The Dickinson Coat of Arms
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Dickinson Arms

Azure a fess between two lions
passant. Erminois (gold with black ermine spots)

Crest: A demi-lion rampant, per pale erminois et azure.

Motto: Esse quam videri or
"To be, rather than to seem."

The history of the Dickinson Coat of Arms goes back to the London Heraldry Office. This particular arms was given to the Dickinsons of Bradley Hall. It is thought that it was first petitioned in 1565, by Richard Dickinson [age 39] of Bradley Hall, Staffordshire, England. His application was, at this time rejected for the reason that only he and his father, John Dickinson and his grandfather,William Dickinson (1452-1546) used the arms.

In 1614, Edward Dickinson, the grandson of Richard Dickinson, made a second application for the arms and was granted it. Richard had proved five generations that used this arms:

This arms is thought to have been used by another branch of the Dickinson family too. James Dysonson, J.P. of West Riding, Yorkshire, used the arms as far back as 1507. I could not find an arms for James Dysonson, but I did find one for Dicconson which was a hind's head, org. James was thought to be the son of Rauffe Dicconson. Rauffe received this arms when he married Margaret Robynson [Robinson], the daughter and heiress of William Robynson of Kirkeby Hall. When I looked up the Robynsone crest I found:

"a cubit arm, vested bendy, wavy of six, or. and az., cuffed argent, with a hand holding a Saracen's head by the beard, ppr."

Not a hind's head.

William Dickinson was a gentleman. He had an income of at least 200 English pounds per year. This money was the result of working of his estate without his own personal labors. As a gentleman he had the right to bear a coat of arms.

Others to use this arms were:

Judge Samuel Dickinson of Dover, England, used the same arms on his silver and his bookplates. When his widow died, his son Governor John Dickinson had a funeral hatchment made.

What is a Funeral Hatchment?:

A funeral hatchment is a diamond-shaped panel bearing the "Coat of Arms" of a person who has recently died. This is generally displayed on the front of the Manor House during the mourning period. This is a tradition.

The hatchment's purpose was to announce the death of the family member, so visitors would not say embarrassing things to the family about said deceased.

For example, if someone from out-of-town had their purpose as to visit the said deceased, he/she would then know that they had died and thus could offer his/her condolescences.

A recent death in the family could also keep the family members from attending certain parties and celebrations. The hatchment saved both the visitor and the occupant embarrassment.

This arms was placed in the Old Philadelphia Library on Locust Street between 13th and Broad Street.

The Dickinsons of Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Trenton, New Jersey; have the right to bear these arms. This is duly acknowledged by the Herald's College in London [England] and Paris [France]. They were enrolled in Paris, as stated in Rietrap, Volume II Supplement.

The rules of the Heraldry College requires an undisputed use of said arms for four generations or one hundred (100) years, before a grant may be issued. This is different from the grants given because of services rendered to the king or other nobility.


In Fairbairn's Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, it confirms, on page 150:

DICKENSIN, and DICONSON, Linc., Yorks., and Staff., a demi-lion, rampant, per pale, erminois and az.

Their entry for Robinson:

"Robinson, Yorks., a buck, trippant or., pellettee"


"in a cornet, composed of fleur-de-lis, or., a mount, vert. there is a buck at gaze, gold. Motto: virtute, non verbis -"by virtue, not by words." Some branches of the Robinsons were the Earls of Ripon.


Fairbairn, James. Fairbairn's Crest of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland. New York: Bonanza Books, 1986.

FTM CD#368 American Coats of Arms - The General Armory: Dabbins-Dyston, Broderbund Software, Inc.

Dickerson, Wharton. Record of the Lambert-Dickinson Family. 1901.


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This page was last updated on July 24, 2011.