Escutcheons of Science
Ingenio et Labore 
 Arms tentatively 
 attributed to 
 James E. Watt
Ingenio et Labore
Ingenio et Labore

James E. Watt (1736-1819)

Or, a club in bend sinister surmounted by a caduceus in bend, both Proper.
Motto:  Ingenio et Labore.

Looking for the Coat-of-Arms of  James E. Watt   (1736-1819)

The above arms are our best guess.  The quest leading to this conclusion (over a period of months) is chronicled below.  The debate may still be open...

James E. Watt is the illustrious Scottish inventor and engineer after whom the SI unit of power (W) has been named...  Ironically, what Watt came up with is the competing horsepower unit (hp) which survives to this day.

James Watt was born on January 19, 1736 in Greenock, Inverclyde (Scotland) and died at the age of 83, at his home (Heathfield House) in Hansworth, near Birmingham, on August 19, 1819.  Arms previously 
 attributed to 
 James E. Watt

Previously, James Watt's coat-of-arms was thought to be:

Barry of six Or and Azure, a club in bend sinister
surmounted by a caduceus in bend, both Proper.

This was the next-to-last conclusion of an investigation which started with an indication that the arms of James E. Watt sported a club in bend sinister (although institutions named after him never used this heraldic element)...

(Former) Smethwick County Borough Council:

Quoting from
The achievement is derived from the heraldry of the pioneers of those industries which have made the name of Smethwick universally known. The caduceus of Mercury, god of commerce and the emblem of Mars are for the iron and steel industry. The club is from the arms of James Watt and the flaming beacon indicates the part William Murdoch took in introducing gas lighting. The demi-lion is from the crest of Sir James Timmins Chance and the arrow occurs in the crest of Matthew Boulton. The Stafford knot on its shoulder refers to Smethwick's connection with the County. The motto is that of James Watt reversed.
 Warley Rugby Football Club

Warley Rugby Football Club

The above arms have been adopted by the Warley RFC, with minor changes in the crest.  The picture reproduced above is from

Motto of James E. Watt:  Ingenio et Labore.

The motto of James Watt, Ingenio et Labore, is freely translated as:  "By natural ability and hard work".  This has been adopted by the following entities, apparently without any references whatsoever to James Watt!

Heriot-Watt University:

Quoting from and/or
The Heriot-Watt shield is derived from the arms of the two key founding bodies.  In one half, bars from the arms of James Watt's son are superimposed by a tree, taken from the arms of Watt and Watson in Scotland.  The other half of the shield is derived from the Heriot coat-of-arms, as used by George Heriot's School in Edinburgh.

James Watt College:

Argent, an oak tree on a mount Vert with an open book Or in base; on a chief Azure, a three-masted ship under sail Proper between a fountain and a spiral Argent.

Balfour Paul's Ordinary:

"An Ordinary of Arms contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland"  by Sir James Balfour Paul, Lord Lyon King of Arms.  Second edition, 1903.  (2001 reprint for Clearfield Company, by the Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore.  ISBN 0-8063-0273-9.)

The following three entries for the surname "Watt" were reported by Odysseus, a Canadian contributor to  rec.heraldry  who made this comment:
Might any of these have been related to the scientist?  The first, who would seem to be a laird, certainly seems unlikely because James Watt's father was only a ship chandler, although he apparently became fairly well-to-do.  Since the inventor spent much [of] his later life in England, running his manufacturing business out of Birmingham and retiring in Staffordshire, his arms (or his son's) may well have been registered with the College of Arms, instead of Lyon Court.

Well, the second arms (5453) are almost identical to the arms featured on the home page of James Watt College, except that the "two mullets Or" are replaced by a spiral Argent and what looks like an heraldic "fountain" (and there's an open book in base, as expected in the arms of an educational institution).  Of course, this is not conclusive yet, because the College could have been named after the merchant instead of the inventor [we have not checked that] or the arms of the merchant could have been used by mistake...

Other coats-of-arms associated with the "Watt" surname:

There are 6 entries in Burke's General Armory (page 1084).
The first two shields can be viewed at the Association of Amateur Heralds

The "bars in the arms of James Watt's son" mentioned in the description of the arms of the Heriot-Watt university may well refer to the second of the above... Watt (2)

In 1990, heralds from the Society for Creative Anachronism  rejected a proposal of an SCA member as "technically in conflict with Watt"  (Barry of six Argent and Sable, a bordure Gules).  Nowadays, they are supposed to do so this only with respect to "famous people", but this may not be significant because, as David B. Appleton points out:

In 1990, the SCA was still attempting to avoid conflicting with all known coats of arms in the world.  In practice, this usually meant everything in Papworth, plus a few other armorials created by SCA members of other real world coats of arms.

Derek Howard & James Dempster  (rec.heraldry newsgroup):

Answering our call for help, Derek Howard had this to say [edited summary]:

James E. Watt retired in 1800 to Heathfield Hall, near Birmingham.

Having just checked the catalogues of Birmingham City Archives, it is apparent that the occupant of Aston Hall, from 1826 on, was [James E. Watt's son] James Watt junior.  It is this James Watt the younger, Esq. (formerly of Handsworth then of Soho) who was in the famous business partnership with Boulton:  James Watt, Gregory Watt and Matthew Robinson Boulton.  [Until 1809 however, the original Boulton & Watt partnership, had been between the father of Matthew Robinson Boulton, Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) and James E. Watt (senior).]

[James Watt Jr.] was granted arms by the English Kings of Arms in 1826, and registered in the College of Arms Grants vol. XXXVI, fol.113 according to "Grantees of Arms 1687-1898", [where he is identified as:] Watts FRS of Heathfield, Handsworth, co. Staff and Aston Hall co. Warwick.

It is not clear from this index whether these arms were granted in memory of the late James E. Watt.  Unfortunately, this was too late to get into Berry and I do not have any mid-19th century Burke's General Armory.  I cannot say whether any Scots merchants were descended from this family, or were covered by an extended remainder.

Another grantee of arms is James "Watt after Gibson" of Doldanlod [sic], Llanyre, co. Radnor (Wales) who received a grant in 1856 registered in vol. LII, fol. 129.  This must be the same as James Watt Gibson-Watt of Doldowlod, co. Radnor, esq., who leased a mansion house called Heathfield House with premises, gardens, lands and appurtenances in the parish of Handsworth to George Tangye of Handsworth, engineer, in 1876.  It looks therefore as if the 1856 grant is also to a member of the same family, perhaps under a name and arms clause.

Also, we may note that Doldowlod in Radnorshire is where James E. Watt himself had bought a second home around 1776 after he remarried [?].  This makes the conjecture suggested by Derek Howard even stronger...

Focusing on this lead, James Dempster found this for Gibson-Watt in Fox Davies Armorial Families:

James Miller Gibson-Watt Esq, Capt 3rd Bn South Wales Borderers, b.1875 being the eldest son of the late James Watt Gibson-Watt of Doldowlod by Emma Henrietta, daugther of the late Henry O'Reilly Hoey of Knuzden, Lancs.

Armorial Bearings :  Quarterly [1&4]  Barry of six Or and Azure, over all a club in bend sinister surmounted by a caduceus saltireways all Proper (for Watt) [2&3]  Argent, on a fesse engrailed between two keys fesseways wards downwards Azure, a like key of the field (for Gibson).

Crest:  Upon a fer de moline fessways Or, an elephant statant Proper charged on the body with a cross moline gold (for Watt).  Upon a key fesseways wards downwards Azure a pelican in her piety Or wings addorsed Azure semee of crescents Argent.

On 2004-07-30, Stephen Plowman sent us the same information from the BGA Supplement reproduced below, after the two relevant entries of the Harleian Society's Grantees of Arms 1687-1898.  He also directs us to the Watt Collection of the the Science Museum Library.

 Harleian Society's 
 Grantees of Arms 1687-1898
 Burke's General Armory (BGA) 

Derek Howard prefers to remain cautious, pending further investigations.  He warns:

Though we have evidence that James Watt the younger (of Aston Hall, Warwickshire, will dated 1848) was granted arms in 1826, we do not  as yet  have any evidence at all that James Watt senior, of Handsworth, Staffordshire (d.1819) had used arms, or was mentioned in the grant to his son, who may well have received the grant in his own right.

 Arms previously 
 attributed to 
 James E. Watt

Nevertheless, if we believe the clue which started this investigation  (the arms granted in 1907 to the Smethwick County Borough Council)  we may guess that the first quarter Watt (2) in the above Gibson-Watt blazon (depicted at right) corresponds to arms directly related to James E. Watt.  Also, the barry of six in these arms fits nicely the pattern in the arms at left, which we are still tentatively linking to the son of the inventor...

Sandwell Coat-of-Arms   [2005-01-21]

Now, the Public Monument and Sculpture Association has recorded a coat-of-arms on a façade of Sandwell College (Smethwick Campus, south side of Crockett's Lane, opposite Piddock Road) corresponding to the aforementioned Smethwick arms [granted November 15, 1907].  Their accompanying comment states:

[...]   The Smethwick armorial bearings had been recently granted, in December 1907 [sic], and are derived from the arms of the pioneers of those industries which had made the name of Smethwick known.  In the lower part of the shield are the arms of James Watt.  In the upper part, the beacon indicates the part William Murdoch took in introducing gas lighting and Mars represents the iron and steel industries.  The demi-lion is from the crest of Sir James Timmins Chance and the Staffordshire Knot from the County connection.  The arrow occurs in the crest of Matthew Boulton. The motto is that of James Watt reversed.

This text does seem to share a common origin with the one reproduced in the above introduction.  However, it is somewhat more precise, which makes us believe it's more accurate as well...  At face value, this comment states that the arms of James E. Watt consist simply of the club and caduceus on a gold background, without the bars (later [?] associated with his son).  The combination appearing in quarters 1 & 4 of the Gibson-Watt arms Previous guessCurrent guess could have been an informal way to honor both father and son heraldically...  Another unconfirmed possibility is that the first quarter of the Gibson-Watt arms simply corresponds to the arms actually registered for himself by the son of James E. Watt...      James E. Watt
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