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The Peregrinus

Symbolism of the Peregrinus

The Peregrinus is not an accidental composition. Rather, the Peregrinus ("Perry") is an aggregation of symbols and an embodiment of legal ideals:

  • The tail brushes aside technicalities in favor of justice.
  • The long and pointed beak delves into relevant and irrelevant facts.
  • The arched back shows the readiness to spring to do right and prevent wrong.
  • The eyes are all-seeing.
  • The headwear is the crown of truth.
  • The footwear varies depending on the artist. It has included a ditcher's boot to show allegiance to the masses; a Stacy-Adams boot popular since 1875 that symbolizes an ability to keep up with the changing times; cowboy boots honoring Perry's Texas roots; as well as boxing gloves indicating willingness to fight for law and equity.
  • In some versions, like the 1918 one pictured above, Perry's right foot is extended, emulating "the right foot foremost"⁠—an expression used to indicate a favorable start.

According to longtime Law Librarian Lucy Moore in 1946, Perry boasts the hindquarters of a dog, man’s most faithful friend, and its “broad bill represented the wide latitude of a bill in equity.” While the Peregrinus has changed over time, its status as a noble legal emblem remains.