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Civic heraldry of the United Kingdom

BELFAST (City and County Borough)

Additions : 1974 Antrim RDC (partly), Larne RDC, Newtownabbey UDC (partly)


Official blazon

Arms : Party per esse argent and azure, in chief a pile vair and on a canton gules a bell argent, in base a ship with sails set argent on waves of the sea proper.
Crest : On a wreath of the colours, a sea-horse gorged with a mural crown proper.
Supporters : Dexter, a wolf proper, ducally gorged and chained or; sinister, a sea-horse gorged with a mural crown proper.
Motto: Pro tanto quid retribuamus


The arms were officially granted on June 30, 1890.

The vair—along with the supporting wolf—is taken from the arms of Sir Arthur Chichester, the founder of Belfast as it exists today, who obtained the city's charter from James I in 1613. The ship tells of Belfast's pre-eminence as a seaport, as do the seahorses, and the bell is canting. The motto means "What return shall we make for so much?", and is a paraphrase of a verse from Psalm 116. The arms were first used on the city's seal, made circa 1640, but were not granted until 1890.

The arms on collector's items:

The arms in the city:

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Literature : Scott-Giles, C.W. : Civic heraldry of England and Wales, London, 1932 Briggs, G. : Civic and corporate heraldry. Heraldry Today, Ramsbury, 1971 Vinycomb, J. : The seals and armorial insignia of corporate and other towns of Ulster, The Ulster Journal of Archaeology vol. 1, 1894, provided by Z. W. Eisler. Nireland.jpg