The Washington and Lee University

Registration number 20061003B

This certifies that the heraldic arms of The Washington and Lee University are registered as an original design and described by the blazon below

Arms: Quarterly. 1st Azure an open book Argent charged with the Latin words OMNIA AUTEM PROBATE. 2nd Argent two bars in chief three mullets in fess Gules. 3rd Gules a fess chequy Azure and Or between ten billets Argent, four in chief, three, two, and one in base. 4th Azure a cinquefoil pierced Argent a bordure engrailed Ermine.
Crest: From a ducal coronet Or a raven rising proper.
Motto: Non incautus futuri


The university's website: http://history.wlu.edu/crest.htm

Design rationale

In 1890, at the request of Leslie Lyle Campbell, Class of 1887, Professor W. G. Brown designed a white silk banner bearing the words “Washington and Lee University” embroidered in gold letters on a blue scroll. Below the scroll was a composite shield made up of elements of the coats of arms of the Washington family and the Lee family. The heraldic shield has survived the years, but the original banner has not.

Professor Brown apparently designed the full coat of arms with crest and motto before 1903. The crest, a raven rising out of a golden ducal coronet, comes from the Washington crest. The upper left quarter of the shield depicts an open book with an injunction from I Thessalonians to “test all things.” The three red mullets and two red bars on a silver field come directly from the Washington arms. The design in the lower left quarter is taken from the arms of Reginald de Le, a 13th century English sheriff, Robert E. Lee's ancestor. The cinquefoil and wavy-edged ermine border were added to the Lee arms after a marriage with the Astley family of Nordley, England. The motto non incautus futuri, a phrase from Horace's Satire 1 translated “not unmindful of the future,” also came from the Lee family arms. The original phrase, haud ignara ac non incauta futuri, refers to the ant as 'neither unaware nor heedless of what will be.' The ant is feminine, hence the 'a' ending on incauta, which would not have done for a W&L motto in the 30's, so the ending was changed to the masculine 'us'.

Registered by

Michael Swanson


Education, US, W

Roll of Arms