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 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.

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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 teh 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.


  • Description of the Mace of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, E.G. Swem (1937) in Mace, University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library.