Founding Fathers

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

  • No Arms Graphic

    Adams, John (Massachusetts)

    Gules six crosses crosslet fitchy Argent on a chief Or three pellets, the outer two eached charged with a lion passant guardant and the center with a fleur-de-lys, all Argent.

    The arms of Boylston, Adams's maternal grandfather, used by Adams on his seals. The charges on the pellets in chief were added by Adams in 1783; at the time of the signing they would have been uncharged. See the page on John Adams in our Presidential arms series.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Adams, Samuel (Massachusetts)

  • Bartlett, Josiah (New Hampshire) Graphic

    Bartlett, Josiah (New Hampshire)

    Quarterly, 1st Tierced per fess Or three martlets Sable, Vert a chevron Argent, and checky Argent and Gules; 2nd and 3rd Gules on a bend Argent fimbriated Sable five cinquefoils Vert; 4th Vert above a fess abased Argent and Gules a chevron Argent on a chief Or three martlets Sable

    From a water-color drawing on a document in the signer's handwriting. Vermont and Crozier attributed Sable three falconers’ gloves pendant Argent tassled Or to the signer's great-grandfather, Richard Bartlett (1621-1698) of Newbury, Mass.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Braxton, Carter (Virginia)

  • Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (Maryland) Graphic

    Carroll of Carrollton, Charles (Maryland)

    Argent two lions rampant combatant Gules supporting a sword proper hilted and pommelled Or.

    Bookplates of the signer and his grandfather. The Irish Office of Arms (Ulster Office) later confirmed the same coat with Gules field and lions Argent to the signer's granddaughter, but this was based on a mistaken genealogy.

  • Chase, Samuel (Maryland) Graphic

    Chase, Samuel (Maryland)

    Argent on a fess Sable a rose of six petals Argent in chief three mullets pierced Sable.

    The arms of his aunt, Margaret Townley, as shown on the signer's bookplate (Winterthur Library) and the set of armorial china he bought for his wedding (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). Other members of the family apparently bore "Gules four crosses flory Argent, on a canton Azure a lion passant Or."

  • No Arms Graphic

    Clark, Abraham (New Jersey)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Clymer, George (Pennsylvania)

  • Ellery, William (Rhode Island) Graphic

    Ellery, William (Rhode Island)

    Per chevron Azure and Argent a bordure engrailed Or.

    Seal of Benjamin Ellery (1669-1746), grandfather of the signer; also on family tombstones. Benjamin Ellery's bookplate shows the bordure around only the upper area of the shield and with a chevronel overall of uncertain tincture superimposed on the shield's partition line.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Floyd, William (New York)

  • Franklin, Benjamin (Pennsylvania) Graphic

    Franklin, Benjamin (Pennsylvania)

    Argent on a bend between two lions' heads erased Gules a dolphin embowed Argent between two martlets Or.

    Franklin, his elder brother John, and his illegitimate son William (the royal governor of New Jersey) all bore these arms. They appear on Dr. Franklin's personal seal as well as on the seal of office he used jointly with Robert Hunter as co-Postmasters General of British North America.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Gerry, Elbridge (Massachusetts)

  • Gwinnett, Button (Georgia) Graphic

    Gwinnett, Button (Georgia)

    Quarterly, 1st and 4th Azure a chevron between three spearheads Argent embrued Gules, the first quarter charged with a crescent for difference; 2nd and 3rd Or from a fess Sable a demi-lion rampant Gules (for Eames).

    Bookplate of his brother, Rev. Samuel Gwinnett. The Eames quartering is for Samuel and Button's mother's family. The illustration here follows the bookplate, but the demi-lions in the Eames quartering should correctly emerge from the top edge of the fess, not from the middle.

  • Hall, Lyman (Georgia) Graphic

    Hall, Lyman (Georgia)

    Argent on a chevron between three columbines Azure slipped and leaved Vert a mullet of six points Or.

    Reportedly carved on tombstone of the signer's grandfather, Hon. John Hall, at Wallingford, Conn. Crozier attributes these arms to a different John Hall of Middletown, Conn. (1639), but he was apparently unrelated to the signer.

  • Hancock, John (Massachusetts) Graphic

    Hancock, John (Massachusetts)

    Gules a hand couped and erect Argent, on a chief of the same three cocks Gules.

    Used on Gov. Hancock's seal, a coffee pot (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), and Chinese export porcelain punch bowl (at the Bostonian Society); also various pieces owned by his uncle, Thomas Hancock (Museum of Fine Arts).

  • No Arms Graphic

    Harrison, Benjamin (Virginia)

    Two different coats of arms were used by collateral relatives, but none by him or his known direct ancestors.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Hart, John (New Jersey)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Hewes, Joseph (North Carolina)

  • Heyward, Thomas, Jr. (South Carolina) Graphic

    Heyward, Thomas, Jr. (South Carolina)

    Azure a chevron per pale Or and Ermine between three garbs Or.

    Bookplate; English grant of 1768 to the signer and other descendants of his grandfather.

  • Hooper, William (North Carolina) Graphic

    Hooper, William (North Carolina)

    Or a crescent [tincture not indicated on the source] and on a chief Azure two roses Argent.

    On his bookplate, impaling the arms of Clark, his wife's family. The field is marked representing gold, but there are no tinctures indicated on the crescent.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Hopkins, Stephen (Rhode Island)

  • Hopkinson, Francis (New Jersey) Graphic

    Hopkinson, Francis (New Jersey)

    Argent on a chevron between three estoiles Gules three lozenges Argent.

    Bookplate of the signer (Winterthur Library). Bolton's blazon adds a bordure Vert, but this appears to be merely artistic license in the shading of the rococo cartouche surrounding the arms on the bookplate.

  • Huntington, Samuel (Connecticut) Graphic

    Huntington, Samuel (Connecticut)

    Argent fretty Sable on a chief Gules three mullets Or.

    Attributed by Crozier to the signer's great-grandfather, Simon Huntington of Norwich, Conn. (1660).

  • Jefferson, Thomas (Virginia) Graphic

    Jefferson, Thomas (Virginia)

    Azure a fret on a chief Gules three leopards' faces Argent.

    Used on a seal and engraved on a silver coffee urn commissioned by him; the arms are similar to those of the family of Jeaffreson of Pettistree, Suffolk, Eng., from which a number of historians and genealogists believe Jefferson was descended, with the tinctures of the chief reversed. See our article on [[President.Jefferson">Jefferson in our series on arms of the Presidents.

  • Lee, Francis Lightfoot (Virginia) Graphic

    Lee, Francis Lightfoot (Virginia)

    Quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules a fess checky Or and Azure between ten billets Argent, four in chief and three, two, one in base; 2nd and 3rd Azure a cinquefoil pierced within a bordure engrailed Ermine (for Astley)

    On a bookplate and seal of his brother Richard Henry Lee and bookplate of his brother Philip Ludwell Lee. The Stratford Hall branch of the Lee family adopted the quarterings for Astley circa 1745.

  • Lee, Richard Henry (Virginia) Graphic

    Lee, Richard Henry (Virginia)

    Quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules a fess checky Or and Azure between ten billets Argent, four in chief and three, two, one in base; 2nd and 3rd Azure a cinquefoil pierced within a bordure engrailed Ermine (for Astley)

    Bookplate and seal.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Lewis, Francis (New York)

  • Livingston, Philip (New York) Graphic

    Livingston, Philip (New York)

    Quarterly, 1st and 4th Argent three cinquefoils Gules within a double tressure flory-counterflory Vert; 2nd and 3rd Sable a bend between six billets Or (for Callender).

    Seals of the signer's father and grandfather. The cinquefoils are sometimes shown as gilly-flowers.

  • Lynch, Thomas, Jr. (South Carolina) Graphic

    Lynch, Thomas, Jr. (South Carolina)

    Azure a chevron between three trefoils slipped Or, on a chief Argent three roses Gules barbed and seeded proper, on a canton an embattled wall Or, and over all a crescent Sable for difference.

    Bookplate of Thomas Lynch, Sr., father of the signer. Bolton does not give the tincture of the canton; assumed to be Sable like the crescent for difference.

  • McKean, Thomas (Delaware) Graphic

    McKean, Thomas (Delaware)

    Argent four pallets Gules on a bend sinister Azure a crescent between two mullets of six points pierced Argent.

    Bookplate of the signer; also engraved on silver belonging to his descendants.

  • Middleton, Arthur (South Carolina) Graphic

    Middleton, Arthur (South Carolina)

    Argent fretty Azure a canton Sable, a crescent for difference.

    Tombstone of the signer, Middleton Place, S.C. Also shown as the first quarter on bookplates of members of the signer's family; sometimes described as fretty Sable and/or with the canton charged.

  • Morris, Lewis (New York) Graphic

    Morris, Lewis (New York)

    Quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules a lion rampant regardant Or; 2nd and 3rd Argent three torteaux in fess.

    From the seal of Lewis Morris, first lord of the manor of Morrisania, N.Y., 1697, grandfather of the signer. (Note: Several family bookplates show the lions as guardant, not regardant.)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Morris, Robert (Pennsylvania)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Morton, John (Pennsylvania)

  • Nelson, Thomas, Jr. (Virginia) Graphic

    Nelson, Thomas, Jr. (Virginia)

    Per pale Argent and Sable a chevron between three fleurs-de-lis counterchanged.

    On the signer's tomb, Grace Church, Yorktown. Also on the tomb of his father.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Paca, William (Maryland)

  • Paine, Robert Treat (Massachusetts) Graphic

    Paine, Robert Treat (Massachusetts)

    Azure a bend raguly Or between six estoiles (Or?)

    On his bookplate.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Penn, John (North Carolina)

  • Read, George (Delaware) Graphic

    Read, George (Delaware)

    Gules a saltire between four garbs Or.

    Attributed to the signer by Vermont.

  • Rodney, Caesar (Delaware) Graphic

    Rodney, Caesar (Delaware)

    Or three eagles displayed Purpure.

    Painting (formerly?) displayed at Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

  • Ross, George (Pennsylvania) Graphic

    Ross, George (Pennsylvania)

    Gules three lions rampant Argent, a mullet for difference.

    Bookplate of the signer; Roll of Arms of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (#624) in the name of the signer's father, Rev. George Ross of New Castle, Del., 5th Laird of Balblair.

  • Rush, Benjamin (Pennsylvania) Graphic

    Rush, Benjamin (Pennsylvania)

    Gules on a fess Or between three horses courant Argent three roundels Vert (?)

    Bolton cites a bookplate labelled "Rush" and says "perhaps Benjamin the Signer."

  • Rutledge, Edward (South Carolina) Graphic

    Rutledge, Edward (South Carolina)

    Argent a chevron compony Azure and Gules between three crescents Gules.

    Bookplate of the signer.

  • Sherman, Roger (Connecticut) Graphic

    Sherman, Roger (Connecticut)

    Or a lion rampant Sable between three oak leaves Vert.

    Watercolor owned by the signer at time of his death, 1793. Crozier says the arms were granted to a Leicestershire family in 1619, but the Connecticut Shermans apparently came from Dedham, Essex.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Smith, James (Pennsylvania)

  • Stockton, Richard (New Jersey) Graphic

    Stockton, Richard (New Jersey)

    Or a chevron Vair between three mullets Gules.

    Bookplates of the signer and of his brother, Samuel W. Stockton. Vermont and Crozier blazon these arms with the colors of the field and the mullets reversed.

  • Stone, Thomas (Maryland) Graphic

    Stone, Thomas (Maryland)

    Per pale Or and Sable a lion rampant counterchanged.

    Used by his ancestor, Governor William Stone.

  • Taylor, George (Pennsylvania) Graphic

    Taylor, George (Pennsylvania)

    Ermine on a chevron Gules between three anchors erect Azure three escallops Argent.

    Bookplate of the signer.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Thornton, Matthew (New Hampshire)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Walton, George (Georgia)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Whipple, William (New Hampshire)

  • Williams, William (Connecticut) Graphic

    Williams, William (Connecticut)

    Sable a lion rampant Argent langued Gules.

    Arms borne by various descendants of the signer's great-great grandfather, Robert Williams of Roxbury, Mass. (1638); not known if used by the signer.

  • No Arms Graphic

    Wilson, James (Pennsylvania)

  • No Arms Graphic

    Witherspoon, Rev. John (New Jersey)

  • Wolcott, Oliver (Connecticut) Graphic

    Wolcott, Oliver (Connecticut)

    Argent a chevron Ermine between three chess-rooks Sable.

    Bolton cites these arms as appearing on Oliver Wolcott's bookplate and on an engraving made from a 1782 painting of him, as well as on a 1756 tankard in the family. Vermont and Crozier both describe the arms of this family as having the chevron Sable instead of Ermine.

  • Wythe, George (Virginia) Graphic

    Wythe, George (Virginia)

    Azure three griffins passant Or.

    Bookplate of the signer.

Principal Sources:

Other sources as mentioned in the column entitled "Notes."