106.Montagu Coat of Arms


Updated 07/05/2024

This article started with a WhatsApp message from Montagu resident Avril Elkington to Montagu Stories: Do you by any chance have any information on the Montagu Coat of Arms outside the municipal building. A fundamental question in the history of Montagu but sadly at time of asking an answer was not readily available. However some focused digging and help from a network of people and the following was uncovered. 

The picture below then appeared on the Montagu Historical Society W/A group with the caption: If anyone knows the origins of the Coat of Arms that is on our municipal building please let us know

A group member answers: Inez Kachelhoffer made it. She and her husband Louis lived at 30 Bath Street. 

An extract from the Montagu mail March 2006. Inez & Louis celebrate 55 years together. Inez is typically modest about her own achievements. In her time in Montagu she has been a Ward 2 committee member, a potter(the ceramic with Montagu’s crest at the Municipality is her work).

The search starts with an extract from Wikipedia

Montagu coat of Arms

However, some versions of the coat of arms show the motto “Do right and fear nothing – Fear not while acting justly”. 

3. Cape of Good Hope Official Gazette 3470 (9 August 1968)
4. National Archives of South Africa: Data of the Bureau of Heraldry

It was decided to start the search for information with trying to find/make contact with the resources referred to in the References number 3 & 4.

A copy of the Cape of Good Hope Official Gazette 3470 (9 August 1968) was obtained courtesy of Special Collections UCT Libraries and the answer starts to unfold.

An official Coat of Arms was granted to Montagu in 1968 in the above format

The Bureau of Heraldry is contacted

Extracts of information from the Bureau of Heraldry records

The Town Clerk of the day was Mr. du Plessis. It is interesting to note that the Montagu Municipality of the day was already using a COA on their letter heads as can be seen above. It is assumed that this was not officially registered and the process that took place during 1967 made the COA for Montagu official. It has not as yet been possible to determine who and when the first version of the COA was designed or who prepared the revised COA in 1967.

W.J.B. du Plessis on his last day of service 30 September 1981. Mr William “Dupie” du Plessis, town clerk of Montagu, was born in Cradock. He said he had finally found his berth in Montagu.

Mnr. W.I.B. du Plessis oorlede

ʼn Bekende inwoner van Montagu vir sowat 55 jaar, mnr. W.I.B. du Plessis – of Oom Doepie, soos hy algemeen bekend was – is onlangs oorlede.

Mnr. Du Plessis was van Oktober 1948 tot September 1981 stadsklerk van Montagu. In die hoedanigheid het hy heelwat belangrike gebeure beleef. Hieronder tel die aankoop van die warmwaterbron en hotel deur die Munisipaliteit in 1972 – vandag die modeme Avalon Springs Oord – en die verwoestende vloed van Januarie 1981, waarin 13 mense omgekom het. Mnr. Du Plessis het by geleentheid vertel hoe hy die dag ná die vloed te voet deur die verspoelde Cogmanskloof moes terugstap Montagu toe omdat hy die middag van 25 Januarie in Ashton was.

Mnr. Du Plessis was ’n uiters bekwame stadsklerk wat sy vinger op die pols van baie dinge in die dorp gehad het en hy het oor die jare gesien hoe Montagu ’n gedaanteverwisseling ondergaan het, van ’n klein dorpie wat grotendeels Afrikaans was tot ’n moderne plek met heelwat Engelssprekende inwoners.

Na sy aftrede in 1981 het hy skriba-kassier van die NG gemeente Montagu geword en het die pos met onderskeiding tot Desember 1993 beklee. Hy het altesaam 40 jaar lank die gemeente gedien as kerkraadslid, as lid van vele kommissies en as skriba.

In 1954 was Oom Doepie lid van die feeskomitee wat aangewys is om die 100- jarige feesvieringe van die gemeente en die dorp te koordineer. Toe die gemeente sy 150-jarige bestaan in 2004 gevier het, was hy die enigste oorlewende lid van daardie komitee.

Mev. Rina du Plessis was baie jare lank by verskillende welsyns- en kerklike aksies in Montagu betrokke, onder andere by die VLV, die ACVV, die Rooi Kruis en die Kankervereniging.

Montagu Mail: February 2006

Confirmation from Bureau of Heraldry on appearance of COA

An explanation about the symbols used in the COA

An internet search provides an little more information

The mural crown is plain gold circlet of battlements on a narrow rim. It signifies one that first mounted the breach in the walls of a town or fortress. It would also apply to the defender of a fortress.

Grapes are symbolic of good luck, felicity and peace. Fruit of all kinds was considered to be evidence of God’s kindness and a symbol of goodness of providence. They were sometimes associated with wine makers.

The griffin is a mythical creature, with the head, wings and talons of an eagle and the body and hind legs of a lion. It is thus composed of the most royal of the birds and the beasts. The griffin was thought to find and guard mines of gold and hidden treasures. It signifies valour, death-defying bravery, strength, vigilance, and perseverance. A male griffin has no wings but often has horns and a spiky tail. Also seen spelled GRYPHON

The lozenge is a symbol of honesty and constancy and it is also a token of noble birth. It signifies persuasion

From: Weebly – Coat of Arms Symbols

More extracts from Bureau of Heraldry documentation

The Montagu Municipality of the day exercised their right and did not use the Latin version preferring the more practical English and Afrikaans wording.

The superb image below was produced by Montagu resident Lemmy David.

He comments as follows: I took a quick (and superficial) crash course in heraldry and “re-created”: the coat of arms according to its description in the gazette.
This means that the individual elements don’t look exactly the same as the ones in the gazette but are in fact much better representations. They do, however, conform exactly to the description.

There are many precedents of this and it is absolutely acceptable practice. This now gives us a viable coat of arms that we can use wherever we see fit.

Avril thank you for tabling this interesting subject and I hope the above information answers your question?

Contributions: Cllr. Johan Coetzee