The committee chosen "to procure a seal suitable as a corporate seal of the town of Dorchester" issued its report in April, 1865.
The rude thatch-roofed church which appears, without a chimney, in the dexter base of the escutcheon (lower right of the shield) represents the organization of a church by the early settlers of Dorchester even before their embarkation from England in March of 1630.
The free school, the system of which has been exerting a beneficial influence over the whole country, was established in this town in 1639, and is said to be the very first free school in the world. The foundation of this institution is recognized on the shield by the humble, thatched-roof building in the lower part of the shield a little in the rear of the church.
By a grant of land and timber from the town in 1633, Israel Stoughton was induced to build a corn-mill upon the Neponset River, which was the first water mill in the colony, if not in the country. This fact is symbolically noted by the rude mill, with its large wheel, which is seen upon the left bank of the Neponset river, the course of which river, from its source to its mouth, lay through the ancient territory of Dorchester.
"In the background will be recognized the Blue Hills, which served as a landmark to pilot the early settlers to the mouth of the Charles River, and from behind which the rising sun is shining upon a colony who left their homes in the mother country, not as adventurers in search of gold, as exiles, or for conquest, but for the more precious boon of religious liberty. The triple-towered castle surmounting the shield is adopted in respectful memory of Dorchester in old England, of whose seal this is the principal charge (in commemoration of that borough having been formerly a Roman fortress), and from which place the infant colony derived much of its strength, both physically and spiritually. The motto upon the ribbon, 'Pietate, Literis, Industria,' signifies that piety, learning and industry were the prominent virtues which the early settlers coveted, and which their descendants unanimously accord to them."
Report of the Committee to Procure a Town Seal, April, 1865, as cited in The Dorchester Book, Illustrated. Boston: Women's Alliance of Christ Church, Dorchester, 1899.