College Mace

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The College Mace is carried by the president of the Student Assembly at all official College of William and Mary convocations, such as Opening Convocation, Commencement, Charter Day, and other special convocations, as a symbol of the authority vested in the rector of the College and delegated to the president of the College. As such, it always precedes the rector and the president. The College Mace is on display in the Swem Library Special Collections Research Center along with other academic regalia when not in use for William & Mary events.

Photo of the College Regalia on display in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in Swem Library via the SCRC's Flickr page.

Designed and handcrafted by the Gorham Company of New York, the mace is made of sterling silver. It was given to the College by alumni and students at Charter Day on February 8, 1923, upon the 230th anniversary of the granting of the Royal Charter. The mace was stolen in 1955.[1][2]

The Sections

The College Mace is four feet long. Its sections commemorate many of the people and events in the College's history.

  • An American eagle, symbolizing liberty and freedom of thought. The eagle stands on a sheaf of arrows, symbolizing the thirteen original states.
  • A sphere, symbolizing unity.
  • The coat of arms of the College and on its reverse the inscription: Collegium Gulielmi et mariae in Virginia Regia Carta Donatum Anno Domini MDCXCIII. The coat of arms initially on the College Mace was not the one granted to the College by the College of Heralds in 1694. The original design was re-discovered by President J.A.C. Chandler in 1929 and the mace, designed in 1922, bore the incorrect arms that was used by the College for many years. Some time after 1937, the original design replaced the Greek temple coat of arms on the College Mace.
Coat of Arms on College Mace
  • The arms representing the early chancellors of the College: Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury; Wiliam Wake, Archibishop of Canterbury; Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London; Thomas Sherlock, Bishop of Loddon; Henry Compton, Bishop of London; Charles Wyndham, Second Earl of Egremont; Philip Yorke, First Earl of Hardwicke; Thomas Hayter, Bishop of London; George Washington; John Tyler; Hugh Blair Grisgby. The names of the chancellors are engraved below the colored emblems of the seven seals of Colonial Virginia.
  • Upon the upper surface of the next section the seven seals of Colonial Virginia are engraved. Above the colored emblems are the names of those who were selected by the College faculty to represent the College in the House of Burgesses: John Custis, Thomas Jones, Sir John Randolph, Edward Barradall, Beverley Randolph, Peyton Randolph, Mann Page, John Blair, Jr., John Randolph. This privilege of selecting a burgess was granted in the Charter of 1693, and was exercised until the American Revolution. The nine emblems in color represent: the British flag, the arms of Great Britain, the flag of Virginia, the arms of Virginia, the Continental flag, the great seal of the Confederacy, the battle-flag of the Confederacy, the flag of the United States, and the arms of the United States. In August 2015, the great seal of the Confederacy and the battle-flat of the Confederacy emblems were removed from the College Mace. The emblems now reside in the University Archives Artifacts Collection.
  • Reproductions in full size of the obverse and reverse of the original Phi Beta Kappa medal, 1776; of the Botetourt medal, 1771; and of the FHC medal, 1750. Six memorable names, associated with the history of the College, are engraved on the upper surface of this member: Sir Christopher Wren, William Small, George Wythe, Lord Cornwallis, Louis XVI, and Robert Boyle.

The names of 38 distinguished alumni; the earth, with the continents outlined; the names of the colonial governors of Virginia; Indian head emblems commemorating the Indian School, one of the three departments of the College before the American Revolution; and the names of the presidents of the College.

When not in use, the mace is on display in the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library along with other academic regalia including the Marischal Mace and badges of the Rector and Chancellor under the care of the University Archivist.


External Links

  • Photo of the College Regalia on display in the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in Swem Library via the SCRC's Flickr page.
  • More photos of the maces via the SCRC's Flickr page.

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To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Questions? Contact the Special Collections Research Center at or 757-221-3090, or visit the Special Collections Research Center in the Earl Gregg Swem Library at William & Mary.

A Note About The Contents Of This Wiki
The information available in this wiki is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the Special Collections search tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.