A Royall Find

An HLS treasure has found its way home. The iron seal, once used by Isaac Royall, who funded the University’s first chair in the law, recently resurfaced
when a University facilities management director discovered it in a long-forgotten steel vault located inside a Widener Library closet. Royall used the seal in the mid-18th century to emboss his family’s coat of arms on documents and correspondence to ensure their authenticity.

GP020018The seal was found during renovations along with commemorative medals, uniforms, sabers, postcards, a box containing a lock of George Washington’s hair, and a bronze cast of Abraham Lincoln. One librarian estimated that the items were stored there in the 1940s. After reviewing the materials, Harvard College library curatorial staff gave the seal to the Law School’s Special Collections.

In 1779, Royall bequeathed land to Harvard that was later sold to endow the Isaac Royall professorship, held today by Dean Robert Clark ’72. The establishment of the professorship inspired the founding of the school of law at Harvard, whose insignia includes the three sheaves of wheat from the Royall family coat of arms.