Bermuda’s Coat of Arms and Motto
On July 24, 1609 the English ship Sea Venture encountered a hurricane while en route to resupply the Jamestown colony in Virginia. The ship had recently been constructed for the specific purpose of carrying colonists and supplies, but it was launched before its caulking had properly set. Running into the violent storm the Sea Venture became separated from the rest of the resupply fleet and began leaking profusely. By chance, the next day the ship came upon an archipelago in the midst of the ocean. Sir George Somers deliberately grounded his vessel on the reef surrounding the islands to prevent it sinking. 150 people and a dog were landed on the main island by the Venture‘s longboat.
Many survived for nearly a year as the Venture was scavenged for material to construct two new ships, the Patience and the Deliverance. The two ships sailed from what they dubbed “Somers Isles” for Jamestown in May of 1610. Eventually, accounts of their miraculous survival reached England. These publications inspired William Shakespeare in his writing the play “The Tempest” in which Prospero conjures up a storm to drive his rival’s ship to his island exile.
Somers Isles remained the property of the London Company (and its successor the Somers Isles Company) until it was taken over by the British crown in 1684. Eventually, the islands were renamed the Bermuda Islands in honor of Juan de Bermudez, who had first discovered them a century before the Sea Venture found refuge there. The coat of arms of Bermuda bears an image of the Sea Venture foundering upon the reef and its motto “Quo Fata Ferunt” is Latin for “Whither the Fates Carry [Us]”.