THE CITY OF NEWBURYORT
Arms and Seal
The city of Newburyport's government was organized on the 24th of June 1851. On that day, some three to four hundred spectators gathered upstairs in City Hall as the oaths of office were administered to the new bodies of city government: the Mayor, six Aldermen (each representing a ward) and eighteen members of the Common Council (three from each ward).
Among the first decrees and ordinances passed by the new City Government was Ordinance No. 14, “To Establish the City Arms and Seal.” The ordinance reads ...
“Be it ordained, &c., as follows:
Section 1. The Arms of the City shall be the following, to wit: Quarterly, first, two light-houses, in the distance, a ship under full sail; second, a steam-mill; third, a ship on the stocks; and fourth, the seal of Newbury, in England, on a mount three domed towers, on each a pennon, crest, a mural coronet surmounted by two hands conjoined;supporters, two female figures, that on the dexter side representing America, that on the sinister, 
Section 2. The seal of the city shall bear as a device, the shield, crest and scroll of the arms of the city, with the legend, ‘City of Newburyport, A.D. MDCCCLI’.” 
Anticipating the City's Sesquicentennial Year celebration in 2001, Mayor
Lisa Mead ordered the city seal faithfully restored to the original (depicted
above) --- a design inspired by Newburyport's first Mayor, Caleb Cushing.
A simplified graphic appeared on the City Sesquicentennial commemorative
flag, its colors flying high on the flagship Misty Isles as an ensign during her homecoming and other comings and goings (link within) that year.
| Then newly constructed, Newburyport City Hall's cornerstone was laid and dedicated on July 4, 1850, with the building opened to the public exactly 8 months later on March 4, 1851. That spring, the facilities hosted various meetings preceding Newburyport's offical incorporation as a city form of government, including Newburyports last annual town meetings.
On March 18, 1851 the body politic reconvened
its meeting in City Hall after a long and contentious session at the Market House (now
the Firehouse Center). Along with other matters, the selectmen and citizens discussed
the initiative to incorporate Newburyport as a city form of government
and the future annexation of the portions of Newbury called Joppa and
 In 1783, the Newburyport Marine Society erected two beacons on Plum Island to assist in the night navigation of vessels into the harbor. This project was privately underwritten by interested parties, including downtown merchants. Subsequently, in 1787
the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts authorized the
construction and funding of "two small wooden light houses
on the north end of Plumb Island." To avoid delay, once again Newburyport merchants and entrepreneurs voluntarily
contributed the sum needed, and the lighthouses were likely constructed the following summer. These structures were ceded to the federal government in 1790.
| Offering the explanation that the upper dexter quadrant (at the upper right side of crest, as viewed on the left) depicts two lighthouses with a ship or boat under full sail arriving into port, representing Newburyport's maritime tradition in seafaring and trade --- those aspiring to be one of the Knowing Ones (who ask good questions and question the answer) often pose the question: "Where is the ship?" Further explaining that the design represents a sloop or ketch rather than the gallant ships associated with " Clipper City" --- the typical reaction is that the artwork "doesn't look like a boat!" This provides the perfect opportunity to ply a favorite lifeline from Winnie the Pooh (when Piglet was entirely surrounded by water) and respond, "Ah, but you see, that isn't just an ordinary sort of boat, sometimes it's a boat ..." The interested reader will find the next tack in the conversation at this link within.|
| By the time the City of Newburyport was incorporated in 1851, several steam mills were in operation. The Newburyport Steam Cotton Company, built in 1835 near a wharf at the foot of Strong Street, had been purchased and renamed the Essex Steam Mills in 1844; Manufacture of cotton cloth continued until that factory was destroyed by fire on March 6, 1856. Investors incorporated the Wessacumon Mills in 1837 and built a large brick factory on the corner of Pleasant and Inn Streets. Expanding in 1840, another large factory was constructed on an adjacent property (now the Green Street municipal parking lot) --- and the whole operation was renamed Bartlett Steam Mills. Both factories were destroyed by fire in March of 1881 and never rebuilt. After the incorporation of the James Steam Mills in early 1842, the factory experienced several expansions, reorganizations and acquisitions by other manufacturing industries. The four-story building of the Ocean Steam Mills stood on the corner of Kent and Munroe Streets. First incorporated in 1845, the company expanded the structure in 1867 and after twice changing ownership, a second factory was built in 1880.|
| Some assume the lower dexter (right) side of the city seal (to the left, as viewed) portrays a ship at sea, thus they question the sails missing from the ship's rigging. The graphic actually depicts a ship under construction, supported by a shipyard's stocks, in recognition of Newburyport's prominent role as a shipbuilding community in the 19th Century, a common scene along the waterfront. At one time, the Middle Shipyard was made available for shipbuilding at a fee of 3 pence per (vessel) ton.|
| The Massachusetts Bay Colony plantation of Newbury [renamed from the Indian reference Wessacucon also spelled Wessacumcon] assumed the name of its English namesake not because the settlers had originated from Newbury but because founder Reverend Thomas Parker had onetime preached there. Newbury, England is located approximately fifty-six miles from Hyde Park, London on the river Kennet, with the Waterside in Newbury on the Avon Canal. In the first millennium, the town went by the Saxon name Uluritone (likely a corruption of the word Ulwardstone) after its feudal lord, Ulward. However, at the close of the twelfth century the town assumed the name of the castle of the Earl of Perch, which was called "Newbury," and the town's arms and seal depicted that grand manor, which the City of Newburyport duplicates to honor its namesake and heritage.|
| A pennon is described as a long triangular or "swallow-tailed" streamer or pennant also known as an ensign (link without). The crest is that area of an armorial "escutcheon" with an armorial shield (link without) with representative graphics. In municipal heraldry, a mural-coronet is a embattled crown which represents the collective bravery during military engagements (link without).|
| Above that mural-coronet, the image of "conjoined hands" can be construed to represent cooporation, compromise, coalition and "comity" within and without the community.|
| Its etymology derived from the Greek word for right (dexios), the term "dexter side" is defined as the right side of a heraldic or armorial shield (or other arms and seal). Note that this orientation refers to the right side of the person bearing it though oriented to the left side as viewed (link without).|
| Of Latin, Middle English and Anglo-French etymology (meaning "on the left") --- thus "sinister side" refers to the left side of a heraldic shield of the person bearing or wearing it but on the right side as viewed (link without) .|
| Translated from the Latin, "Terra Marique" (land and sea) references "the Waterside" Third Parish of Newbury that separated as the town of Newburyport in 1764. The bounds and ambits of Joppa Flats and Belleville sections of the Waterside were later annexed during the City of Newburyport's organization in 1851. As laid out today, all six wards of Newburyport share some part of "the Waterside" --- in geography and history (link within).|
| AD is the abbreviation for Anno Domini, Medieval Latin translated as "the year of Our Lord." As noted at this link without, the term "Common Era" (abbreviated as CE) has since been adopted for secular use. Refer to this link within for a primer on Roman numerals, which in this instance represent the year of the City of Newburyport's incorporation in 1851.|
|(Facts corroborated by John J. Currier's "History of Newburyport Massachusetts 1764 - 1905" and Euphemia Vale Smith's "History of Newburyport" and other references cited in context.)|