Dum spiro spero

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For the album by Dir en grey, see Dum Spiro Spero (album).

Dum spiro spero means "While I breathe, I hope"[1] in Latin and is a modern paraphrase of ideas that survive in two ancient writers, Theocritus[2] and Cicero.[3]

It is a motto of various places and families.

States and Towns[edit]

  • It is also the state motto of South Carolina, adopted in 1776. On March 26, 1776, the Provincial Congress of South Carolina set up an independent government, and the motto formed a part of official great seal, created by W. H. Drayton.
  • Dum Spiro Spero is the motto of Burstow Park House, in Surrey England and also appears on their coat of arms.

"Dum Spiro Spero" is inscribed above door of Nymans House, West Sussex, England, old home of the Messel family now a National Trust property and gardens.


Dum spiro spero is the family motto of numerous families worldwide, including:

  • The Olphert family (Ballyconnell, Ireland) The motto and the family coat of arms is still visible above the door at Ballyconnell House, Donegal [1]
  • The Dillon family (Ireland).
  • The Bransom family (England), Now USA
  • The Asscoti or Ascotti family[4]
  • The Baker family (Derbyshire, England)[4]
  • The Banantyne family (Derbyshire, England)[5]
  • The Bussell family (Cambridgeshire, England)
  • The Colquhoun family (Dunyelder, Scotland)[5]
  • The Corbet(t) family (Ireland)
  • The Coriton family (England)[5]
  • The Cotter family (Ireland), Now New Zealand
  • The Dewsbury family (England), Now USA
  • The Dillon family (England)[5]
  • The Elphdick family (Sussex, England) [5]
  • The Everitt family (Kent, England) [5]
  • The De Garis family (Guernsey). The family crest surmounts a window (with the motto in Latin) at St. Saviour's Church in Western Parishes, Guernsey [2]
  • The Gaunt family (Kent, England)[4][5]
  • The Gaunt family (Staffordshire, England)[5]
  • The Glazebrook family (Lancashire, England)[4]
  • The Golledge Family (Ireland), Now USA
  • The Hunter family (Perth, Scotland)[4]
  • The Mason family (Normandy)
  • The Morgan family (Wales)
  • The Nelson-Smith family (Surrey)
  • The Pearson family (Forfarshire, Scotland)[4]
  • The Pount family (Scotland)[5]
  • The Roberts family (Kent, England)[4]
  • The Rylands family (Cheshire, England)[4]
  • The Sharp family (Tyne and Wear, England)
  • The Sparks family (Faraham Parish Hampshire, England) [6] now USA
  • The Spearman family (Shropshire & Durham, England)[4]
  • The Staunton family (Gloucestershire, England)[4]
  • The Standard family (Bedfordshire, England)
  • The Walsh family (County Clare, Ireland)
  • The Whitworth family (Durham, England)
  • The Whitehead family

The Thompson Clan (Irish)

The Young family - displayed st Stanhiil Court, Surrey, in the stained glass window showing the Family Arms of William Young (Deputy Chairman and co-founder of Lloyd's of London)

Other noted individuals who used this motto:

  • Sir James Laurence Cotter, Baronet (Co. Cork, Ireland)[4]
  • Dr T.G. Dillon (Roscommon, Ireland)[4]
  • Vicount Dillon of Costello Gallen (Co. Sligo, Ireland)[4]
  • Charles Hunter, Esquire (Anglesey, Wales)[4]
  • Henry Thomas Partridge (Norfolk, England)[4]
  • Sir Owen Roberts (London, England)[4]
  • William James Sandford - Thompson, J.P (Montrose, Scotland)[4]
  • Captain Alfred Ernest Speer, Esquire (Surrey, England)[4]
  • General Sir Edward Stanton (Gloucestershire, England)[4]
  • John Walsh, Esquire (Kilkenny, Ireland)[4]


  1. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dum%20spiro,%20spero merriam-webster.com
  2. ^ Idylls 4, Line 42 ἐλπίδες ἐν ζωοῖσιν, ἀνέλπιστοι δὲ θανόντες.
  3. ^ Letters to Atticus Book 9, Letter 10, Section 3 dum anima est, spes esse dicitur
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Fairbairn, James (1905). Fairbairn's Book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland. London : T. C. & E. C. Jack. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Deuchar, Alexander (1817). British crests : containing the crests and mottos of the families of Great Britain and Ireland; together with those of the principal cities; and a glossary of heraldic terms (volume 2). Edinburgh : Kirkwood & Son. 
  6. ^ Cite error: The named reference Sparrowhawk was invoked but never defined (see the help page).