In as much as there were changes over the year since the school was born so did the crest and the motto. The crest was introduced by Rev. Darrell in 1900 and it is said that it was a design from a dream he had.
The word Motto is of Italian origin for “pledge” is a phrase meant to formally describe the general motivation or intention of a social group or organisation.
The earliest known motto of the College was “Palmam Viruti” was used during the period 1891 to 1899. There are many interpretations to the meaning of Palmam Viruti which is of Latin origin. One interpretation is “Virtue takes the prize“. Another interpretation is “Reward is to the Brave” and underpins the approach to both the academic and extra-curricular activities of the school. “Palmam Virtuti” which also has a few different translations itself, but is mostly translated “The Palm to Virtue” or even better, “The Reward is to the Brave” which seems a little shaky, but sounds really good.
Richmond published its first school magazine in June 1887 (the only other school to publish a college magazine other than St. Thomas College) and carried in its cover its own motto “palmam qui meriut“. The fourth issue which came out in October 1887 had as the motto “palmam viruti” which was Rev. Langdon’s motto. However a request was made to the readers to provide suggestions for a motto.
The response was good. A reader from Badulla suggested “Prodeat Lux” Another from Hakmana thought that “Dulce est desipere in Loco” was the most suitable. Readers from Ambalangoda suggested no less than six: “Nil desperandum“, “Labor omnia vincit”, “Nisi dominus frustra“, “Honore et labore“, “Animo et fide” and “San dieu rien” and these suggestions were presented to Rev. Darrell and according to lore in 1899 Rev. Darrel selected “Nisi dominus frustra” which is still the motto of the College. The Latin phrase nisi dominus frustra appears in the first verse of Psalm 107 in the Latin Vulgate, in Psalm 127 in the Jerusalem Bible and in Psalm 127 in the Bible. In brevity it means “if not the Lord, [it is] in vain“; that is “nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem frustra vigilavit qui custodit” (unless the Lord builds the house, they work on a useless thing who build it; unless the Lord guards the community, he keeps watch in vain who guards it) to give the meaning in full. Latin requires a lot of interpretation from context.
A crest or the court of arms has appeared for the first time in 1899 during the later part of the year when Rev. Darrel was the Principal. The original crest looks similar to the present day crest. However over the years there seem to be some attempts to change the crest but in the end the current crest prevailed. In all attempts the ship, sea and the stars together with the motto was retained. According to lore the design of the crest was from a dream that Rev. Darrell had.
The image on left is what was the crest from 1899 onwards. When the college was vested with the government an attempt was made to change the crest and for sometime this crest was used with slight variations as seen in the image to the right. Perhaps being a government school and with the motive of separating the past from the present may have instigated some people to make these changes. The old boys intervened and in 1990 the old crest that was used for more than a century was given its pride of place and sanity prevailed. Nevertheless the crest on the right is seen in some places still having being permanently done.
The current crest is shown below which carries the college colours.
The College Flag
It is interesting to note that the colours chosen for the college flag appears in many Methodist institutions. If one were to look at the flags of the old Wesleyan Methodist schools it can be observed that these colours are predominantly used in different combinations.
To maintain theconsistency of colours would have been not that easy for from batch to batch the colours differed. Even today during the big match it can be observed that there are differences of colours of the college flag. The three colours Maroon, light Blue and dark Blue came into being in 1900. How it was decided on the colours is not known. The original designer may have thought that using the Dark Maroon from the Wesleyan Crest to represent methodism, and the two shades of Blue to represent the sky above and the sea below which is used in the college crest.
The College blazer had been in stripes of the three colours and there again from stock to stock it differed making it hard to maintain consistency. Thus from about 1930 it appears the College had settled for the Dark Blue as the blazer colour. The College colours was awarded to outstanding students and in 1930 Rev. Sneath has introduced the letters R.C.C.C. (Richmond College Cricket Club), R. C. F. C. (Richmond College Football Club) and R. C. A. C. (Richmond College Athletics Club). Prior to 1930 anybody could have worn the crest on their blazers but after which one could wear it only if awarded by the College.