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Henry Dunster

Registration number 20081003A

This certifies that the heraldic arms of Henry Dunster (1609 - 1659) which are offered in memoriam and conveyed to his descendants are registered and described by the blazon below

Arms: Azure a galleon under sail Argent St. George's Cross flying on her masts proper on a chief Argent two roses Gules barbed and seeded proper.

Design rationale

This registration of arms honors the life and work and memory of Henry Dunster (1609-1659). Dunster was born near Bury, Lancashire, and attended Bury School, now Bury Grammar School. Dunster went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, and after graduation became the Curate of Bury Parish Church, a living in the patronage of the Earl of Derby. The pluralist Rector of Bury attended Lord Derby elsewhere. Dunster also became the third Master of Bury School, originally founded about 1570. Dunster left his posts in Bury in 1640 when, like many other Puritans dissatisfied with developments in both church and state and probably in anticipation of a Civil War, Dunster emigrated to Massachusetts. Soon after his arrival, Dunster was asked and agreed to become the first President of Harvard College, now Harvard University. By all accounts, Dunster rescued a fledgling institution on the verge of closing its doors and in all respects laid the groundwork for making Harvard the leading institution of higher education in North America, and eventually in the world. Among his notable achievements was the drafting of the 1650 Charter for the President and Fellows of Harvard College (the Harvard Corporation). Remarkably, given his contributions and achievements, and the many others in Massachusetts he mixed with who did bear arms, Dunster was not armigerous during his lifetime. The arms on Dunster House at Harvard are those of another Dunster family. Although few documents survive to explain how Dunster thought of himself, he did use a phrase in one letter, ego enim Lancastrensis sum, suggesting that he was a modest, hard-working, Lancashire lad, proud of his northern English origins and of his Lancashire accent. This registration of arms symbolizes Dunster’s emigration to the New World together with his Lancastrian roots, Azure a galleon under sail Argent St George's Cross flying on her masts proper on a chief Argent two roses Gules barbed and seeded proper. The registration is an initiative of the Henry Dunster Society.

Registered by

Geoffrey Wandesforde-Smith


Personal, Original, US, D

Roll of Arms