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Civic heraldry of South Africa

South Africa heraldry portal


Provine : KwaZulu-Natal
Incorporated into : EThikweni

Arms (crest) of Durban

Official blazon


The original Durban was founded in 1835 by Captain Allen Gardiner, who named the settlement after the Governor of the Cape, Sir Benjamin D'Urban (1833-1837). The settlement never prospered, and five years later a new town was founded in the, then, Republic of Natalia, which bore the same name. The British occupied the town in 1842 and started to develop the town.

In 1855 the council needed a seal for the new city and opened a competition for its design. The new seal showed an image of the town and the bay, with a five-pointed star.

A new seal was needed in 1882 and the design showed the arms of Sir Benjamin D'Urban, quartered with those of Sir Benjamin Pine (Governor of Natal, 1850-55). The arms were poorly drawn with thick lines over the borders and the quarterings. The aloe plant and star were used as crest. The seal was in use until 1936.

Arms (crest) of Durban

The seal from 1882.

In the meanwhile the stationary of the council showed the same arms since 1912. To the arms on the seal a motto was added, Debile principium melion fortuna sequetur, or Better fortune follows a difficult beginning. In 1913 the helmet and mantling were added. In 1936 these new arms were also cut into the new seal of the city.

Even though the arms are widely used, they are never granted by the College of Arms. The city has applied to grant these arms, but the arms were refused by the College. The main reason is that the position of the two arms indicate a marriage between the two families, which obviously is not the case for Durban.

Secondly, during the decades there has been some debate whether the D'Urban arms were actually the correct arms. This matter has not been resolved, but the city never attempted to change the arms.

Arms (crest) of Durban

The arms in the city (source).

Literature : Evans, ARMA 1563-1574.

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