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Semper Fidelis is Latin for "Always Faithful". Well known in the United States as the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps (and often shortened to Semper Fi in Marine contexts), Semper fidelis has served as a slogan for many families and entities, in many countries, dating at least as far back as the 14th century. Within the groups below, users are listed in chronological order according to when they are believed to have adopted the motto; however, in many cases dates of adoption are not well established.

Contents

Families and individuals

The motto was widely used in medieval Europe, at least in Great Britain, Ireland and France and probably in other countries as well.

  • B. Burke (1884, p. 1180)[1] lists the following families as using the motto Semper fidelis in Great Britain and Ireland in their coats of arms: Booker, Barbeson, Bonner, Broadmead, Carney, Chesterman, Dick, Dickins, Duffield, Edge, Formby, Frisby, Garrett, Haslett, Houlton, Kearney, Lynch, Lund, Marriott, Nicholls, Onslow, Pollexfen, Smith, Steele, Steuart, Stirling and Wilcoxon. A disproportionate number of these families were Scottish or Irish. A more recent adoption is by Senator Joe Doyle, in arms granted by the Chief Herald of Ireland during the year of 1999.
  • Chassant and Tausin (1878, p. 647)[2] list the following French families as using it: D'Arbaud of Jonques, De Bréonis, Chevalier of Pontis, Du Golinot of Mauny, De Coynart, De Genibrouse of Gastelpers, Macar of the Province of Liege, Milet of Mureau, Navoir of Ponzac, De Piomelles, De Poussois, De Reymons, and De Rozerou of Mos.

Some of the more notable families from Burke's list are:

  • Lynch family (Ireland): Semper Fidelis is the family motto of the Lynch Family. The Lynches were one of the Tribes of Galway who were fourteen merchant families who dominated the political, commercial, and social life of the city of Galway in western Ireland between the 13th and 16th centuries. Members of the 'Tribes' were considered Old English gentry. The Lynches were descended from William Le Petit who was one of the Norman knights who settled in Ireland following the grant of Ireland as a fiefdom by Pope Adrian IV to King Henry II of England in the early 12th century. Semper Fidelis appears on the Lynch Family coat of arms. Although the earliest traceable reference to its doing so is James Hardiman's history of Galway published in 1820, the history of the family makes it likely that the motto was in use by the 14th or 15th century.
  • Edge family (England): The Edge family of Strelley, Nottinghamshire, were using the motto "Semper fidelis" by, at the latest, 1814 (see UK National Archives document reference DD/E/209/32-34). The arms were granted in 1709[3] but it is not recorded whether the motto formed part of the initial grant.
  • Onslow family (England): the family of the Earls of Onslow uses the motto Semper fidelis (see also Lodge, 1832[4]), though their alternative motto (the punning Festina lente) is better known.
  • Stewart family (Scotland; also spelled Steuart especially in older sources): "Semper Fidelis" is the family motto of the Stewart family of Ballechin in Perthshire. J. Burke (1836, pp. 149–150)[5] records that the family goes back to an illegitimate son of James II of Scotland (1430-1460), and the motto is recorded by Burke and by Robson (1830).[6] However they do not report the date of its first use.

Cities

Abbeville

The city of Abbeville in France is recorded by 19th century sources (e.g. Chassant & Taussin, 1878) as using the motto "Semper fidelis", and recent sources (e.g. Heralogic [7]) state that the city was accorded this motto by Charles V, by letters patent of 19 June 1369, issued at Vincennes. This would make it the earliest recorded user of the motto among cities. However both Louandre (1834, p. 169)[8] and the city's current official website[9] give the motto simply as "Fidelis", and Sanson (1646, p. 15)[10] claimed that even this was not part of Charles's original grant, but was added later, some time in the 14th to 17th centuries.

Exeter

Coat of Arms of Exeter, showing the motto.

The City of Exeter, in Devon, England, has used the motto since at least 1660, when it appears in a manuscript of the local chronicler, Richard Izacke. Izacke claimed that the motto was adopted in 1588, to signify the city's loyalty to the English Crown. According to Izacke, it was Queen Elizabeth I who suggested that the city adopt this motto (perhaps in imitation of her own motto, Semper eadem, "Ever the same"); her suggestion is said to have come in a letter to "the Citizens of Exeter," in recognition of their gift of money toward the fleet that had defeated the Spanish Armada. John Hooker's map of Exeter of around 1586 shows the city's coat of arms without the motto, suggesting that the city's use of the motto is no older than this. However the city archives do not hold any letter relating to the motto, and Grey (2005) argues that the Elizabethan origin of the motto may be no more than a local myth, since it is not recorded in contemporary chronicles, and that it may have been adopted at the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy to compensate for the city's less than total loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War.

Various bodies associated with the city of Exeter also use the motto:

  • The Royal Navy HMS Exeter, which is named after the City of Exeter.
  • Various Exeter-based units of the British Army, see below.
  • There is a Masonic Lodge in Exeter, called "Lodge Semper Fidelis."
Old arms of Lwów, showing the motto.

Lviv

The motto "Semper fidelis" is applied to the city of Lviv (in Latin, "Leopolis"; formerly Lwów in Polish) in 1658 by Pope Alexander VII in recognition of the city's key role in defending Europe from Muslim invasion. That same year, the Sejm (parliament) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth passed the Semper fidelis Poloniae ["Ever Faithful to Poland"] Act (as most people construed the Latin phrase).

Both Leopolis and Exeter, in addition to sharing the same motto, featured a three-turreted castle on their coats-of-arms. This is apparently a coincidence.

Today, in Poland, the motto is referenced mainly in connection with the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1919, following the collapse of Austro-Hungary in the wake of World War I, and more especially in connection with the Polish-Bolshevik War that followed.

In Ukraine, the phrase is much less used, in reference to the survival of the Ukrainian Church through the period of Soviet persecution.

Modern arms of St. Malo, showing the motto

St. Malo

"Semper fidelis" is the motto of the town of St. Malo, in Brittany, France; the date of its adoption is not known, but it appears to have been in use in the 17th century[11], replacing an earlier motto, Cave canem.

White Plains

"Semper Fidelis" is the motto of the city of White Plains, in New York, United States.

Martial

The Devonshire Regiment and antecedents

The 1st (Exeter and South Devon) Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised in Exeter in 1852, was using the motto on its cap badge by 1860 at the latest; the Illustrated London News reported its use in its 7 January 1860 issue.[12] The motto was continued by The Devonshire Regiment of the British Army, the 11th of foot, on its formation from the South and North Devon militias in 1881. The motto was further continued on the badges of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment when the Devonshires were amalgamated into them in 1958. This use of the motto evidently derives from these regiments' close connection with the city of Exeter, where they had a base from their foundation (see the Illustrated London News article referenced above) until their disappearance by amalgamation in 2007.

The West Nova Scotia Regiment

WNSR Crest

Semper fidelis is the motto of The West Nova Scotia Regiment (of the Canadian Forces), formed in 1936. It inherited the motto from The Lunenburg Regiment, formed in 1870.

Cadetcorps of the Dutch Royal Military Academy

Semper fidelis is the motto of the cadets corps from the Dutch Royal Military Academy. The corps was founded in 1879.[citation needed]

11th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army

Semper fidelis is also the motto of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which was founded in May 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln. It served as part of the Army of Ohio and later in the Indian wars, Spanish-American war, 1916 Mexican Border war, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war. Today it trains young Army officers at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps adopted the motto Semper Fidelis in 1883, on the initiative of Colonel Charles McCawley (January 29, 1827 – October 13, 1891), the 8th Commandant of the Marine Corps.[13]

There were three mottos prior to Semper Fidelis including "Fortitudine" (meaning "with courage") antedating the War of 1812, "Per Mare, Per Terram" ("by sea, by land"; presumably inherited from the British Royal Marines, whose motto it already was), and, up until 1843, there was also the motto "To the Shores of Tripoli". "Semper fidelis" signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for "Corps and Country", even after leaving service. Marines frequently shorten the motto to "Semper Fi" (pronounced /ˌsɛmpər ˈfаɪ/).

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Portuguese Marine Corps

Semper fidelis is the motto of Portuguese Marines (Fuzileiros).

Canadian Forces Base Valcartier

Semper fidelis is the motto of CFB Valcartier. The base was originally erected as a military camp in August 1914.

Swiss Grenadiers

The Swiss Grenadiers, first designated as such in 1943, and since 2004 forming a distinct Command in the Swiss Army, use the motto Semper fidelis[14].

The Republic of China Marine Corps

Semper Fidelis (Chinese:永遠忠誠) is the motto of the Republic of China Marine Corps since April 1, 1947.

Hungarian Government Guard

Semper Fidelis is the official motto of the Hungarian Government Guard since 28 August 1998.

Military Institute of Engineering, Brazilian Army

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the 1st company of the Brazilian Military Institute of Engineering.

Serviciul de Protecţie şi Pază

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Romanian Protection and Guard Service, a company which is concerned with the national security and personal security of officials in Romania.[15]

Submarine Force, Chilean Navy

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Submarine Force of the Chilean Navy.

Variants

B. Burke (1884) and Chassant & Tausin (1878), and other sources, list a number of similar mottos that appeared in family or city coats of arms in Great Britain, Ireland and France, though none was ever as popular as Semper fidelis. They include:

  • Semper constans et fidelis (Always constant and faithful; Irton, Lynch, Mellor and Spoor families)
  • Semper fidelis esto (Always be faithful; Steele family, Henry de Lolière family Auvergne Nobili Tome III)
  • Semper et ubique fidelis (Always and everywhere faithful; De Burgh family)
  • Semper fidelis et audax (Always faithful and brave; Moore and O'More families)
  • Semper fidelis, mutare sperno (Always faithful, I scorn to change; City of Worcester)

References

  1. ^ Burke, B. (1884). The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison
  2. ^ Chassant, A., & Taussin, H. (1878). Dictionnaire des devises historiques et héraldiques, Vol. 2. Paris: Dumoulin.
  3. ^ Project Burke
  4. ^ Lodge, E. (1832). The genealogy of the existing British peerage. London: Saunders & Otley
  5. ^ Burke, J. (1836). The Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2. London: Colburn.
  6. ^ Robson, T. (1830). The British Herald, Vol. 2. Sunderland: Author.
  7. ^ Heralogic
  8. ^ Louandre, F.-C. (1834). Histoire ancienne et moderne d'Abbeville et de son arondissement. Abbeville: Boulanger
  9. ^ Abbeville official website (in French)
  10. ^ Sanson, J. (Père Ignace de Jesus Maria) (1646), Histoire ecclésiastique de la ville d'Abbeville et de l'Archidiaconé de Ponthieu. Paris: Pelican.
  11. ^ Delaplaine, Wile E. "Endpoint & Oddities"
  12. ^ http://www.researchpress.co.uk/volunteers/county/devonshire/index.htm
  13. ^ Semper Fidelis placed on the Marine Corps Emblem in 1883, see Marine Corps Seal History
  14. ^ See information on the official Swiss armed forces website (in French)
  15. ^ http://www.spp.ro
  • Grey, T. (2005). The Chronicle of Exeter. Exeter: The Mint Press. ISBN 1-903356-42-3
  • Lethbridge, Tony (2005). Exeter: a history and guide (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus Publishing), ISBN 0-7524-3515-9

External links


Semper Fidelis is Latin for "Always Faithful". Well known in the United States as the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps (and often shortened to Semper Fi in Marine contexts), Semper fidelis has served as a slogan for many families and entities, in many countries, dated to have been started no later than the 16th century. Within the groups below, users are listed in chronological order according to when they are believed to have adopted the motto; however, in many cases dates of adoption are not well established.

Contents

Families and individuals

The motto was widely used in medieval Europe, at least in Great Britain, Ireland and France and probably in other countries as well.

  • B. Burke (1884, p. 1180)[1] lists the following families as using the motto Semper fidelis in Great Britain and Ireland in their coats of arms: Booker, Barbeson, Bonner, Broadmead, Carney, Chesterman, Dick, Dickins, Duffield, Edge, Formby, Frisby, Garrett, Haslett, Houlton, Kearney, Lynch, Lund, Marriott, Nicholls, Onslow, Pollexfen, Smith, Steele, Steuart, Stirling and Wilcoxon. A disproportionate number of these families were Scottish or Irish. A more recent adoption is by Senator Joe Doyle, in arms granted by the Chief Herald of Ireland during the year of 1999.
  • Chassant and Tausin (1878, p. 647)[2] list the following French families as using it: D'Arbaud of Jonques, De Bréonis, Chevalier of Pontis, Du Golinot of Mauny, De Coynart, De Genibrouse of Gastelpers, Macar of the Province of Liege, Milet of Mureau, Navoir of Ponzac, De Piomelles, De Poussois, De Reymons, and De Rozerou of Mos.

Some of the more notable families from Burke's list are:

  • Lynch family (Ireland): Semper Fidelis is the family motto of the Lynch Family. The Lynches were one of the Tribes of Galway who were fourteen merchant families who dominated the political, commercial, and social life of the city of Galway in western Ireland between the 13th and 16th centuries. Members of the 'Tribes' were considered Old English gentry. The Lynches were descended from William Le Petit who was one of the Norman knights who settled in Ireland following the grant of Ireland as a fiefdom by Pope Adrian IV to King Henry II of England in the early 12th century. Semper Fidelis appears on the Lynch Family coat of arms. Although the earliest traceable reference to its doing so is James Hardiman's history of Galway published in 1820, the history of the family makes it likely that the motto was in use by the 14th or 15th century.
  • Frith family (Ireland): The family of John Frith, protestant martyr, thought to have been using the motto as far back as the 16th century. John Frith is the earliest entry in Burke's list of the Frith family. The Friths settled in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, after John Frith's execution. The family fought at the Battle of the Boyne.
  • Edge family (England): The Edge family of Strelley, Nottinghamshire, were using the motto "Semper fidelis" by, at the latest, 1814 (see UK National Archives document reference DD/E/209/32-34). The arms were granted in 1709[3] but it is not recorded whether the motto formed part of the initial grant.
  • Onslow family (England): the family of the Earls of Onslow uses the motto Semper fidelis (see also Lodge, 1832[4]), though their alternative motto (the punning Festina lente) is better known.
  • Stewart family (Scotland; also spelled Steuart especially in older sources): "Semper Fidelis" is the family motto of the Stewart family of Ballechin in Perthshire. J. Burke (1836, pp. 149–150)[5] records that the family goes back to an illegitimate son of James II of Scotland (1430–1460), and the motto is recorded by Burke and by Robson (1830).[6] However they do not report the date of its first use.

Cities

Abbeville

The city of Abbeville in France is recorded by 19th century sources (e.g. Chassant & Taussin, 1878) as using the motto "Semper fidelis", and recent sources (e.g. Heralogic [7]) state that the city was accorded this motto by Charles V, by letters patent of 19 June 1369, issued at Vincennes. This would make it the earliest recorded user of the motto among cities. However both Louandre (1834, p. 169)[8] and the city's current official website[9] give the motto simply as "Fidelis", and Sanson (1646, p. 15)[10] claimed that even this was not part of Charles's original grant, but was added later, some time in the 14th to 17th centuries.

Exeter

[[File:|thumb|Coat of Arms of Exeter, showing the motto.]] The City of Exeter, in Devon, England, has used the motto since at least 1660, when it appears in a manuscript of the local chronicler, Richard Izacke. Izacke claimed that the motto was adopted in 1588, to signify the city's loyalty to the English Crown. According to Izacke, it was Queen Elizabeth I who suggested that the city adopt this motto (perhaps in imitation of her own motto, Semper eadem, "Ever the same"); her suggestion is said to have come in a letter to "the Citizens of Exeter," in recognition of their gift of money toward the fleet that had defeated the Spanish Armada. John Hooker's map of Exeter of around 1586 shows the city's coat of arms without the motto, suggesting that the city's use of the motto is no older than this. However the city archives do not hold any letter relating to the motto, and Grey (2005) argues that the Elizabethan origin of the motto may be no more than a local myth, since it is not recorded in contemporary chronicles, and that it may have been adopted at the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy to compensate for the city's less than total loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War.

Various bodies associated with the city of Exeter also use the motto:

  • The Royal Navy HMS Exeter, which is named after the City of Exeter.
  • Various Exeter-based units of the British Army, see below.
  • There is a Masonic Lodge in Exeter, called "Lodge Semper Fidelis."
File:POL Lwów
Old arms of Lwów, showing the motto.

Lviv

The motto "Semper fidelis" is applied to the city of Lviv (in Latin, "Leopolis"; formerly Lwów in Polish) in 1658 by Pope Alexander VII in recognition of the city's key role in defending Europe from Muslim invasion. That same year, the Sejm (parliament) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth passed the Semper fidelis Poloniae ["Ever Faithful to Poland"] Act (as most people construed the Latin phrase).

Both Leopolis and Exeter, in addition to sharing the same motto, featured a three-turreted castle on their coats-of-arms. This is apparently a coincidence.

Today, in Poland, the motto is referenced mainly in connection with the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1919, following the collapse of Austro-Hungary in the wake of World War I, and more especially in connection with the Polish-Bolshevik War that followed.

In Ukraine, the phrase is much less used, in reference to the survival of the Ukrainian Church through the period of Soviet persecution.

File:Blason
Modern arms of St. Malo, showing the motto

St. Malo

"Semper fidelis" is the motto of the town of St. Malo, in Brittany, France; the date of its adoption is not known, but it appears to have been in use in the 17th century[11], replacing an earlier motto, Cave canem.

White Plains

"Semper Fidelis" is the motto of the city of White Plains, in New York, United States.

Martial

The Devonshire Regiment and antecedents

The 1st (Exeter and South Devon) Rifle Volunteer Corps, raised in Exeter in 1852, was using the motto on its cap badge by 1860 at the latest; the Illustrated London News reported its use in its 7 January 1860 issue.[12] The motto was continued by The Devonshire Regiment of the British Army, the 11th of foot, on its formation from the South and North Devon militias in 1881. The motto was further continued on the badges of the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment when the Devonshires were amalgamated into them in 1958. This use of the motto evidently derives from these regiments' close connection with the city of Exeter, where they had a base from their foundation (see the Illustrated London News article referenced above) until their disappearance by amalgamation in 2007.

The West Nova Scotia Regiment

[[File:|thumb|right|145px|WNSR Crest]] Semper fidelis is the motto of The West Nova Scotia Regiment (of the Canadian Forces), formed in 1936. It inherited the motto from The Lunenburg Regiment, formed in 1870.

Cadetcorps of the Dutch Royal Military Academy

Semper fidelis is the motto of the cadets corps from the Dutch Royal Military Academy.[13] The corps was founded in 1898.[14]

11th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army

Semper fidelis is also the motto of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which was founded in May 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln. It served as part of the Army of Ohio and later in the Indian wars, Spanish-American war, 1916 Mexican Border war, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam war. Today it trains young Army officers at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The United States Marine Corps

The United States Marine Corps adopted the motto Semper Fidelis in 1883, on the initiative of Colonel Charles McCawley (January 29, 1827 – October 13, 1891), the 8th Commandant of the Marine Corps.[15]

There were three mottos prior to Semper Fidelis including "Fortitudine" (meaning "with courage") antedating the War of 1812, "Per Mare, Per Terram" ("by sea, by land"; presumably inherited from the British Royal Marines, whose motto it already was), and, up until 1843, there was also the motto "To the Shores of Tripoli". "Semper fidelis" signifies the dedication and loyalty that individual Marines have for "Corps and Country", even after leaving service. Marines frequently shorten the motto to "Semper Fi" (pronounced /ˌsɛmpər ˈfaɪ/).

Portuguese Marine Corps

Semper fidelis is the motto of Portuguese Marines (Fuzileiros).

Canadian Forces Base Valcartier

Semper fidelis is the motto of CFB Valcartier. The base was originally erected as a military camp in August 1914.

Swiss Grenadiers

The Swiss Grenadiers, first designated as such in 1943, and since 2004 forming a distinct Command in the Swiss Army, use the motto Semper fidelis[16].

The Republic of China Marine Corps

Semper Fidelis (Chinese:永遠忠誠) is the motto of the Republic of China Marine Corps since April 1, 1947.

Hungarian Government Guard

Semper Fidelis is the official motto of the Hungarian Government Guard since 28 August 1998.

Military Institute of Engineering, Brazilian Army

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the 1st company of the Brazilian Military Institute of Engineering.

Serviciul de Protecţie şi Pază

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Romanian Protection and Guard Service, a company which is concerned with the national security and personal security of officials in Romania.[17]

Submarine Force, Chilean Navy

Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Submarine Force of the Chilean Navy.

Variants

B. Burke (1884) and Chassant & Tausin (1878), and other sources, list a number of similar mottos that appeared in family or city coats of arms in Great Britain, Ireland and France, though none was ever as popular as Semper fidelis. They include:

  • Semper constans et fidelis (Always constant and faithful; Irton, Lynch, Mellor and Spoor families)
  • Semper fidelis esto (I am (stay) always faithful; Steele family, Henry de Lolière family Auvergne Nobili Tome III)
  • Semper et ubique fidelis (Always and everywhere faithful; De Burgh family)
  • Semper fidelis et audax (Always faithful and brave; Moore and O'More families)
  • Semper fidelis, mutare sperno (Always faithful, I scorn to change; City of Worcester)

References

  1. ^ Burke, B. (1884). The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. London: Harrison
  2. ^ Chassant, A., & Taussin, H. (1878). Dictionnaire des devises historiques et héraldiques, Vol. 2. Paris: Dumoulin.
  3. ^ Project Burke
  4. ^ Lodge, E. (1832). The genealogy of the existing British peerage. London: Saunders & Otley
  5. ^ Burke, J. (1836). The Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2. London: Colburn.
  6. ^ Robson, T. (1830). The British Herald, Vol. 2. Sunderland: Author.
  7. ^ Heralogic
  8. ^ Louandre, F.-C. (1834). Histoire ancienne et moderne d'Abbeville et de son arondissement. Abbeville: Boulanger
  9. ^ Abbeville official website (in French)
  10. ^ Sanson, J. (Père Ignace de Jesus Maria) (1646), Histoire ecclésiastique de la ville d'Abbeville et de l'Archidiaconé de Ponthieu. Paris: Pelican.
  11. ^ Delaplaine, Wile E. "Endpoint & Oddities"
  12. ^ http://www.researchpress.co.uk/volunteers/county/devonshire/index.htm
  13. ^ http://www.nederlandsedefensieacademie.nl/content/php/index.php?id=303&cat_id=700005&imgvar=csb&lang=NL
  14. ^ http://www.dodenakkers.nl/artikelen/oranje/222-claus.html
  15. ^ Semper Fidelis placed on the Marine Corps Emblem in 1883, see Marine Corps Seal History
  16. ^ See information on the official Swiss armed forces website (in French)
  17. ^ http://www.spp.ro

External links








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