tam Marte Quam Minerva was the motto of the British Army Staff College at Camberley and has subsequently been adopted by institutions such as the Canadian Army Command and Staff College Crest (CACSC). In an explanation on their website, several examples of what the motto translates to are provided, including “By fighting as much as by writing”, “By kill as much as by skill” or “With understanding and with force of arms”

A reply, however, from the Admiralty declined to take up the proposed coat of arms:



My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having had under their consideration the sketch for a new Coat of Arms for the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, transmitted in your letter of 13th ultimo; to take the place of that hitherto borne by the Greenwich Hospital. I am commanded by their Lordships to acquaint you [that] they consider that, as the Hospital is only lent for the purposes of a College, it is not expedient to make any alteration in the arms or motto.

I am sir
Your obedient servant editor, interested in things on the river and tales from the archives.


  1. Michael Battrick says

    I have come across a photograph of my father, along with a largish group of suited men, someone in RAF uniform, and two RN Officers (A Captain and, I think, a Commodore). My father was RNVR and went into the RN in 1939, until soon after the coronation. From then on he was RNR and ended up in command of the RNR base in Plymouth, HMS Vivid. After some searching I discovered that a crest on the gates behind the group is a mirror image of the crest above, so deduce that the photo was taken of the course members he attended at GRNC. My family know no-one in the photo apart from my father so if the college has an archive that would like it, please let me know.

    If you can reply with your e-address then I will forward a scanned copy, and then if you are interested I will post the original.

    Best regards,

    Michael C. Battrick


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