Coat of Arms - Balch:

While researching Balch history I've come across the Balch Coat of Arms numerous times. There seems to be at least two, possibly three, different versions of the Coat of Arms ("the arms). The first version of "The Arms" shows up in the first picture to the left and is the version Galusha Balch shows in his book Genealogy of the Balch Families in America. Another version of The Arms is more complicated and can be seen here. The first version of "The Arms" is much simpler and, according to some sources, is more likely the original(due to its simplicity). The other version of "the arms", second on your right, has added some additional embellishments. On the top of the "Arms" appears to be a dragon, griffin or some other mythological creature while at the bottom it says: "Coeur et Courage fontl'ouvrage" which means "Heart and courage do the work". On December 12, 2000 I found this paperweight, once owned by William Atlee Balch, being sold on Ebay. In researching the paperweight, and William Balch, I discovered that this version of the "Arms" was used in the vicinity of Philadelphia, Pennsylavania. It's possible the second version of "the arms" is used more broadly than just Philadelphia.

The history of "the arms" seems incomplete when it comes to describing the origins and history but some of what I've found comes from Galusha Burchard Balch and his book: Genealogy of the Balch Families in America. Below is a segment from Galusha's book(transcribed by Charles V. Balch) discussing the look and history of the Coat of Arms.

Balch Coat of Arms - description by Galusha Balch

"Though perhaps not really germane to the subject, it seems interesting to note that in the reign of Edward IV, the baudekin reserved by sumptuary law for the use of royalty was woven of blue and gold stripes, which happen to be the chief colors of the Balch coat of arms. Those colors, with the red in which the "bend " crossing the shield is emblazoned, are esteemed as among the most noble in heraldry, and the simplicity of the coat itself would seem to be an evidence of antiquity there is nothing however, to show that it was granted at a very early date. It appears in the visitation of Somerset in 1623, the very year in which John Balch came to America.

The visitation of the counties by the King's stewards and officers-at-arms, under special warrants of the sovereign, for the purpose of collecting and recording the pedigrees and arms of the nobility and gentry resident therein, is of very ancient date, and the genealogies and arms thus collected are well know by the name of "visitations." These records are preserved in the College of Arms, London, from the year 1523 to 1686.

There were visitations of Somerset in 1531, the 22nd year of the reign of Henry VIII.; by Benolte, Clarencieux King- of-Arms, in 1573, the 15th year of Elizabeth; by Brooke Clarencieux, by his deputies, Henry St. George, Richmond herald, and Sampson Lennard, Buluemantle pursuant, in 1623 by the last mentioned, anid in 1672, 23d year of Charles II., and the last visitation made by Bysshe, Clarencieux.

The arms of Balche, of Horton, as illustrated in the frontispiece of this volume, and accompanied by a pedigree which form the basis of the sketch of early English Balches, which follows, are thus described in the Visitation of 1623.

"Barry of six, Or and Azure; on a bend, engrailed, Gules, three spear heads, Argent"

No crest is described with this shield.

Sir Bernard Burke, the English authority, in his "General Armory of England, Scotland and Wales," edition of 1883, describes the arms of Balche of Horton as above and adds: "Balche [Virginia, Maryland and Philadelphia, North America], the same arms. Crest, out of a ducal coronet, or, a demi-griffin, ppr. Mottos—Ubi Libertas, ibi patria [Where liberty is there is my country.] "Not laws of man but laws of God."

Another motto that has been attached to the arms, as used by the Philadelphia branch is; "Coeur et Courage font l'ouvrage," — Heart and courage do the work.


It has been stated that some the southern Balches, being allied to the Macgregors, use their crest, a lion's head proper, crowned with an antique crown.

Culleton, a London heraldic engraver, gives the Balch arms as described, and the motto as "Fait Devoyr," "Do your duty." Vermont, in his "American Heraldry," copies Burke.

Daniel Balch, of Newburyport, Mass., in his will, dated March 9, 1789, left to his eldest son, Daniel, Jr. "my coat of arms." That he inherited his copy from his father, Rev. William, or dis grandfather, Freeborn, or that John brought it with him to America, in 1623 is a matter of mere conjecture. To a copy in possession of a descendant of Daniel is attached the note: "The above are the arms of Balche of Horton, in the county Somerset, as they appear recorded to that family in the Herald's visitation of that county made in 1623. Albert W. Woods, Herald." As Sir Albert W. Woods is at present (1896) Garter King of Arms of the Heralds' College, it is evident that this copy is comparatively recent.
Arm with Broken Javelins

The crest and motto found with a copy of the Balch arms, published by a descendant of DanielWilliam the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, in 1855 have been a puzzle. The crest is a mailed arm and the gauntletted hand, grasping broken spears or javelins. The Latin motto accompanying this crest— "Usus a Punctum"— seems to refer to the spears but, with its grammatical incorrectness, convey the admonition to "use the point," or the boast that the spears had been so used, as their broken condition would attest. Nothing is known in the history of the family in England to justify such a warlike blazon.


A variation of the cat of arms, in which the spear heads are replaced by golden disks, or "bezants", a word derived from Byzantium, the ancient Consantinople, and appied to gold coins of that country, appears in the church of St. Mary in the paish of Poorstock, in Dorset. In the chancel is this escutcheon: "Barry of six, Or and Azure; on a bend, indented, Gules three Bezants." Under it, "Scutum Gulielmi Balch, obiit 39 die of Januarii, anno Dom., 1631." The shield of this William Balch is thus nearly the same as the one already described, except that the "bend" has been serrated, instead of scalloped edges-which might have been merely the result of imperfect workmanship or imperfect description-and the silver spear heads are changed to golden disks. The peculiarity of the inscription, in giving the date of the bearer's decease as the 39th of January, may, perhaps be accounted for by an attempt to reconcile the "old style" and "new style" of chronology, between which there was then a difference of ten days.

As to the crest and helmet used by the American Balches there appears to be no old authority. The helmet used by William F. Balch in the Historical and Genealogical register is that belonging to royalty, as it must be wrong. The helmet should be that of an esquire."

~Source: Genealogy of the Balch Families in America pages v - x. By Galusha B. Balch

~Transcription: Charles V. Balch

External Links/Sources:

The Balch Coat of Arms - Charles V. Balch

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