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3C n b 11 





on Coenrr^ans |)cur. 



I HAD INTENDED to confine my observations exclu- 
sively to the subject of * ring superstitions,' but in 
going through a wide field of olden literature I found 
so much of interest in connection with rings generally, 
that I have ventured to give the present work a more 
varied, and, I trust, a more attractive character. 

The importance of this branch of archaeology can- 
not be too highly appreciated, embracing incidents, 
historic and social, from the earliest times, brought to 
our notice by invaluable specimens of glyptic art, 
many of them of the purest taste, beauty, and excel- 
lency ; elucidating obscure points in the creeds and 
general usages of the past, types for artistic imitation, 
besides supplying links to fix particular times and 

In thus contributing to the extension of know- 
ledge, the subject of ring-lore has a close affinity to 
that of numismatics, but it possesses the supreme 
advantage of appealing to our sympathies and affec- 
tions. So Herrick sings of the wedding-ring : 

viii PREFACE. 

And as this round 

Is nowhere found 
To flaw, or else to sever, 

So let our love 

As endless prove, 
And pure as gold for ever ! 

It must be admitted that in many cases of par- 
ticular rings it is sometimes difficult to arrive at 
concurrent conclusions respecting their date and 
authenticity : much has to be left to conjecture, but 
the pursuit of enquiry into the past is always pleasant 
and instructive, however unsuccessful in its results. 
One of our most eminent antiquarians writes to me 
thus : * We must not take for granted that everything 
in print is correct, for fresh information is from time 
to time obtained which shows to be incorrect that 
whfch was previously written.' 

My acknowledgments are due to friends at home 
and abroad, whose collections of rings have been 
opened for my inspection with true masonic cordiality. 

I have also to thank the publishers of this work 
for the liberal manner in which they have illustrated 
the text. Many of the engravings are from drawings 
taken from the gem-room of the British, and from 
other museums, and from rare and costly works on 
the Fine Arts, not easily accessible to the general 
reader. Descriptions of rings without pictorial repre- 
sentations would (as in the case of coins) materially 

PREFACE. . ix 

lessen their attraction, and would render the book 
what might be termed ' a garden without flowers.' 

In conclusion I will adopt the valedictory lines of 
an old author, who writes in homely and deprecatory 
verse : 










I. Rings from the Earliest Period . . . i 

II. Ring Superstitions . . , . . 91 

III. Secular Investiture by the Ring . -177 

IV. Rings in connection with Ecclesiastical Usages i 

V. Betrothal and Wedding Rings 

VI. Token Rings ..... 

VII. Memorial and Mortuary Rings 

VIII. Posy, Inscription, and Motto Rings . 

IX. Customs and Incidents in connection with 
Rings ..... 

X. Remarkable Rings . , . . 

Appendix ..... 







Egyptian gold signet-ring 
Egyptian bronze rings 
Egyptian signet-rings 
Egyptian porcelain ring . 
Egyptian mummy, rings on the 

fingers of an 
Egyptian gold ring from Ghizeh 
Etruscan ring with chimerae 
Roman-Egyptian^ ring 
Modem Egyptian rings . 
Modem Egyptian ring with 

double keepers . 
Etmscan ring representing the 

car of Admetus . 
Etruscan rings with serpent: 

and beetle . 
Etruscan ring with scarabaeus 
Etruscan ring with representa 

tion of two spirits in combat 
Etruscan ring with intaglio 
Greek and Roman rings . 
Late Roman rings . 
Ring found at Silchester 
Ring of a group pattem . 
Ancient plain rings 
Iron ring of a Roman knight 
Roman ring, crescent -shaped 





Roman ring of coloured paste . 

Gallo-Roman ring representing 
a cow or bull 

Roman thumb-ring 

Roman ring, with a representa- 
tion of Janus 

Roman ring, with figures of 
Egyptian deities . 

Roman ring, with busts ; from 
the Musee du Louvre . 

Roman ring, with head of Re- 
gulus .... 

Roman rings from Montfaucon 

36, 37 
Roman ring in the Florentine 

Roman 'memorial' gift-rings 
Anglo- Roman 
Anglo - Roman and Roman 

rings . . . . 
Roman rings found at Lyons 
Roman bronze ring of a curious 

shape .... 
Roman key-rings . 
Roman rings, with inscription 

and monogram . 
Roman ' legionary ' ring 













Roman 'legionary' ring . 48 

Roman amber and glass rings . 48 
Byzantine ring, from Mont- 

faucon . . . -49 
Byzantine ring, found at Con- 
stantinople . . . .49 
Rings from Herculaneum and 

Pompeii . . . '49 
Roman bronze ring . . 50 

Roman * trophy ' ring . . 50 
Roman ring, from the Museum 

at Mayence . . -So 

Roman key-rings . . .51 
Roman, late, from the Water- ' 

ton Collection . . -52 
Anglo-Saxon rings . . • ' 53 
Early British (?) ring found at 

Malton . . . .54 
Ring of King Ethelwulf . . 54 
Anglo-Saxon rings . .58 

Early Saxon rings found near 

Salisbury • • • ■ 59 
South Saxon ring found in the 

Thames . . . .60 
Ancient Irish rings found near 

Drogheda . . . .61 

Early Irish gold ring . . 62 
The ' Alhstan ' ring . . 62 
Anglo-Saxon ring found near 

Bosington . . . -63 
Rings found at Cuerdale, near 

Preston . . . .64 
Rings in the Royal Irish 

Academy . . . -65 
Spiral silver ring, found at 

Lago 66 

Ring found at Flodden Field . db 
Figured ring supposed to repre- 
sent St. Louis . . .67 

Rings found in Pagan graves . 
Rings of the Frankish and 
Merovingian periods . 69 
Gold ' Middle Age ' ring, from 

the Louvre 
Rings on the effigy of Lady 
Stafford .... 
Enamelled floral ring 
'Merchant's Mark ' rings 75, 
Ring of the sixteenth century . 
Ring of Frederic the Great 
Venetian ring 

Italian diamond-pointed ring . 
Italian symbolical ring . 
Venetian ring 

East Indian ring, with drops of 
silver .... 
Indian rings .... 
Spanish ring .... 
' Giardinetti ' or guard rings . 
French rings of the fifteenth 

and sixteenth centuries 
' Escutcheon ' ring, French 
French rings . 81, 82, 

Moorish rings 
Bavarian peasant's ring . 
Thumb-rings . . 8 
Roman amulet-rings 104, 
Astrological ring . 
Zodiacal ring . 
Amulet rings 126, 138 
Charm-rings . 
Talismanic rings 
Cabalistic lungs 
Mystical rings 
Rings of the Magi . 
Rings with mottoes, worn as 
medicaments . . . 148 



, 90, 

























Rings, Runic 

Toadstone rings 

Cramp rings . 

Serjeant's ring 

Ring of the ' Beef Steak ' Club 

The Fisherman's Ring . 

Ring of Thierry, Bishop 

Ring of Pope Pius II. . 
Papal rings . 
Episcopal rings 217, 226, 230, 231 
Episcopal thumb-ring . .219 
Ring of Archbishop Sewall . 225 
Ring of Archbishop Greenfield 225 
Ring of Bishop Stanbery . 226 

Decade ring with figure of St. 

Catherine (?) . . . 249 
Decade thumb-ring . . 249 
Silver decade ring . . . 250 
Decade ring found near Croy- 
don 250 

Decade signet-ring . . .251 
Decade rings . . . 251, 252 
Decade ring of Delhi work . 253 
Trinity ring .... 254 
Religious rings 254, 255, 256, 

260, 261, 262, 263 
'Paradise' rings . . . 257 

Reliquary ring . . .257 

Early Christian rings 258, 259, 

268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273 
Ecclesiastical ring . . . 264 
Pilgrim ring .... 264 
Roman key-rings . . . 294 
Hebrew marriage and betrothal 

rings . . . 299, 300, 302 
Byzantine ring . , . 304 
Betrothal ring . • . 307 

Half of broken betrothal ring . 309 



Jointed betrothal ring 
Gemmel ring, found at Horse- 

Ring with representation of Lu- 

Wedding-ring of Sir Thomas 

Gresham . 
Gemmel ring . 
' Claddugh ' ring . 
Betrothal ring with sacred m- 

Devices on wedding rings 
The 'Devereux' ring 
The ' Essex ' ring . 
Old mourning ring 
Memorial rings, Charles I. 366, 


Royalist memorial ring . 

Memorial and mortuary rings . 

Squared-work diamond ring 
found in Ireland 

Mortuary rings at Mayence 381, 

Gold rings from Etruscan se- 
pulchres .... 

Ring found at Amiens . 

Ring found in the tomb of 
William Rufus, Winchester 
Cathedral . 

Ring discovered in Winchester 
Cathedral .... 

Ring of Childeric . 

Motto and device rings . 


Inscription rings 410,411, 

New Year's gift ring 

Poison- rings . 


Signet-ring of Mary, Queen of 
Scots, and the Darnley ring 460 










• 433 
452, 453 




Supposed ring of Roger, King 

of Sicily .... 465 
The Worsley seal-ring . . 467 
Ring of Saint Louis . . 469 
Ring-devices of the Medici 

family . . . 472. 473 
Ring found at Kenihvorth 
Castle . . . .474 

Heraldic ring 

Martin Luther's betrothal and 

marriage rings . 481, 482, 
Shakspeare's ring (?) 
Initials of Sir Thomas Lucy 

at Charlecote Hall 
Ivory-turned rings . 
Squirt ring . 








The use of signet-rings as symbols of great respect and 
authority is mentioned in several parts of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, from which it would seem that they were then common 
among persons of rank. They were sometimes wholly of 
metal, but frequently the inscription was borne on a stone, 
set in gold or silver. The impression from the signet-ring 
of a raonarch gave the force of a royal decree to any instru- 
ment to which it was attached. Hence the delivery or 
transfer of it gave the power of using the royal name, and 
created the highest office in the State. In Genesis (xli. 42) 
we find that Joseph had conferred upon him the royal signet 
as an insignia of authority.^ Thus Ahasuerus transferred his 

' In 1 841 Mr. Joseph Bonomi read a paper before the Royal 
Society of Literature on an ancient signet -ring of gold, resembling in 
every respect, except the name of the king, the ring which Pharaoh put 
on the finger of Joseph. The account of its purchase, loss, and subse- 
quent recovery is very interesting. It was bought by Lord Ashburn- 
ham at Cairo in 1825. In the spring of the same year his Lordship 
embarked a valuable collection on board a brig he had chartered at 
Alexandria, to carry his heavy baggage to Smyrna. This was attacked 
and pillaged by Greek pirates, who sold their booty in the island of 
Syra. The ring then became the property of a Greek merchant, in 


3 .* -• : . ." '. ' 'FINGER-RING LORE. 

authority to Haman (Esther iii. 12). The ring was also used 
as a pledge for the performance of a promise : Judah 

whose possession it remained until it was sold at Constantinople, and 
was brought to England in 1840. It then passed from the hands of 
Mr. Bonomi into those of Lord Ashburnham, its former possessor. It 
is conjectured, from evidence peculiar to Egyptian antiquities, that this 
ring belonged to the age of Thothmes III. 

In the winter of 1824 a discovery was made in Sakkara of a tomb 
enclosing a mummy entirely cased in solid gold (each limb, each finger 
of which had its particular envelope inscribed with hieroglyphics), a 

Eg>-ptlan Gold Signet-ring. 

scarabaeus attached to a gold chain, a gold ring, and a pair of bracelets 
of gold with other valuable relics. This account was wrested from the 
excavators a coups de bdton administered by Mohammed Defterdar Bey, 
by which means were recovered to Signor Drovetti (at whose charge 
the excavation was made) the scarabaeus and gold chain, a fragment 
of the gold envelope, and the bracelets, now in the Leyden Museum, 
which bear the same name as this ring. From the circumstance of the 
bracelets bearing the same name as this ring, and from the word Pthah, 
the name of the tutelar divinity of Memphis (of which city Sakkara was 
the necropolis) being also inscribed upon it, there is little doubt it was 
found in that place, and, from the confession of the Arabs, a great 
probability that it came out of the same excavation. The discovery of 
so much gold in a single tomb, which, from the nature of the orna- 
ments, must have belonged to the Pharaoh himself, or to a distinguished 
officer of his household, accords well with Mr. Cory's system of chrono- 
logy, which places the death of the patriarch Joseph in the twenty-first 



promised to send Tamar, his daughter-in-law, a kid from 
his flock, and for fulfilment left with her (at her desire) his 
signet, his bracelet, and his staff (Genesis xxxviii. 17, 18). 

Darius sealed with his ring the mouth of the den of lions 
(Daniel vi. 17). Queen Jezebel, to destroy Naboth, made 
use of the ring of Ahab, King of the Israelites, her husband, 
to seal the counterfeit letters ordering the death of that un- 
fortunate man. 

The Scriptures tell us that, when Judith arrayed herself 
to meet Holofernes, among other rich decorations she wore 
bracelets, ear-rings, and rings. 

The earliest materials of which rings were made was of 
pure gold, and the metal usually very thin. The Israelitish 
people wore not only rings on their fingers, but also in their 
nostrils ' and ears. Josephus, in the third book of his 
'Antiquities,' states that they had the use of them after 
passing the Red Sea, because Moses, on his return from 
Sinai, found that the men had made the golden calf from 
their wives' rings and other ornaments. 

Moses permitted the use of gold rings to the priests whom 
he had established. The nomad people called Midianites, 
who were conquered by Moses, and eventually overthrown 

year of the reign of Tholhmes III., at which period the treasury of 
Pharaoh must have been well stored with the precious material of these 
ornaments accumulated by the prudent administration of the patriarch. 
Assuming, therefore, that Mr. Cory's system is correct, this ring may 
be regarded, not only as an excellent specimen of that kind called Tabat 
(a word still used in Egypt to signify a stamp or seal), but also as 
resembling in every respect, excepting the name, the ring which 
Pharaoh put on the hand of Joseph. 

' Mr. Layard, in ' Nineveh and Its Remains,' describes the wife of 
an Arab Sheikh, whom he met, as having a nose adorned with a pro- 
digious gold ring, set with jewels of such ample dimensions that it 
covered her mouth, and was obliged to be removed when she ate. 


by Gideon (Numbers xxxi.), possessed large numbers of 
rings among their personal ornaments. 

The Jews wore the signet-ring on the right hand, as 
appears from a passage in Jeremiah (xxii. 24). The words 
of the Lord are uttered against Zedekiah : ' though Coniah 
the son of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, were the signet on my 
right hand, yet would I pluck thee thence.' 

We are not to assume, however, that all ancient seals, 
being signets, were rings intended to be worn on the hand. 
' One of the largest Egyptian signets I have seen,' remarks 
Sir J. G. Wilkinson, ' was in possession of, a French gentle- 
man of Cairo, which contained twenty pounds' worth of gold. 
It consisted of a massive ring, half an inch in its largest 
diameter, bearing an oblong plinth, on which the devices 
were engraved, i inch long, ^^ths in its greatest, and i^ths 
in its smallest, breadth. On one side was the name of a 
king, the successor of Amunoph III., who Hved about four- 
teen hundred years before Christ ; on the other a lion, with 
the legend "Lord of Strength," referring to the monarch. 
On one side a scorpion, and on the other a crocodile.' 

This ring passed into the Waterton Dactyliotheca, and is 
now the property of the South Kensington Museum. 

Egyptian Bronze Rings. 

Rings of inferior metal, engraved with the king's name, 
may, probably, have been worn by officials of the court. In 
the Londesborough collection is a bronze ring, bearing on 


the oval face the name of Amunoph III., the same monarch 
known to the Greeks as 'Memnon.' The other ring, also of 
bronze, has engraved on the face a scarabseus. Such rings 
were worn by the Egyptian soldiers. 

In the British Museum are some interesting specimens 
of Egyptian rings with representations of the scarabaeus,^ or 
beetle. These rings generally bear the name of the wearer, 

' The Egyptians made the scaraboeus the symbol of the world, 
because it rolled its excrements into a globe ; of the sun ; of the moon, 
from horns ; one-horned, of Mercury ; of generation, because it buried 
the bowls in which it included its eggs, &c. ; of an only son, because 
they believed that every beetle was male and female ; of valour, 
manly power, &c,, whence they forced all the soldiers to wear a ring 
upon which a beetle was engraved. All these superstitions are very 
ancient, for they occur upon the sepulchres of Biban-el-Molook, and are 
traced to the Indians, Hottentots, and other nations. In the hiero- 
glyphs it is vised for the syllable Khepra, and expresses the verb 'to be, 
exist. ' In connection with Egyptian notions, the Gnostics and some of 
the Fathers called Christ the Scarabaeus. 

'The usual mode of mounting the scarab,' observes the Rev. C. 
W. King, in ' Antique Gems, ' ' as a finger-ring, was, the szvivel, a wire 
as a pivot passing through the longitudinal perforation of the stone 
(the edge of which was generally protected by a gold rim), and then 
brought through holes in each end of a bar of gold, or else of a broad, 
flat band of plaited wire, and bent into a loop of sufficient size to admit 
the finger, which was usually the fore-finger of the left hand. For the 
sake of security, the ends of the loop were formed into small disks, 
touching each extremity of the scarabseus. This loop, or ring shank, 
as it may be considered, was treated in a great variety of fashions, and 
sometimes was made extremely ornamental. One that I have seen 
terminated in rams' heads, the pivot entering the mouth of each ; in 
another the shank was formed as a serpent, the head of which was one 
of the supporting points, and the tail tied into a knot. Occasionally 
the form of the shank was varied by bending the bar upon itself, so as 
to form a bow in the middle of its length ; the ends were then beaten 
to a point, which, being twisted inwards, passed into the opposite holes 
of the stone, and thus formed a handle to the signet. This last manner 
of mounting the scaraba^us was often used by the Egyptians, the shank 
being made of every kind of metal ; it was also the common setting of 
the Phoenician stones of this form.' 



the name of the monarch in whose reign he lived, and also 
the emblems of certain deities ; they were so set in the gold 
ring as to allow the scarabseus to revolve on its centre, it 
being pierced for that purpose. 

Colonel Barnet possesses an Egyptian signet-ring formed 
by a scarabseus set in gold. It was found on the little 
finger of a splendid gilded mummy at Thebes. In all pro- 
bability the wearer of the ring had been a royal scribe, as by 
his side was found a writing- tablet of stone. On the breast 
was a large scarab aeus of green porphyry, set in gold. 

The Rev. Henry Mackenzie, of Yarmouth, possesses an 
Egyptian scarabaeus, a signet-ring, set with an intaglio, on 
cornelian, found in the bed of a deserted branch of the 
Euphrates, in the district of Hamadan in Persia. The en- 
graving is unfinished, the work is polished in the intaglio, 
and the date has therefore been supposed not later than the 
time of the Greeks in Persia, circa 325 B.C. 

Egyptian Signet-rings. 

The representations here given illustrate the large and 
massive Eg>'ptian signet-ring, and also a lighter kind of 
hooped signet, 'as generally worn at a somewhat more 
recent period in Egypt. The gold loop passes through a 
small figure of the sacred beetle, the flat under-side being 
engraved with the device of a crab.' 


In the British Museum, in the first Egyptian Room, is 
the signet-ring of Queen Sebek-nefru (Sciemiophris). 
' Sebek ' was a popular component of proper names after 
the twelfth dynasty, probably because this queen was 
beloved by the people. On Assyrian sculptures are found 
annlets and bracelets ; rings do not appear to have been 
generally worn. 

At a meeting of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, in 
June 1873, Dr. H. F. Talbot, F.R.S., read an interesting 
paper on the legend of ' Ishtar descending to Hades/ in 
which he translated from the tablets the goddess's voluntary 
descent into the Assyrian Inferno. In the cuneiform it is 
called ' the land of no return.' Ishtar passes successively 
through the seven gates, compelled to surrender her jewels, 
viz. her crown, ear-rings, head-jewels, frontlets, girdle, 
finger- and tot-rifigs, and necklace. A cup full of the 
Waters of Life is given to her, whereby she returns to the 
upper world, receiving at each gate of Hades the jewels she 
had been deprived of in her descent. 

Mr. Greene, F.S.A., has an Egyptian gold ring, formerly 
in the possession of the late Mr. Salt, belonging to the 
nineteenth dynasty, probably from the Lower Country, 
below Memphis. It is engraved with a representation of 
the goddess Nephthis, or Neith. Another gold ring'of a 
later period, from the Upper Country, dates, probably, from 
the time of Psammitichus, B.C. 671 to 617. 

In the collection of Egyptian antiquities formed by the 
late R. Hay, Esq., of Limplum, N.B., were two Grseco- 
Egyptian gold rings, found, it is conjectured, in the Aasa- 
seef, near Thebes. One of these is of the usual signet 
form, but without an inscription 3 the other is of an Etruscan 
pattern, and is composed of a spiral wire, whose extremities 


end in a twisted loop, with knob-like intersections. Both 
these objects are of fine workmanship, and are wrought in 
very pure gold. Sir J. G. Wilkinson, in ' Manners and 
Customs of the Ancient Egyptians,' remarks : ' The rings 
were mostly of gold, and this metal seems always to have 
been preferred to silver for rings and other articles of 
jewellery. Silver rings are, however, occasionally to be met 
with, and two in my possession, which were accidentally 
found in a temple at Thebes, are engraved with hiero- 
glyphics, containing the name of the royal city. Bronze 
was seldom used for rings ; some have been discovered of 
brass and iron (of a Roman time), but ivory and blue 
porcelain were the materials of which those worn by the 
lower classes were usually made.' 

The Rev. C. W. King observes : ' I have seen finger- 
rings of ivory of the Egyptian period, their heads engraved 
with sphinxes and figures of eyes cut in low relief as camei, 
and originally coloured.' 

The porcelain finger-rings of ancient Egypt are ex- 
tremely beautiful, the band of the ring being seldom above 
one-eighth of an inch in thickness. Some have a plate in 
which in bas-relief is the god Baal, full-faced, playing on 
the tambourine, as the inventor of music ; others have their 
plates in the shape of the right symbolical eye, the emblem 
of the sun, of a fish of the perch species, or of a scarabaeus. 
Some few represent flowers. Those which have elliptical 
plates with hieroglyphical inscriptions bear the names of 
Amen-Ra, and of other gods and monarchs, as Amenophis 
III., Amenophis IV., and Amenmest of the eighteenth 
and nineteenth dynasties. One of these rings has a little 
bugle on each side, as if it had been strung on the beaded 
work of a mummy, instead of being placed on the finger. 


Blue is the prevalent colour, but a few white and yellow 
rings, and some even ornamented with red and purple 
colours, have been discovered. It is scarcely credible that 
these rings, of a substance finer and more fragile than glass, 
were worn during life, and it seems hardly Hkely that they 
were worn by the poorer classes, for the use of the king's 
name on sepulchral objects seems to have been restricted 
to functionaries of state. Some larger rings of porcelain 
of about an inch in diameter, seven-eighths of an inch 
broad, and one-sixteenth of an inch thick, made in open 
work, represents the constantly-repeated lotus-flowers, and 
the god Ra, or the sun, seated and floating through the 
heavens in his boat. 

At the Winchester meeting of the Archaeological Institute 
in 1845 a curious swivel-ring of blue porcelain was exhibited, 
found at Abydus in Upper Egypt ; setting modern. It 
has a double impression : on the one side is the king making 
an offering to the gods, with the emblems of life and purity; 
on the other side the name of the monarch in the usual 
' cartouche,' one that is well known, being that of Thothmes 
III., whom Wilkinson supposes to have been the Pharaoh 
of Exodus. It is worthy of remark that this cartouche is 
' supported ' by asps, which are usually 
considered to be the attributes of 

The annexed engraving represents 
an Egyptian ring, en pate ceramique^ 
from M. Dieulafait's ' Diamants et 

PierreS PrecieUSeS.' Egyptian Porcelain Ring. 

The signet of Sennacherib in the British Museum is 
made of Amazon stone, one of the hardest stones known to 
the lapidary, and bears an intaglio ' which,' observes the 


Rev. C. W. King, 'by its extreme minuteness, and the 
precision of the drawing, displays the excellence to which 
the art had already attained.' 

On a mummy-case in the British Museum is a repre- 
sentation of a woman with crossed hands, covered with 
rings ; the left hand is most loaded. Upon the thumb is a 
signet with hieroglyphics on the surface, three rings on the 
forefinger, two on the second, one formed like a snail shell, 
the same number on the next, and one on the little finger. 
The right hand carries only a thumb ring, and two upon the 
third finger. 

Rings on the fingers of a Mummy. 

' Sir J. G. Wilkinson observes : ' The left was considered 
the hand peculiarly privileged to bear these ornaments ; 
and it is remarkable that its third finger was decorated with 
a greater number than any other, and was considered by 
them, as by us, par excellence^ the ring-finger, though there is 
no evidence of its having been so honoured at the marriage 

The same author mentions that rings were a favourite 
decoration among the Egyptians ; women wore sometimes 


two or three on the same finger. They were frequently- 
worn on the thumb. Some were simple, others had an 
engraved stone, and frequently bore the name of the 
owner ; others the monarch in whose time he lived, and 
they were occasionally in the form of a snail, a knot, a 
snake, or some fancy device. A cat — emblem of the 
goddess Bast, or Pasht, the Egyptian Diana— was a favourite 
subject for ladies' rings. 

One of the oldest, if not the most ancient ring known, 
is supposed to be that in the collection of Dr. Abbot, of 
Cairo, now preserved with his other Egyptian antiquities at 
New York. It is thus described by him : — ' This remarkable 
piece of antiquity is in the highest state of preservation, 

Egyptian Gold Ring, from Ghizeh. 

and was found at Ghizeh, in a tomb near the excavation of 
Colonel Vyse, called Campbell's tomb. It is of fine gold, 
and weighs nearly three sovereigns. The style of the 
hieroglyphics within the oval make the name of that 
Pharaoh (Cheops, Shofo) of whom the pyramid was the 
tomb. The details are minutely accurate and beautifully 
executed. The heaven is engraved with stars ; the fox or 
jackal has significant lines within its contour ; the hatchets 
have their handles bound with thongs, as is usual in the 
sculptures ; the volumes have the strings which bind them 
hanging below the roll — differing in this respect from any 


example in sculptured or painted hieroglyphics. The deter- 
minative for country is studded with dots, representing the 
land of the mountains at the margin of the valley of Egypt. 
The instrument, as in the larger hieroglyphics, has the 
tongue and semi-lunar mark of the sculptured examples ; 
as is the case also with the heart-shaped vase. The name 
is surmounted with the globe and feathers, decorated in the 
usual manner ; and the ring of the cartouche is engraved 
with marks representing a rope, never seen in the sculptures ; 
and the only instance of a royal name similarly encircled is 
a porcelain example in this collection, inclosing the name ot 
the father of Sesostris. The O in the name is placed as in 
the examples sculptured in the tombs, not in the axis of 
the cartouche ; the chickens have their unfledged wings ; 
the cerastes its horns, now only to be seen with a magnify- 
ing glass.' 

In a lecture to the deaf and dumb in St. Saviour's Hall, 
Oxford Street, London (October 1875), on ' Eastern 
Manners and Customs,' amongst various relics exhibited 
was the hand of a female mummy, on one finger of which 
was a gold ring, with the signet of one of the Pharaohs. 

A gold ring exhibited at the exhibition of antiquities at 
the Ironmongers' Hall, in 1861, had hieroglyphics meaning 
* protected by the living goddess Mu.' 

Among some interesting specimens of Egyptian rings 
exhibited at the South Kensington Loan Exhibition of 
1872 I may mention an antique ring of pale gold, with a 
long oval bezel chased in intaglio, with representation of a 
sistrimi (timbrel, used by the Egyptians in their religious 
ceremonies), the property of Viscount Hawarden ; an 
antique ring of pale gold (belonging to Lady Ashburton), 
formed of a slender wire, the ends twisted round the 


shoulders, upon which is strung a signet, in form of a cat, 
made of greenish-blue glazed earthenware. 

From the collection of R. H. Soden Smith, Esq. F.S.A., 
an ancient pale gold ring, with revolving cylinders of lapis- 
lazuli, engraved with hieroglyphics ; the shoulders of the 
hoop wrapped round with wire ornament. 

The Waterton Collection contains Egyptian rings ot 
various descriptions : one of silver, with revolving bezel of 
cornelian representing the symbolical right eye. Several 
rings of glazed earthenware ; one of gold, very massive, with 
revolving scarab of glazed earthenware, partially encased in 
gold. A gold ring, the hoop of close-corded work, re- 
volving bezel with blood-stone scarab, engraved with Hathor 
and child. The same engraving is on a gold signet-ring, with 
vesica-shaped bezel, and upon a white-metal ring, where the 
figures are surrounded by lotus-flowers. Another gold sig- 
net-ring is engraved with the figure of Amen-ra ; a probably 
Egyptian white-metal ring, with narrow oblong bezel, en- 
graved with a frieze of figures, and winged Genii, divided 
by candelabra. 

Several of the Egyptian rings in the Museum of the 
Louvre at Paris date from the reign of King Moeris. One 
of the oldest rings extant is that of Cheops, the founder of 
the Great Pyramid, which was found in a tomb there. It is 
of gold, with hieroglyphics. 

The Egyptian glass -workers produced small mosaics of 
the most minute and delicate finish, and sufficiently small to 
be worn on rings. 

Dr. Birch, in a very interesting paper communicated to 
the Society of Antiquaries, at the meeting of November 17, 
1870, observes, with regard to the scarabaei and signet-rings 
of the ancient Egyptians, that the use of these curious 


objects (the exhibition comprising upwards of five hundred 
scarabs from the collection of Egyptian antiquities formed 
by the late R. Hay, Esq., of Sinplum, N.B., to which I have 
alluded) dates back from a remote period of Egyptian 
history. ' As it is well known, they were not merely made in 
porcelain, but also in steatite, or stea-schist, and the various 
semi-precious stones suitable for engraving, such as cornelian, 
sard, and such-like.' In the time of the twelfth dynasty the 
cylindrical ring, also found in use among the Assyrians and 
Babylonians, came into vogue. The hard stones and gems 
were of later introduction, probably. under the influence of 
Greek art, for the ancient Egyptians themselves do not 
appear to have possessed the method of cutting such hard 
substances. A few, however, exist, which are clearly of 
great antiquity — as, for example, a specimen in yellow jasper 
now in the British Museum. 

The principal purpose to which these scarabs were 
applied was to form the revolving bezel of a signet-ring, 
the substance in which the impression was taken being a 
soft clay, with which a letter was sealed. 

It is singular that some of these objects have been found 
in rings fixed with the plane engraved side inwards, render- 
ing them unfit for the purposes of sealing. It is well known 
that the use of these scarabs was so extensive as to have 
prevailed beyond Egypt, being adopted by the Phoenicians 
and the Etruscans. 

On this subject the Rev. C. W. King remarks that gold 
rings, even of the Etruscan period, are very rare, the signets 
of that nation still retaining the form of scarabaei. ' The 
most magnificent Etruscan ring known, belonging once to 
the Prince de Canino, and now in the matchless collection 
of antique gems in the British Museum, is formed of the 



fore-parts of two lions, whose bodies compose the shank, 
whilst their heads and fore-paws support the signet — a small 
sand scarab, engraved with a Hon regardant., and set in an 
elegant bezel of filagree-work. The two lions are beaten up 
in full relief of thin gold plate, in a stiff archaic style, but 
very carefully finished.' 

The Waterton Collection contains a gold ring of Etruscan 
workmanship, of singular beauty. It is described by Padre 
Geruchi, of the Sacred College, as a betrothal or nuptial 
ring. It has figures of Hercules and Juno placed back to 
back on the hoop, having their arms raised above their 
heads. Hercules is covered with the skin of a lion, Juno 
with that of a goat. 

Fairholt, in ' Rambles of an Archaeologist,' describes an 
ancient Etruscan ring in the British Museum, with chimerae 
on it opposing each other. The style and treatment 
partake largely of ancient Eastern art. There is also in the 

Etruscan, with Chimerae. 


same collection a remarkable ring having the convolutions 
of a serpent, the head of Serapis at one extremity and of 
Isis at the other ; by this arrangement one or other of them 
would always be correctly posited ; it has, also, the further 
advantage of being flexible, owing to the great sweep of 
its curve. Silver rings are rarer than those of gold in 


the tombs of Etruria, and iron and bronze examples are 

All the Hindoo Mogul divinities of antiquity had rings ; 
the statues of the gods at Elephanta, supposed to be of the 
highest antiquity, had finger-rings. 

The Rev. C. W. King describes a ring in the Waterton 
collection, of remarkable interest — apparently dating from 
the Lower Empire, for the head is much thrown up, and has 
the sides pierced into a pattern, the ^ iiiterrasile opus, so 
much in fashion during those times. It is set with two 
diamonds of (probably) a carat each : one a perfect octahe- 
dron of considerable lustre, the other duller and irregularly 
crystallised. Another such example might be sought for in 
vain throughout the largest cabinets of Europe.' 

After the conquest of Asia Alexander the Great used 
the signet-ring of Darius to seal his edicts to the Persians ; 
his own signet he used for those addressed to the Greeks. 

Xerxes, King of Persia, was a great gem- fancier, but his 
chief signet was a portrait, either of himself, or of Cyrus, the 
founder of the monarchy. He also wore a ring with the 
figure of Anaitis, the Babylonian Venus, upon it. Thucy- 
dides says that the Persian kings honoured their subjects by 
giving them rings with the likenesses of Darius and Cyrus. 

The late Mr. Fairholt purchased in Cairo a ring worn 
by an Egyptian lady of the higher class. It is a simple 
hoop of twisted gold, to which hangs a series of pendant 
ornaments, consisting of small beads of coral,, and thin 
plates of gold, cut to represent the leaves of a plant. As 
the hands move, these ornaments play about the finger, and 
a very brilliant effect might be produced if diamonds were 
used in the pendants. 



The rings worn by the middle class of Egyptian men are 
usually of silver, set with mineral stones, and are valued as 
the work of the silversmiths of Mecca, that sacred city being 
supposed to exert a holy influence on all the works it origi- 


Modern EgjT)tian Rings. 

A curious ring with a double keeper is worn by Egyptian 
men. It is composed entirely of common cast silver, set 
with mineral stone. The lowermost keeper, of twisted wire, 
is first put on the finger, then follows the ring. The second 
keeper is then brought down 
upon it : the two being held by a 
brace which passes at the back 
of the ring, and gives security to 
the whole. 

Tavernier states in his ' Tra- 
vels ' that the Persians did not 
make gold rings, their religion 
forbidding the wearing of any 
article of that metal during 
prayers, it would have been too troublesome to take them 
off every time they performed their devotions. The gems 
mounted in gold rings, sold by Tavernier to the King, 
were reset in silver by native workmen. 


Modem Eg>'ptian Ring, with 
Double Keepers. 


The custom of wearing rings may have been introduced 
into Greece from Asia, and into Italy from Greece. They 
served the twofold purpose, ornamental and useful, being 
employed as a seal, which was called sphragis, a name 
given to the gem or stone on which figures were engraved. 
The Homeric poems make mention of ear-rings only, but in 
the later Greek legends the ancient heroes are represented 
as wearing finger-rings. Counterfeit stones in rings are 
mentioned in the time of Solon. Transparent stones when 
extracted from the remains of the original iron-rings of the 
ancients are sometimes found backed by a leaf of red gold 
as a foil.^ The use of coloured foils was merely to deceive 
and impose upon the unwary, by giving to a very inferior 
jewel the finest colour. Solon made a law prohibiting 
sellers of rings from keeping the model of a ring they had 

The Lacedaemonians, according to the laws of Lycurgus, 
had only iron rings, despising those of gold ; either that the 
King devised thereby to retrench luxury, or not to permit 
the use of them. 

The Etruscans and the Sabines wore rings at the period 
of the foundation of Rome, 753 b.c. 

The Etruscans made rings of great value. They have 
been found of every variety — with precious stones, of 
massive gold, very solid, with engraved stones of remarkable 
beauty. Among Etruscan rings in the Musee Nap. III. the 
table of one offers a representation, enlarged, of the story of 
Admetus, the King of Pheras in Thessaly. He took part 
in the expedition of the Argonauts, and sued for the hancj of 
Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, who promised him to her 
on condition that he should come to her in a chariot drawn 
' Appendix. 



by lions and boars. This feat Admetus perfomied by the 

assistance of Apollo, who served him, according to some 

accounts, out of attachment to 

him, or, according to others, 

because he was obliged to serve 

a mortal for one year, for having 

slain the Cyclops. 

Among rings taken out of 
the tombs there are some in the 
form of a knot or of a serpent. 
They are frequently found with Etruscan (Admetus). 

Representation of Admetus. 

shields of gold, and of that form which we call Gothic, 
that is elliptical and pointed, called by foreigners ogive^ 


with raised subjects chiselled on the gold, or with onyxs 
of the same form, but polished and surrounded with gold. 


There are some particular rings which appear more adapted 
to be used as seals than rings, and they have on the shields, 
rehevos of much more arched, and almost Egyptian, form.^ 
Among the antique jewels at the Bibliotheque Nationale 
at Paris are two fine specimens of Etruscan rings. One is 
of gold, on which is a scarabseus in cornehan ; the stomach 


of the scarabaeus is engraved hollow and represents a naked 
man holding a vase. The other is a gold ring found in a 
tomb at Etruria, of which the bezel, 
sculptured in relief, could not serve 
as a seal. The subject is a divinity 
combating vvith two spirits, a repre- 
sentation of the eastern idea of the 
struggles between the two principles 
of good and evil, such as are found 
on numerous cylinders that come from 
the borders of the Euphrates and the 
Tigris. This analogy between the re- 
Etruscan. ligious idcas of the Etruscans and 

those of the most ancient monuments of the East is not 

' Cellini, in his ' Memoirs,' says that Pope Clement VII. showed 
him a gold Etruscan necklace of exquisite workmanship, which had just 
been discovered in the ground. On examining it, 'Alas,' cried he, 'it 
is better not to imitate these Etruscans, for we should be nothing but 
their humble servants. Let us rather strike out a new path, which will, 
at least, have the merit of originality. ' 



astonishing when it is shown that the Etruscans, the ancient 
inhabitants of Italy, were originally from Asia. The follow- 
ing engraving represents an intaglio on a scarabseus ring, 
of fine workmanship, preserved in 

At a meeting of the Archaeo- 
logical Institute (May 3, 1850) the 
Dowager Duchess of Cleveland ex- 
hibited a curious Roman ring of pure 
gold (weight 182 grains), of which an 
illustration is given in the Journal of 
the Institute (vol. vii. p. 190). ' It 
was found, with other remains, at 
Pierse Bridge (Ad Tisam), county of 
Durham, where the vestiges of a rect- 
angular encampment may be dis- 
tinctly traced. The hoop, wrought by the hammer, is joined 
by welding the extremities together ; to this is attached an 
oval facet, the metal engraved in intaglio, the impress being 
two human heads respectanf, probably male and female — the 
prototype of the numerous " love seals " of a later period. 
The device on the ring is somewhat eifaced, but evidently 
represented two persons gazing at each other. This is not 
the first Roman example of the kind found in England. 
The device appears on a ring, apparently of that period, 
found on Stanmore Common in 178 1. On the mediaeval 
seals alluded to, the heads are usually accompanied by the 
motto " Love me, and I thee," to which, also, a counterpart 
is found among relics of a more remote age. Galeotti, in 
his curious illustrations of the " Gemmae Antiquae Litteratae," 
in the collection of Ficoroni, gives an intaglio engraved 
with the words " Amo te, ama me." ' 


The following engravings represent: A ring in the 
Miis^e du Louvre, with a lion sculptured by a Greek artist, 
in an oriental cornelian ; the reverse has an intaglio of a 
lion couchant. The second, from the Webb Collection, is 
that of an ancient Greek ring, of solid gold, with the repre- 
sentation of a comic mask in high relief The other, a gold 
ring with a bearded mask, Roman, in the Waterton Collection 
at the South Kensington Museum — also in high relief — 
has the shoulders thickened with fillets, engraved with 

Greek. Greek. Roman. 

A singular discovery of Roman relics was made in 1824 
at Terling Place, near Witham, Essex, by some workmen 
forming a new road ; the earth being soaked by heavy rains 
the cart-wheels sank up to their naves. The driver of the 
cart saw some white spots upon the mud adhering to the 
wheels, which proved to be coins. On further search a 
small vase was discovered in which had been deposited with 
some coins, two gold rings, which are interesting examples 
of late Roman work ; and representations of these, by Lord 
Rayleigh's permission, were given in the ' Journal of the 
Archseological Institute ' (vol. iii. p. 163) and are here shown. 
One of the rings is set with a colourless crackly crystal, or 
pasta, uncut and en cabochofi ; the other with a paste formed 
of two layers, the upper being of a dull smalt colour, the 


lower dark brown. The device is apparently an ear of 

Late Roman. 

The Hertz Collection contained a well-formed octa- 
hedral diamond, about a carat in weight, set open in a Roman 
ring of unquestionable authenticity. 

At the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery 
at the South Kensington Museum, in 1872, John Evans 
Esq., F.S.A., contributed a series of seven rings, gold and 
silver, Roman, set with antique stones ; one very massive, 
of silver and gold, set with intaglio on nicolo onyx ; one 
with an angular hoop, and another with beaded ornaments. 

' Though,' remarks Mr. Fairholt, ' a great 'variety of form 
and detail was adopted by Greek and Roman goldsmiths 
for the rings they so largely manufactured, the most general 
and lasting resembled a Roman ring, probably of the time 
of Hadrian, which is said to have been found in the Roman 
camp at Silchester, Berkshire. The gold of the ring is 
massive at the face, making a strong setting for the cor- 
nelian, which is engraved with the figure of a female bearing 
com and fruit. By far the greater majority of Roman rings 
exhumed at home and abroad are of this fashion, which 
recommends itself by a dignified simplicity, telling by 
quantity and quality of metal and stone its true value, 



without any obtrusive aid.' Sometimes a single ring was 
constructed to appear like a group of two or three upon 
the finger. Mr. Charles Edwards, of New York, in his 
' History and Poetry of Finger Rings,' has given an example 
of this kind of ring. Upon the wide part of each are two 
letters, the whole forming ' zhcaic,' mayst thou live ! 

Ring found at Silchester. 

Group Pattern. 

' The simplest and most useful form of rings, and that 
by consequence adopted by people of all early nations, was 
the plain elastic hoop. Cheap in construction and con- 
venient in wear, it may be safely said to have been generally 
patronised from the most ancient to the most modem times.' 
An engraving by Mr. Fairholt represents ' the old form of a 
ring made in the shape of a coiled serpent, equally ancient, 
equally far-spread in the old world, and which has had a 
very large sale among ourselves as a decided novelty. In 
fact, it has been the most successful design our ring-makers 
have produced of late years.' 

Ancient Plain Rings. 

The statues of Numa and Servius Tullius were repre- 
sented with rings, while those of the other Kings had none; 


which would induce the belief that the use of rings was little 
known in the early days of Rome. Pliny ^ states that the 
first date in Roman history in which he could trace any 
general use of rings was in a.u.c. 449, in the time of Cneius 
Flavius, the son of Annius. Less than a century before 
Christ, Mithridates, the famous King of Pontus, possessed a 
museum of signet-rings ; later, Scaurus, the stepson of the 
Dictator, Sylla, had a collection of signet-rings, but inferior 
to that of Mithridates, which, having become the spoil of 
Pompey, was presented by him to the Capitol. 

In Rome every freeman had the right to use the iron 
ring, which was worn to the last period of the Republic, by 
such men as loved the simplicity of the good old times. 
Among these was Marius, who, as Pliny tells us, wore an 
iron ring in his triumph after the subjugation of Jugurtha. 
In the early days of the Empire the jus anniili seems to 
have elevated the wearer to the equestrian order. Those 
who committed any crime forfeited the distinction, and this 
shows us the estimation in which the ring, as 
an emblem of honour, was regarded. 

We are told of Caesar that when address- 
ing his soldiers after the passage of the 
Rubicon he often held up the little finger of 
his left hand, protesting that he would pledge 
even to his ring to satisfy the claims of those iron Ring of a 
who defended his cause. The soldiers of ^°""^ ^"^^^'• 
the furthest ranks, who could see but not hear him, mistak- 
ing the gesture, imagined that he was promising to each 
man the dignity of a Roman Knight. 

Gold rings appear to have been first worn by ambassa- 

> Appendix. 



dors to a foreign State, but only during a diplomatic mission; 
in private they wore their iron ones. 

In the course of time it became customary for all the 
senators, chief magistrates, and the eqiiites to wear a gold seal- 
ring. This practice, which was subsequently termed the jus 
annidi aiirei^ or the jus annulorum, remained for several 
centuries at Rome their exclusive privilege, while others con- 
tinued to wear the iron ring. In Plutarch's Life of Caius 
Marius he mentions that the slaves of Cornutus concealed 
their master at home, and hanging up by the neck the body 
of some obscure person, and putting a gold ring on his finger, 
they showed him to the guards of Marius, and then wrapping 
up the body as if it were their master's, they interred it. 
Magistrates and governors of provinces seem to have 
possessed the privilege of conferring upon 
^ inferior officers, or such persons as had 
distinguished themselves, the right of 
wearing a gold ring. Verres thus pre- 
sented his secretary with a gold ring in 
the assembly at Syracuse. 

Montfaucon mentions in his * An- 
tiquity Explained' (English Edition, 
1722, vol. iii. p. 146), a Greek seal-ring, 
which has the shape of a crescent. An 
illustration is here given of a similarly- 
formed Roman ring, with the letters Q. s. p. q., Quintanus 
Senatus Populusque, from the ' Gemmae Antiquae Litteratse.' 
Some wore rings of gold, covered with a plate of iron. 
Trimalchion wore two rings, one upon the little finger of his 
left hand, which was a large gilt one, and the other of gold, 
set with stars of iron upon the middle of the ring-finger. 



Some rings were hollow, and other solid. The Flamines 
Diales could only wear the former. 

During the Empire the right of granting the privilege of 
a gold ring belonged to the emperors, and some were not 
very scrupulous in conferring this distinction. 

Severus and Aurelian granted this privilege to all Roman 
soldiers; Justinian allowed all citizens of the empire to wear 
such rings. 

But there always seems to have been a difficulty in re- 
stricting the use of the gold ring. Tiberius (a.d. 22) allowed 
its use to all whose fathers and grandfathers had property of 
the value of 400,000 sestertia (3,230/.). The restriction, 
however, was - of little avail, and the ambition for the an- 
nulus aureus became greater than it had ever been before. 

Juvenal, in his eleventh ' Satire,' alludes to a spend- 
thrift who, after consuming his estate, has nothing but his 

At length, when nought remains a meal to bring, 
The last poor shift, off comes the Knightly ring, 
And sad Sir Pollio begs his daily fare, 
With undistinguished hands, and fingers bare. 

Martial attacks a person under the name of Zoilus, who 
had been raised from a state of servitude to Knighthood, 
and was determined to make the ring, the badge of his new 
honour, sufficiently conspicuous : — 

Zoile, quid tota gemmam prsecingere libra 
Te juvat, et miserum perdire sardonycha ? 

Annulus iste tuus fuerat modo cruribus aptus ; 
Non eadem digitis pOndera conveniunt. 

The keeping of the imperial ring {ciwa annuli) was 
confided to a state keeper, as the Great Seal with us is 
placed in custody of the Lord Chancellor. 



With the increasing love of luxury and show, the 
Romans, as well as the Greeks, covered their fingers with 
rings, and some wore different ones for summer and winter, 
immoderate both in number and size.^ The accompanying 
illustrations represent a huge ring of coloured paste, all of 
one piece, blue colour — one of the rings of inexpensive manu- 
facture in popular use among the lower classes. It is 
smaller on one side, to occupy less space on the index or 
little finger. 


The following illustrates a supposed Gallo- Roman ring 
of outrageous proportions, similar to those complained of by 
Livy (xxxiii., see Appendix), for their extravagant size. It is 
of bronze, and supposed to represent a cow or bull seated, 
with a bell round the neck. 

Heavy rings of gold of a sharp triangular outline were worn 
on the little finger in the later time of the Empire. A thumb- 

' Addison remarks that when at Rome he had ' seen old Roman 
rings so very thick about, and with such large stones in them, that it is 
no wonder a fop should reckon them a little cumbersome in the summer 
season of so hot a climate.' 

A Roman ring found in Hungary contained more than two ounces 
of gold. 



ring of unusual magnitude and of costly material is repre- 
sented in Montfaucon. It bears the bust in high relief of 
the Empress Plotina, the consort of Trajan : she is repre- 


Supposed Gallo-Roman. 

Roman Thumb-ring. 


sented with the imperial diadem. It is supposed to have 
decorated the hand of some member of the imperial family. 
The Rev. C. W. King mentions a ring in the Fould Collec- 
tion (dispersed by auction in i860), the weight of which, 
although intended for the little finger, was three ounces. It 
was set with a large Oriental onyx, not engraved. 
Juvenal alludes to the ' season ' rings : — 

Charged with light summer rings his fingers sweat, 
Unable to support a gem of weight. 

The custom of wearing numerous rings must have been 
at a comparatively early period : it is alluded to both' by 
Plato and Aristophanes. According to Martial, one 
Clarinus wore daily no less than sixty rings : ' Senos Clari- 
nus omnibus digitis gerit,' and, what is more remarkable, he 
loved to sleep wearing them, 'nee nocte ponit annulos.' 
Quintilian notices the custom of wearing numerous rings : 
' The hand must not be overloaded with rings, especially 
with such as do not pass over the middle joints of the finger.' 
Demosthenes wore many rings and he was stigmatised as 
unbecomingly vain for doing so in the troubled times of the 

Seneca, describing the luxury and ostentation of the 
time, says : ' We adorn our fingers with rings, and a jewel is 
displayed on every joint.' 

As a proof of the universality of gold rings as ornaments 
in ancient times, we are told that three bushels of them were 
gathered out of the spoils after Hannibal's victory at 
Cannae. This was after the second Punic war. 

According to Mr. Waterton it is believed that gems were 
not mounted in rings prior to the LXII. Olympiad. 

Nero, we are informed, during his choral exhibitions in 




the circus, was attended by children, each of whom wore a 
gold ring. Galba's guard, of the Equites, had gold rings as 
a distinguishing badge. 

Rock crystal appears to have been much in use among 
the Romans for making solid finger-rings carved out of one 
single piece, the face engraved with some intaglio serving 
for a signet. 

' All those known to me,' remarks the Rev. C. W. King 
in '■ Precious Stones,^ &c., * have the shank moulded into a 
twisted cable ; one example bore for device the Christian 
monogram, which indicates the date of the fashion. It would 
seem that these rings superseded and answered the same 
purpose as the balls of crystal carried at an earlier period by 
ladies in their hands for the sake of the delicious coolness 
during the summer heat' 

Stone rings were in common use, formed chiefly of 
chalcedony. ' It is most probable,' remarks the Rev. C. W. 
King, ' that the first ideas of these stone rings were borrowed 
by the Romans from the Persian conical and hemi- 
spherical seals in the same material. Some of these latter 
have their sides flattened, and ornamented with divers 
patterns, and thus assume the form of a finger-ring, with an 
enormously massy shank and very small opening, sufficient, 
however, to admit the little finger. And this theory of 
their origin is corroborated by the circumstance that all these 
Lower ^Roman examples belong to the times of the Empire, 
none being ever met with of an early date.' 

Silver rings were common : Pliny relates that Arellius 
Fuscus, when expelled from the equestrian order, and thus 
deprived of the right of wearing a gold ring, appeared in 
public with silver rings on his fingers. 

Among the ancient jewels in the Biblioth^que Nationale 


at Paris is a fine Roman ring, of which the bezel, a corneHan 
graved hollow, represents a Janus with four faces. 


Another Roman ring, also of gold, is attributed to the 
epoch of the Emperor Hadrian. The three golden figures 
represented on it are those of Egyptian deities, which have 
suffered under the hands of a Roman jeweller. It is, how- 
ever, possible to distinguish them as one of the most im- 
portant of the Egyptian Pantheon ; 
that is to say, Horus, Isis, and Nephtys. 
Isis-Hathor is shown with cow's ears ; 
she has near her Horus- Harpocrates, 
her son, who is crowned with the 
schent ; the mother and child rise from 
a lotus flower : on the left is Nephtys, 


crowned with a hieroglyphic emblem, 
accidentally incomplete, but the signification of which is 
the name even of this divinity, ' the lady of this house.' 

Montfaucon, in his ' L'Antiquite Expliquee,' describes a 
ring with a gem engraved representing Bellerophon, Pegasus, 
and the Chimsera. The hero, riding on his famous horse, 
in the air, throws a dart at the monster below, whose first 
head is that of a lion, the goat's head appears on her back, 
and her tail terminates in a large head of a serpent. This 
ring was found on the road to Tivoli, among some ashes of 
a dead body. 


Montfaucon gives the contents of a Roman lady's jewel 
box cut upon the pedestal supporting a statue of Isis, and 
amongst other rich articles for female 
decoration are, for her little finger, 
two rings with diamonds ; on the next 
finger a ring with many gems {poly- 
psephus), emeralds, and one pearl. On 
the top joint of the same finger, a 
ring with an emerald. The Roman 

ladies were prodigal in their display Representation of a ring or- 
'^ "^ namented with busts of 

of rings : we read that Faustina spent divinities. From the Musee 

'-' -^ du Louvre. 

40,000/. of our money, and Domitia 

60,000/. for single rings. Greek women wore chiefly ivory 
and amber rings, and these were less costly and numerous 
than those used by men. 

The Rev. C. W. King remarks of Roman rings that if 
of early date, and set with good intagli, they are almost 
invariably hollow and light, and consequently are easily 
crushed. Cicero relates of L. Piso, that ' while praetor in 
Spain he was going through the military exercises, when 
the gold ring which he wore was, by some accident, broken 
and crushed. Wishing to have another ring made for him- 
self, he ordered a goldsmith to be summoned to the forum at 
Cordova, in front of his own judgment-seat, and weighed out 
the gold to him in public. He ordered the man to set down 
his bench in the forum, and make the ring for him in the 
presence of all, to prove that he had not employed the gold 
of the public treasury, but had made use only of his broken 

The signs engraved on rings were very various, including 
portraits of friends and ancestors, and subjects connected 
with mythology and religion. In the reign of Claudius no 



ring was to bear the portrait of the emperor without a special 
licence, but Vespasian, some time after, issued an edict, 
permitting the imperial image to be engraven on rings and 
brooches. Besides the figures of great personages, there were 
also representations of popular events : thus, on Pompey's 
ring, like that of Sylla, were three trophies, emblems of 
his three victories in Europe, Asia, and Africa. After the 
murder of this great general, his seal-ring, as Plutarch tells 
us, was brought to Caesar, who shed tears on receiving it. 
The Roman senate refused to credit 
the news of the death of Pompey, until 
Caesar produced before them his seal- 

On the ring of Julius Caesar was a 
representation of an armed Venus, as 
Head of Reguius, he claimed to be a descendant of the 

between cornucopik g^^^CSS. This device WaS adoptcd by 

his partisans ; on that of Augustus, first a sphinx; afterwards 
the image of Alexander the Great, and at last, his own 
portrait, which succeeding emperors continued to use. 

Among the ancients the figures engraved on rings were 
not hereditary, and each assumed that which pleased him. 
Numa had made a law prohibiting representations of the 

* 'As soon as the despotic power of the Caesars was established,' 
remarks the Rev. C. W. King ('Handbook of Engraved Gems'), 'it 
became a mark of loyalty to adorn either one's house, or one's hand, 
with the visible presence of the sovereign, Capitolinus notices that the 
individual was looked upon as an impious wretch, who, having the 
means, did not set up at home a statue of M. Aurelius ; and, a century 
later, the Senate obliged by an edict every householder to keep a picture 
of the restorer of the Empire, Aurelian. That official swore such por- 
traits in their rings as an indispensable mark of distinction may be 
deduced from the negotiations of Claudius (preserved by Pliny) confining 
the entree at court to such as had received from him a gold ring having 
the imperial bust carved on it.' 


gods, but custom abrogated the ordinance, and the Romans 
had engraved in their rings not only figures of their own 
deities, but those of other countries, especially of the 
Egyptians. The physician Asclepiades had a ring with 
Urania represented upon it. Scipio the African had a 
sphinx ; Cornelius Scipio Africanus, younger son of the 
great Africanus, wore the portrait of his father, but as his con- 
duct was unworthy of the character of his illustrious sire the 
people expressed their disgust by depriving him of the ring. 
Sylla had a Jugurtha ; the Epicureans, a head of Epicurus ; 
Commodus, an Amazon, the portrait of his mistress Martia ; 
Aristomenes, an Agathocles, King of Sicily ; Callicrates, a 
Ulysses ; the Greeks, Helen ; the Trojans, Pergamus ; the 
inhabitants of Heraclia, a Hercules ; the Athenians, Solon ; 
the Lacedaemonians, Lycurgus; the Alexandrians, an Alexan- 
der ; the Seleucians, Seleucus ; Maecenas, a frog ; Pompey, 
a dog on the prow of a ship ; the Kings of Sparta, an eagle 
holding a serpent in its claws ; Darius, the son of Hystaspes, 
a horse ; the infamous Sperus, the rape of Proserpine ; the 
Locrians, Hesperus, or the evening star ; Polycrates, a lyre ; 
Seleucus, an anchor. 

The Rev. C. W. King, in ' Antique Gems,' informs us 
that ' the earliest mention of a ring-stone in relief occurs in 
Seneca, who, in a curious anecdote which he tells ( " De 
Beneficiis," iii. 26) concerning the informer Maro and a cer- 
tain Paulus, speaks of the latter as having had on his finger on 
that occasion a portrait of Tiberius in relief upon a project- 
ing gem, " Tiberii Caesaris imaginem ectypam atque emi- 
nente gemma." This periphrasis would seem to prove that 
such a representation was not very common at the time, or 
else a technical term would have been used to express that 
particular kind of gem-engraving.' 



Among the discoveries made during some excavations at 
Canterbury in 1868 was a Roman ring of exceedingly pure 
gold, the stone being a very fine and highly-polished onyx, 
engraved with a Ganymede. 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute at Norwich 
in 1847 a fi^^ gold Roman ring found at Caistor was ex- 
hibited, set with an intaglio on onyx, the subject being the 
Genius of Victory. The following 
illustrations of engraved Roman 
rings are taken from Montfaucon's 
' L' Antiquity Expliquee ' : — 

Gold ring, with head of 
Trajan, radiated. 

Silver ring, with head of the 
Empress Crispina. 

Head of the Emperor Gordian III. 

Iron ring, with head 
of Socrates, 

Gold ring, with name, 

Iron ring, representing a 
shepherd and goat. 



Jupiter Serapis. 



Pan and Goat. 


Bust, with inscription ' Lucilla Acv. Sta. 
Virgo,' formerly in the collection of 
St. Genevieve ; added to the splendid 
Cabinet of Antiquities at Paris in 1796. 

The following engraving (from Gorlaeus) refers to the 
story of Masinissa and Sophonisba, well known to classical 
readers. She was betrothed at a very early age to the 
Numidian prince, but was afterwards married to Syphax, B.C. 
206. This warrior, in a battle with Masinissa, was con- 
quered, and Sophonisba be'came a prisoner to the Numidian 


prince, who, won by her charms, married her. Scipio, fearing 
her influence, persisted in his immediate surrender of the 
princess, and Masinissa, to spare her the humility of captivity, 
sent her a bowl of poison, which she drank without hesita- 
tion, and thus perished. 

Ring with figures of Masinissa and Sophonisba. 

The portraits of Caligula and Dnisilla, in an iron ring, 
made to turn from one side to the other (Gorlseus) : — 

Caligula and Drusilla. 

A representation of Victory, suspending a shield to a 
palm-tree (Gorlaeus) : — 

Roman ring of 'Victory.' 

With regard to the engraved representations on rings, 



Clemens Alexandrinus gives some advice to the Christians 
of the second century : ' Let the engraving upon the stone 
be either a pigeon, or a fish, or a ship running before the 
wind, or a musical lyre, which was the device used by Poly- 
crates ; or a ship's anchor, which Seleucus had cut upon his 
signet ; and if it represents a man fishing, the wearer will be 
put in mind of the Apostle, and of the little children 
drawn up out of the water. For we must not engrave on 
them images of idols, which we are forbidden even to look 
at ; nor a sword, nor a bow, being the followers of peace, 
nor drinking goblets, being sober men.' (See Chapter IV., 
* Rings in connexion with ecclesiastical usages,' religious 
rifigs.) The Rev. C. W. King remarks that 'the practice of 
engraving licentious subjects on rings was very prevalent in 
Ancient Rome. Ateius Capito, a famous lawyer of the 
Republic, highly censured the practice of wearing figures of 
deities on rings, on account of the profanation to which 
they were exposed.' 

The same distinguished writer mentions an antique gold 


ring now in the Florentine Cabinet, set with a cameo, 
which evidently shows that it belonged to some Roman 
sporting gentleman, who, as the poet says, * held his wife a 


little higher than his horse/ for it is set with a cameo-head 
of a lady, of tolerable work in garnet, and on the shoulders 
of the ring are intaglio busts of his two favourite steeds \ 
also a garnet with their names cut in the gold on each side — 
Amor and Ospis. On the outside of the shank is the legend 
Pomphonica., ' success to thee, Pomphius,' very neatly engraved 
on the gold. 

In the possession of Captain Spratt is a remarkably fine 
specimen of early Greek work, a large ring of thin gold, set 
with an intaglio on very fine red sard, oval, of most unusual 
size, representing a figure of Abundantia beside an altar ; 
the edge of the setting slightly bended ; the stone held in 
its position by thin points of gold. This most important 
gem is in its original gold setting, and was purchased in 
June 1845 at Milo, where it had been found the previous 
year, within a short distance of the theatre, near the posi- 
tion in which the Venus of Milo had been discovered about 
thirty years previously. 

Such was the value attached by the Romans to the 
setting of gems in rings, that Nonius, a senator, is said to 
have been proscribed by Antony, for the sake of a precious 
opal, valued at 20,000/. of our money, which he would not 
relinquish. ' 

The taste for engraved gems, ' grew,' observes the Rev. 
C. W. King, ' into an ungovernable passion, and was 
pushed by its noble votaries to the last degree of extrava- 
gance. Pliny seriously attributes to nothing else the ulti- 
mate downfall of the Republic ; for it was in a quarrel 
about a ring at a certain auction that the feud originated 
between the famous demagogue Drusus, and the chief 
senator Caepio, which led to the breaking out of the Social 
War, and to all its fatal consequences.' ^ 



In the Braybrooke Collection is a gold Roman finger- 
ring, with two hands clasping a torquoise in token of con- 
cord : this device, a favourite one in mediseval times, has 
thus an early origin. In the same collection is a beautiful 
Romano-British gold ring, chased to imitate the scales of 
a serpent, which it resembles in form : the eyelet-holes have 
been set with some coloured gem, or paste, now lost. 

Sometimes the decoration of a ring was not confined 
to a single gem. Valerian speaks of the annulus bigemmis, 
and Gorlaeus gives specimens; one, the larger gem of which 
has cut upon it the figure of Mars, holding a spear and 
helmet, but wearing only the chlamys ; the smaller gem is 
incised with a dove and myrtle-branch. Engraved are two 
examples of the emblematic devices and inscriptions 

Roman ' memorial ' gift-rings. 

adopted for classic rings when used as memorial gifts. The 
first is inscribed, — ' You have a love-pledge,' the second, — 
' Proteros (to) Ugise,' between conjoined hands. 

Anglo- Roman. 

The annexed illustration represents a jewelled ring of 
gold, considered to be of Roman work. It is formed with 


nine little bosses, set with uncut gems, emeralds, garnets, 
and a sapphire : one only, supposed to be a blue spinel, is 
cut in pyramidal fashion. 

A similar ring, of gold, found in Barton, Oxfordshire, 
may, probably, be ascribed to the same period of the Roman 
rule in Britain. Weight 3 dvvts. 1 6 grains. ('Archaeological 
Journal,' vol. vi. p. 290.) 

Anglo-Roman. Roman. 

The Roman ring here given must have been inconve- 
nient to the wearer from its form, but may have been used 
as a signet. Rings were chiefly used by the Romans for 
sealing letters and papers ; also cellars, chests, casks, &c.^ 
They were affixed to certain signs, or symbols, used for 
tokens, like what we call tallies, or tally-sticks, and given in 
contracts instead of a bill, or bond, or for any sign. Rings 
were also given by those who agreed to club for an enter- 
tainment, to the person commissioned to bespeak it, from 
symbola, a reckoning; hence, symbolam dare, to pay his 
reckoning. Rings were also given as votive offerings to the 

In 1 84 1 a curious discovery was made at Lyons of the 

' Xenophon, in his ' Economics,' states that the Greek matrons had 
the power of sealing up, or placing the seal upon the house -goods, and 
at Rome, Cicero's mother was accustomed to enhance to consumers the 
merits of some poor thin wine, vile Sabjnum, by affixing to each am- 
phora her official signet. 

It appears that the women of Greece did not use the ring as fre- 
quently as the men, and that theirs were less costly. 


jewel-case of a Roman lady containing a coTcvplQit frotisseau, 
including rings : one is of gold, the hoop slightly ovular, 
and curving upward to a double leaf, supporting three cup- 
shaped settings, one still retaining its stone, an Arabian 
emerald. Another is also remarkable for its general form, 
and still more so for its inscription, *Veneri et Tvtele 
Votvm,' explained by M. Comarmond as a dedication to 
Venus, and the local goddess Tutela, who was believed to 
be the protector of the navigators of the Rhine ; hence he 
infers these jewels to have belonged to the wife of one of 
those rich traders in the reign of Severus. 

Roman rings, found at Lyons. 

Boeckh's Inscriptions (dating from the Peloponnesian 
War) enumerate in the Treasury of the Parthenon, among 
other sacred jewels, the following rings : an onyx set in a 
gold ring ; ditto in^ silver ring; a jasper set in a gold ring ; 
a jasper seal, enclosed in gold, seemingly a mounted scara- 
baeus ; a signet in a gold ring, dedicated by Dexilla (the two 
last were evidently cut in the gold itself) ; two gem signets 
set in one gold ring ; two signets in silver rings, one plated 
with gold ; seven signets of coloured glass plated with gold 
{i.e. their settings) ; eight silver rings, and one gold piece, 
fine, probably a Daric), a gold ring of \\ drs. offered by 
Axiothea, wife of Socles ; a gold ring with one gold piece, 
fine, tied to it, offered by Phryniscus, the Thessalian ; a 



plain gold ring weighing \ dr. offered by Pletho of ^gina 
(a widow's mite). 

Fabia Fabiana, a Roman lady, offered in honour of her 
granddaughter Avita, amongst other costly gifts, two rings on 
her little finger with diamonds, on the next finger a ring 
with many gems, emeralds and one pearl ; on the top joint 
of the same ring, a ring with an emerald. ' The notice of 
the two diamond-rings and the emerald-ring on the top 
joint of the ring-finger are,' remarks the Rev. C. W. King, 
' very curious. The pious old lady had evidently offered the 
entire set of jewels belonging to her deceased grandchild 
for the repose of her soul.' 

The annexed engraving represents a remarkably fine 
Roman bronze ring of a curious shape. The parts nearest 



the collet are flat and resemble a triangle from which the 
summit has been cut. The peculiarity of the ring is an 
intaglio, here represented, cut out of the material itself, re- 
presenting a youthful head. The two triangular portions 
which start from the table of the ring are filled with orna- 
ments, also engraved hollow. Upon it is the word Vivas, or 
May est thou live; probably a gift of affection, or votive 

In many of the Roman keys that have been discovered 


the ring was actually worn on the finger. The shank disap- 
pears, and the wards are at right angles to the ring, or in 
the direction of the length of the finger. 

Roman ' Key-rings.' 

When a person, at the point of death, delivered his ring 
to anyone, it .was esteemed a mark of particular affection. 
The Romans not only took off the rings from the fingers of 
the dead, but also from such as fell into a very deep sleep or 
letharg)^ Pliny observes : ' Gravatis somno aut morientibus 
religione quadam annuli detrahuntur.' Some have conjec- 
tured that Spartian alludes to this custom where, taking 
notice in the Life of the Emperor Hadrian of the tokens of 
his approaching death, he says : * Signa mortis haec habuit : 
annulus in quo Imago ejus sculpta erat, sponte de digito 
lapsus est.' The ring, with his own image on it, fell of itself 
from his finger. Morestellus thinks they took the rings 
from the fingers for fear the Pollinctores, or they who pre- 
pared the body for the funeral, should take them for them- 
selves, because when the dead body was laid on the pile 
they put the rings on the fingers again, and burnt them with 
the corpse. 

The custom of burning the dead lasted to the time of 
Theodosius the Great, as Gothofredus states. Macrobius, 
who lived under Theodosius the Younger, says the custom 
of burning the dead had quite ceased in his time. 

The Romans commonly wore the rings on the digitus 


annularis, the fourth finger, and upon the left hand, but this 
custom was not always observed. Clemens Alexandrinus 
remarks that men ought to wear the ring at the bottom of 
the little finger, that they might have their hand more at 
liberty. For Pliny's account of this, and other ring customs, 
I refer the reader to the Appendix at the end of this 

The clients of a Roman lawyer (remarks Fosbroke), 
usually presented him, as a birthday present, with a ring, 
which was only used on that occasion. 

Rings were given among the Romans on birthdays — 
generally the most solemn festival among them, when they 
dressed and ornamented themselves, with as much grandeur 
as they could afford, to receive their guests. Persius alludes 
to the natal ring in his first Satire, in which a ring, richly set 
with precious stones, figures as a part of the ceremonial. 

The gladiators often wore heavy rings, a blow from which 
was sometimes fatal. The ring of the first barbarian chief 
who entered and sacked Rome was a curious cornelian 
inscribed ' Alaricus rex Gothorum.' 

In the famous Castellani Collection of Antiques, now in 
the British Museum, are some splendid specimens of 
Roman rings : one with an uncut crystal of diamond, a stone 
of great rarity, and highly prized ; also a minute votive ring 
set with a cameo, which probably adorned the finger of a 
statuette ; a curious double ring for two fingers. The early 
Christian rings are very remarkable ; one has a crossed ' P ' 
in gold, formerly filled with stones or enamel ; another has 
an anchor for device, and one a ship, emblematic of the 

Amongst the Greek rings in this superb collection is the 
most splendid intaglio, 07i gold, ever discovered ; the bust of 



some Berenice or Arsinoe side by side with that of 
Serapis ; the ring itself, plain and very massive, is, as the Rev. 
C. W. King observes, ' a truly royal signet.' 

A ring in the Londesborough Collection bears the 
Labarum, the oldest monogram of Christianity, derived from 
the vision in which Constantine beHeved he saw the sacred 
emblem, and placed it on his standard with the motto, ' In 
hoc signo vinces.' This ring came from the Roman sepul- 
chre of an early Christian. 

An engraving of another ring in the same collection of 
massive silver is inscribed Sabbina, most probably a love- 


The following represents a bronze ' legionary ' ring, of 
oval form, with flattened bezel, supposed to be Early 
Christian; obtained from Rome ('Arch. Journal,' vol. 
xxvi. p. 146) : — 

Roman ' Legionary ' ring. 


Another, of the same description, is more elaborate 


Roman ' Legionary ' ring. 


The collections of our EngHsh antiquaries contain 
numerous specimens of Roman rings. At Uriconium 
several have been found of very varied materials. Rings 
formed of bone, amber, ^ and glass were provided for the 
poorer people, as was the case in ancient Egypt. 

Roman amber and glass rings. 

In the later period of the Roman empire a more osten- 
tatious decoration of rings, derived from Byzantium, be- 
came common. In Montfaucon we find illustrations of this 
change from the classical simplicity of earlier times. 

* Amber rings were worn in our own country to a late date ; thus 
Swift, writing to Pope respecting Curll and the ' Dunciad, ' says : — 
' Sir, you remind me of my Lord Bolingbroke's ring ; you have em- 
balmed a gnat in amber.' 


A specimen of this character is given by Montfaucon : — 


The annexed represents a gold ring, probably of the 
fifth or sixth century, found at Constantinople ( * Arch- 
Journal,' vol. xxvi. p. 146) : — 


In the Museum at Naples are two fine specimens of 
rings discovered at Herculaneum and Pompeii, illustrations 
of which are here given from the work of M. Louis Barre, 
'Herculaneum et Pompeii' (Paris, 1839-40) : — 

Rings from Herculaneum and Pompeii. 

A bronze ring is curious from having similar ornaments 
to those of the horse-furniture discovered some years ago at 
Stanwick, on the estates of the Duke of Northumberland in 
Yorkshire, and which are analogous in the character of their 




design to those found in Roman places of sepulture in 
Rhenish Germany. 


Representation of a * trophy ' ring in the Museurn of the 
Hermitage, St. Petersburg; the figure of a lion on the 
convex ; on the reverse a trophy: — 

Roman ' Trophy ' ring. 

Roman ring (from the Museum 
af Mayence). 

In the Waterton Collection are some valuable and 
curious specimens of Greek and Roman art in ring-manu- 
facture. These are composed of gold, silver, bronze, iron, 
lead, earthenware, amber, vitreous paste, jet, white corne- 
lian, lapis-lazuH, chrysoprase, &c. Amongst these will be 
seen some interesting Roman rings for children ; one en- 
graved with a rude figure of Victory, found at Rietri, in 
1856, diam. y^ in. In the same collection are bronze 
' legionary ' rings — perhaps the number of a ' centuria,' some 
corps employed about Rome, where all the rings of this 
character connected with the collection have been found. 


Among the ' votive ' rings in this collection, is one in the 
form of a shoe, inscribed Felix, of bronze. 

There are also specimens of rings with the key on the 
hoop, to which I have alluded in the chapter on ' Betrothal 
and Wedding Rings.' One has a fluted pipe; another has 
a key with two wards ; in another the key is riveted on the 

Roman Key-rings. 

The earthenware rings are of brown or red. The 
amber rings are of mottled deep red, set with green paste. 
Those in vitreous paste are of pale blue, transparent 
yellowish and transparent brown. A 'jet' ring belongs to 
the late Roman period. A white cornelian ring has a 
smaller part of the hoop cut down, so as to form an oval 
bezel, on which is engraved a standing figure of ^sculapius. 
A gold ring, Roman, set with oval intaglio, on cornelian, of 
a trophy consisting of a horse's head bridled, and two 
Gallic shields crossed, with the name of Q. Cornel Lupi, 
is the seal of Quintus Cornelius Lupus, commemorating a 
victory over the Gauls : the setting is modem. Another 
gold ring, with oval bezel, set with an intaglio on yellow 
sard, has a youthful bust, full-faced ; on one side a spear, 

£ 2 


on the other side, in Greek letters, ' Hermai.' A gold ring 
with nicoli onyx is inscribed ' Vibas Luxuri Homo Bone.' 

Some of the ' Early Christian ' rings in the same collec- 
tion are very interesting. These are of silver, bronze, and 
lead. One of silver has an octagonal bezel engraved with 
the Agnus Dei ; another, of bronze, has a square bezel in- 
scribed ' Vivas in Deo ' ; a bronze ring with oval bezel is 
chased with a lamb, the shoulders and hoop chased so as to 
represent a wreath of palms ; another, of bronze, has a pro- 
jecting octagonal bezel, engraved with a dove and a star, 
the hoop formed so as to resemble a wreath. A massive 
bronze ring has the bezel engraved with the figure of an 
orante ; on the hoop is also a sigillum engraved with a cross. 
One ring, of lead, has a flattened bezel rudely incised with a 

The following engraving represents the fore-finger, from 
a bronze statue, of late Roman workmanship, on which a 
large ring is seen on the second joint. A similar custom 
prevails in Germany. 

Late Roman (from the Waterton Collection). 

The latest ' surprise ' in regard to rings is that in con- 
nection with Dr. Schliemann's discovery of antiquities upon 
the presumed site of Troy. The Doctor, in June 1873, ^^er 
indefatigable exertions in excavating, came upon a trouvaille 
consisting of ancient relics of great rarity, value, and im- 
portance, including finger-rings, of which, as I have men- 



tioned, the Homeric writings make no mention. These 
were found among a marvellous assemblage of bronze, silver, 
and gold objects, which lay together in a heap within a 
small space. This seemed to indicate that they had ori- 
ginally been packed in a chest which had perished in a con- 
flagration (most of the articles having been exposed to the 
action of fire), a bronze key being found near them. The 
period to which these objects belong is the subject of much 
controversy, but their origin must date from a very remote 

Among our British, Saxon, and Mediaeval ancestors, 
rings were in common use. Pliny (' Hist. Nat.' lib. xxxiii. 
c. 6) mentions, that the Britons wore the ring on the middle 
finger. In the account of the gold, silver, and jewellery 
belonging to Edward the First is mentioned ' a gold ring 
with a sapphire, the workmanship of St. Dunstan ' Aid- 
helm, ' DeLaud. Virg.\ describes a lady with bracelets, neck- 
laces, and rings set with gems on her fingers. Rings are 
frequently mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon annals. They 
appear to have been worn then on the finger next to the 
little finger, and on the right hand — for a Saxon bard calls 


that the golden finger — and we find recorded that a right 
hand was once cut off on account of this ornament. 



It was not uncommon for Saxon gold rings to have the 
name of the owner for a legend. Some of the rings of the 

Early British (?) ring, found at Malton. 

Anglo-Saxon period which have been discovered would not 
discredit the workmanship of a modern artificer. One of 
the most interesting relics of enamelled art which is ex- 
hibited in the medal room of the British Museum is the 
gold ring of Ethelwulf, King of 
Wessex (a.d. 837-857), the father 
of Alfred the Great. It was found 
in the parish of Laverstock, Hamp- 
shire, in a cart-rut, where it had be- 
come much crushed and defaced. 
Its weight is II dwts. 14 grains. 
This ring was presented to the 
British Museum by Lord Radnor, 
in 1829. Ethelwulf became later 
in life a monk at Winchester, 
where he had been educated, and he died there. No 

Ring of Ethelwulf 


reasonable ground can be alleged for doubting the authen- 
ticity of this ring.^ 

M. deLaborde, in his * Notice desEmaux, &c., du Louvre,' 
considers the character of the design and ornament to be 
Saxon ; and there is every reason to suppose it was the work 
of a Saxon artist 

In connexion with this valuable relic is the gold ring of 
^thelswith, Queen of Mercia, the property of the Rev. W. 
Green well, F.S.A.,by whom it was exhibited at a meeting of the 
Society of Antiquaries in January 1875. On this occasion, 
A. W. Franks, Esq., Director of the Society, made the fol- 
lowing observations : — ' This ring is one of the most re- 
markable relics of antiquity that has appeared in our rooms 
for many years past. 

*■ It was ploughed up in Yorkshire, between Aberford and 
Sherburn in the West Riding, and it is said that the fortu- 
nate finder attached it to the collar of his dog as an orna- 
ment. It is of gold, weighing 312 grains ; the outer surface 
is engraved, and partly filled up with niello. In the centre 
of the bezel is the Agnus Dei, accompanied by the letters 
A.D. The second letter has a stroke passing through it, so 
as to resemble the Saxon th. If this stroke is not to be 
considered a simple contraction, it may be intended for npvoQ 
or apvloy Qeov. In the half circle on each side are conven- 
tional animals or monsters ; the whole is surrounded by a 
border of dots, much worn in places. The most remark- 
able part of the ring, however, is the inscription within, 
which is in letters large in proportion to the surface they 
occupy, and which read Eathelsvith Regna. These 

' At the exhibition of antiquities and works of art at the Archaeo- 
logical meeting of January 5, 1849, Major Ker Macdonald produced a 
ring supposed to be a recent imitation of the ring of Ethelwulf. 


letters, excepting the two last, are in double outline. The 
engraver seems to have miscalculated the space necessary, 
and has left out one letter towards the end and given the 
NA in single lines ; or, perhaps, the i and the n are com- 
bined in a monogram. 

' The inscription is perfectly genuine, and we have, there- 
fore, before us the ring of Queen .^lEthelswith. The only 
person to whom, with any probability, this inscription can be 
applied is ^Ethelswith, daughter of Ethelwulf, and wife of 
Burgred or Burhred, King of Mercia. She was thus sister to 
Alfred the Great. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 
under the year 853 (854), Burhred, King of the Mercians, 
prayed in that year King Ethelwulf to aid him in reducing 
the North Welsh to obedience, which he did ; the Easter 
after which King Ethelwulf gave his daughter in marriage to 
Burhred. She appears as witness to the charter of Burhred 
in 855 and 857, and866and869(Kemble's Codex, cclxxvii., 
cclxxviii., cclxxx., ccxci., ccxii., ccxcix.). In 868 we have a 
charter giving to her faithful servant Cuthwulf land in 
Lacinge. About 872-4 she is witness to a charter of 
^thelred, Duke of Mercia. In 888 (889) we learn from the 
" Anglo-Saxon Chronicle " that she died : — " And Queen 
^thelswith, who was King Alfred's sister, died on the way to 
Rome, and her body lies at Pavia." 

' She was daughter of Ethelwulf by Osburh, daughter of 
Oslac, the King's cup-bearer, and must have been many 
years older than her brother Alfred, as he was only five 
years old at the time of her marriage. 

' With regard to the inscription within the ring, it may be 
noticed that it exhibits scarcely any traces of wear, while the 
edges of the ring show marks of having been long worn. 
The engraving (which illustrates this explanation in the 


" Proceedings of the Society ") moreover, scarcely looks like 
the work of a goldsmith. I would, therefore, suggest that 
the Queen had probably offered this ring at some shrine, 
and the priests connected with the shrine had engraved her 
name within the ring, to record the royal giver. It could 
scarcely have been deposited in her tomb, as she is recorded 
to have been buried at Pavia.' 

In the rings of King Ethelwulf and his daughter, certain 
symmetrically-placed portions of the design are not filled 
with niello. These may (observes Mr. Franks) have been 
enriched with some coloured mastic now perished. It has 
been habitual to describe the inlaying of Ethelwulf s ring as 
blue enamel, which is certainly an error. Enamel was very 
seldom employed by the Anglo-Saxon jeweller, and enamel 
and niello could with difficulty be apphed to the same ob- 
ject, on account of the different heat at which these two 
substances melt. 

An illustration of the remarkable ring of the Queen of 
Mercia is displayed on the cover of this work. 

Rings were given in Anglo-Saxon times to propitiate 
royal favours. Thus, towards the end of the tenth century, 
Beorhtric, a wealthy noble in Kent, left in his will a ring 
worth thirty mancuses of gold that the queen might be his 
advocate that the will should stand. In the Braybrooke 
Collection is a plain silver ring, inscribed on the top of the 
exterior of the hoop, with the Anglo-Saxon word ' Doljbot,' 
the meaning of which is, compensation made for giving a 
man a wound, either by a stab or blow. This ring is orna- 
mented by a simple wavy line, and dots, as if to represent 
a branch, and was found in Essex. From its size, probably 
a woman's ring — perhaps for injury, or the death of her hus- 



There are various nielloed rings of the Saxon period ; 
notably a gold ring with an inscription, and partly in runes, 
meaning ' Alhreds owns me, Eanred engraved (or wrought) 
me,' now in the British Museum, which also has a gold ring 
with two facets, found in the river Nene, near Peterborough, 
engraved in the Archasological Institute Proceedings for 1856. 


Plain wire rings were used by the South Saxons ; speci- 
mens have been obtained in Anglo-Saxon grave-mounds in 
England, and others, identical in form, in the old Saxon 


cemeteries in Germany. Mr. Fairholt says : ' In the 
museum at Augsburg are several, which were found in 
cutting for the railway near that city. One of the plain 
wire rings ' (the first of our illustrations) ' was exhumed from 
a tumulus on Chartham Downs, a few miles from Canterbury, 
in 1773, by the Rev. Bryan Faussett, who says : " The bones 
were those of a very young person. Upon the neck was a 
cross of silver, a few coloured earthen beads, and two 
silver rings with sliding knots." The second illustration — a 
wire ring, twisted so as to resemble a seal ring — was disco- 
vered in a Saxon cemetery on Kingston Downs, Canter- 

The simplest form of finger-ring worn by our ancestors, 
consisted of a band of metal, merely twisted round to 

Early Saxon rings, found near Salisbury. 

embrace the finger, and open at either end. One of these 
rings found upon the finger-bone of an early Saxon, in exca- 
vating at Harnham Hill, near Salisbury, was found on the 
middle finger of the right hand of a person of advanced age. 
Sometimes several rings were found on one hand. Among 
the bones of the fingers of the left hand of an adult skeleton 
was found a silver ring of solid form, another of spiral form, 
and a plain gold ring. Mr. Akerman, who superintended 
these researches, says : ' Similar rings have been found at 
Little Wilbraham, at Linton Heath, at Fairford, and other 


localities. They are, for the most part, of a uniform con- 
struction, being so contrived that they could be expanded 
or contracted, and adapted to the size of the finger of the 

In the Waterton Collection is a very curious South Saxon 
ring, described as ' an elongated oval 
with a circular centre ; within the circle 
is the conventional figure of a dragon, 
surrounded by four convoluted orna- 
ments, reminding one of the prevail- 
ing enrichments so lavishly bestowed 
on old Runic ornaments, at home and 
abroad. Four quaintly-formed heads 
South Saxon ring, found of dragous occupy the triangular spaces 

in the Thames. ^^^^^ ^^^ ^^j^^ ^j^.^ ^^^^^^ ^j^^ 

ground between the ornaments has been cut down, probably 
for the insertion of niello or enamel colour.' It was found 
in the Thames at Chelsea in 1856. 

At a meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute in 
June 1873 Mr. J. J. Rogers exhibited some Anglo-Saxon 
bronze rings which were found in a cave, in the parish of 
St. Keverne, Cornwall. 

The Duke of Northumberland possesses a beautiful ring 
of pale-coloured gold (weight 157 grains), set with a ruby- 
coloured gem, surrounded with filagree work, the hoop 
beaded with small circles, punched, as on work of the 
Saxon age. It was discovered, about 1812, by a boy who 
was ploughing, near Watershaugh, Northumberland, and 
found the ring fixed on the point of his ploughshare. 

In the collection of R. H. Soden Smith, Esq., F.S.A., 
is a curious Anglo-Saxon ring, found about ten feet below 
the surface of the ground, in making Garrick Street, Covent 


Garden. It is of gold, the hoop nearly half an inch wide, 
with a broad oval bezel, expanding to i flinches ; the gold 
pale, alloyed with silver. The whole is overlaid with funiform 
wire ornaments and granulated work ; on the bezel are four 
curves of beaded filagree radiating from the centre orna- 
ment, and having smaller bosses of similar work between. ^ 

Spiral elastic band rings of Anglo-Saxon work have been 
found in considerable numbers in excavations. Douglas, in 
his ' Nenia Britannica,' describes many specimens under this 
term, found by him in the graves of Anglo-Saxon tribes. 

In the earlier history of Ireland we find instances of a 
wonderful development of artistic skill in goldsmith work. 
The Royal Irish Academy possesses some beautiful specimens 
of rings. The Londesborough Collection includes two 
remarkable rings which were found with other gold orna- 
ments near the remarkable tumulus, known as 'New 
Grange,' a few miles from Drogheda. They were accidentally 

Ancient Irish rings, found near Drogheda. 

discovered in 1842 by a labouring man, within a few yards 
to the entrance of the tumulus, at the depth of two feet from 
the surface of the ground, and without any covering or pro- 
tection from the earth about them. Another labouring 

' I am much indebted to Mr. R. H. Sod en Smith, F.S.A. — a gen- 
tleman so distinguished in art circles, and the possessor of a remark- 
ably fine and rare collection of rings— for information on some points 
connected with this work. 



man, hearing of this discovery, carefully searched the 
spot whence they were taken, and found a denarius of 
Geta. The stone set in both rings is a cut agate. 

Aildergoidhe, son of Muinheamhoin, monarch of Ireland, 
who reigned 3070 a.m., is traditionally said to have been the 
first prince who introduced the wearing of gold rings into 
Ireland, which he bestowed on persons 
of merit who excelled in knowledge of 
the arts and sciences. 

The engraving (from the ' Archaeo- 
logical Journal,' June 1848), represents 
a gold ring twisted, or plaited, of early 
Irish work, in the fine collection of 
antiquities of Edwin Hoare, Esq., of Cork. 

The Alhstan ring, engraved and described in the 
' Archseologia ' (vol. iv. p. 47), is in the Waterton Collection. 
Some observations on this very remarkable ring are given 

Early Irish 


The 'Alhstan ' ring. 

by that learned antiquary, the Rev. Mr. Pegge. It was 
found by a labourer on the surface of the ground at Llysfaen 
in Caernarvonshire. It is of good workmanship, and weighs 
about an ounce. It bears the inscription of Alhstan, which 
was a common Saxon name. Mr. Pegge appropriates the 


ring to the Bishop of Sherborne of that name, because the 
dragon of Wessex, apparent in the first lozenge, was not 
only the device on the royal standard of Wessex, but 
the Bishop of Sherborne had often conducted armies 
under it, having been much engaged in affairs of war. 
The prelate died in 867, in the beginning of the reign of 
Ethelred I. 

In the Journal of the British Archaeological Association 
(vol. i.) is a cut of an Anglo-Saxon gold-ring, discovered 
at Bosington, near Stockbridge ; it is of considerable thick- 
ness, ornamented with rich chain-work, and has in its centre 

Anglo-Saxon ring, found near Bosington. 

a male head, round which is inscribed ' Nomen Ehlla Fid 
IN xpo,' — my name is Ella; my faith is in Christ. It is now 
in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. 

In 1840 at Cuerdale, near Preston, some curious disco- 
veries of coins and treasure were made, considered to have 
been deposited about the year 910, and the ornaments such 
as were worn about the time of Alfred, or somewhat earlier. 
These included several rings, representations of which are 
given in the 'Archaeological Journal' (vol. iv. p. 127). One 
is merely a piece of metal hammered flat, thinner and 
narrower at the ends, and formed into a circle ; the ends 



lapping over, but without any fastening. It is entirely 
without ornament. In some specimens the metal is ham- 
mered and bent into the form of a 
ring, in the same manner as the flat 
one. Two rings are formed exactly 
like some armlets, found at the same 
time ; the punch has had a triangular 
point, and triangles conjoined at their 
bases having been struck side by side, 
parallel rows of sunk lozenges have 
been produced. Another ring has been hammered into a 
small four-sided bar, then twisted, and ultimately formed 

into a ring, the ends of which meet, but have not been 
united. In another ring two wires have been hammered 
into a roundish form, tapering towards the ends, which have 

been tied together. Each wire has been ornamented by 
transverse blows of a blunt chisel, and has the appearance 


of being also twisted ; these two have been twined together 
to form one ring. 

In a communication from Mr. Worsaae, of Copenhagen, 
to the 'Archaeological Journal/ he observes that the tri- 
angular pattern with three or four points on the Cuerdale 
rings differs totally from the designs on Celtic, Roman, or 
Saxon remains, and which never seems to occur on any 
objects found in the interior or southern parts of Europe. 
*To the instances which Mr. Hawkins has already cited 
of similar patterns on silver objects found in Denmark and 
in Finland, I can only add that I have seen precisely 
similar objects with the same pattern in Ireland, Prussia, 
and Sweden, and that in the interior of Russia, in tumult 
in the neighbourhood of Moscow, the same patterns have 
been found on rings. In nearly every instance these orna- 
ments have been found along with oriental or Cufic coins, 
as in the case at Cuerdale.' Mr. Worsaae is of opinion that 
they are of eastern origin, and were brought to the north in 
the same way as the oriental coins. 

In the collection of antiquities of the Royal Irish 
Academy there are two curious specimens of rings; one, like 
a ferule, fluted both externally and internally, so as to re- 

Rings in the Royal Irish Academy. 

semble seven plain rings, attached to one another; and their 
weight is 9 dwts. 



The other is a five- sided bar of gold, flat on the inside 
near the finger, and angular externally ; weight i oz. 12 
dwts. 6 grs. This might be denominated a torque ring. 
The following illustration represents a spiral silver ring, 
found at Largo, weighing 120 grs. It 
is shaped, apparently, by the hammer. 
The edges are serrated. A spiral ring 
found with Saxon remains in Kent, 
engraved by Douglas in his ' Nenia,' 
and another found in the Isle of 
Spiral silver ring. Wight, represented in the ' Win- 
chester ' volume of the Archaeological Association, may be 
compared with the present example. 

Dr. Mantell has a massive gold ring, supposed to have 
been worn on the finger, formed of two square bars rudely 
twisted together, and gradually diminishing in size towards 
the extremities, where they are united together. It was 
ploughed up at Bormer, in Sussex, and was presented to Dr. 
Mantell by the Earl of Chichester. It is represented in 
Horsfield's ' History of Lewes,' plate iv. Similar rings of 
this description, but differing in the fashion of the twist, 
have been noticed as found in Britain. The resemblance 
between these ornaments and the gold ' ring-money ' of the 
interior of Africa is exceedingly 

The annexed engraving (from 
the 'Archaeological Journal,' vol. 
iii. p. 269) represents a gold ring, 
belonging to Sir Noel Paton, 
Ring: Fiodden Field. ^ g ^^^ Scotknd, reported to 

have been found on the field of Fiodden : weight 8 dwts. 
17 grs. Other rings of a similar form have been dis- 


covered, and ' they appear to offer some analogy with the 
tore of the Celtic age.' 

The annexed illustration represents a remarkably fine 
ring engraved in Chifflet's ' x\nastasis Childerici ' (1655), on 
the same page as that of the Childeric ring (described in 
the chapter on 'Memorial and Mortuary Rings '), for purposes 
of comparison, in carrying out his original theory, that the 
supposed bees of Childeric were, by gradual transition, con- 
verted into the figure known as the feur de lys of a later 
monarchy, as he endeavours to illustrate by numerous dia- 
grams, but he omits to say where this ring marked ' sapphirus' 

was originally found. It is a mere supposition that the 
figure represents St. Louis, but in Montfaucon's ' Monu- 
ments de la Monarchie Fran9aise ' (Paris, 1729), in a long 
disquisition on the origin, &c., of i\iQfleur de lys, on referring 
to plate xxiii. tom. ii. p. 158, where St. Louis 'instruit ses 
enfans,' his shield is noticed as bearing for the first thne 
three fleurs de lys. 

Sandford, in his ' Genealogical History' (pp. 270, 289), 
says that Henry the Fifth, being Prince of Wales, ' did bear 
azure, -^flowers de lys or, for the Kingdom of France, reducing 
them from semee to the number 3, as did Charles VL, the 
present King.' 

Among the old Northmen rings were generally worn by 
F 2 



rich people and persons of rank. Such rings are frequently 
found in barrows of pagan date, and from their nature and 
quality it is easy to determine that they were generally of 
very simple workmanship; the reason of which, undoubtedly, 
was that they were used instead of money in commercial 
transactions, and had, therefore, not unfrequently to be cut 
asunder. Still, rings of more artistic workmanship are 
sometimes found in pagan graves. 



Gold, enamelled and inlaid. 





The preceding cuts are taken from examples in the Royal 
Museum, Copenhagen, of the curious twisted spiral rings 
alluded to, found in the graves of the old Northmen. 

Charlemagne sealed all his acts with his ring. That of 
his son Louis le Debonnaire had for inscription xpe. pro- 

From the reign of Hugh Capet each King had his parti- 
cular seal-ring. St. Louis had for device a ring interlaced 
with a garland of lilies and daisies, in allusion to his name 
and that of his queen. 

Two curious rings of early date are here represented : 
one a seal-ring of the Frankish period, found near Allonnes 
.(Sarthe) bearing the monogram Lanoberga ; the other, of 
gold, Merovingian, found in Vitry-le-Fran^ais, supposed 
to be a conjugal ring, with inscription. 

Frankish period. Merovingian. 

The annexed illustration represents a gold ring, in the 
Biblioth^que Nationale at Paris, with the initials s. R., and 


supposed by the Abbe' Cochet ('La Normandie Souter- 


raine ') to mean ' Sigebertus Rex,' but which of the three 
Sigebert?, Kings of Austrasia (the name given, under the 
Merovingians, to the eastern possessions of the Franks), 
cannot be conjectured. 

To a similar period may, perhaps, be ascribed the ring 
found near Blois, represented in the following engraving : — 

Merovingian. ' 

The annexed cuts represent a gold signet-ring, inscribed 
' Heva,' and a seal-ring, both of the Merovingian period. 


A remarkable ring of the Merovingian period, now in 
the collection of R. H. Soden Smith, Esq., F.S.A., was exhi- 
bited at the Archaeological Institute in 1874. It is a massive 
gold ring, with oval bezel \\ inches long, by i inch in width, 
set with an antique polished chalcedony of two layers, the 
edges bevelled. The setting is rather more than a quarter 
of an inch deep, and is formed of a band of gold, supported 
by perpendicular ridges, made by folding another thick band, 
or ribbon, of gold ; a double row of pellets of gold, and 
others on the shoulder of the hoop, add to the rich effect 
of the whole. The hoop is a somewhat rude angular band, 


with a zigzag punched ornament round it. This ring was 
found in the neighbourhood of Bristol. 

It was in the Middle Ages, however, after a period of 
comparative mediocrity, that the greatest degree of perfec- 
tion in goldsmiths' work, and especially in rings, began to 
display itself. In the reign of Edward III. (1363), so great 
was the extravagance in dress and decoration that an Act 
was passed to repress the evil. All persons under the rank 
of Knighthood, or of less property than two hundred pounds 
in land and tenements, were forbidden to wear rings, and 
other articles of jewellery. 

Gold ' Middle Age ' ring, from the Louvre. 

In the 'Vision of Pierce Ploughman,' written, it is sup- 
posed, about this date, the poet speaks of a richly-adorned 
lady, whose fingers were all embellished with rings of gold, 
set with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. 

In a parchment roll of Prayers to the Virgin in the 
Library of Jesus College, Oxford, which formerly belonged 
to Margaret of Anjou, there is a portrait of that queen who 
is represented wearing two rings on each finger except the 
least, placed on the middle as well as the third joint of the 
fingers— a fashion probably introduced by her, and shown 



in the curious portrait of this queen on the tapestry at 

In later ages we find the same practice of ornamenting 
the fingers with several rings. In the description of a 
Scottish woman of the middle of the sixteenth century, 
attributed to Dunbar, we find : — 

On ilkune fyngar scho weirit ringis tuo 
Scho was als proud an ony papingo. 

Queen Elizabeth had an immoderate love for jewellery ; 
and the description given of her dresses covered with gems 
of the greatest rarity and beauty reads like a romance. For 
finger- rings she had a remarkable fondness. Paul Hentzner, 
in his 'Journey into England,' 1598, relates that a Bohemian 
baron having letters to present to her at the palace of Green- 
wich, the queen, after pulling off her glove, ' gave him her 
jight hand to kiss, sparkling with rings and jewels — a mark 
of particular favour.' 

In Bromsgrove Church, Staffordshire, are the fine monu- 


Rings on the effigy of Lady Stafford. 

mental effigies of Sir Humphrey Stafford and his lady 
(1450) — remarkable alike for the rich armour of the knight 


and the courtly costume of the lady. She wears a profu- 
sion of rings ; every finger, except the little finger of the 
right hand, being furnished with one. They exhibit great 
variety of design. The two hands are lifted in prayer. 

' In the Duke of Newcastle's comedy,' observes Mr. 
Fairholt, 'the "Country Captain" (1649), a lady of title is 
told that when she resides in the country a great show of 
finger rings will not be necessary : " Show your white hand, 
with but one diamond, when you carve, and be not ashamed 
to wear your own ringe with the old posie." That many 
rings were worn by persons of both sexes is clear from 
another passage in the same play, where a fop is described, 
'who makes his fingers like jewellers' cards to set rings 

The same custom prevailed in France. Mercier, in his 
'Tableau de France,' mentions that at the close of the 
eighteenth century enormous rings were worn. The hand 
of a woman presented a collection of rings, 'et si ces 
bagues etaient des antiques, elles offriraient un echantillon 
d'un cabinet des pierres gravees.' He adds that ' the nuptial 
ring is now unnoticed on the fingers of women ; wide and 
profane rings altogether conceal this warrant of their faith.' 

So important a business was the making of rings that 
it was separated from the ordinary work of the goldsmith, 
and became a distinct trade. 

In the sixteenth century, among the various articles 
carried by the pedlar rings were reckoned. In Heywood's 
' Four PP (A Newe and a very mery Enterlude of a Palmer, 
a Pardoner, a Potycary, and a Pedler),' the Potycary ad- 
dresses the Pedler : — 

What the devyll hast thou there at thy backe ? — 


to which he replies : — 

What dost thou not knowe that every pedler 
In all kinde of trifles must be a medler ? 
Gloves, pinnes, combes, glasses unspotty'd, 
Pomanders, hookes, and lases knottyed ; 
Broches, rynges, and all maner of bedes. 

The instances in which brooches and rings are mentioned 
together are numerous. In Scott's edition of Sir Tristrem 
(pages 23, 28) we find : — 

Who gaf broche and beighe (ring) ? 
Who but Douk Morgan ? 

A loud thai sett that sleigh 
With all his winning yare 
With broche and riche beighe. 

In the Chester Mystery Plays the shepherds do not 
know what to present to the Babe of Bethlehem, and Secun- 
dus Pastor says : — 

Goe we nere anon, with such as we have broughte, 
Ringe, broche, ner precious stoune, 
Let us see yf we have oughte to proffer. 

And the ' first boye ' adds : — 

Nowe Lorde for to geve thee have I no thinge, 
Neither goulde, silver, broche, ner ringe. 

In the old ballad of Redisdale and Wise William the 
lady is enticed with rich presents : — 

Come down, come down, my lady fair, 

A sight of you i'U see, 
And bonny jewels, broaches, rings, 

I will give unto thee. 

to which she replies : — 

If you have bonny broaches, rings, 
Oh, mine are bonny tee, 


Go from my yettes, now, Reedisdale, 
For me ye shall not see. 

Of the later period of ring decoration there are some 
splendid specimens in various collections. Mr. Fairholt, in 
his ' Facts about Finger-rings/ has given illustrations and 
descriptions of two rings of this character in the Londes- 
borough Collection. One is decorated with floral orna- 
ment, engraved and filled with green and red enamel 
colours. The effect on the gold is extremely pleasing, 
having a certain quaint sumptuousness peculiarly its own. 
The other specimen, a signet-ring, bears a 'merchants' 
mark ' (see notice of ' Merchants' marks ' at the end of this 
chapter) upon its face. 

Enamelled floral ring. ' Merchant's ' ring. 

In the same collection is a ring, doubtless a gage d' amour, 
the hoop of which is richly decorated with quaint floriated 
ornaments, cut upon its surface, and filled in with the black 
composition termed niello, once extensively used by gold- 
smiths in enriching their works. This beautiful ring is 
inscribed within the hoop, * Hlott Cor ^Ifsor/ — ' my heart's 

There are two very beautiful examples of sixteenth 
century rings, one in the Londesborough Collection, which 
has a ruby in a very tall setting, enriched by enamel. The 
sides of the hoop are highly decorated with flowers and scroll 
ornament, also richly enamelled. The other ring is in the 
Waterton Collection, gold, enamelled, set with a large tur- 



quoise in the centre, and surrounded by six raised garnets. 
This ring is said to have subsequently belonged to Frederick 
the Great, King of Prussia, whose cipher is upon it. 

Ring : Sixteenth Century. 

Ring of Frederick the Great. 

Rings of Italian workmanship of a late period are re- 
markably beautiful. Venice particularly excelled in this 
art. In the Londesborough Collection is a fine specimen. 


Italian diamond ring. 

The four claws of the other ring in open-work, support the 
setting of a sharply-pointed pyramidal diamond, such as 
was then coveted for writing on glass. The shank bears a 
fanciful resemblance to a serpent swallowing a bird, of 
which only the claws connecting the face remain on view. 

'It was,' remarks Mr. Fairholt, 'with a similar ring 
Raleigh wrote the words on a window-pane : " Fain would I 
rise, but that I fear to fall," to which Queen Elizabeth 


added : " If thy heart fail thee, do not rise at all " — an implied 
encouragement which led him on to fortune.' ^ 

The annexed engraving represents a 
gold symbolical ring of the sixteenth 
century, enamelled, of various colours. 

Two rings are described by Mr. Fair- 
holt of a peculiar construction. One, of 
Venice work, is set with three stones in 
raised bezels ; to their bases are affixed, Italian. 

by a swivel, gold pendant ornaments, each set with a garnet. 
As the hand moves, these pendants fall about the finger, 
the stones glittering in the movement. This fashion was 
evidently borrowed from the East, where people delight in 
pendant ornaments, and even affix them to articles of utility. 

The other ring, of silver, is of East Indian workmanship, 

• There is the well-known anecdote of Francis the First, who, in 
order to let the Duchess d'Estampes know that he was jealous, MTote 
with a diamond these lines on a pane of glass, 'which,' says Le Vieil, 
in his * Peinture sur Verre,' * may be still seen in the Chateau Cham- 
bord ' : — 

Souvent femme varie, 
Mai habil qui s'y fie. 

A similar story is recorded of Henry the Fourth of France and the 
Duke of Montpensier. The latter had written with his diamond ring 
on a pane of glass the following, in allusion to his love for the aunt of 
the King : — 

Nul bonheur me contente, 

Absent de ma Divinite. 

Henry, in the same manner, wrote under it : — 

N'appellez pas ainsi ma tante, 
Elle aime trop I'Humanite, 

It was on the pane of a window in Hampton Court Palace that, 
during one of the festivals given there by Henry the Eighth, the ill-fated 
Earl of Surrey wrote with his diamond ring the name of fair Geraldine, 
and in quaint verse commemorated her beauty. 



discovered in the ruins of one of the most ancient temples : 
to its centre are affixed bunches of pear-shaped, hollow 
drops of silver, which jingle with a soft, low note as the 
hand moves. ^ 


East Indian. 

The Indians prefer rings with large floriated faces spread- 
ing over three fingers like a shield. When made for the 
wealthy, in massive gold, the flower leaves are of cut jewels, 
but the humbler classes are content with them in cast silver. 
Representations are here given of these rings. 


In Southern Europe, where jewellery is deemed almost 
an essential of life and the poorest will wear it in pro- 
fusion, though only made of copper, the rings are curious 

' Calmet, in his * Dictionary, ' states that the Arabian princesses 
wore golden rings on their fingers, to which little bells were suspended, 
as well as in the flowing tresses of their hair, that their superior rank 
might be known, and that they might receive in passing the homage 
due to them. 



and elaborate. A Spanish ring, of the early part of the last 
Century, has a heart, winged and crowned, in its centre : 
the heart is transfixed by an arrow, but surrounded by 
flowers. It may possibly be a religious emblem. Another 


Spanish ring, of more modern manufacture, has a very light 
and elegant design. The flowers are formed of rubies and 
diamonds, and the effect is extremely pleasing. Such work 
may have originated the ' giardinetti ' rings, specimens of 

* GiardinettI ' rings. 

which are seen in the South Kensington Museum. Two 
are there described as English work of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries. They 
appear to have been used as 
' guards,' or ' keepers,' to the 
wedding-ring, and are of pleas- 
ing floriated design, and of very 
delicate execution. 

Annexed are representations 
of some remarkably fine rings 
(French) dating from the close 
of the fourteenth century or the coinmencement of the 




A handsome ring, of silver gilt, representing St. George 
and the Dragon, belongs to the end of the fifteenth century. 
There is a border of roses and fleurs-de-lys around the 



The following examples of French art of the sixteenth 
century are in the Museum of the Louvre: — 



The annexed illustration represents an escutcheon ring 
(from Viollet le Due) of the Middle Ages, and is thus 
described by M. Chabouillet in his * Catalogue General' 
The Cabinet of Medals at Paris possesses a ring dating from 
the commencement of the fifteenth century, if one may 
judge from the form of the letters, and that of the helmet 
engraved on the seal. The ring is of massive gold ; the 
arms, engraved hollow on the seal, represent a shield, 
charged with a dragon, carrying (perhaps) some prey in his 
jaws. On the two sides of the intagHo are two names — 

'Escutcheon' ring. French, 

Marin, Pixian. On the sides of the ring are two inscrip- 
tions in relief, one only of which is legible, and this is taken 
from St. Luke — ' Jesus autem transiens per medium illorum 

The accompanying are from Chabouillet's *Orfevrerie 
de la Renaissance,' in the Fould Collection (dispersed by 
auction in i860). 



These engravings are from Labarte's ' Orfevrerie du XV. 
et XVI. Slides' :— 

French French. 

The following represent rings in the Musde Sauvageot, 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; one is elabo- 
rately wrought of chiselled iron, of French manufacture — 
date, 1 6th century. 


The annexed are two fine specimens of comparatively 
modem date ; one ending in volutes near the bezel, the 
other enamelled white, red, green, and blue — a turquoise, 
with diamonds and rubies in settings. 




Mr. Fairholt mentions two characteristic specimens of 
modern French ring-work; one a signet ring, the face 
engraved with a coat of arms. At the sides two Cupidons 
repose amidst scroll-work partaking of the taste of the 
Renaissance. The same peculiarity influences the design of 
the second ring ; here a central arch of five stones, in 
separate settings, are held by the heads and outstretched 
wings of Chimceras, whose breasts are also jewelled. Both 
are excellent designs. 

Modern French. 

In the Londesborough Collection is a tripHcate of 
Moorish rings, which will enable us to understand their 
peculiarities. One has a large circular face composed of a 
cluster of small bosses, set with five circular turquoises and 


four rubies ; the centre being a turquoise, with a ruby and 
turquoise alternating round it. This ring is of silver. 

G 2 


Another, of the same material, is set with an octangular 
bloodstone, with a circular turquoise on each side. There 
is, also, a silver signet ring, bearing the name of its original 
owner, engraved on a cornelian. 

In the South Kensington Museum 
is a massive and heavy brass ring, 
with octagonal bezel armed with five 
projecting points, used as a weapon 
by peasants in Upper Bavaria from 
about the year 1 700 to the present time. 

The Indians prefer rings with large floriated faces, 
spreading over three fingers like a shield. When made for 
the wealthy in massive gold, the flower leaves are of cut 
jewels, but the humbler classes, who equally love display, are 
content with them in cast silver. Such a ring is in the 
British Museum, where there are also two specimens of rings 
beside it such as are worn by the humbler classes. 

A curious gold ring, bearing the impress a '• merchant's 
mark,' was exhibited by Mr. Sully at a meeting of the 
Archaeological Institute of November 185 1. It was found 
at St. Anne's Well, near Nottingham, and the date is about 
the time of Henry VI. From a representation in the 
' Journal ' the impress appears to be composed of the orb of 
sovereignty, surmounted by a cross, having two transverse 
bars, like a patriarchal cross. The extremities of the lower 
limbs terminate with the Arabic numerals, 2 — o, the cipher 
being transversed by a diagonal stroke, as frequently 
written in early times. On one side of the hoop is seen the 
Virgin and Child, on the other the Crucifix ; these were 
originally enamelled. Within is inscribed — gloit Cttr ab^^. 
Weight 7 dwts. 21 grs. 


A brass signet-ring found in the Cathedral Close at 
Hereford, bears for impress a kind of merchant's mark, a cross, 
with the lower extremity barbed like an arrow, between the 
initials G. M. — now in the possession of the Dean of Here- 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a bronze signet-ring with 
a merchant's mark within a cable border : the mark may be 
intended to represent a buoy, which would accord well with 
the border, supposing it to be a trader's cipher ; the hoop is 
likewise twisted to imitate the strands of a rope. This ring 
was found in the Thames. 

In the same collection is a massive gold thumb-ring 
engraved as a signet, with a merchant's mark within a rude 
shield. The shoulders of the hoop are chased with Mar- 
guerite flowers, which were commonly adopted in the reign 
of Henry VI., in honour of the queen-mother, and may 
indicate the date of the ring. It was found at Littlebury, 
Essex, in 1848. In the same collection is a large gold 
thumb-ring, with a round hoop and signet, on which is en- 
graved the letter e of Longobardic form, within deHcately- 
cusped tracery, surmounted by a coronet. The hoop is 
inscribed externally with the words in. on. is. al. (in one is 
all) : probably intended for a charm, of which so many 
forms are found upon rings of the fourteenth and fifteenth 

In the Londesborough Collection is the fine specimen 
(to which I have alluded in a previous page) of a signet-ring 
bearing a * merchant's mark.' 

' The marks,' observes Mr. Fairholt, * varied with every 
owner, and was as pecuHar to himself as the modem auto- 
graph ; they were a combination of initials, or letter-like 
devices, frequently surmounted by a cross, or a conventional 


sign, believed to represent the sails of a ship. The marks 
were placed upon the bales of merchandise, and were con- 
stantly used where the coat armour, or badge of a nobleman 
or gentleman entitled to bear arms would be placed. The 
authority vested in such merchants' rings is curiously illus- 
trated in one of the historical plays on the life and reign of 
Queen Elizabeth, written by Thomas Heywood, and to 
which he gave the quaint title : " If you know not me, you 
know nobody." Sir Thomas Gresham, the great London 
merchant, is one of the principal characters, and in a scene 
where he is absent from home, and in sudden need of cash, 
he exclaims : " Here, John, take this seal-ring, bid Timothy 
send me presently a hundred pound." John takes the ring 
to the trusty Timothy, saying : " Here's his seal-ring ; I 
hope a sufficient warrant." To which Timothy replies : 
" Upon so good security, John, I'll fit me to deHver it." 
Another merchant in the same play is made to obtain his 
wants by similar means : — 

receive thou my seal-ring : 

Bear it to my factor ; bid him by that token 
Sort thee out forty pounds' worth of such ■wares 
As thou shalt think most beneficial. 

The custom must have been common to be thus used in 
dramatic scenes of real life. These plays were produced in 
1606.' 1 

' Montfaucon, in his ' L'Antiquite Expliquee,' describes the repre- 
sentation of a trading seal 'as one of the most extraordinary that has 
yet been seen.' It was given to him by a monk of St. Victor, at 
Marseilles. The form was oblong, and the inscription was in three 
lines, the first of which is P. Hileyi, Publii Hileyi, at the end of which 
words was a well- formed caduceus. The second and third lines were Sex. 
Maci Paullini, Sexti Maci Paullini. The caduuus, which was a symbol 
of traffic, denotes that these were two merchants and co-partners, and 


' Merchants' marks, which appear to have been imitated 
from the Flemings during the reign of Edward the Third, 
and became very common during the fifteenth and early part 
of the sixteenth century, both on seals and signet-rings, offer 
a somewhat curious field for research, and are often very 
useful in identifying the persons by whom domestic and 
parts of ecclesiastical edifices on which they occur were 

Merchants' rings. 

built. They were more generally used in the great sea- 
ports of England than in the south — a fact which is readily 
accounted for by the frequent intercourse between those 
ports and Flanders. It may be observed also that such 
marks belonged chiefly to wool-factors, or merchants of the 
staple.' — ArchcBo logical yournaliox March 1848. 

In the collections of our English antiquaries are 
numerous specimens of thumb-rings^ and in the chapter on 

the anchor, that they were adventurers by sea. One thing remarkable 
is that the first name, P. Hileyi, was taken by design, but yet so that 
it might be read ; the letters being cut very deep, they contented them- 
selves with taking out so much of them only as would spoil that part of 
the impression upon wax, or any other matter, and leave the other 
name to be impressed alone. That this was done by design appeared 
from the varnish seen in these traces, as well as in the rest of the seal, 
and was probably done by Sextus Macius PauUinus at the death of his 
partner Publius Hileyus. 


'Ecclesiastical Usages in Connection with Rings' I have 
mentioned several of particular interest, notably an effigy 
with a signet-ring of remarkable size represented as worn 
over both the thumbs. Dr. Bruce found some thumb-rings 
along the line of the Roman wall. 

The custom of wearing thumb-rings is alluded to by 
Chaucer, in the ' Squire's Tale,' where it is said of the rider 
of the brazen horse who advanced into the hall, Cambuscan, 
that ' upon his thumb he had of gold a ring.' Brome, in the 
' Antipodes,' 1638, and also in the ' Northern Lass: ' 'A good 
man in the city wears nothing rich about him but the gout, 
or a thumb-ring.' 

In the ' Archaeological Journal ' (vol. lii. page 268) is a 
representation of a curious thumb-ring, which supplies a 
good example of the signet thumb-ring of the fifteenth cen- 
tury. It is of silver, alloyed, or plated with baser metal and 
strongly gilt. The hoop is grooved spirally, and the initial 
H is engraved upon it; weight 17 dwts, 18 grs. It was 
found in 1846, in dredging in the bed of the river Severn, at 
a place called Saxon's or Saxton's Lode. 

Signet rings of this kind were worn by rich citizens, or 
persons of substance not entitled to bear arms. Falstaff 
bragged that in his earlier years he had been so slender in 
figure that he could readily have crept through an ' alder- 
man's thumb-ring,' and a ring thus worn — probably, as more 
conspicuous — appears to have been considered as appropriate 
to the customary attire of a civic dignitary at a much later 
period. A character in the Lord Mayor's show in 1664 is 
described as ' habited like a grave citizen — gold girdle and 
gloves hung thereon, rings on his fingers, and a seal-ring on 
his thumb.' 

In Labartes ' Hand-book of the Fine Arts in the Middle 


Ages ' is a representation of a fine thumb-ring, of Hindoo 
workmanship, cut out of a single piece of jade, decorated 
with gold filagree, and incrusted with rubies. 

A magical thumb-ring of gilt, bearing the figure of a 
toad, and of German workmanship of the fourteenth century- 
is in the Londesborough Collection, and is described in the 
chapter on ' Ring Superstitions.' The annexed representa- 
tion is from a ring in the same collection. 


The figure of a morse ivory thumb-ring of an Earl of 
Shrewsbury, belonging to Dr. Iliff, is given in the ' Pro- 
ceedings of the Society of Antiquaries ' (December, 1859), in 
which it is fully described. On this is engraved various 
coats of arms, surrounded by the Garter, and ensigned 
with an earl's coronet. A list of the quarterings is also 
given. ^ 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a massive latten thumb- 
ring, with a signet engraved with I.H.S. and three tears 
below ; the words, ' in Deo Salus ' are inside the hoop. 
They are from the Penitential Psalms, and in union with the 
tears. Date from the thirteenth century. 

In a portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, the celebrated 

' Appendix. 


Countess of Pembroke, she wears a ring upon the thumb of 
her right hand. 

To the practice of EngHsh ladies wearing, formerly, the 
wedding-ring on the thumb I have alluded in the chapter 
on ' Betrothal and Wedding-rings.' 

Dr. Thomas Chalmers wore the ring of his great-great- 
great-grandfather, John Alexander, on his thumb. 

' Oriental rings/ remarks the Rev. C. W. King, * exactly 
like the ancient in shape, and made of cornelian, chalcedony, 
and agate, with legends in Arabic on the face, for the use of 
signets, are by no means uncommon in collections. They 
are of latge size, being designed to be worn on the thumb of 
the right hand, in order to be used in drawing the bow-string, 
which the Orientals pull with the bent thumb, catching it 
against the shank of the ring, and not with the two first 
fingers, as is the practice of English archers.' 

Brass Thumb-ring. 

A brass seal-ring large enough for a man's thumb was 
found in Hampshire some years ago, and is noticed in the 
' Gentleman's Magazine ' vol. liv. 




A MYSTERIOUS significance has been associated with rings 
from the eariiest periods, among various nations. They 
were supposed to protect from evil fascinations of every 
kind, against the ' evil eye,' the influence of demons, and 
dangers of every possible character ; though it was not 
simply in the rings themselves that the supposed virtues 
existed, but in the materials of which they were composed, 
in some particular precious stone that was set in them, as 
charms or talismans, in some device or inscription on the 
stone, or some magical letters engraven on the circumference 
of the ring. 

The ring worn by the high-priest of the Jews was of 
inestimable value, chiefly, according to a tradition, of its 
celestial virtues ; and the ring of Solomon, as Hebrew 
legends state, possessed powers which enabled him to baffle 
the most subtle of his enemies.^ Some curious particulars 
respecting this ring will be found in Josephus (lib. viii. ch. 2), 

• Chaucer, in his ' Squire's Tale,' says : — 

• Then speaken they of Canace's ring 
And saiden all that such a wondrous thing 
Of crafte of ringes heard they never none, 
Save that he, Moses, and King Solomon 
Had den a name of cunning in such art.' 


which, however, are considered as interpolations. According 
to this he witnessed the healing of demoniacs by one Eleazar, 
a Jew, in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian, by the 
application of a medicated ring to the nostrils of the patient 
The Jew recited several verses connected with the name of 
Solomon, and the devils came forth through the noses of the 
patients. ' It was to this great prince the honour of this 
discovery is attributed, as well as other magical operations, 
and without him it would be improbable to obtain success.' ^ 
The signet-ring of Solomon had the mystic word scheftiham- 
phoi'asch engraved upon it, and procured for him the won- 
derful Shamir, which enabled him to build the temple. 
Every day at noon it transported him into the firmament, 
where he heard the secrets of the universe. This continued 
until he was persuaded by the devil to grant him his liberty, 
and to take the ring from his finger ; the demon then assumed 
his shape as King of Israel, and reigned three years, while 
Solomon became a wanderer in foreign lands. 

According to an Arabian tradition. King Solomon, on 
going to the bath, left his ring behind him, which was stolen 
by a Jewess, and thrown by her into the sea. Deprived of 
his miraculous amulet, which prevented him from exercising 
the judicial wisdom for which he was celebrated, Solomon 
abstained for forty days from administering justice, when he 
at length found the ring in the stomach of a fish that was 
served at his table. Many curious fictions on this subject 
are related by Arabian writers in a book called ' Salcuthat,' 

* Among the Mohammedans at present a talisman, consisting gene- 
rally of a formula on a scrap of paper, or sentences from the Koran, is 
placed in a piece of stuff and put into a ring between the stone and the 
metal. Although the Mussulman doctors generally concur in con- 
sidering these practices vain, and many Asiatics do not use them, yet 
the multitude still retain a predilection for them. 


devoted to the subject of magical rings, and they trace this 
particular ring of Solomon in a regular succession from Jared, 
the father of Enoch, to the ' wisest of men.' ^ 

Old legends state that Joseph and the Virgin Mary used 
at their espousals a ring of onyx or amethyst. The discovery 
is dated from the year 996, when the ring was given by a 
jeweller from Jerusalem to a lapidary of Clusium, who indi- 
cated its origin. The miraculous powers of the ring having 
been found out by accident, it was placed in a church, when 
its efficacy in curing disorders of every kind was remarkable 
— trifling, however, in comparison with its singular power of 
multiplying itself Similar rings were claimed as the genuine 
reUc by many churches in Europe at the same time, and 
received the same devout homage. 

This superstition of the * Virgin's Ring ' still prevails in 
Catholic countries. Thus, the correspondent of the 'Standard' 
newspaper, in an article contributed to that journal on ' Art 
in Perugia' (Sept. 4, 1875), writes: — 'We went into the 
Duomo, or cathedral of Perugia. It is not among the 
churches most worth visiting. Several other churches con- 
tain far more, and more interesting works of art in various 
kinds. The " Nuptial Ring of the Virgin Mary," which is 
the treasure on which the Chapter of Perugia most prides 
itself, is not to be seen. A sacristan whom I innocently 
asked to show it to me, looked at me and spoke to me as 
much as if I had requested him to show me round the won- 
drous scene described by the Seer of the Apocalypse. He 
told me, indeed, when his first astonishment at my ignorant 
audacity had somewhat calmed down, that the ring could be 
seen if I would " call again " on St Joseph's day next, on 
which solemnity it is every year exhibited from a high bal- 
• Appendix. 


cony in the church to the kneeling crowds of the faithful 
from all the country-side. Meanwhile it was locked away 
behind innumerable bars and doors, the many keys of which 
are in the keeping of I do not know how many high ecclesi- 
astical authorities. 

' The ring itself, a plain gold circlet — large enough, 
apparently, for any man's thumb, and about six times as 
thick as any ordinary marriage-ring (1 have seen an accurate 
engraving of it); — is, of course, in no wise worth seeing. But 
the casket in which it is kept — a very remarkable specimen 
of mediaeval goldsmiths' work — is, by all accounts, very much 
so. However, it is not to be seen, not even on St. Joseph's 
day, to any good purpose.' 

I may add that the celebrated painting of the Marriage 
of the Virgin, by Perugino, was formerly in this chapel of 
the cathedral, called ' Del Santo Anelo,' or the Holy Ring, 
but was removed, with many other spoils, after the treaty ot 
Tolentino, and is now in the Museum of Caen, in Normandy. 

In the old Mystery of the ' Miraculous Espousal of Mary 
and Joseph,' Issachar, the ' Busshopp,' says : — 

' Mary ; wole ye have this man 
And hym to kepyn, as yo lyff ? ' 
Maria. — *In the tenderest wyse, fadyr, as I lean, 

And with all my wyttys ffyll. ' 
Efus^ — 'Joseph ; with this rynge now wedde thi wyff, 

And be her hand, now, thou her take.' 

Joseph. — ' Ser, with this rynge, I wedde her ryif, 

And take her' now her* for my make.' ' 

The planet Jupiter was considered by the Hebrews pro- 
pitious for weddings, and the newly-married gave rings on 
those occasions, on which the words Mazal Tob were in- 

* Appendix. 


scribed, signifying that good fortune would happen under 
that star. 

A remarkable gold talismanic ring, supposed, on satis- 
factory grounds, by Colonel Tod (author of ' Annals and 
Antiquities of Rajast'han') to be of Hindu workmanship, was 
found some years since on the Fort Hill, near Montrose, on 
the site of an engagement in the reign of the unfortunate 
Queen Mary. This ring had an astrological and mytho- 
logical import. It represented the symbol of the sun-god 
Bal-nat'h, around which is wreathed a serpent guardant, with 
two bulls as supporters, or the powers of creative nature in 
unison, typified in the miniature Lingam and Noni — in short, 
a graven image of that primaeval worship which prevailed 
among the nations of antiquity. This is ' the pillar and the 
calf worshipped on the fifteenth of the month ' (the sacred 
Afnavus of the Hindus) by the Israelites, when they adopted 
the rites of the Syro-Phoenician adorers of Bal, the sun. 
Colonel Tod considered that this curious relic belonged to 
some superstitious devotee, who wore it as a talisman on 
his thumb. 

According to Zoroaster, Ormuzd represented the Good 
Principle, and Ahrimanes the Evil. The former is seen on 
ancient sculptures, holding, as an emblem of power, a ring 
in one hand. 

All the Hindu Mogul divinities are represented with 
rings. The statues of the gods at Elephanta have, amongst 
other ornaments, finger-rings. 

From Asia, legends connected with rings were intro- 
duced into Greece, and numberless miraculous powers were 
ascribed to them. The classical derivation of the ring 
was attributed to Prometheus, who, having incurred the dis- 
pleasure of Jupiter, was compelled to wear on his finger an 


iron ring, to which was attached a fragment of the rock of 
the Caucasus. 

To adorn the finger-ring with inlaid stone 

Was first to men by wise Prometheus shown, 

Who from Caucasian rock a firagment tore, 

And, set in iron, on his finger wore. .■ 

The ring of Gyges, King of Lydia, rendered the wearer 
invisible when the stone turned inwards ^ (so also the ring 
of Eluned, the Lunet of the old English romance of Ywaine 
and Gawaine, and in several German stories). The ring of 
Polycrates the tyrant, which was flung into the sea to 
propitiate Nemesis, was found, like that of Solomon, inside 
a fish served at his table. The story is thus related by 
Herodotus. Amasis, King of Egypt, after Polycrates had 
obtained possession of the island of Samos, sent the tyrant 
a friendly letter, expressing a fear of the continuance of his 
singular prosperity, for he had never known such an instance 
of felicity which did not come to calamity in the long run ; 
advising, therefore, Polycrates to throw away some favourite 
gem in such a way that he might never see it again, as a 

^ Plato relates the story of Gyges differently to that by Herodotus. 
He tells us that Gyges wore a ring, the stone of which, when turned 
towards him rendered him invisible, so that he had the advantage of 
seeing others without being seen himself. By means of this ring he 
deprived Candaules of his throne and life, with the concurrence of the 
queen. ' This,' remarks Rollin, ' probably implies that in order to 
compass his own criminal design he used all the tricks and stratagems 
which the world calls subtle and refined policy, which penetrates into 
the most secret purposes of others without making the least discovery 
of its own. ' This story, thus explained, carries in it a greater appear- 
ance of trath than what we read in ' Herodotus. ' 

Cicero, after relating the fable of Gyges' famous ring, adds, that if a 
wise man had such a ring he would not use it to any wicked purpose, 
because virtue considers what is honourable and just, and has no occa- 
sion for darkness. 


kind of charm against misfortune. Poly crates took the 
advice, and, sailing away from the shore in a boat, threw a 
valuable signet-ring — an emerald set in gold — into the sea, 
in sight of all on board. This done he returned home and 
gave vent to his sorrow. It happened five or six days after- 
wards that a fisherman caught a fish so large and beautiful 
that he thought it well deserved to be presented to the 
King. So he took it with him to tlie gate of the palace, 
and said that he wanted to see Polycrates. On being ad- 
mitted the fisherman gave him the fish with these words : 
' Sir King, when I took this prize I thought I would not 
carry it to market, though I am a poor man who lives by his 
trade. I said to myself, it is worthy of Polycrates and his 
greatness, and so I brought it here to give to you.' The 
speech pleased the King, who replied: 'Thou didst well, 
friend, and I am doubly indebted both for the gift and the 
speech. Come now and sup with me.' So the fisherman 
went home, esteeming it a high honour that he had been 
asked to sup with the King. Meanwhile the servants, in 
cutting open the fish, found the signet of their master in the 
stomach. No sooner did they see it than they seized upon 
it, and, hastening to Polycrates with great joy, restored it to 
him, and told him in what way it had been found. The 
King, who saw something providential in the matter, forth- 
with wrote a letter to Amasis telling him all that had hap- 
pened. Amasis perceived that it does not belong to man 
to save his fellow-man from the fate which is in store for 
him. Likewise, he felt certain that Polycrates would end ill, 
as he prospered in everything, even finding what he had 
thrown away. So he sent a herald to Samos, and dissolved 
the contract of friendship. This he did that when the great 
and heavy misfortune came he might escape the grief which 



he would have felt if the sufferer had been his loved friend. 
Poly crates died in the third year of the 64th Olympiad. 
This seal-ring was taken later to Rome, where Pliny relates 
that he saw and handled it. The Emperor Augustus had it 
inserted in a horn of gold, and placed it in the temple of 
Concord, in the midst of other golden objects of great value. 
The seal is represented to have been as large as a crown 
piece, in shape a little oblong. The subject was a lyre, 
around which were three bees in the upper part ; at the 
foot was a dolphin on the right, and the head of a bull on 
the left — the lyre, the emblem of poetry ; the bees, industry ; 
the bull, production ; and the dolphin, a friend to man. 

Some years ago, it was reported that this remarkable 
seal-ring was found by an inhabitant of Albano in a vine- 
yard, but this story has never been confirmed. 

Apart from the superstitious inferences deduced from the 
singular recovery of the ring, the fact itself may be probably 
accepted. The Rev. C. W. King, in 'Precious Stones, 
Gems, and Precious Metals,' observes: 'There can be little 
doubt that this tale of the " Fish and the Ring " is true. 
Fish, especially the mackerel, greedily swallow any glittering 
object dropped into the sea ; and within my own recollec- 
tion, one when opened was found to contain a wedding- 
ring.' 1 

Legends of the fish and the ring are found in most coun- 
tries : the ancient Indian drama of Sacontala has an incident 
of this character. In the armorial bearmgs of the see of 
Glasgow, and now of the city, the stem of St. Kentigern's 
tree is crossed by a salmon bearing in its mouth a ring. 
The legend attached to this is related in ' Jocelin's Life of 

* See chapter on ' Customs and Incidents in Connexion with Rings.' 


St. Kentigem. In the days of this saint, a lady having lost 
her wedding-ring, it stiired up her husband's jealousy, to 
allay which she applied to Kentigern, imploring his help for 
the safety of her honour. Not long after, as the holy man 
walked by the river, he desired a person who was fishing to 
bring him the first fish he could catch, which was accord- 
ingly done, and from its mouth was taken the lady's ring, 
which he immediately sent to her, to remove her husband's 
suspicions. So runs the legend ; but a more truthful expla- 
nation of the arms of St. Mungo attributes the ring to the 
episcopal office, and the fish to the scaly treasures of the 
river at the foot of the metropolitan cathedral.^ 

An Italian legend ascribes as an omen of the downfall of 
the Venetian republic that the ring cast into the Adriatic by 
the Doge, in token of his marriage to the sea, was found in 
a fish that was served up at his table a year after the custom 
had been observed. 

A popular ballad of old, called the ' Cruel Knight, or the 

^ Dr. Gordon, in his ' History of Glasgow,' quotes the legend thus, 
from the ' Aberdeen Breviary : ' — ' The Queen of Cadzow was suspected 
by her husband, King Roderick, of being too intimate with a knight 
whom he had asked to hunt with him. The King waited his oppor- 
tunity to abstract from the satchel of the knight, when asleep, a ring 
which the Queen had presented to him. King Roderick, in furious 
jealousy, threw it into the Clyde. When they returned to the palace 
of Cadzow from the day's hunting, the King, in the course of the even- 
ing, asked her where her ring was. It could not be produced. Death 
was threatened if it were not forthcoming. The Queen sent one of her 
maids to the knight for the ring, and being unsuccessful, a bearer was 
sent to Cathures (Glasgow), to St Mungo, making a full confession of 
all. The Apostle of Strathclyde commiserated the Queen. Forthwith 
he sent one of his monks to the river to angle, instructing him to bring 
home alive the first fish that he caught. This was done. St. Mungo 
(dear friend) found the annulet in the mouth of the miraculous fish, 
and speedily sent it to the Queen, who restored it to her husband, 
and thereby saved her life.' 

H 2 


Fortunate Farmer's Daughter,' represents a knight passing 
a cot, and hearing that the woman within is in childbirth. 
His knowledge in the occult sciences informs him that the 
child to be born is destined to become his wife. He en- 
deavours to evade the decrees of fate, and, to avoid so ignoble 
an alliance, by various attempts to destroy the child, but 
which are defeated. At length, when grown to woman's 
estate, he takes her to the sea- side, intending to drown her 
but relents ; at the same time, throwing a ring into the sea, 
he commands her never to see his face again, on pain of 
death, unless she can produce the ring. She afterwards be- 
comes a cook in a gentleman's family, and finds the ring in 
a cod-fish as she is dressing it for dinner. The marriage 
takes place, of course. 

The monument to Lady Berry in Stepney Church 
bears : — paly of six on a bend, three mullets (Elton) im- 
paling a fish, and in the dexter chief point an annulet between 
two bends wavy. This coat of arms, which exactly corre- 
sponds with that borne by Ventris, of Cambridgeshire, has 
given rise to the tradition that Lady Berry was the heroine 
of the above story. The ballad lays the scene of the events 
in Yorkshire, but incidents of the ring and the fish are, as 
I observed, numerous.^ 

The various arts employed by the ancients in 'divination' 
were many. The annexed illustrations, representing divi- 
nation rings, are taken from Liceti, 'Antiqua Schemata' 
{Gemmarium Annidariuifi) ; the two figures on one ring 
are trying eagerly to discover future events in a crystal globe. 
Crystallomancy included every variety of divination by 
means of transparent bodies. These, polished and en- 
chanted, signified their meaning by certain marks and figures. 
* Appendix. 


The serpent held by the female figure refers to ophio- 
mancy, the art which the ancients pretended to, of making 
predictions by serpents. According to the ophites, who 
emanated from the Gnostics, the serpent was instructed in 
all knowledge, and was the father and author of all the 

Divination ring. 

The hieroglyphic ring represents a sphinx, the monster 
described by the poets as having a human face with the 
body of a bird or quadruped, the paws of a lion, the tail of 
a dragon, &c. It was said to propose riddles to those it 
met with, and destroyed those who could not answer them. 
Upon this they consulted the oracle, to know what should 


be done. It answered that they could not be delivered 
until they could solve this riddle : ' What creature is that 
which has four feet in the morning, two at noon, and three 
towards night' CEdipus answered that it was a man, who, 
in his infancy, crawled on all fours, until he was sufficiently 
strong to walk ; then went on two legs, until old age obliged 

Divination ring. 

him to use a staff to help and support him. On this the 
monster is said to have dashed out its brains against a 

The star over the head of the sphinx in the engraving 
represents the divination by stars practised by the Cabalists. 


The stars vertical over a city or nation were so united by- 
lines as to form resemblances of the Hebrew letters, and 
thus words which were deemed prophetic. Burder remarks 
that the rise of a new star, or the appearance of a comet, 
was thought to portend the birth of a great person ; also 
that the gods sent stars to point out the way to their favour- 
ites, as Virgil shows, and as Suetonius and Pliny actually 
relate in the case of Julius Caesar. 

The cup or vase represented in the engraving near the 
sphinx refers to the divination by the cup, one of the most 
ancient methods of discovering future events by crystalline 
reflection. The divining cup of Joseph shows that its use 
was familiar in Egypt at that remote period.^ 

Charmed rings found easy believers among the Greeks 

* * A Berril,' observes Aubrey in his 'Miscellanies,' *is a kind of 
crystal that hath a weak tincture of red. In this magicians see visions. 
There are certain formulas of prayers to be used before they make the 
inspection which they term a Call. In a manuscript of Dr. Forman, of " 
Lambeth (which Mr. Elias Ashmole had), is a discourse of this and the 
prayer : also there is a Call which Dr. Napier did use. James Har- 
rington (author of "Oceana") told me that the Earl of Denbigh, then 
ambassador at Venice, did tell him that one did show him three several 
times, in a glass, things past and to come. When Sir Marmaduke 
Langdale was in Italy he went to one of these Magi, who did show him 
a glass where he saw himself kneeling before a crucifix.' A ' Berrill ' 
belonging to Sir Edward Harley is thus described by Aubrey : — * It is 
a perfect sphere ; the diameter of it I guess to be something more than 
an inch ; it is set in a ring or circle of silver resembling the meridian of 
a globe ; the stem of it is about ten inches high, all gilt. At the four 
quarters of it are the names of four angels, viz., Uriel, Raphael, 
Michael, Gabriel. On the top is a cross patce. This, it appears, was 
efficacious in detecting thieves ; it also forewarned death.' 

Dr. Dee's famous crystal, now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 
will be remembered. (See discoveries in the tomb of Childeric, at 
Toumay, in chapter on ' Memorial and Mortuary Rings.') 



and the Romans, and were special articles of traffic. Such 
objects, made of wood, bone, or some other cheap materials, 
were manufactured in large numbers at Athens, and could 
be purchased, gifted with any charm required, for the small 
consideration of a single drachma. 

In the ' Plutus ' of Aristophanes, to a threat on the part 
of the sycophant, the just man replies ' that he is proof 
against evil influences, having a charmed ring.' Carion, the 
servant, observes ' that the ring would not prevail against 
the bite of a sycophant.' The ring was probably a medicated 
one, to preserve from demons and serpents. 

The following engraving from Gorlaeus represents a 
human head with an elephant's trunk, &c., holding a trident, 
an amulet against the perils of the sea : — 

Amulet ring : Roman. 

The council of ravens, prophetic birds (and attributes of 
Apollo), or crows, which were used as symbols of conjugal 
fidelity : — 

Amulet ring : Roman. 


A silver ring on a sardonyx, engraved with the figure of 
a sow, as a propitiatory sacrifice : — 

Amulet ring: Roman. 

In Lucian's * Philopseudes,' in a dialogue called the Ship 
or Wish, a man is introduced who desires that Mercury 
should bestow a ring on him to confer perpetual health and 
preservation from danger. 

Benvenuto Cellini, in his ' Memoirs,' mentions the dis- 
covery in Rome of certain vases, ' which appeared to be 
antique urns filled with ashes; amongst these were iron rings 
inlaid with gold, in each of which was set a diminutive shell. 
Learned antiquarians, upon investigating the nature of these 
rings, declared their opinion that they were worn as charms 
by those who desired to behave with steadiness and reso- 
lution either in prosperous or adverse fortune. I likewise 
took things of this nature in hand at the request of some 
gentlemen who were my particular friends, and wrought 
some of these little rings, but I made them of steel, well- 
tempered, and then cut and inlaid with gold, so that they 
were very beautiftil to behold ; sometimes for a single ring 
of this sort I was paid above forty crowns.' 

In Rome there were altars to the Samothracian deities, 
who were supposed to preside over talismans. The people 
of that island were extensive manufacturers of iron rings, to 
which they attached supernatural qualities. 


On ancient Mexican rings and seals set with precious 
stones are constellation representations, as, for example, 
Pisces. Those people awaited their Messiah, or Crusher of 
the Serpent, during the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, 
in the same zodiacal sign of Pisces, the protecting sign of 
Syria and Palestine. 

Pliny informs us that the ancients set additional value on 
articles made of jet, such as rings, buttons, &c., from a 
notion that it possessed the virtue of driving away serpents 
— a belief which existed also in the days of the Venerable 
Bede, who, describing the various mineral productions of 
Britain, says : ' It has much excellent jet, which is black and 
sparkling, glittering at the fire, and, when heated, drives 
away serpents.' Some examples of jet rings have been found 
at Uriconium. 

A portrait of Alexander the Great, set in a gold or silver 
ring, and carried about on the finger, was supposed by the 
Greeks to ensure prosperity to the wearer ; as a reverse, 
one of the omens announcing the fall of Nero was the pre- 
sentation to him of a ring engraved with the Rape of Proser- 
pine, being a symbol of death. ^ 

Spartian includes among the omens of Hadrian's coming 

death the falling off from his finger of his ring, ' which bore 

a likeness to himself,' as he was taking the auspices on a 

New Year's day, and so obtaining a foreshadowing of the 

events of the coming year. 

* The superstitious custom of carrying the medals of Alexander the 
Great, as if they had some salutary virtue in them, was frequent among 
the Christians of Antioch, as is evident from St, John Chrysostom's 
declamation against the practice : — ' What shall we say of those that 
use enchantments and ligatures, and bind upon their head and feet 
brass medals of Alexander of Macedon ? Are these our hopes ? And 
shall we, after the passion and death of our Saviour, place our salvation 
in an image of a heathen king ? ' 


A portrait of Hadrian, engraved with Mercury in a 
magic ring (Gorlaeus) : — 

Amulet ring : bust of Hadrian. 

Heliodorus describes a precious stone as set in the King 
of Ethiopia's ring, one of the royal jewels, the shank being 
formed of electrum and the bezel flaming with an Ethiopian 
amethyst, engraved with a youthful shepherd and his flock — 
an antidote to j hp ^earpr agaipst intnxiratiorL 
^ Philostratus relates how Chariclea escaped unharmed 
from the funeral pyre on which she was condemned to be 
burnt by the jealous Arsace, from having secreted about her 
the espousal-ring of King Hydaspes, ' which was set with the 
stone called Pandarbes, engraved with certain sacred letters ' 
and antagonistic to fire. 

In the British Museum is a remarkable collection of 
ornaments of the Roman period connected with the worship 
of the Deae Matres, discovered in the county of Durham, or 
in some adjoining district in the beginning of this century. 
Among these are several rings which have been elaborately 
described by Mr. Edward Hawkins in the * Archaeological 
Journal ' for March 1851 (vol. viii.), with illustrations. 

In the Waterton Collection are some specimens of 
Gnostic Roman rings, of the third century : one, of silver, 
is set with an intaglio on bloodstone of an Abraxas figure, 



with head of a jackal. The others have Gnostic emblems 
and inscriptions. 

Astrological rings in connexion with mythological re- 
presentations were worn by the ancients. 

The accompanying engraving from Gorlaeus represents 
the sun and stars. According to the Gnostic theories, the 
properties of the sun on the destinies of men were numerous 
and important. The mystical virtues of the most pre- 
cious stones were under the solar influence. 

Astrological ring. 

Planetary rings were formed of the gems assigned to the 
several planets, each set in its appropriate metal : thus, the 
Sun, diamond or sapphire in a ring of gold ; the Moon, 
crystal in silver ; Mercury, magnet, in quicksilver ; Venus, 
amethyst in copper ; Mars, emerald in iron ; Jupiter, corne- 
lian in tin ; Saturn, turquoise in lead. 

From the remotest antiquity every planet in the heavens 
was believed to possess a virtue peculiar to itself Each pre- 
sided over some kingdom, nation, or city ; then, extending its 
influence to individuals, it decided their personal appearance, 
temperament, disposition, character, health, and fortune, and 
even influenced the several members and parts of the body- 
After this, it ruled plants, herbs, animals, stones, and all the 
various productions of nature. Southey, in the ' Doctor ' (vol. 


iii. p. 112), commenting on the exhibition of the Zodiacal 
signs in the ' Margarita Philosophica/ a work of the sixteenth 
century, observes : 'There Homo stands naked, but not 
ashamed, upon the two Pisces, one foot upon each ; the 
fish being neither in air nor water, nor upon earth, but self- 
suspended, as it appears, in the void. A^ies has ahghted 
with two feet on Homo's head, and has sent a shaft through 
the forehead into his brain. Taurus has quietly seated 
himself across his neck. The Gemini are riding astride a 
little below his right shoulder. The whole trunk is laid 
open, as if part of the old accursed punishment for high 
treason had been performed on him. The Lion occupies 
the thorax as his proper domain, and the Crah is in posses- 
sion of his domain. Sagittarius, volant in the void, has just 
let fly an arrow which is on its way to his right arm. Capri- 
cornus breathes out a visible influence that penetrates both 
knees. Aquarius inflicts similar punctures upon both legs. 
Virgo fishes, as it were, at his intestines, Libra at the part 
affected by schoolmasters in their anger, and Scorpio takes 
the wickedest aim of all.' 

The old astrological definition of the Zodiac seems to be 
this — that it was the division of the great circle of the 
heavens into twelve parts. These twelve parts are divided 
into those called northern and commanding (the first six), 
and those called southern and obeying (the remaining six). 
The other constellations of the two hemispheres are not 
unconsidered in astrology, but those of the zodiac are more 
important, because they form the pathway of the sun, the 
moon, and the planets, and are supposed to receive from 
these bodies, as they roll through their spaces, extraordinary 

■ Montfaucon, in his * L'Antiquite Expliquee,'has a singular theory 
in regard to the signs of the Zodiac. He mentions a fine gem on which 


The following illustration from Liceti, ' Antiqua Schemata 
Gemmarum Annularium,' represents Jupiter, Mercury, Pallas, 
and Neptune surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac : — 

Zodiacal ring. 

were represented the figures of Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus, included 
in a large circle which contained the twelve signs of the Zodiac. These 
he conjectured to signify the days of the week, Wednesday, Thursday, 
and Friday. ' But, why,' he observes, 'do the three gods in this image 
indicate so many days of the week ? Some ancient and particular 
custom is referred to and expressed, without doubt. Ausonius, in his 
" Eclogues," inserts a verse current in his time preceded by this ques- 
tion : — ' Quid quoque die demi de corpore oporteat ? " On what days 
is it most proper to cut the beard, nails, or hair ? " Ungues Mercurio, 
barbam Jove, Cypride crines. " That is, on Wednesday pare your nails, 


Among the various modes of enquiring by magical 
means as to who should succeed to the Roman emperorship 
during the reigns of Valentinian and Valens, we are told 
that the letters of the alphabet were artificially disposed in 
a circle, and a magic ring, being suspended over the centre, 
was believed to point to the initial letters of the name of 
him who should be the future emperor. Theodorus, a man 
of most eminent qualifications and high popularity, was put 
to death by the jealousy of Valens on the vague evidence 
that this kind of trial had indicated the first letters of his 
name. Gibbon remarks on this point that the name of 
Theodosius, who actually succeeded, begins with the same 
letters which were indicated in this magic trial. 

This ring mystery, the Dadylomaiicia (from two Greek 
words signifying 7'ing and divi?iatton), was a favourite opera- 
tion of the ancients. It was preceded by certain ceremonies, 
and the ring was subjected to a form of conjuration. The 
person who held it was arrayed in linen, a circlet of hair 
was left by an artistic barber on his head, and in his hand 

shave your beard on Thursday, and on Friday cut your hair." This 
usage Ausonius rallies in ei^ht pleasant verses. " Mercury," says he, '* a 
pilferer by trade, loves his nails too well to let them be pared. Jupiter, 
venerable by his beard, Venus adorned by her hair, are by no means 
willing to part with what is so dear to them." ... I think it certain 
that these deities are represented as presiding over Wednesday, Thurs- 
day, and Friday, without being able to assign the certain i-eason why 
they are pictured upon this gem.' 

A very extraordinary form of oath, by which the astronomer Vettius 
Valens bound his disciples to secresy, is quoted by Selden. ' I adjure 
thee, most honoured brother and your fellow-students, by the starry 
vault of heaven, f>y the circle of the zodiac, the sun, the moon, and the 
five wandering stars (by which universal life is governed), by Providence 
itself, and Holy Necessity, that you will keep these things secret, nor 
divulge them except to those who are worthy and are able to make a 
just compensation to me, Valens.' 


he held a branch of vervain. An invocation to the gods 
preceded the ceremony. 

The ' suspended ring/ another mode of divination prac- 
tised at a later period, is thus described by Peucer among 
various modes of hydromancy : ' A bowl v/as filled with 
water, and a ring suspended from the finger was librated in 
the water, and so, according as the question was propounded, 
a declaration, or confirmation of its truth, or otherwise, was 
obtained. If what was proposed was true, the ring, of its 
own accord, without any impulse, struck the sides of the 
goblet a certain number of times. They say that Numa 
Pompilius used to practise this method, and that he evoked 
the gods, and consulted them in water this way.' 

The ring suspended over a monarch was supposed to 
indicate certain persons among those sitting round the table, 
and if a hair was used, taken from one of the company, it 
would swing towards that individual only. An ancient 
method of divining by the ring is similar in principle to the 
modern table-rapping. The edge of a round table was 
marked with the characters of the alphabet, and the ring 
stopped over certain letters, which, being joined together, 
composed the answer. 

In another method of practising Dactylomancy, rings 
were put on the finger-nails when the sun entered Leo, and 
the moon Gemini, or the sun and Mercury were in Gemini 
and the moon in Cancer ; or the sun in Sagittarius, the 
moon in Scorpio, and Mercury in Leo. These rings were 
made of gold, silver, copper, iron, or lead, and magical cha- 
racters were attached to them, but how they operated we 
are not informed. 

Another mode of water divination with the ring was to 
throw three pebbles into standing water, and draw obser- 
vations from the circles which they formed. 


Divination by sounds emitted by striking two rings was 
practised by Execetus, tyrant of the Phocians. 

In the enchanted rings of the Greeks the position of 
the celestial bodies was most important. Pliny states that 
all the Orientals preferred the emerald jasper, and con- 
sidered it an infallible panacea for every ill. Its power was 
strengthened when combined with silver instead of gold. 
Galen recommends a ring with jasper set in it, and engraved 
with the figure of a man wearing a bunch of herbs round 
his neck. ^ Many of the Gnostic or Basihdian gems, evidently 

* According to the ancient lapidaries, a ram with the half-figure of 
an ox, or any stone set in a silver ring, whoever was touched with 
should be immediately reconciled. A woman, one half a fish, holding 
a mirror and a branch, cut on a marine hyacinth (pale sapphire), set in 
a gold ring, the signet covered with wax, procured any desire. A man 
ploughing, and over him the hand of the Lord making a sign, and star, 
if cut on any stone, and worn in all purity, ensured safety from tempest 
and immunity to crops from storms. Head, wdth neck, cut in green 
jasper ; set in a brass or iron ring engraved with the letters B. B. P. P. 
N. E, N. A. : wear this, and thou shalt in no wise perish, but be pre- 
served from many diseases, especially fever and dropsy ; it likewise 
gives good luck in fowling. Thou shalt be reasonable and amiable in 
all things ; in battle and in law-suits thou shalt be victor. Man 
standing and tall, holding an obolus (patera) in one hand and a serpent 
in the other, with the sun over his head, and a lion at his feet : if cut 
on a diacordius (diadochus) set in a leaden ring and put underneath 
wormwood and fenugreek, carry it to the bank of a river and call up 
whatsoever evil spirit thou pleasest, and thou shalt have from them 
answers to all thy questions. A youth having a crown on his head and 
seated on a throne with four legs, and under each leg a man standing 
and supporting the throne on his neck ; round the neck of the seated 
figure a circle, and his hands raised up to heaven ; if cut on a white 
hyacinth (pale sapphire) ought to be set in a silver ring of the same 
weight as the stone, and under it put mastic and turpentine ; make the 
seal in wax and give it to any one, and let him carry it about on his 
neck or person, either the wax or the ring, and go with pure mind and 
chastity before king, noble, or wise man, and he shall obtain from them 
whatsoever he may desire. A bearded man holding a flower in his 



used for magical purposes, were of jasper. Apollonius of 
Tyana, in Cappadocia, who flourished in the first age of the 
Christian era, and who fixed his residence in the temple of 
^sculapius, considered the use of charmed rings so essential 
to quackery that he wore a different ring on each day of 
the week, marked with the planet of the day. He had 
received a present of the seven rings from larchas, the 
Indian philosopher.^ 

hand cut on carnelian, and set in a tin ring, the ring being made on the 
change of the moon on a Friday, the ist or the 8th of the month, 
whomsoever thou shalt touch therewith he shall come to do thy will. 
Man standing on a dragon, holding a sword, must be set in a leaden or 
iron ring ; then all the spirits that dwell in darkness shall obey the 
wearer, and shall reveal to him in a low-toned song the place of hidden 
treasure and the mode of winning the same. Man riding and holding 
in one hand the bridle, in the other a bow, and girt with a sword, en- 
graved on pyrites set in a gold ring, it will render thee invincible in all 
battles ; and whosoever shall steep this ring in oil of musk and anoint 
his face with the said oil, all that see him shall fear him, and none shall 
resist. Man erect in armour, holding a drawn sword, and wearing a 
helmet, if set in an iron ring of the same weight, renders the wearer 
invincible in battle. Capricorn on carnelian, set in a silver ring and 
carry about with thee, thou shalt never be harmed in purse or person by 
thine enemies, neither shall a judge pass an unjust sentence against thee ; 
thou shalt abound in business and in honour, and gain the friendship of 
many, and all enchantments made against thee shall be of none effect, 
and no foe, however powerful, shall be able to resist thee in battle. 
(Extracts from ' Sigil-charm.s,' 'History of the Glyptic Art,' 'Hand- 
book of Engraved Gems,' by the Rev. C. W. King.) 

^ ' The Hermetic Brethren had certain rules that they observed in 
relation to the power of precious stones to bring good or bad fortune 
through the planetary affinities of certain days, because they imagined 
that the various gems, equally as gold and silver, were produced through 
the chemic operation of the planets working secretly in the telluric 
body. . . . All yellow gems and gold are appropriate to be worn on 
Sunday, to draw down the propitious influences or to avert the antago- 
nistic effects of the spirits on this day, through its ruler and name-giver, 
the Sun. On Monday, pearls and white stones (but not diamonds) are 
to be worn, because this is the day of the Moon, or of the second power 


It was a belief among the Poles that each month of the 
year was under the influence of a precious stone. Thus 
January was represented by the garnet, emblem of constancy 
and fidelity ; February, the amethyst, sincerity ; March, 
bloodstone, courage and presence of mind ; April, diamond, 
innocence ; May, emerald, success in love \ June, agate, 
health and long life ; July, cornelian, contented mind ; 
August, sardonyx, conjugal felicity : September, chrysote, 
antidote against madness ; October, opal, hope ; November, 
topaz, fidelity ; December, turquoise, prosperity. These 
several stones were set in rings and other trinkets, as 
presents, &c. 

In the early and middle ages it was not only generally 
believed that rings could be charmed by the power of a magi- 
cian, but that the engraved stones on ancient rings which 
were found on old sites possessed supernatural properties, 
the benefits of which would be imparted to the wearer. 

The great potentate Charlemagne, we are told by old 
French writers, was, in his youth, desperately in love with 
a young and beautiful woman, and gave himself up to 
pleasure in her society, neglecting the affairs of State. She 
died, and Charles was inconsolable at her loss. The Arch- 
bishop of Cologne endeavoured to withdraw him from her 

in Nature. Tuesday, which is the day of Mars, claims rubies and all 
stones of a fiery lustre. Wednesday is the day for turquoises, sapphires, 
and all precious stones which seem to reflect the blue of the vault of 
heaven. . . . Thursday demands amethysts and deep-coloured stones 
of sanguine tint, because Thursday is the day of Thor — the Runic im- 
personated Male Divine Sacrifice. Friday, which is the day of Venus, 
has its appropriate emeralds, and reigns over all the varieties of the 
imperial, yet, strangely, the sinister, colour, green. Saturday, which is 
Saturn's day, the oldest of the gods, claims for its distinctive talisman 
the most splendid of all gems, or the queen of precious stones, the 
lustre-darting diamond.' (The * Rosicrucians,' by Hargrave Jennings. ) 


dead body, and at length, approaching the corpse, took from 
its mouth a ring in which was set a precious stone of re- 
markable beauty. It was the talisman which had charmed 
the monarch, whose passionate grief became now immediately 
subdued. The body was buried, and the Archbishop, 
fearing lest Charles might experience a similar magical effect 
in another seducer, threw it into a lake near Aix-la-Chapelle. 
The virtue of this marvellous ring was not, however, lost by 
this incident, for the legend relates that the monarch 
became so enamoured of the lake that his chief delight 
was in walking by its margin, and he became so much 
attached to the spot that he had a palace erected there, and 
made it the seat of his empire. 

In the Persian Tales a king strikes off the hand of a 
sorceress (who had assumed the appearance of his queen), 
which had a ring upon it, when she immediately appears as 
a frightful hag. 

The charmed ring of Aladdin plays a wonderful part in 
the ' Arabian Nights' Entertainments.' 

One of the earliest ring superstitions in our own country, 
is that connected with the life of Edward the Confessor. In 
the mortuary chapel of this saintly monarch in Westminster 
Abbey are fourteen subjects in reltevt, represented on the 
frieze of the screen on the western side, of incidents in the 
King's life, in which the legend of the ' Pilgrim ' (derived 
from a chronicle written by ^Ired — a monk, and, later, 
abbot of Rievaulx, who died in 1166— but taken almost 
entirely from the life of St. Edward, by Osbert or Osbem, 
of Clare, prior of Westminster) is curiously displayed. The 
whole length of this sculpture is thirty-eight feet six inches 
by three feet in height. The relief is very bold, the irregular 
concave ground being much hollowed out behind. The 


compartment relating to the ring represents St. John, in the 
garb of a pilgrim, asking alms of the King. The figures are 
much injured. The monarch occupies the centre of the 
compartment, and a pilgrim or beggar is before him on the 
spectator's right hand. Behind the King is a figure holding 
a pastoral staff — probably an ecclesiastic — and in front of 
whom, between the King and himself, is an object not easily 
defined, but which appears like a basket. This design is 
interesting, from the back-ground being entirely filled in by 
a large and handsome church. This refers to the subject 
mentioned by yElred, of the King being engaged in the 
construction of a church in honour of St. John, when the 
pilgrim appeared and asked alms. 

According to the legend, King Edward was on his way 
to Westminster, when he was met by a beggar, who implored 
him in the name of St. John — the apostle peculiarly venerated 
by the monarch — to grant him assistance. The charitable 
King had exhausted his ready-money in alms-giving, but 
drew from his finger a ring, 'large, beautiful, and royal,' 
which he gave to the beggar, who thereupon disappeared. 
Shortly afterwards, two English pilgrims in the Holy Land 
found themselves benighted, and in great distress, when 
suddenly the path before them was lighted up, and an old 
man, white and hoary, preceded by two tapers, accosted 
them. Upon telling him to what country they belonged, 
the old man, 'joyously like to a clerk,' guided them to a 
hostelry, and announced that he was John the Evangelist, 
the special patron of King Edward, and gave them a ring 
to carry back to the monarch, with the warning that in six 
months' time the King would be with him in Paradise. The 
pilgrims returned and found the King at his palace, called 
from this incident ' Havering atte Bower.' He recognised 


the ring, and prepared for his end accordingly. On the 
death of the Confessor, according to custom, he was attired 
in his royal robes, the crown on his haad, a crucifix and 
gold chain round his neck, and the ' Pilgrim's Ring ' on his 
finger. The body was laid before the high altar at West- 
minster Abbey (a.d. 1066). On the translation of the 
remains of Henry the Second, the ring of St. John is said 
to have been withdrawn, and deposited as a relic among the 
crown jewels.^ During the reign of Henry III. some 
repairs were made at the tower, and orders were given for 
drawing in the chapel of St. John two figures of St. Edward 
holding out a ring and deUvering it to St John the Evan- 

As a proof, also, how this beautiful legend was engrafted 
on the popular mind in after ages, we find it stated in the 
account of the coronation of Edward II. (1307), that the 
King offered, first a pound of gold, made like a king hold- 
ing a ring in his hand, and afterwards a mark, or eight 
ounces of gold, formed into the likeness of a pilgrim putting 
forth his hand to receive the ring, a conceit suggested by 
the legend of the Confessor. So great was the sanctity in 
which this monarch (who was influenced by childish and 
superstitious fancies) was held, that Richard IL, whenever 
he left the kingdom, confided the ring which he usually 
wore to the custodian of St. Edward's shrine. 

* There is a tradition that this ring found its way to the chapel of 
Havering (have the ring), in the parish of Hornchurch, near Romford, 
and was kept there until the dissolution of religious houses. Weaver 
says he saw a representation of it on a window of Romford church. 
The legend is also displayed on an ancient window in the great church 
of St. Lawrence, at Ludlow, to which town the pilgrims who received 
the ring from the saint are said to have belonged. A tradition to this 
effect was current in the time of Leland, who notices it in his 'Itinerary.' 



* It appears/ observes Mr. Edmund Waterton ( ' Arehseo- 
logical Journal/ No. 82, 1864), ' that St. Edward's ring was 
deposited with his corpse in his tomb. His translation took 
place on the third of the ides of October (October 13), a.d. 
1 163, ninety-seven years after the burial. This ceremony 
was performed at midnight, and on opening his coffin the 
body was found to be incorrupt. On this occasion the 
Abbot Lawrence took from the body of the sainted king his 
robes and the ring of St. John ; of the robes the abbot made 
three copes, as appears from the following entry in the cata- 
logue of the relics of the saint. The abbot also gave the 
ring to the abbey: " Dompnus Lauren tius quondam abbas 
hujus loci . . , sed et annulo ejusdem (Sancti Edwardi) 
quem Sancto Johanni quondam tradidit, quem et ipse de 
paradiso remisit, elapsis annis duobus et dimidio, postea in 
nocte translationis de digito regis tulit, et pro miraculo in loco 
isto custodiri jussit." The same manuscript ( " De Funda- 
cione ecclesie Westm." by Ric. Sporley, a monk of the abbey, 
A.D. 1450), contains the indulgences to be gained by those 
who visited the holy relics : — " Ad annulum Sancti Edwardi 
vj. ann. lijc. xi. dies." No further mention has been found 
of St. Edward's ring.' * 

Another legendary story, in connection with saintly in- 
terposition, is related in the annals of Venice. Moreover, 
it forms the subject of a painting, attributed (though with 
some doubt) to Giorgione, ' St. Mark staying, miraculously, 
the tempest,' in the Accademia Picture Gallery at Venice. 

'In the year 1341, an inundation of many days' continu- 
ance had raised the water three cubits higher than it had 
ever before been seen at Venice ; and during a stormy night, 
while the flood appeared to be still increasing, a poor fisher- 
* Appendix. 


man sought what refuge he could find by mooring his crazy 
bark close to the Riva di San Marco. The storm was yet 
raging, when a person approached and offered him a good 
fare if he would but ferry him over to Sa7i Giorgio Maggiore. 
' Who,' said the fisherman, ' can reach San Giorgio on such 
a night as this ? Heaven forbid that I should try ! ' But as 
the stranger earnestly persisted in his request, and promised 
to guard him from all harm, he at last consented. The 
passenger landed, and having desired the boatman to wait 
a little, returned with a companion, and ordered him to row 
to Sa7i Nicolo di Lido. The astonished fisherman again 
refused, till he was prevailed upon by a further assurance of 
safety and excellent pay. At Sail Nicolo they picked up a 
third person, and then instructed the boatman to proceed to 
the Two Castles at Lido. Though the waves ran fearfully 
high, the old man "had by this time become accustomed 
to them, and moreover, there was something about his 
mysterious crew which either silenced his fears, or diverted 
them from the tempest to his companions. Scarcely had 
they gained the Strait, than they saw a galley, rather flying 
than sailing along the Adriatic, manned (if we may so say) 
with devils, who seemed hurrying with fierce and threatening 
gestures, to sink Venice in the deep. The sea, which had 
been furiously agitated, in a moment becam.e unruffled, 
and the strangers, crossing themselves, conjured the fiends 
to depart. At the word the demoniacal galley vanished, and 
the three passengers were quietly landed at the spots where 
each, respectively, had been taken up. 

The boatman, it seems, was not quite easy about his 
fare, and before parting, he implied, pretty clearly, that the 
sight of the miracle would, after all, be bad pay. ' You 
are right, my friend,' said the first passenger ; go to the Doge 


and the Prociiratori, and assure them that, but for us three, 
Venice would have been drowned. I am St. Mark ; my two 
comrades are St. George and St. Nicholas. Desire the 
magistrate to pay you ; and add that all the trouble has 
arisen from a schoolmaster at San Felice, who first bargained 
with the devil for his soul, and then hanged himself in 

The fisherman, who seemed to have all his wits about 
him, answered that he might tell that story, but he much 
doubted whether he should be beheved ; upon which St. 
Mark pulled from his finger a gold ring, worth about five 
ducats, saying :— ' Show them this ring, and bid them look 
for it in my Treasury, whence it will be found missing.' 
On the morrow the fisherman did as he was told. The 
ring was discovered to be absent from its usual custody, 
and the fortunate boatman not only received his fare, but 
an annual pension to boot. Moreover, a solemn procession 
and thanksgiving w^ere appointed in gratitude to the three 
holy corpses which had rescued from such calamity the land 
affording them burial.' 

Pope Hildebrand, one of the prime movers of the Norman 
invasion of England, excommunicated Harold and his sup- 
porters, and despatched a sacred banner, as well as a 
diamond ring enclosing one of the Apostle Peter's hairs, to 

The mediaeval romances abound in allusions to the won- 
derful virtues of rings. These were cherished conceits 
among the old writers. In the fabulous history of Ogier 
le Danois the fairy Morgana gives that hero a ring, which, 
although at that time he was one hundred years old, gives 
him the appearance of a man of thirty. After a lapse of 
two hundred years Ogier appears at the court of France, 


where the secret of his transformation is found out by the 
old Countess of SenHs, who, while making love to him, 
draws the talisman from his finger, and places it on her own. 9 
She instantly blossoms into youth, while Ogier as suddenly 
sinks into decrepitude. The Countess, however, is forced to 
give back the ring, and former appearances are restored, but 
as she had discovered the virtues of the ring, she employs 
thirty champions to regain it, all of whom are successfully 
defeated by Ogier. 

In the ' Vision of Pierce Plowman ' (about 1350) the poet 
speaks of a woman whose fingers were all embellished with 
rings of gold, set with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, 
and also Oriental stones or arjiulets to prevent any poisonous 

In the romance of ' Sir Perceval of Galles ' the knight 

obtains surreptitious possession of a ring endowed with J 

mysterious qualities : — ' 

Suche a vertue es in the stane 
In alle thys werlde wote I nane, 

Siche stone in a rynge ; 
A mane that had it in were, 
One his body for to here, 
There scholde no dyntys hym dere, 

Ne to the dethe brynge. 

So in ' Sir Eglamour of Artois ' : — 

Seyde Organata that swete thynge 
Y schalle geve the a gode golde rynge 

With a fulle ryche stone, 
Whedur that ye be on water or on londe, 
And that rynge be upon yowre honde, 

Ther schall nothyng yow slon. 

The ring, a gift to Canace, daughter of King Cambuscan, 
in the ' Squire's Tale ' of Chaucer, taught the language of 
birds, and also imparted to the wearer a knowledge of 



plants, which formed an important part of the Arabian 

philosophy : — 

The vertue of this ring, if ye wol here, 

Is this, that if hire list it for to were. 

Upon hire thomb, or in hire purse it bere. 

There is no fowie that fleeth under haven. 

That she ne shal wel onderstond his Steven (language) 

And know his mening openlie and plaine, 

And answere him in his langage againe, ' 

(And every gras that groweth upon rote, 
I . She shal eke know and whom it wol do bote, 

\ Ail be his woundes never so depe and wide. 

In the romance of Ywain and Gawaine (supposed to 
have been written in the reign of Henry VI.), when the 
knight is in perilous confinement, a lady looks out of a 
wicket which opened in the walls of the gateway, and releases 
him. She gives him a ring : — 

I sal leue the her mi ring, 
Bot yelde it me at myne askyng. 
When thou ert broght of al thi payn, 
Yelde it than to me ogayne : 
Als the bark kills the tre, 
Right so sal my ring do the ; 
When thou in hand hast the stane, 
Der (harm) sal thai do the nane ; 
For the stane es of swilk might, 
Of the sal men have na syght — 

* To understand the language of birds was peculiarly one of the 
boasted sciences of the Arabians. Their writers relate that Balkis, the 
Queen of Sheba, or Saba, had a bird called Huddud, a lapwing, which 
she despatched to King Solomon on various occasions, and that this 
trusty bird was the messenger of their amours. We are told that Solo- 
mon, having been secretly informed by the winged confidant that 
Balkis intended to honour him with a grand embassy, enclosed a 
spacious square with a wall of gold and silver bricks, in which he 
ranged his numerous troops and attendants, in order to receive the 
ambassadors, who were astonished at the suddenness of these splendid 
and unexpected preparations. 


thus possessing the power ascribed to the ring of Gyges. 
In a story of the ' Gseta Romanorum ' a father, on his death- 
bed, gives a ring to his son, the virtue of which was that 
whoever wore it would obtain the love of all men. 

In chapter x. of the same work the Emperor Ves- 
pasian marries a wife in a distant country, who refuses to 
return home with him, and yet declares that she will kill her- 
self if he leaves her. In this dilemma the emperor orders 
two rings to be made having wonderful efficacious pro- 
perties ; one represents on a precious stone the figure of 
Oblivion, and the other bears the image of Memory. The 
former he gives to the empress, the latter he keeps himself 
Chapter cxx. contains the story of the legacy of King 
Darius to his three sons. The eldest receives his inherit- 
ance, the second all that had been acquired by conquest, and 
the third a ring, a necklace, and a rich mantle, all of which 
possess magical properties. He who wore the ring gained 
the love and favour of all ; the collar obtained all that the 
heart could desire, and whoever laid down on the mantle 
would be instantly transported to any part of the world he 
might desire to visit. 

In the romance of ' Melusine,' the heroine, when about 
to leave the house of her husband, gives him two rings, and 
says : ' My sweet love, you see here two rings which have 
both the same virtue, and know well for truth, so long as 
you possess them, or one of them, you shall never be over- 
come in pleading, nor in battle, if your cause be rightful, 
and neither you nor others who may possess them shall ever 
die by any weapons.' 

The ring given by the Princess Rigmel to Horn possessed 
similar properties, as also the ring in the 'Little Rose- 
garden/ given by the Lady Similt to her brother Dietlieb. 


In Orlando's ' Inamorata ' the palace and gardens ot 
Dragontina vanish at Angelica's ring of virtue, which also 
enables her to become invisible. 

Now that she this upon her hand surveys, 

She is so full of pleasure and surprise, 

She doubts it is a dream, and, in amaze, 

Hardly believes her very hand and eyes. 

Then softly to her mouth the hoop conveys, 

And, quicker than the flash which cleaves the skies, 

From bold Rogero's sight her beauty shrouds. 

As disappears the sun concealed in clouds. 

Lydgate, in his 'Troy book' (15 13), relates how Medea 
gives to lason, when he is going to combat the brazen bulls, 
and to lull to sleep the dragon that guarded the golden 
fleece, a ring, in which was a gem charmed against poison, 
and would render the wearer invisible. ' It was a sort of 
precious stone,' says Lydgate, 'which Virgil celebrates, 
and which Venus sent her son ^neas that he might enter 

In the metricalromance of 'Richard Coeur-de-Lion,' King 
Modard gives him : — 

Two riche rings of gold : 

The stones wherein be full bold. 

Hence to the land of Ind, 

Better than they shalt thou not find. 

For whoso hath that one stone. 

Water ne shall him drench none. 

That other stone whoso that bear 

Fire ne shall him never dere (hurt). 

In * Floire and Blanceflor ' the latter, drawing from her 
finger a ring containing a small talisman, says to her lover : 
' Floire, accept this as a pledge of our mutual love ; look on it 
every day ; if thou seest its brilliancy tarnished, it is a sign 
that my life or my liberty is in danger.' 


In another part of the story, when going in search of 
Blanceflor, who has been carried away, Floire receives a 
ring from his mother : ' Have now, Hef son, this ring : whilst 
thou preservest it neither fire shall burn, nor water drown, 
nor weapon injure thee, and all thy wants shall be instantly 

In the ' Archseologia ' (vol. xix. p. 411) is a notice of a 
gold ring found in the ruins of the palace at Eltham, in 
Kent, bearing on the side edges of the interior the following 
inscription : — 

Qui me portera ecploitera 
Et a grant Joye revendra. 

Who wears me shall perform exploits, 
And with great Joy shall return : 

implying that the ring was an amulet, and may, possibly, 
have been presented to some distinguished personage when 
setting out for the Holy Land in the time of the Crusades. 

Amulet ring. 

The ring is set with an oriental ruby and five diamonds, 
placed at equal distances round the exterior. 

The inscription is in small Gothic characters, but re- 
markably well- formed and legible. The shape of the ruby 


is an irregular oval, while the diamonds are all of a tri- 
angular form and in their natural crystallised state. 

An emerald ring was thought to ensure purity of thought 
and conduct. In ' Caltha Poetarium, or the Humble Bee,' 
by T. Cutwode (1599), Diana is represented adorning the 
heroine of the piece : — 

And, with an emerald, hangs she on a ring 
That keeps just reckoning of our chastity : 

And, therefore, ladies, it behoves you well 
To walk full warily when stones will tell. 

In the ballad of ' Northumberland betrayed by Douglas, ' 
Mary, a Douglas that dabbled in sorcery, shows the 
chamberlain of Earl Percy, James Swynard, the foes of the 
former in the field, through the 'weme' (hollow) of her 
ring :— 

I never was on English ground, 

Ne never sawe it with mine eye, 
But as my book it sheweth me, 

And through my ring I may descrye. 

The treachery of Earl Douglas is thus foreshadowed, and 
the chamberlain returns sorrowfully to his master with the 
news of what he had seen. Earl Percy, however, is deter- 
mined to keep his hunting appointment with Douglas : — 

Now nay, now nay, good James Svi^ard, 
I may not believe that witch ladye ; 

The Douglasses were ever true, 

And they can ne'er prove false to me. 

The * witch-ladye ' who effects such powerful influences 
with her magic ring is, nevertheless, rewarded for her 
warnings : — 


He writhe a gold ring from his finger 

And gave itt to that gay ladye ; 
Sayes ' it was all that I cold save _ 

In Harley woods where I cold bee * (where I was). '^ 

A ring story in which the Venus of antiquity assumes 
the manners of one of the Fays, or Fatae of romance, is 
quoted by Sir Walter Scott in his notes to the ' Minstrelsy 
of the Scottish Border.' It is related by Fordun in his 
' Scotichronicon/ by Matthew of Westminster, and Roger of 
Wendover. In the year 1058 a young man of noble birth 
had been married at Rome, and during the period of the 
nuptial feast, having gone with his companions to play at 
ball, he put his marriage-ring on the finger of a broken 
statue of Venus in the area to remain while he was engaged 
in the recreation. Desisting from the exercise he found the 
finger on which he had placed the ring, contracted firmly 
against the palm, and attempted in vain either to break it, 
or to disengage his ring. He concealed the circumstance 
from his companions, and returned at night with a servant, 
when he found the finger extended and his ring gone. He 
dissembled the loss and returned to his wife ; but whenever 
he attempted to embrace her he found himself prevented by 
something dark and dense, which was tangible, though not 
visible, interposing between them, and he heard a voice 
saying : ' Embrace me, for I am Venus whom you this day 
wedded, and I will not restore your ring.' As this was con- 
stantly repeated, he consulted his relations, who had 
recourse to Palumbus, a priest skilled in necromancy. He 
directed the young man to go at a certain hour of the night 
to a spot among the ancient ruins of Rome, where four 
roads met, and wait silently until he saw a company pass by ; 
and then, without uttering a word, to deliver a letter which 


tie gave him to a majestic being who rode in a chariot after 
the rest of the company. The young man did so, and saw 
a company of all ages, sexes, and ranks, on horse and on 
foot, some joyful and others sad, pass along ; among whom 
he distinguished a woman in a meretricious dress, who, from 
the tenuity of her garments, seemed almost naked. She rode 
on a mule ; her long hair, which flowed over her shoulders, 
was bound with a golden fillet, and in her hand was a gold 
rod with which she directed the mule. In the close of the 
procession a tall majestic figure appeared in a chariot 
adorned with emeralds and pearls, who fiercely asked the 
young man what he did there. He presented the letter 
in silence, which the demon dared not refuse. As soon as 
he had read, lifting up his hands to heaven, he exclaimed : 
' Almighty God, how long wilt thou endure the iniquities of 
the sorcerer Palumbus ? ' and immediately despatched some 
of his attendants, who, with much difficulty, extorted the 
ring from Venus, and restored it to its owner, whose infernal 
bands were thus dissolved.^ 

* Moore, in his juvenile poem of the ' Ring,' has made use of this 
legend, and added considerably to its fanciful conceptions : — 

♦ Young Rupert for his wedding-ring 

Unto the statue went, 
But, ah ! how was he shock'd to find 
The marble finger bent ! 

* The hand was closed upon the ring 

With firm and mighty clasp ; 
In vain he tried, and tried, and tried, 
He could not loose the grasp,' 

Austin is the hermit that Rupert seeks, and whose aid enables him to 
regain the ring from the female fiend : — 

" In Austin's name take back the ring, 
The ring thou gav'st to me ; 


Another mediaeval story is founded on the same myth, 
but purified and Christianised. A knight is playing at ball 
and incommoded by his ring. He therefore removes it, and 
places it for safety on the finger of a statue of the Blessed 
Virgin. On seeking it again he finds the hand of the finger 
clasped, and is unable to recover his ring ; whereupon the 
knight renounces the world, and, as the betrothed of the 
Virgin, enters a monastery. 

Gifts of rings to the Virgin were common in the Middle 
Ages. Monstrelet relates that at the execution of the 
Constable of France, Louis de Luxembourg, in the reign of 
Louis XL, he took a gold ring set with a diamond from his 
finger, and, giving it to the Penitentiary, desired he would 
offer it to the image of the Virgin Mary, and place it on her 
finger, which he promised to perform. 

Mr. J. Baring Gould, in his 'Curious Myths of the 
Middle Ages,' relates a legend by Caesarius of Heisterboch 
of a similar character to that of Venus and the ring. A 
certain clerk, Philip, a great necromancer, took some 
Swabian and Bavarian youths to a lonely spot in a field, 
where, at their desire, he proceeded to perform incantations. 
First, he drew a circle round them with his sword, and 
warned them on no consideration to leave the ring. 

Then, retiring from them a little space, he began his in- 
cantations, and suddenly there appeared around the youths 
a multitude of armed men brandishing weapons, and daring 

And thou'rt to me no longer wed, 
Nor longer I to thee, " 

' He took the ring, the rabble pass'd, 
He home returned again ; 
His wife M^as then the happiest fair, 
The happiest he of men.' 


them to fight. The demons, failing to draw them by this 
means from their enchanted circle, vanished, and there was 
seen a company of beautiful damsels, dancing about the 
ring, and by their attitudes alluring the youths towards them. 
One of them, exceeding in beauty and grace the others, 
singled out a youth, and, dancing before him, extended to 
him a ring of gold, casting languishing glances towards him, 
and, by all the means in her power, endeavouring to attract 
his attention and kindle his passion. The young man, un- 
able to resist any longer, put forth his finger beyond the 
circle to take the ring, and the apparition at once drew 
him towards her, and vanished with him. However, after 
much trouble, the necromancer was able to recover him from 
the evil spirit. 

* The incident of the ring,' remarks Mr. Gould, ' in con- 
nexion with the ancient goddess, is certainly taken from the 
old religion of the Teutonic and Scandinavian peoples. 
Freyja was represented in her temples holding a ring in 
her hand ; so was Thorgerda Hordabnida. , The Faereyinga 
Saga relates an event in the life of the Faroese hero Sigmund 
Brestesson, which is to the point. " They (Earl Hakon 
and Sigmund) went to the temple, and the earl fell on the 
ground before her statue, and there he lay long. The statue 
was richly dressed, and had a hea\y gold ring on the arm. 
And the earl stood up and touched the ring, and tried to 
remove it, but could not ; and it seemed to Sigmund as 
though she frowned. Then the earl said : ' She is not pleased 
with thee, Sigmund, and I do not know whether I shall be 
able to reconcile you ; but that shall be the token of her 
favour, if she gives us the ring which she has in her hand.* 
Then the earl took much silver, and laid it on her footstool 
before her, and again he flung himself before her, and 

K 2 


Sigmund noticed that he wept profusely. And when he 
stood up he took the ring, and she let go of it. Then the 
earl gave it to Sigmund and said : ' I give thee this ring to 
thy weal ; never part with it ; ' and Sigmund promised he 
would not." 

' This ring occasions the death of the Faroese chief. In 
after years King Olaf, who converts him to Christianity, 
knowing that this gold ring is a relic of paganism, asks 
Sigmund to give it to him ; the chief refuses, and the king 
angrily pronounces a warning that it will be the cause of his 
death. And his word falls true, for Sigmund is murdered in 
his sleep for the sake of the ring.' 

There was no limit to the credulity of believers in the 
mystic in the middle and even in later ages. Sir Walter Scott, 
in his ' Demonology and Witchcraft,' remarks that the early 
dabblers in astrology and chemistry, although denying the use 
of all necromancy — that is, unlawful or black magic — pre- 
tended always to a correspondence with the various spirits 
of the elements, on the principle of the Rosicrucian philo- 
sophy. They affirmed that they could bind to their service, 
and imprison in a ring, a mirror, or a stone, some fairy sylph 
or salamander, and compel it to appear when called, and 
render answers to such questions as the viewer should pro- 
pose.' ^ 

In the reign of Henry VIII. (1533) Jones, the famous, 
or rather infamous, ' Oxford Conjurer,' told his dupe. Sir 
William Neville, that amongst other marvels he could make 
rings of gold which would ensure the favour of great men to 
those who wore them. He said 'that my lord cardinal 
(Wolsey) had such,' and he promised one to Sir William and 
his brother. 2 

^ Appendix. ^ Appendix. 


It is not a little curious that Henry VIII. himself, the de- 
spoiler of monasteries, and, to a certain extent, the uprooter of 


many superstitious practices, placed such faith in the tra- 
ditional virtues of a jewel that had for ages decked the 
shrine of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury that he caused 
it to be placed in a ring, which he constantly wore after- 
wards, in the manner of those times, on his enormous thumb. 
The last time that this jewel appears in history is among the 
' diamonds ' of the golden collar of his daughter Queen 
Mary, who, although a bigoted Roman Catholic, did not 
scruple to wear the spoils of a shrine. This jewel was called 
the ' royal of France ' having been presented to the shrine of 
the murdered Archbishop by King Louis VII. in 1179.^ 

Religious charms were of exhaustless variety. In the 
Braybrooke Collection is a bone charm-ring, surmounted 
by a circular signet, on which is engraved the crucifix, with 

' A curious legend is connected with this famous jewel. The 
French monarch had visited the shrine of the saint to discharge a vow 
which he had made in battle, and he knelt before it with the stone set 
in a ring on his finger. The officiating prelate entreated the King to 
bestow the jewel on the shrine, but as the jewel ensured good luck, 
Louis hesitated, but offered, in compensation, one hundred thousand 
florins. The prelate was satisfied, but the saint evidently was not, for 
the stone leaped from the ring and fastened itself to the shrine. So 
bright was the stone that it was impossible to look at it distinctly, and 
at night it burned like fire. 


our Saviour upon it, and the two Maries standing on either 
side of the stem : round the edge of the signet is the inscrip- 
tion ' In hoc signo vinces,' headed with a small cross. 

In the ' Journal of the Archaeological Institute ' (vol. 
iii. p. 358) is an account of a curious magical ring, found 
on the coast of Glamorganshire, near to the * Worm's Head,' 
the western extremity of the county, where numerous objects 
have been found at various times on the shifting of the 
sand, such as fire-arms, an astrolabe, and silver dollars. 
This ring is of gold, much bent and defaced, and inscribed 
with mystic words both inside and outside the hoop. 


F4^^ e B AL ' 6V T > 6 VTrANT] 

Talismanic ring 

'The talismanic character of these mysterious words 
seems to be sufficiently proved by comparison with the 
physical charms given in an English medical MS., preserved 
at Stockholm, and published by the Society of Antiquaries. 
Amongst various cabalistic prescriptions is found one " for 
peynys in theth . . . Boro berto briore + vulnera quinque 
dei sint medecina mei + Tahebal + ghether (or guthman) 
4- + + Onthman," &c. The last word should probably 
be read Guthman, and it is succeeded by five crosses, pro- 
bably in allusion to the five wounds of the Saviour.' It is 


upposed that this ring and the other remains alluded to 
ndicate the spot where a Spanish or Portuguese vessel was 
wrecked about two hundred years ago. 

The following engraving, from the 'Archaeological 
Journal' (vol. iii. p. 267), represents another cabalistic ring, 
found in Worcestershire, and the property of Mr. Jabez 
Allies. It is of base metal, plated with gold, and is, appa- 
rently, of the fourteenth century. 


Talistnanic ring. 

In the * Archaeological Journal' (vol. v. p. 159) is an 
engraving and description of a curious talismanic ring, with 
an inscription showing stronger evidence of oriental origin 
than any heretofore noticed, the Greek letters theta and 
gamma occurring twice in the legend. The discovery 
of this relic, which is of gold, weighing 56 grains, was singu- 
lar. It was found in digging up the roots of an old oak-tree 
which had been blown down by a violent wind in 1846, on 
a farm called the 'Rookery,' in the parish of Calne, Wilt- 
shire, belonging to Mr. Thomas Poynder, who thinks that 
the spot where the ring was found was in the track of the 
fugitive Royalists, after the battle at Rounday Hill, near 
Devizes, on their retreat towards Oxford, where the King's 
head- quarters were stated to be at that time. This curious 



ring is divided into eight compartments, with a row of three 
Httle rounded points, or studs, between each. The hoop is 
bent irregularly, so that the inner circle presents seven 


Talismanic ring. 

straight sides, but the angles thus formed do not correspond 
precisely with the external divisions. 

A talismanic ring of gold found in Coventry Park in 1802, 
represents in the centre device Christ rising from the sepulchre, 

Talismanic ring. 

and in the background are shown the hammer, sponge, and 
other emblems of the Passion. On the left is figured the 
wound at the side, with an inscription ' the well of ewer- 


lastingh lyffe.' In the next compartment, two smaller 
wounds, v/ith * the well of confort,' ' the well of gracy,' and 
aftenvards two other wounds inscribed ' the well of pitty,' 
'the well of merci.' 

From some small remains it is evident that the figure of 
our Saviour, with all the inscriptions, had been filled with black 
enamel, whilst the wounds and drops of blood issuing from 
them were appropriately distinguished by red. On the in- 
side of the ring is the following inscription : 'Wulneraquinq' 
dei sunt medecina mei, pia crux et passio xpi sunt medecina 
michi, Jaspar, Melchior, Baltasar, ananyzapta tetragramma- 

In the ' Archaeologia ' (vol. xviii.) it is stated that Sir 
Edward Shaw, goldsmith and alderman of London, by his 
will {circa 1487), directed to be made sixteen rings of 'fyne 
gold, to be graven with the well of pitie, the well of mercie, 
and the^well of everlasting life.' 

It is, perhaps, impossible now to explain the import ol 
the legends which occur on certain mediaeval rings, and 
devices which are probably, in many cases, anagrammatic,and 
the original orthography of the legend corrupted and changed 
in others ; but they, no doubt, had a taHsmanic meaning. A 
gold ring found in Rockingham Forest in 1841 has inscribed 
on the outer side, guttv : gutta : madros : adros ; and in 
the inner side, vdros : udros : thebal. A thin gold ring 
discovered in a garden at Newark in 1741 was inscribed 
with the words Agla : Thalcvt : Calcvt : Cattama. 

The mystic word, or anagram, Agla is engraved on the 
inner side of a silver ring (of the fourteenth centur)-) found 
in 1846 on the site of the cemetery of St. Owen's, which 
stood on the west site of Gloucester, a little Avithout the 
south gate, and was destroyed during the siege of 1643. On 



the outside of the ring is engraved + Ave Maria, and 
within appear the letters Agla, with the symbol of the cross 
between each letter. The weight of the ring is 20 grs. The 
term Agla designated in the East a wand of dignity or office, 
and may possibly have been used in connection with magical 
or alchemical operations. 

There is a notice of a curious magical ring against leprosy 
in the 'Archaeologia' (vol. xxi. p. 25, 120). In the Londes- 
borough Collection is a ' religious,' or ' superstitious ' ring of 
silver, the workmanship of which dates it at the end of the 
fifteenth century, and which is supposed to have been worn 
as a charm against St. Vitus's dance. To a circular plate 
are attached three large bosses, and, between each, two smaller 
bosses, all the nine of which are hollow, and were filled, 
apparently, by some resinous substance. On the three 
larger bosses are engraved the letters S. M. V. (Sancta 
Maria Virgo) in relief 

In the same collection is a gold ring of the same century, 
the face engraved with St. Christopher bearing the infant 
Saviour, worn as a charm against sudden death, more 
particularly by drowning. 

It is very delicately engraved. The circle is formed by 
ten lozenges, each of which bears a letter of the inscription, 
' de boen cuer.' 

Amulet rings. 

Sir John Woodford is in possession of a gold ring found 
on the field of Azincourt, which bears the inscription Burg. 



Berto. Beriora. These mystic words occur likewise in 
the charm against tooth-ache given in the Stockholm MS. 
('Archaeological Journal,' vol. iv. p. 78). 

A thumb-ring was discovered a few years since in the 
coffin of an ecclesiastic, in Chichester Cathedral, set with 
an Abraxas gem,^ an agate ; the deceased churchman, it 
may be well believed, had worn it guiltless of all knowledge 
of Alexandrine pantheism. The ring was of gold, and was 
found on the right-hand thumb-bone of a skeleton, the 
supposed remains of Seffrid, Bishop of Chichester, a.d. 1125. 

A very large ring, bearing great resemblance to the 
episcopal ring, was occasionally worn as a thumb-ring by the 
laity. In the Londesborough Collection is a fine specimen. 

Cabalistic ring. 

It is somewhat roughly formed of mixed metal, and has 
upon the circular face a conventional representation of a 
monkey looking at himself in a hand-mirror. This is sur- 

• Abraxas-stones were so called from having the word Abraxas or 
Abrasax engraved on them. They are cut in various forms, and bear 
a variety of capricious symbols, mostly composed of human limbs, a 
fowl's head and serpent's body. These gems are represented as coming 
from Syria, Egypt, and Spain. It is certain that the use of the name 
Abraxas was at first peculiar to the Gnostic sect of the Basilideans. 
There is little doubt that the greater part of the Abraxas-stones were 
made in the Middle Ages as talismans. 


rounded by a cable-moulding, and on each side is set two 
large stones. The outer edge of this ring is also decorated 
with a heavy cable-moulding ; inside, next the figure, is the 
cross and sacred monogram, placed on each side of the 
mystic word anamzapta, showing it to be a charm-ring. 

Another mystical ring in the same collection is inscribed, 
on an oval boss, hExh ; the workmanship, probably English, 
of about the fifteenth century. This ring was bought at Ely. 
Heth was the sacred name of Jehovah. Dr. Dee and similar 
Gnostics composed several mystical arrangements founded 
on these four letters. 

Mystical ring. 

The Londesborough Collection has also a massive thumb- 
ring, having the tooth of some animal as its principal gem, 
supposed to have mystic power over its possessor. It is 
set all around with precious stones to ensure its potency. 

Mystical ring. 

The last leaf of the ' Theophilus ' MS. of the fourteenth 
century has : 'Against the falling sickness, write these characters 
upon a ring ; outside, + ou. thebal gut guthani ; inside, -j- 
eri gerari.' 



A ring that had belonged to Remigius, being dipped in 
holy water, furnished, it is said, a good drink for fever and 
other diseases. 

The sacred names of ' Jesus,' ' Maria,' and ' Joseph ' 
were formerly inscribed on rings, and worn as preservatives 
against the plague. Rings simply made of gold were sup- 
posed to cure St. Antony's fire, but if inscribed with magical 
words their effect was irresistible. 

A representation is annexed of an amulet ring found 
near Oxford, about 1805, bearing an inscription Sca. Bar., 
Sancta Barbara. The legend of St. Barbara calls her a 
patroness against storms and lightning. 

Amulet ring. 

The following engraving represents an amulet wedding- 
ring, conjectured to be the figure of St. Catherine with her 
wheel, being an emblem oi good fortune ; the other being 

Amulet ring. 

probably, St. Margaret (with the church), an emblem of her 

faith, wisdom, constancy, and fortitude : time of Richard II. 

Rings in which pieces of what was asserted to be the ' true 



cross ' were placed are sometimes met with in old writings. 
St. Gregory states that his sister wore one of this kind. 
That this belief was not always credited is seen in the case 
of an exchange of rings between a bishop and an abbot in 
the annals of St. Alban's Abbey. This occurred in the reign 
of Richard II., when the Bishop of Lincoln (Beaufort) gave 
his to John, fifth abbot of St. Alban's, for one containing a 
piece of the true cross, and was therefore earnestly prized 
and begged for by the bishop. Whether the prelate had his 
misgivings as to the alleged sanctity of the splinter, or con- 
sidered the garniture of the ring too plain, he very soon 
after informed the abbot that his own ring was the most 
valuable of the two, and the difference in value must be 
paid to him in money. In his zeal for his material interests 
the bishop overlooked the assurances of friendship which 
the exchange conveyed, and the abbot was obliged to give 
him five pounds. 

Relics of martyrs and saints were frequently inserted in 
rings : in the Londesborough Collection is a silver reHquary, 
probably intended for the thumb. It has a heart engraved 
on a lozenge, the reliquary being enclosed beneath. It was 
found in the ruins of the abbey of St. Bertin, at St. Omer. 

In the possession of Lady Fitz Hardinge is a remarkable 
reliquary ring, of admirable workmanship, probably of the 
tenth century, perhaps Anglo-Saxon, but possibly of Irish 
(Celtic) origin. It is of gold with very large expanded bezel, 
cruciform or quatrefoil, i| in. wide. In the centre is a 
raised boss, intended, possibly, to contain a relic, as the 
ring is, no doubt, ecclesiastical ; from this radiates four 
monsters' heads, similar to those on early Irish work, 
marked with thin lines of niello, the eyes formed of dots of 


dark glass pastes, the whole edged with fine corded orna- 

In the collection of Mr. R. H. Soden Smith is a reliquary- 
gold ring, having suspended on the bezel side a small gold 
relic-case, chased with two crosses, and edged with beaded 
work of the twelfth century. 

Mr. Fairholt describes a curious Venetian ring, the bezel 
formed like a box to contain relics. The face of the ring 
has a representation of St. Mark seated, holding his gospel 
and giving a benediction. The spaces between this figure 
and the oval border are perforated, so that the interior of 
the box is visible, and the relic enshrined might be seen. 

Liceti, a Genoese physician of the seventeenth century, 
who wrote a book on rings, ascribed the want of virtue in 
medicated rings to their small size, observing that the 
larger the ring or the gem contained in it, the greater was 
the effect. He endeavoured to prove that the Philistines, 
when they were punished for touching the ark of Israel, 
wore rings on their fingers with the image of the disease en- 
graved on them by way of expiation. 

The names of the Three Kings of Cologne constituted a 
popular charm against diseases and evil influences in the 
Middle Ages. The late Crofton Croker, in his description of 
the rings in the Londesborough Collection, mentions one 
dating from the fourteenth, or early in the fifteenth century. 

Rings of the Magi. 

engraved outside with these names : Gasper : Melchior : 
Baltazar : in. God. is. a. r. — the latter words, probably, 


implying ' in God is a remedy.' The three Kings were 
supposed to be the Wise Men (according to the legend, 
three Kings of Arabia) who made offerings to our Saviour. 
Their bodies travelled first to Constantinople, thence to 
Milan, and, lastly, to Cologne, by various removals.^ These 

' The shrine of the Magi, in Cologne Cathedral, dates from the 
twelfth century. The central subject is the Virgin with the infant 
Jesus ; on the left, the Adoration of the Three Kings, accompanied by 
the Emperor Otho IV. On the right, the Baptism of Christ by John 
the Baptist, in presence of an angel. All these figures are of pure gold, 
and in full relief The architectural decorations are covered with 
enamels and precious stones. Above these figures is a cover of silver- 
gilt, on removing which the skulls of the Three Kings are seen, with 
their names, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, traced in rubies. The 
crowns of copper gilt replace those of massive gold, which disappeared 
during the revolutionary storms. They weighed each six pounds, and 
were enriched with fine pearls and an aigrette of diamonds. Above 
the relics is the figure of Christ, as the Judge of men, between two 
angels, who hold the instruments of the Passion. This reliquary is 5^ 
feet long, by three wide, 5 feet high. It was begun in 1 1 70, and made 
by order of Archbishop Philip von Heinsberg. In the Rosicrucian 
theory, Caspar, or Caspar, is the ' White One ; ' Melchior is the ' King 
of Light ; ' Beltasar, the ' Lord of Treasures.' Balthasar, or Balthazar, 
is the septuagint spelling of Belshazzar. Tahsmanic rings and other 
objects were manufactured largely for sale to the pilgrims at the shrine 
of the ' Three Kings.' 

Mr. Thomas Wright, M. A. , has, in his edition of the ' Chester 
Plays,' described, at length, this popular legend. 

A magic ring was found a few years ago at Dunwich, with this 
inscription : — 

'Jasper fert myrrham ; thus Melchior ; Balthasar aurum, 
Hsec tria qui secum portabit nomina Regum, 
Solvitur a morbo, Christi pietate, caduco.' 

Bishop Patrick, in his ' Reflections on the Devotions of the 
Roman Church,' 1674, asks, with assumed naivete ^ how these names 
of the Three Wise Men — Melchior, Balthazar, and Jasper — are to be of 
service, ' when another tradition says they were Apellius, Amerus, and 
Damascus ; a third, that they were Megalath, Galgalath, and Sarasin ; 
and a fourth calls them Ator, Sator, and Peratoras ; which last I should 
choose (in this uncertainty), as having the more kingly sound.' 


three potent names have continued as a charm even to a 
late period ; for, in January 1 748-9, one William Jackson, a 
Roman Catholic, and a proscribed smuggler, being sen- 
tenced to death at Chichester, had a purse taken from his 
person, containing the following scrap : — 

Sancti tres Reges, 
Caspar, Melchior, Baltasar, 
Orate pro nobis nunc et in hora 
Mortis nostrae. 

The paper on which this invocation was written had 
touched the heads of the Three Kings at Cologne. 

In ' Reynard the Fox,' the hero of that satirical work, 
describing the treasure he pretends to have discovered for 
the sole benefit of his royal master and mistress, says : 
* Oon of them was a rynge of fyne gold, and within the 
rynge next the fyngre were wreton lettres enameld wyth 
sable and asure, and there were three Hebrew names 
therein, y cpude not myself rede ne spelle them, for I onder- 
stand not that language, but mayster Abryon of Tryers, he 
is a wise man, he onderstandeth wel al maner of langages, 
and the virtue of al maner of herbes. And yet he byleveth 
not in God, he is a Jewe, the wysest in conynge, and 
specyally he knoweth the virtue of stones. I shewed him 
thys ryng, he sayd that they were the thre names that Seth 
brought out of Paradys, when he brought to his fader Adam 
the oyle of mercy. And whomsoever bereth on hym thyse 
thre names, he shal never be hurte by throndre ne by lyght- 
ning, ne no wytchcraft shal have no power over hym, ne be 
tempted to doo synne ; and also he shall never take harme 
by colde though he laye thre w)mters long nyghtes in the 
felde though it snowed, stormed, or froze never soo sore, so 
grete myghte have these wordes.' 



The stone set in the ring and its wonderful properties 
are then enumerated, and the conclusion is : ' I thought in 
myself that I was not able ne worthy to here it, and there- 
fore I sent it to my dere lord, the Kyng, for I knew hym 
for the moost noble that now lyveth, and also all our wel- 
fare and worship lyeth on hym, and for he shold be kepte 
fro al drede, nede, and ungeluck/ 

While the names of saints were employed for the pre- 
vention or relief of bodily ailments, those of * devils ' were 
made the agency for criminal objects ; thus we read in 
Monstrelet's ' Chronicles,' that in the plea of justification 
made by the Duke of Burgundy for the assassination of 
Louis, Duke of Orleans, in 1407, he accused the latter of 
having conspired against the King of France by means of 
sorcery. Among other things a ring was made use of * in 
the name of devils.' A monk undertook this ' who per- 
formed many superstitious acts near a bush, with invocations 
to the devil.' Two evil spirits appeared to him in the shape 
of two men, one of whom took the ring, which had been 
placed on the ground, and vanished. After half an hour he 
returned, and gave the ring to the monk, ' which to the sight 
was the colour of red, nearly scarlet,' and said to him : 
' Thou wilt put it into the mouth of a dead man in the manner 
thou knowest,' and then vanished. The monk obeyed these 
instructions * thinking to burn the lord our King.' 

Mr. Fairholt describes a mechanical ring, of mystic sig- 
nification, as one of the most curious rings in the Londes- 
borough Collection. The outside of the hoop is perfectly 
plain, and is set with a ruby and amethyst. Upon pressing 
these stones a spring opens, and discovers the surface 
covered with magical signs and names of spirits ; among 
them Asmodiel, Nachiel, and Zamiel occur, a similar series 


occupying the interior of the hoop. Such a ring might be 
worn without suspicion of its true import, looking simplicity 
itself, but fraught with unholy meaning. It was, probably, 
constructed for some German mystic philosopher, at a time 
when students like Faust devoted themselves and their for- 
tune to occult sciences, believing in the philosopher's stone, 
the elixir of life, and the power given to man to control the 
unseen world of spirits. 

Cabalistic ring. 

Among the charges brought against Joan of Arc were 
that she had charmed rings to secure victory over her 

The ancient physicians and empirics employed numerous 
charms for the cure of diseases, and the practice was 
common among the medical professors of the middle and 
lower Roman empire. Marcellus, a physician who lived in 
the reign of Marcus Aurelius, directs the patient who is 
afflicted with a pain in the side to wear a ring of pure gold, 
inscribed with some Greek letters, on a Thursday, at the 
decrease of the moon. It was to be worn on the right hand 
if the pain was on the left side, and vue versd. Trallian, 
another physician, living in the fourth century, cured the 
colic and all bilious complaints by means of an octangular 
ring of iron, on which eight words were to be engraved, 
commanding the bile to take possession of a lark ! A magic 
diagram was to be added. He tells us that he had great 


experience in this remedy, and had considered it extremely 
foolish to omit recording so valuable a treasure, but he par- 
ticularly enjoined keeping it a secret from the profane 
vulgar, according to an admonition of Hippocrates, that 
sacred things are for sacred persons only. He recommends 
also a cure for the stone by wearing a copper ring with the 
figure of a lion, a crescent, and a star, to be placed on the 
fourth finger; and for the colic in general a ring with 
Hercules strangling the Nemsean lion. 

Michaelis, a physician of Leipsic, had a ring made of a 
sea-horse's tooth, which he applied to all diseases indis- 
criminately,^ but jasper was the favourite substance em- 
ployed when a particular disorder was in question. 

Rings with Mottoes, worn as Medicaments. 


Galen mentions a green jasper amulet belonging to the 
Egyptian King Nechepsus, who lived 630 years before the 
Christian era. It was cut in the form of a dragon surrounded 
with rays, and worn to strengthen the organs of digestion. 

The numerous magical properties of the jasper made 
it a favourite among the Gnostic or Basilidian gems. 

At a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries in March 

^ The horn of the narwhal (which in the Middle Ages passed for the 
horn of the unicorn) was supposed to possess, among other virtues, 
that of neutralising and detecting the presence of poison. Various old 
writers relate that it became agitated when placed in contact with a 
poisoned body, and the most efficacious antidote to poison was the 
water in which it had been steeped. A piece of the horn was attached 
to a chain of gold, in order that it might be plunged into a dish without 
putting in the fingers. 


1875 ^^* Robert Ferguson, M.P., &c., exhibited among 
other rings, one of yellow metal, with Anglo-Saxon runes ; ^ 

' The Runic characters are of very remote antiquity, and of entirely 
pagan origin. They are attributed to Odin, whom tradition asserts to 
have been eminently skilful in the art of writing, as well for the com- 
mon purposes of life, as for the operations of magic. It is the earliest 
alphabet in use among the Teutonic and Gothic nations of Northern 
Europe. The name is derived from the Teutonic r^«, a mystery ; 
whence runa, a whisper, and helrun, divination. They were dis- 
tinguished into various kinds : the noxious — or, as they were called, the 
bitter — employed to bring various evils on their enemies ; th^ favourable 
averted misfortunes ; the victorious procured conquest to those who 
used them ; the medicinal were inscribed on the leaves of trees for 
healing ; others served to dispel melancholy thoughts ; to prevent ship- 
wreck ; were antidotes against poison ; preservatives against the anger 
of enemies ; efficacious to render a mistress favourable — these last were 
to be used with great caution. If an ignorant person had chanced to 
write one letter for another, or had erred in the minutest stroke, he 
would have exposed his mistress to some dangerous illness, which was 
only to be cured by writing other runes with the greatest niceness. All 
these various kinds differed only in the ceremonies observed in writing 
them, in the materials on which they were written, in the place where 
they were exposed, in the manner in which the lines were drawn, 
whether in the form of a circle, of a serpent, or a triangle, &c, 

'In the strict observance of these childish particulars consisted ' (re- 
marks Mallet in his * Northern Antiquities ') 'that obscure and ridiculous 
art which acquired to so many weak and wicked persons the respectable 
name of priests and prophetesses, merely for filling rude minds with so 
much jealousy, fear, and hatred.' 

Grimm states that the Anglo-Saxon Runic alphabet was derived from 
the Scandinavian at a period when it had only sixteen letters, the 
complementary letters of the two alphabets having been formed on 
principles that offer not the slightest analogy. While on the subject of 
Runic calendars I may mention (although unconnected with rings) a 
singular Runic almanack which was exhibited at the Winchester 
meeting of the Archaeological Institute in 1845. It is in the form of a 
walking-stick, called in the north of Europe a 'rim-stok,' or 'primstaf.' 
The symbols and figures which ornament this calendar relate to the 
saints' days and the successive occupations of the seasons. The staff is 
of a fashion rarely to be found in the north, and appears to be the same 
which was procured at Trondheim, in Norway, by Mr. Wolff, formerly 
Norwegian consul at London, who published an account of it. 


diameter ly^^ inch. It bears an inscription similar to the 
Cumberland specimen now in the British Museum. The 
ring is said to have belonged to a Major Macdonald, in 
1745, and was obtained by Mr. Ferguson from his descen- 
dant. Mr. Ferguson has since presented this ring to the 
British Museum. 

A somewhat similar ring, the property of the Earl of 
Aberdeen, is described in the ' Archaeological Journal ' (vol. 
xxi. p. 256) bearing the Runic inscription, 'whether in 
fever or leprosy, the patient be happy and confident in the 
hope of recovery.' 



The accompanying illustration represents a Dano-Saxon 
ring worn as a charm against the plague, and bearing an 
inscription thus rendered : — 

Raise us from dust we pray to thee j 
From pestilence O set us free, 
Although the grave unwilling be. 

Dano-Saxon Runic ring. 

At the proceedings of the Royal Society of Antiquariesj 
at Copenhagen, in 1838, a gold ring with a Runic inscriptioi 
found in Fionia, was exhibited. The words rod eg lagddlaga 


may be rendered ' I guide the chain of destiny/ and show 
that its Scandinavian possessor considered it an amulet. 

Rings of lead, mixed with quicksilver, were used against 
headaches and other complaints. 

In the ' Recueil des Historiens de France ' we read that 
Passavant, Bishop of Mans, possessed a ring which had be- 
longed to Gulpherius de Lastour, during the Crusades, which 
was very precious, and cured a great number of sick persons. 

A gold ring of the fourteenth century, in the Londes- 
borough Collection, has an inscription which, freely trans- 
lated, is ' May you be preserved from the evil eye ! ' 

In the Shrewsbury Museum is a small iron ring, with an 
intaglio representing a fawn springing out of a nautilus-shell. 
It was discovered at Wroxeter. This and similar devices 
the Rev. C. W. King ascribes as probable charms against 
the * evil eye.' 

This superstition still prevails extensively in the East, and 
is also entertained in many parts of Europe. That it was 
well known to Romans we have the authority of Virgil : 
* Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos ' 
{Ed. iii.). 

The following engraving (from the Collection Cha- 
bouillet) represents a Greek amulet ring, adopted by the 

Amulet against the 'evil eye.' 

Etruscans and Romans, and which offers, by the stone and 
setting, the figure of an eye. These rings were movable, 
and turned on the axis. 


The great preservative against this was the wearing of a 
ring, with the figure of a cockatrice, supposed to proceed 
from a cock's egg under various planetary and taHsmanic 
influences. The Londesborough thumb-ring has two cocka- 
trices cut in high rehef upon an agate. 

Amulets against the 'evil eye.' 

The deadly power ol the cockatrice is alluded to by 
Shakspearein 'Twelfth Night' and in 'Romeo and Juliet' — 

Say thou but /, 
And that base vowel / shall poison more 
Than the death- darting eye of cockatrice. 

So Dryden says : — 

Mischiefs are like the cockatrice's eye ; 

If they see first, they kill ; if seen, they die — 

alluding to the counter-action, that if the creature was seen 
by a person first, without being perceived by it, the cocka- 
trice died from the effect of the human eye. The figure of 
the bird merely gave security against the evil eye ; it had 
no other effect, and for this purpose various engraved stones 
were used. Thus a ring in the Londesborough Collection 
has in its centre a Gnostic gem with cabalistic figures, be- 
lieved able to avert the dreadful glance. 

In the same collection is a massive thumb-ring, having 
the tooth of some animal as its principal gem, supposed to 


have mystic power over the fortunes of its possessor. It 
is set all round with precious stones of talismanic virtues. 

A dove, with a branch of olive in its mouth, engraved 
in pyrites, and mounted in a silver ring, ensured the wearer 
the utmost hospitaHty wherever he went, possessing the power 
of fascination. A fair head, well combed, with a hand- 
some face, engraved on a gem, secured joy, reverence, and 

Rings made of the bones of 
an ostrich were assumed to be of 
rare virtue. 

Annexed is a representation 
of a silver charm-ring in the 
South Kensington Museum ; the Charm-ring. 

hoop is spirally fluted, widening towards the bezel, which is 
set with a tooth; the shoulder of the ring is pierced in 
floriated German work of the eighteenth century. 

In the Waterton Collection are several rings of hoof — 
probably that of an ass — enclosed in gold, and considered a 
remedy for epilepsy. From Cardan (de Venenis) we learn, 
among other means for a physician to find out whether a 
patient is ' fascinated,' that of a ring made of the hoof of an 
ass, put on his finger, growing too large for him after a few 
days' wearing. It seems that among the Indians and Nor- 
wegians the hoof of the elk is regarded as a sovereign cure 
for the same malady. The person afflicted applies it to his 
heart, holding it in his left hand, and rubbing his ear with 

Brand, in his ' Popular Antiquities,' states that in Berk- 
shire a ring made from a piece of silver collected at the 
Communion is supposed to be a cure for convulsions and 
fits of every kind. If collected on Easter Sunday its efliicacy 


is greatly increased. Silver is not considered necessary in 
Devonshire, where a ring is preferred made out of three 
nails or screws that have been used to fasten a coffin, and 
that have been dug out of the churchyard. It is curious to 
notice that, according to Pliny, the ancients believed that a 
nail drawn out of a sepulchre and placed on the threshold 
of a bed-chamber door would drive away phantoms in the 

In Lucian's ' Philopseudes ' one of the interlocutors 
states ' that since an Arabian had presented him with a ring 
made of iron taken from the gallows, together with a written 
charm, he had ceased to be afraid of the demoniacs, who 
had been healed by a Syrian in Palestine.' 

In the 'Gentleman's Magazine' for 1794 we are told 
that a silver ring will cure fits when it is made from five six- 
pences collected from as many bachelors, to be conveyed 
by the hands of a bachelor to a smith that is a bachelor. 
None of the persons who gave the sixpences were to know 
for what purpose, or to whom they gave them. The 
'London Medical and Physical Journal' for 18 15 notices 
a charm successfully employed in the cure of epilepsy, after 
the failure of various medical means. It consisted of a 
silver ring contributed by twelve young women, and 
was to be constantly worn on one of the fingers of the 

In 'Notes and Queries' (vol. i. 2nd series, p. 331) we 
find a Gloucestershire ring prescription for epilepsy, which 
shows the persistence of credulity even in the present en- 
lightened period. ' The curate of Hasfield, going into the 
house of a parishioner whose daughter was afflicted with 
epileptic fits, was accosted by the mother of the damsel in 
a most joyous tone : " Oh ! sir, Emma has got her ring." 


The good curate, fearing that the poor girl mighthave stooped 
to folly, and that this was an intimation that her swain in- 
tended to make an honest woman of her, sought an explana- 
tion, which was afforded in the following prescription : — 
" Why, you see, sir, our Emma has been long troubled with the 
fits, and she went to the church door, and asked a penny from 
every unmarried man that went in, till she got twenty-four. 
She then took them to a silversmith in Gloucester, who pro- 
mised to get them changed for '■ Sacrament ' money (which 
he said he could easily do, as he knew one of the cathedral 
clergy). And with that money, sir, he made her a silver 
ring, and Emma is wearing it, and has not had a fit 
since." ' 

In Somersetshire it is a popular belief that the ring-finger, 
stroked along any sore or wound, will soon heal it. All the 
other fingers would poison the finger instead of healing it. 
It is still an article of belief in some persons that there is 
virtue enough in a gold ring to remove a stye from the eye, if 
it be rubbed with it. 

Although silver appears to be the happy medium chiefly 
in these wonderful cures, yet we are told that Paracelsus 
had a ring made of a variety of metallic substances, which 
he called electrum, and which not only cured epilepsy, but 
almost every other complaint. 

At the meeting of the 'Society of Antiquaries ' (June 12, 
1S73) a- very interesting collection of so-called Tau (T) 
rings were exhibited by Octavius Morgan, Esq., F.R.S., 
F.S.A. These, bearing the mystical emblem of the T (tau), 
are by no means of frequent occurrence, and it is not likely 
that so many were ever brought together before. The tau was 
early esteemed a sacred symbol, and was considered to be 
the mark placed on the forehead, as mentioned in the 


Bible. ' I have/ remarks Mr. Morgan, * in my collection a 
champleve enamel of the thirteenth century, where the 
" man in the linen garment," as mentioned in Ezekiel ix., 
is represented marking the T on the forehead of the faith- 
ful children of Israel. A mystical virtue was attached to 
this T, and, in company with the word ANANIZ APTA — 
which, being faithfully translated from the Chaldee, according 
to the Rev. C. W. King^ means, "Have mercy on us, OJudge " 
— was thought a most powerful prophylactic against epilepsy.' 

A description of these curious rings will be found in the 
' Proceedings of the Society ' (vol. vi. No. i, pp. 51, 53). 

A toadstone ring (the fossil palatal tooth of a species of 
Ray) was supposed to protect new-bom children and their 
mothers from the power of the fairies ; and this continued 
a late-day superstition, for Joanna Baillie, in a letter to Sir 
Walter Scott, mentions one having been repeatedly borrowed 
from her mother for that purpose. It was believed also to 
be a specific in cases of diseased kidney, when immersed in 
water which was drunk by the patient. 

In the inventory of the Duke de Berry is mentioned 
* une crapaudine assize en un annel d'or ; ' also, in the inven- 
tory of the Duke of Burgundy, we find' deux crapaudines, Tune 
en ung anneau d'or, I'autre en ung anneau d'argent.' These 
were highly esteemed for their magical properties, as I have 
remarked, and were probably also worn to prevent the ad- 
ministration of poison, being supposed to indicate its pre- 
sence by perspiring and changing colour. Fenton, who 
wrote in 1569, says, 'Being used in rings they give fore- 
warning of venom.' In Ben Jonson's ' Fox ' (ii. 5) it is thus 
alluded to : — 

Were you enamoured on his copper rings, 
His saffron jewel, with the toadstone in't? 


Lupton, in his ' Thousand Notable Things,' says that the 
stone (which, according to Fenton, was most commonly 
found in the head of a he-toad) was 
not easily attained, for the toad 
' envieth so much that man should 
have that stone. To know whether 
the stone called crapaudina be the 
right or perfect stone or not, hold 

° -^ Silver toadstone nng 

the stone before a toad so that he (fifteenth century), 

may see it, and, if it be a right and true stone, the toad 
will leap towards it, and make as though he would snatch it 
from you.' 

An ingenious method of obtaining the stone is given by 
the same writer : ' Put a great or overgrown toad (first 
bruised in divers places) into an earthen pot ; put the same 
into an ant's hillock, and cover the same with earth, which 
toad at length the ants will eat, so that the bones of the 
toad and stone will be left in the pot.' A mediaeval author, 
however, states that the stone should be obtained while the 
toad is living, and this may be done by simply placing upon 
him a piece of scarlet cloth, * wherewithal they are much 
delighted, so that, while they stretch out themselves as it 
were in sport upon that cloth, they cast out the stone of 
their head, but instantly they sup it up again, unless it be 
taken from them through some secret hole in the same cloth.' 

The scarlet, however did not always perform this 
miracle, for Boethius relates how he watched a whole night 
an old toad he had laid on a red cloth to see him cast 
forth the stone, but the toad was stubborn, and left him no- 
thing to ' gratify the great pangs of his whole night's restless- 

The Londesborough Collection contains two remarkable 


specimens of rings connected with toad superstition, thus 
described by Mr. Fairholt : ' The first is of mixed metal, gilt, 
having upon it the figure of a toad swallowing a serpent. 
There is a mediaeval story of a necromancer introducing 
himself to another professor of magic by showing him a 
serpent-ring, upon which the latter, who did not desire any- 
one to interfere with his practice, produced his toadstone 
ring, observing that the toad might swallow the serpent, 
thereby intimating his power to overcome him. The second 
ring is curious, not only as containing the true toad- stone, 
but the stone is embossed with the figure of a toad, accord- 
ing to the description of Albertus Magnus, who describes the 
most valuable variety of this coveted gem as having the 
figure of the reptile engraved on it.' 

Toadstone rings. 

Prsetorius mentions that a member of the German 
house of Alveschleben received a ring from a * Nixe ' 
to which the future fortunes of his line were to be attached. 

The turquoise ring of Shylock, which he would not have 
given for a ' wilderness of monkeys ' (' Merchant of Venice,' 
scene i.), was probably more esteemed for its secret virtues 
than from any commercial value, the turquoise, turkise, or 
turkey-stone having, from remote periods, been supposed to 
possess talismanic properties. Fenton, in his ' Secret 


Wonders of Nature' (1569), thus describes the stone : 'The 
turkeys doth move when there is any peril prepared to him 
that weareth it.' 

Dr. Donne alludes to 

A compassionate turquoise, that doth tell, 
By looking pale, the wearer is not well. 

Among the virtues of the turquoise is one which would spare 
us the shame of a divorce-court, as it was believed to take 
away all enmity, and to reconcile man and wife. Holinshed, 
speaking of the death of King John, says : ' And when the 
king suspected them (the pears) to be poisoned indeed, 
by reason of such precious stones as he had about him cast 
forth a certain sweaty as it were bewraeing the poison, &c.' 
The turquoise was a supposed monitor of poison from this 

'With the Germans the turquoise is still the gem appro- 
priated to the ring, the " gage d'amour," presented by the 
lover on the acceptance of his suit, the permanence of its 
colour being beHeved to depend upon the constancy of his 
affection. Inasmuch as this stone is almost as liable to 
change, and as capriciously as the heart itself, the omen it 
gives is verified with sufficient firequency to maintain its 
reputation for infallibifity ' (The Rev. C. W. King, on 'Pre- 
cious Stones,' &c.). 

Camillus Leonardus, in the * Mirror of Stones,' describes 
the carbuncle as ' brandishing its fiery rays on every side, and 
in the dark appearing like a fiery coal. It is esteemed the 
first among burning gems.' 

The ancients supposed this stone to give out a native 
light without reflection, and they ranked it fifth in order, after 
diamonds, emeralds, opals, and pearls. The virtue of the car- 
buncle was to drive away poisonous air, repress luxury, and 


preserve the health of the body. The wonderful light emitted 
from the stone is one of the most prolific resources of ro- 
mance among old writers. 

Shakspeare alludes to the superstition in ' Titus Andro- 
nicus ' (Act ii. sc. 4). 

Martius. Lord Bassianus lies embrued here 

All on a heap, like to a slaughtered lamb, 
In this detested, dark, blood-drinking pit. 

Quintus. If it be dark, how dost thou know 'tis he ? 

Martius. Upon his bloody finger he doth wear 

A precious ring that lightens all the hole, 
Which, like a taper in some monument. 
Doth shine upon the dead man's earthy cheeks, 
And shows the rugged entrails of the pit. 

Ben Jonson and Drayton also refer to the same super- 

The change of colours ^ in stones, portent of evil, was 
a deep-set superstition in most parts of the world. In the 
Scotch ballad of ' Hynd Horn ' we find : — 

' A modem poet thus apostrophises the turquoise and its changeful 
properties in the following beautiful sonnet : — 

' In sunny hours, long flown, how oft my eyes 
Have gazed with rapture on thy tender blue ! 
Turquoise ! thou magic gem, thy lovely hue 
Vies with the tints celestial of the skies. 
What sweet romance thy beauty bids arise, 
When, beaming brightly to the anxious view, 
Thou giv'st th' assurance dear that love is true ! 
But should thy rays be clouded, what deep sighs. 
What showers of tenderness distress the heart ! 
Ah ! much of joy I owe thee, but no woe. 
As to my mind, thou ever didst impart 
That feeling blest which made my pale cheek glow 
(For love was mine, shorn of his wings and dart). 
Turquoise ! in warmest strains thy praise should flow. 
Such as some gifted minstrel could bestow.' 


And she gave to me a gay gold ring 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau, 
With three shining diamonds set therein, 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

What if these diamonds lose their hue^ 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau, 
Just when my love begins for to rew, 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

For when your ring turns pale and wan 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau. 
Then I'm in love with another man. 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

Seven long years he has been on the sea. 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau. 
And Hynd Horn has looked how his ring may be. 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

But when he looked this ring upon, 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau, 
The shining diamonds were pale and wan, 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

Oh ! the ring it was both black and blue, 

With a hey lillelu and a how lo lau. 
And she's either dead or she's married. 

And the birk and the brume blooms bonnie. 

A curious passage occurs in a letter addressed by Lord 
Chancellor Hatton to Sir Thomas Smith, preserved among 
the Harleian MSS., relating to an epidemic then prevail- 
ing : 'I am likewise bold to commend my humble duty to 
our dear mistress (Queen Elizabeth) by this letter and ring, 
which hath the virtue to expel infectious airs, and is (as it 
letteth me) to be worn between the sweet duggs, the chaste 
nest of pure constancy (!). I trust, sir, when the virtue is 
known it shall not be refused for the value.* 

' Medijcinable ' rings for the cure of the falling sickness 



and the cramp are mentioned in the Household Books of 
Henry IV. and Edward IV. ; the metal they were composed 
of was what formed the King's offering to the Cross on Good 
Friday, that day being appointed for the blessing of the 

The following entry occurs in the account of the seventh 
and eighth years of Henry IV. (1406). 'In oblacionibus 
domini regis factis adorando crucem in capella infra mane- 
rium suum de Eltham, die parasceves, in precio trium nobi- 
lium auri, et v. solidorum sterlyng, xxv. s.' 

* In denariis solutis pro eisdem oblacionibus reassumptis, 
pro annulis medicinalibus inde faciendis, xxv. s.' 

A ring considered to possess some healing or talismanic 
virtues was also termed, in mediaeval Latin, vertiwsus. Thus 
Thomas de Hoton, rector of Kyrkebymisperton, 135 1, be- 
queathed to his chaplain 'j. zonam de serico, j. bonam 
bursam, j. firmaculum, et j. anulum vertuosum. Item, 
domino Thome de Bouthum, j. par de bedes de corall, j. 
annulum vertuosum.' 

Andrew Boorde, who lived in the reign of Henry VIII., 
alluding to the cramp-rings, says, in his ' Introduction to 
Knowledge,' the ' Kynges of England doth halow every yere 
crampe rynges, ye whych rynges worn on one's finger doth 
helpe them whych have ^-he crampe.' And, again, in his 
' Breviary of Health' (1557), he writes : ' The kynge's majesty 
hath a great helpe in this matter in halowynge crampe rings, 
and so given without money or petition, ye which rynges 
worne on one's finger doth helpe them,' &c. This cere- 
monial was practised by previous sovereigns. Hospinian 
gives an account of the proceedings, and states that they 
took place on Good Friday, and originated from the famous 
' pilgrim ' ring of King Edward the Confessor. According 


to tradition the sapphire in the British crown came from 
this ring, the possession of which gave EngUsh sovereigns 
the power of procuring an efficacious blessing to the cramp- 
rings. Gardiner, in 1529, received a number of cramp- 
rings to distribute among the English embassage to the 
Pope, * the royal fingers pouring such virtue into the metal 
that no disorder could resist it' ^ 

The superstitious belief in the efficacy of cramp-rings 
was by no means, as we have seen, 
confined to the ignorant and unedu- X/^^^gK 
cated classes ; even Lord Berners, f ^ ^ +^J ^ ''\ 
ambassador to the Emperor Charles I M^ "^li 1 
v., writing to ^ my Lord Chancellor's \ m^ Ji||r 

Grace ' from Saragossa (June 30, 15 18), ^^^^^""^^li^T^ 
says, * If your Grace remember me with ^^iiiiijajjiiaiiii!^^ 

some crampe - ryngs, ye shall doe a ^'^^^' Cramp-ring 
thing muche looked for, and I trust to bestowe theym well, 
with Goddes grace, who evermore preserve and increase 
your most reverent estate.' 

The late Cardinal Wiseman (* Notes and Queries,' vol. 
vii., I St series, p. 89) had in his possession a manuscript con- 
taining both the ceremony for the blessing of the cramp- 
rings, and that for the touching for the King's evil. At the 
commencement of the manuscript are emblazoned the 
arms of Philip and Mary. The first ceremony is headed 
* Certain Prayers to be used by the Queue's Heignes in the 
Consecration of the Crampe-rynges.' Accompanying it is an 
illumination, representing the queen kneeling, with a dish 

• A more homely remedy for the same disorder is given in Wittal's 
' Little Dictionary,' where we find that — 

' The bone of a hare's foot, closed in a ring, 
Will drive away the cramp, whenas it doth wring.' 

' M 2 


containing the rings to be blessed on each side of her. 
The second Ceremony is entitled * The ceremonye for ye 
Heling of them that be diseased with the K}aige's Evill.' 
This manuscript was exhibited at a meeting of the Archaeo- 
logical Institute, June 6, 185 1. d 

In Burnet (vol. ii. p. 266 of 'Records') there is the 
whole Latin formula of the consecration of the cramp-rings. 
It commences with the psalm ' Deus misereatur nostri.' 
Then follows a prayer invoking the aid of the Holy Spirit : 
the rings then lying in one basin or more, a prayer was said 
over them, from which we learn that the rings were made of 
metal, and were to expel all living venom of serpents. 
The rings were then blessed with an invocation to the God 
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and signed frequently with 
the cross. In the last benediction the prayer is made 
'that the rings may restore contracted nerves.' A psalm of 
benediction follows, and a prayer against the frauds of 
devils. ' The Queen's Highness then rubbeth the rings be- 
tween her hands, saying the prayer implying that ^s her 
hands rub the rings, the virtue of the holy oil wherewith 
she was anointed might be infused into their metal, and, 
by the grace of God, might be efficacious.' The remainder 
of the curious ceremony concluded with holy water being 
poured into the basin with further prayers. This cere- 
monial was practised by previous sovereigns, and discon- 
tinued by Edward VI. Queen Mary intended to revive it, 
and, in all probability, did so, from the manuscript to which 
I have alluded as having belonged to the late Cardinal 

The annexed cut represents a cramp-ring of lead, 




simply cast in a mould, and sold cheap for the use of the 
commonalty. It belongs to the fourteenth century. 

A curious remnant or corruption of 
the use of cramp-rings at the present 
time is noticed by Mr. Rokewode, who 
says that in Suffolk the use of cramp- . , ,, 

■' ^ Lead Cramp-nng. 

rings as a preventive against fits is not 
entirely abandoned : ' Instances occur where young men of 
a parish each subscribe a crooked sixpence to be moulded 
into a ring for a young woman afflicted with that malady.' 

The use of galvanic rings for the cure of rheumatism 
belongs to our own time, and is by no means extinct ; how- 
ever, we have no right to class this practice among our 
superstitions. After all, faith works wonders ! 

Particular rings were worn on certain days from super- 
stitious motives ; thus in the inventory of Charles V., in 1379, 
a ring with a cameo representing a Christian subject is thus 
described : — ' annel des vendredis, lequel est neelle et y est 
la croix double noire de chacun coste, ou il y a ung crucifix 
d'un camayeux, Saint Jean et Notre-Dame, et deux angeloz 
sur les bras de la croix, et le porte le roy continuellement 
les vendredis.' 

Evil portents with regard to rings prevailed in the reign 
of Elizabeth. The queen's coronation-ring, which she had 
worn constantly since her inauguration, having grown into 
her finger, necessitated the ring being filed off, and this was 
regarded as an imfavourable augury by many, who, doubt- 
less, attributed any untoward event that occurred at this 
period to an omen. Few were more credulous in such 
matters than the strong-minded (in most respects) queen 
herself, who was a firm believer in the still popular supersti • 
tion of ' good luck.' 


Long after this period, however, there were not wanting 
believers in the supernatural efficacy of charmed rings ; 
there was even a charge against the Puritans of having 
contributed to foster the popular delusion. In the * Scourge,' 
a series of weekly papers which appeared between 17 17 and 
1 7 18, alluding to May 29, the writer says of the Roundheads : 

* Yet these priests of Baal had so poisoned the minds of the 
populace with such delusive enchantments that from rings, 
bodkins, and thimbles, like the Israelitish calf of gold, 
would start up a troop of horse to reinforce the saints.' 

Even to a comparatively late period the belief in the 
Gnostic amulets was current in our own country. Immedi- 
ately after the battle of Culloden the baggage of Prince 
Charles Edward fell into the hands of the Duke of Cumber- 
land's army, and many private and curious articles came into 
the possession of General Belford — amongst others a stone 
set in silver attached to a ring, which probably the super- 
stitious Prince may have obtained on the Continent as 
a charm, and carried it as a protection in the hazardous 
enterprise in which he was engaged. It was a ruby blood- 
stone, having on one face the figure of Mars, with the in- 
scription beside it, \ Kw. On the other face was a female 
naked figure, probably Isis, with the inscription, ATI 
T A. 

The ancient superstition of securing the favour of the 
great by wearing certain precious stones appears in the 
East by the aid of a talismanic ring — simply, however, of 
silver, without the assistance of a jewel. In Herbelot's 

* Customs of the Mussulmans of India ' a formula is given 
for the making of these rings : ' Should anyone desire to 
make princes and grandees subject and obedient to his will 
he must have a silver ring made, with a small square tablet 


fixed on it, upon which is to be engraved the number that 
the letters composing the ism represent, which in this case 
is 2.613. This number by itself, or added to that of its 
two demons, 286 and 112, and its genius, 1,811 — amounting 
in all to 4,822 — must be formed into a magic square of the 
solacee or robace kind, and engraved. When the ring is thus 
finished, he is, for a week, to place it before him, and daily, 
in the morning and in the evening, to repeat the ism five 
thousand times, and blow on it. When the whole is con- 
cluded he is to wear the ring on the little finger of the right 

The losing of a ring given as a pledge of affection was 
considered in former times, as it is not unfrequently now, to 
be an omen of mishap. The widow of Viscount Dundee, 
the famous Claverhouse, was met and wooed at Colzium 
House, in Stirlingshire, by William Livingstone (afterwards 
Viscount Kilsyth). As a pledge of his love he presented 
her with a ring, which she lost, next day, in the garden ; and 
this giving rise to sad presentiments, a large reward was 
offered for its finding and restoration. Strange it may seem, 
but Lady Kilsyth was killed in Holland with her infant, 
by the fall of a house, and their bodies wer£ brought to 
Scotland and interred at Kilsyth. In 1796 the tenant of 
the garden in which the ring was lost discovered it, when 
digging for potatoes, in a clod of earth. At first he regarded 
it as a bauble, but the moment the inscription became 
apparent the tradition came fresh to his recollection, and 
he found it was the identical ring of Lady Kilsyth. It 
was of gold and about the value of ten shillings ; nearly 
the breadth of a straw, and without any stone. The external 
surface is ornamented with a wreath of myrtle, and on the 


internal surface is the legend : ' Zovrs onlly & euver/ This 
ring came into the possession of the Edmonstone family. 

In Sir John Bramstone's autobiography (1631) it is 
related that his stepmother dropped her wedding-ring off 
her finger into the sea, near the shore, when she pulled off 
her glove. She would not go home without the ring, ' it be- 
ing the most unfortund.te that could befall anyone to lose 
the wedding ring.' Happily for her comfort, the ring was 

Rings bursting on the fingers, as an ill-omen, is thus 
alluded to in the Scotch ballad of ' Lammilsin ' : 

The Lord sat in England 
A drinking the wine. 

I wish a may be weel 

Wi' my lady at hame ; 
For the rings of my fingers 

They're now burst in twain. 

In the * State Trials ' (vol. xiv., Case of Mary Norkott 
and John Okeman) is a curious instance of superstition con- 
nected with the marriage-ring. It was a case of murder, 
and the victim, at the touch of the person accused of the 
crime, * thrust out tTie ring or marriage-finger three times, 
and pulled it in again, and the finger dropped blopd upon 
the grass.' Sir Nicholas Hyde said to the witness : * Who 
saw this beside you ? * The answer was : * I cannot swear 
what others saw ; but, my Lord, I do believe the whole com- 
pany saw it, and if it had been thought a doubt, proof 
would have been made of it, and many would have attested 
with me.' 

The breaking of a ring was of ominous import. Atkin- 
son, in his ' Memoirs of the Queen of Prussia/ says : ' The 


betrothal of the young couple (Frederic and Sophia Charlotte, 
first King and Queen of Prussia) speedily followed. I 
believe it was during the festivities attendant upon this 
occasion that a ring worn by Frederic, in memory of his 
deceased wife^ with the device of clasped hands, and the 
motto ^^ ct jamais,'' suddenly broke, which was looked upon 
as an omen that this union, likewise, was to be of short 

The breaking of a wedding-ring is still regarded in some 
parts of England as an import that its wearer will soon be 
a widow. A correspondent of ' Notes and Queries ' found 
this superstition current in Essex a few years ago. A man 
had been murdered in that county, and his widow said : * I 
thought I should soon lose him, for I broke my wedding- 
ring the other day, and my sister lost her husband after 
breaking her ring. It is a sure sign' ! 

It was an olden superstition that the bending of the leaves 
to the right or to the left of the orpine plants, or Mid- 
summer men, as they were called {Telephium), would never 
fail to tell whether a lover was true or false. In an old 
poem, the * Cottage Girl,' we find : — 

Oft on the shrub she casts her eye, 
That spoke her true love's secret sigh ; 
Or else, alas, too plainly told 
Her true love's faithless heart was cold. 

In 1 801 a small gold ring was exhibited at the Society 
of Antiquaries (found in a ploughed field near Cawood, in 
Yorkshire) which had for a device two orpine plants joined 
by a true-love knot, with a motto above : 'ma fiance velt,' my 
sweetheart wills, or is desirous. The stalks of the plants 
were bent to each other, in token that the parties repre- 
sented by them were to come together in marriage. The 


motto under the ring was : 'Joye r amour feu.' From the form 
of the letters it appeared to have been a ring of the fifteenth 

The ring conferring divination powers on the wedding- 
cake is thus alluded to in the 'St. James's Chronicle' 

Enlivening source of Hymeneal mirth, 

All hail the blest receipt that gave thee birth ! 

Though Flora culls the fairest of her bowers, 

And strews the path of Hymen with her flowers, 

Nor half the raptures give her scatter'd sweets, 

The Cake far kinder gratulation meets. 

The bridesmaid's eyes with sparkling glances beam. 

She views the cake, and greets the promised dream; 

For, when endowed with necromantic spell, 

She knows what wondrous things the cake will tell. 

When from the altar comes the pensive bride, 

With downcast looks, her partner at her side. 

Soon from the ground these thoughtful looks arise 

To meet the cake that gayer thoughts supplies. 

With her own hands she charms each destined slice, 

A72d through the Hng repeats the trebled thrice. 

The hallow'd ring, infusing magic power, 

Bids Hymen's visions wait the midnight hour ; 

The mystic treasure placed beneath her head 

Will tell the fair if haply she will wed. 

These mysteries portentous lie conceal'd 

Till Morpheus calls and bids them stand reveal'd ; 

The future husband that night's dream will bring. 

Whether a parson, soldier, beggar, king, 

As partner of her life the fair must take. 

Irrevocable doom of Bridal- cake. 

Rowe, in his ' Happy Village ' (1796), says ' the wedding- 
cake now through the ring was led.' 

The connection between the bride-cake and wedding-ring 
is strongly marked in the following custom, still retained in 
Yorkshire, where the former is cut into little square pieces, 


thrown over the bridegroom and bride's head, and then put 
through the ring. 

In the North slices of the bride-cake are put through the 
wedding-ring, and they are afterwards laid under the pillows 
at night to cause young persons to dream of their lovers. 
Douce's manuscript notes say : ' This is not peculiar to the 
north of England, but seems to prevail generally ; the 
pieces of cake must be drawn nine times through the 

In Brand's ' Popular Antiquities ' we read : ' Many 
married women are so rigid, not to say superstitious, in their 
notions concerning their wedding-rings, that neither when 
they wash their hands, nor at any other time, will they 
take the ring off the finger ; extending, it should seem, the 
expression of " till death do us part " even to this golden 
circlet, the token and pledge of matrimony.' There is an old 
proverb on the subject of wedding-rings, which has, no doubt, 
been many a time quoted for the purpose of encouraging and 
hastening the consent of a diffident or timorous mistress : — 

As your wedding-ring wears, 
Your cares will wear away. 

A charm-divination on October 6, St. Faith's day, is still 
in use in the north of England. A cake of flour, spring 
water, salt, and sugar, is made by three girls, each having an 
equal hand in the composition. It is then baked in a Dutch 
oven, silence being strictly preserved, and turned thrice by 
each person. When it is well baked it must be divided into 
three equal parts, and each girl must cut her share into nine 
pieces, drawing every piece through a wedding-ring which has 
been borrowed from a woman who has been married seven 
years. Each girl must eat her pieces of cake while she is 
undressing, and repeat the following verses : — 


O good St. Faith, be kind to-night, 
And bring to me my heart's delight ; 
Let me my future husband view. 
And be my visions chaste and true. 

All three must then get into one bed, with the ring sus- 
pended by a string to the head of the couch. They will then 
dream of their future husbands. 

A very singular divination practised at the period of 
the harvest-moon is thus described in an old chap-book : 
' When you go to bed place under your pillow a Prayer-book 
open at the part of the Matrimonial Service, "- With this ring I 
thee wed ; " place on it a key, a ring, a flower, and a sprig of 
willow, a small heart-cake, a crust of bread, and the follow- 
ing cards : the ten of clubs, nine of hearts, ace of spades, 
and the ace of diamonds. Wrap all these in a thin hand- 
kerchief of gauze or muslin, and on getting into bed cross 
your hands and say : — 

Luna, every woman's friend, 
To me thy goodness condescend ; 
Let me this night in visions see 
Emblems of my destiny. 

If you dream of storms, trouble will betide you ; if the 
storm ends in a fine calm, so will your fate ; if of a ring^ or the 
ace of diamonds, marriage ; bread, an industrious life ; cake, 
a prosperous life ; flowers, joy ; willow, treachery in love ; 
spades, death ; diamonds, money ; clubs, a foreign land ; 
hearts, base children ; keys, that you will rise to great trust 
and power, and never know want ; birds, that you will 
have many children ; and geese, that you will marry more 
than once.' 

There is an old superstition on the colours of stones in 
* keepsake ' rings : — 


Oh, green is forsaken 

And yellow's forsworn, 

But blue is the prettiest colour that's worn. 

A correspondent of * Notes and Queries ' observes that 
in the district about Burnley it is common to put the 
wedding-ring into the posset, and, after serving it out, the 
unmarried person whose cup contains the ring will be the 
first of the company to be married. 

In Ireland it is a popular belief that finding the ring in a 
piece of Michaelmas pie would ensure the maiden possessor 
an early marriage. 

The following notice of an advertisement is extracted 
from an Oxford paper of i860, and republished in * Notes 
and Queries ' (3rd series, vol. x. p. 1 9) : * Important 
Notice ! — The largest cake ever made in Oxford, weighing 
upward of 1,000 pounds, and containing 30 gold wedding 
and other rings, in value from "js. 6d. to Two Guineas each ! 
To be seen for sale at No. i Queen Street, Oxford, from 
Thursday, December 27th, until Saturday, January 5th^ 1861, 
when it will be cut out at the low price of i^-. 2d. per pound 
(this quality frequently sold for wedding-cake). Persons 
at a distance desirous of purchasing may rely upon prompt 
attention being given to their favours. 

' N.B. — J. Boffin will feel obliged if persons obtaining the 
gold rings will favour him with their names.' 

A wide-spread superstition or fancy prevails with regard 
to the use of a gold ring at weddings. Mr. Wood, in his 
' Wedding Day in all Ages and Countries,' observes ' that the 
Irish peasantry have a general impression that a marriage 
without the use of a gold ring is not legal At a town in 
the south-east of Ireland^ a person kept a few gold wedding- 
rings for hire, and when parties who were too poor to pur- 


chase a ring of the necessary precious metal were about to 
be married, they obtained the loan of one, and paid a 
small fee for the same, the ring being returned to the owner 
immediately after the ceremony. In some places it is 
common for the same ring to be ased for many marriages, 
which ring remains in the custody of the priest.' 

Mr. Jeaffreson says : ' I have known labourers of the 
eastern counties of England express their faith in the 
mystic efficacy of the golden arrabo in language that in the 
seventeenth century would have stirred Puritan auditors to 
denounce the Satanic bauble and its worshippers with godly 

Pegge, in his ' Curialia,' alludes to the superstition that 
a wedding-ring of gold rubbed on a stye upon the eyelid was 
a sovereign remedy, but it required to be rubbed nine times. 

Mr. W. R. S. Ralston, in his ' Songs of the Russians,' 
mentions some curious superstitions in connexion with rings 
in that country. 

A custom exists in Russia of catching rain that falls during 
a thunderstorm in a basin, at the bottom of which rain has 
been placed. In the Riazan Government, water that has been 
dropped through a wedding-ring is supposed to have cer- 
tain merits as a lotion ; and at a Little-Russian marriage the 
bride is bound to give the bridegroom to drink from a cup 
of wine in which a ring has been put. From the mention 
of a ring made in the ' Dodola Songs,' and in others re- 
ferring to storm and rain, it is supposed that a golden ring, 
in mythical language, is to be taken as a representation of 
the lightning's heavenly gold. 

In the olden time the celestial divinities were supposed 
to be protectors and favourers of marriage, and the first 


nuptial crown was attributed to that heavenly framer of all 
manner of implements who forged the first plough for man. 
And so, in some of the songs, a prayer is offered up to a 
mysterious smith, beseeching him to construct a golden 
nuptial crown, and out of the fragments of it to make 
a wedding-ring, and a pin with which to fasten the bridal 

There comes a Smith from the Forge, Glory ! 
The Smith carries three hammers. Glory ! 
Smith, Smith, forge me a crown, Glory ! 
Forge me a crown both golden and new. Glory ! 
Forge from the remnants a golden ring. Glory ! 
K' And from the chips a pin. Glory ! 

H In that crown will I be wedded. Glory ! 

K With that ring will I be betrothed. Glory ! 

K ' With that pin will I fasten the nuptial kerchief, Glory ! 

When a lover leaves his mistress for a time, he gives her a 
golden ring {persten\ a signet-ring, or one set with gems— 
ixomperst, a finger) and receives from her a gold ring in ex- 
change {KoV tse, a plain circlet like our own wedding- 
ring, from Kolo, a circle). 

It is not a falcon flying across the sky. 
It is not a falcon scattering blue feathers, 
But a brave youth galloping along the road, 
Forth from his bright eyes pouring bitter tears. 

He has parted from his own, 

The Lower River track, through which, 

In all her beauty, Mother Volga flows. 

He has parted from the maiden fair. 

And with her as a token left 
A costly diamond ring ; 

And from her has he taken in exchange 
A plighting ring of gold. 
And while exchanging gifts thus has he spoken : 
* Forget me not, my dear one. 

Forget me not, my loved companion. 


Often, often gaze upon my ring ; 
Often, often will I kiss thy circlet, 
Pressing it to my beating heart. 

Remembering thee, my own. 
If ever I think of another love., 
The golden circlet will unclasp ; 
Shouldst thou to another suitor yield, 
From the ring the diamond will fall. ' 





The investiture of our English sovereigns /^r annulum, or 
by the ring, is an important part of our present coronation 
ceremonial. On this august occasion the master of the 
Jewel-House delivers the ring (which is of plain gold, with 
a large table ruby, on which the cross of St. George is en- 
graved), to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who places it on 
the fourth finger of the sovereign's right hand, saying : 
' Receive this ring, the ensign of kingly dignity and of de- 
fence of the catholic faith, that as you are this day conse- 
crated head of the kingdom and people, so, rich in faith, and 
abounding in good works, you may reign with Him who is 
King of kings, to whom be glory and honour for ever and 
ever, Amen.' 

Of the intrinsic value ascribed to the coronation ring 
we have an instance recorded in the life of James H. He 
was detained by the fishermen of Sheerness in his first 
attempt to escape from England in 1688 ; the particulars 
are related in his ' Memoirs : ' ' The King kept the diamond 
bodkin which he had of the queen's, and the coronation 
ri7ig, which, for more security, he put into his drawers. 
The captain, it appeared, was well acquainted with the dispo- 
sitions of his crew one of whom cried out " It is Father 
Petre — I know him by his lantern jaws ; " a second called 



him an old " hatchet-faced Jesuit ; " and a third, " a cunning 
old rogue, he would warrant him ! " ; for, some time after he 
was gone, and, probably by his order, several seamen entered 
the King's cabin, saying they must search him and the 
gentlemen, beHeving that they had not given up all their 
money. The King and his companions told them that they 
were at liberty to do so, thinking that their readiness would 
induce them not to persist ; but they were mistaken ; the 
sailors began their search with a roughness and rudeness 
which proved they were accustomed to the employment. At 
last one of them, feeling about the King's knee, got hold of 
the diamond bodkin, and cried out, with the usual oath, he 
had found a prize ; but the King boldly declared he was mis- 
taken. He had, indeed, scissors, a tooth-pick case, and 
little keys in his pocket, and what was felt was undoubtedly 
one of these articles. The man still seemed incredulous, 
and rudely thrust his hand into the King's pocket ; but in 
his haste he lost hold of the diamond bodkin, and, finding 
the things the King mentioned, remained satisfied it was so ; 
by this means the bodkin and ring were preserved.' 

The ring is said to have been a favourite one of the un- 
fortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, and was sent by her, at her 
death, to James I., through whom it came into the posses- 
sion of Charles I., and on his execution was transmitted by 
Bishop Juxon to his son. It afterwards came into the hands 
of George IV., with other relics belonging to Cardinal 

This ring is mentioned in the ' Inventory of the Goods 
and Chattels belonging to King James the Second,' taken 
July 22, 1703 : '■ one ruby ring, having a cross engraved on 
it, with which the late king was crowned,' and is valued at 
1,500/. In Leland's ' Collectanea,' in describing the cere- 


monies made use of at the coronation of the mother of Henry 
VIII., it states that the archbishop ' next blest her ring, and 
sprinkled on it holy water.' 

In the coronation of the kings of France the ring was 
first blessed by the officiating archbishop, who, seated with the 
mitre on his head, placed it on the fourth finger of the right 
hand of the monarch, usinga nearly similar form of benediction 
to that practised at the coronations of our own sovereigns.^ 

In the curious account of the coronation of Louis XIII. 
of France, preserved in a chronicle of his reign, it mentions : 
' The royal ring being blessed by the Cardinal de Joyeuse 
(who officiated for the Archbishop of Rheims), a symbol 
of love, whereby the King was wedded to his realm, he 
placed it on the fourth finger of His Majesty's right hand, 
for a mark of the sovereign power.' 

Kirchmann states that at the coronation of Ferdinand III. 

at Ratisbon, in 16 16, a few years before he wrote, the 

Archbishop and Elector of Maintz, having received from 

the altar a very precious ring, placed it on the finger of the 

Emperor, with these words : * Accipe regiae dignitatis 

annulum, et per hoc Catholicae fidei cognosce signaculum, 

et ud hodie ordinaris caput et princeps regni et populi, ita 

perseverabilis auctor et stabilitor Christianitatis et Chris- 

tianae fidei fias, ut feliciter in opere cum Rege regum glori- 

oris per eum, cui est honor et gloria, per infinita secula secu- 

lorum. — Amen.' 

' Queen Bertha, consort of King Louis the Seventh, of France, was 
crowned by the Pope, who also placed a ring on her finger, saying ; 
* Receive this ring, emblem of the Holy Trinity, by which you may 
resist heresy and bring the heathen to a knowledge of the faith by the 
virtue thus given. God, the source of all dignity and honour, give to 
thy servant, by this sign of the faith, grace to persevere in His sight, 
that she may evermore rest firm in the faith by the merits of Jesus 

N 2 


The typical meaning of the royal investiture by the ring 
is the union of the sovereign with his people, whom he is 
supposed to espouse at this solemnity, and in this sense 
some older writers have called it 'the wedding ring ot 

The ring worn by the queen-consorts of Great Britain 
at their coronation was of gold with a large table ruby set 
therein, and small rubies set round about the ring, of which 
those next the setting were the largest, the rest diminishing 
in proportion. Queen Mary Beatrice, consort of James the 
IL, wore a ring of this description to her dying day, and 
nothing during her misfortune could ever induce her to part 
with it.^ 

That the ring was considered an indication of sovereign 
will from the earliest times, we have proofs, as I have men- 
tioned, in the Holy Scriptures. So Alexander the Great, on 
his death-bed, on being asked to whom he would leave 
the kingdom, answered, to the most worthy, and gave 
his ring, when speechless, to Perdiccas. The Emperor 
Tiberius, on the point of death, took his ring from his 
finger, and held it a short time, as though intending to give 
it to some one, as his successor ; he however, put it on 
again, and became insensible. Recovering at length, he 
found that his ring had been taken from him, and demanded 
it, upon which his attendants smothered him with the 

' The ruby, according to De Laert (1647), appears to have been 
very generally used for rings, and unpolished; for, ' unlike the diamond 
that hath no beauty unless shaped and polished, the ruby charms 
without any aid from art.' True rubies, and of good colour uncut, but 
with their natural surface polished, set in rings, date from the earliest 
times. Gesner states that Catherine of Arragon used to wear a ring 
set with a stone luminous at night, which he conjectures was a ruby. 


The Emperor Valerian gave a ring with two precious 
stones to his successor Claudius. The knights of ancient 
Rome were permitted to wear, as the insignia of their rank, 
golden rings and collars. They were presented at the 
public expense with a horse and gold ring. Offa, king of 
the East Angles, is recorded to have appointed Edmund, the 
son of a kinsman, his successor, by sending him the ring 
which he received at his own coronation. The ' pilgrim- 
ring ' of Edward the Confessor, to which I have alluded in 
the chapter on ' Ring Superstitions,' was in after times pre- 
served with great care at his shrine in Westminster Abbey, 
and was used at the investiture of subsequent sovereigns. 

The investiture of Prince Edmund, second son of King 
Henry III., as King of Sicily, which took place in 1255, 
was performed at London by the Bishop of Bononia, in the 
presence of the King, and a numerous assembly, by the 
symbol of a ring, which the Pope had sent for that purpose. 
Henry is said to have wept for joy, and sent the Pontiff 
immediately afterwards fifty thousand marks, but this event 
led to the association of the barons against the King and 
other great changes. 

In 1469, Charles of France having renounced the posses- 
sion of the duchy of Normandy, for which he received in 
exchange Guyenne, his ducal ring was sent by Louis XI. 
to the exchequer at Rouen, where it was broken in two 
pieces at a solemn assembly held for that purpose in the 
castle of Bouvreuil, in the presence of the Constable of 
France, Louis de Luxembourg. 

A papal investiture, by a ring, of a sovereign of England 
is recorded by John of Salisbury, contemporary with Pope 
Adrian VIII. , and who states that the Pontiff ceded and 
gave to Henry 11. the island of Ireland, in hereditary sue- 


cession, claiming, as his right to do so, the grant of Constan- 
tine by which all islands belonged to the See of Rome. The 
Pope sent a large gold ring, set with a fine emerald, as a 
mark of investiture, and which, together with the bull, 
were deposited in the archives at Winchester. Richard II. 
resigned the crown to Henry IV. by transferring to him his 

In subsequent ages, and within a few centuries of our 
time, we find the royal power displayed significantly in the 
ring, which, in the instance I mention, was truly a messenger 
of grace. Two Scotch burgesses in the stormy days of Queen 
Mary had been condemned to death, but were reprieved 
at the foot of the gallows by her Majesty. The messenger 
was sent in great haste by the Earl of Bothwell, ' and pre- 
sented the Queen's ring to the provost's mspection for the 
safety of their lives.' This was considered a sufficient 
indication of the royal clemency, and ' the revival ' (observes 
Knox, in his ' History of the Reformation in Scotland ') ' of 
an ancient custom practised by Scottish monarchs before the 
date of the earliest sign-manual on record, when everything 
m Church and State were represented in types and symbols.' 

Another interesting incident in connection with Mary, 
Queen of Scots, is the ring with which she invested Darnley 
with the Dukedom of Albany. An engraving and descrip- 
tion of this ring will be found in the chapter on ' Remarkable 
Rings.' The infant James, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, 
was, a few days after his baptism, invested with the ring 
and other insignia, as Prince of Scotland, Duke of Rothsay, 
Earl of Carrick and Cunningham, and Baron of Renfrew. 
The royal child sat in his mother's lap while a gold ring was 
placed on his tiny finger. 

Among the insignia connected with the investiture of 


the Princes of Wales is a ring. The earHest charter of 
creation known by Selden is that of Edward III. to his 
son and heir-apparent, Edward, Duke of Cornwall, some 
years after he was made Duke. This charter contains the 
particulars of the ceremony of investiture with the coronal, 
the ring of gold, and the rod of silver. In the letters patent 
issued by George I. (Sept. 22, 17 14), declaring his son 
George Augustus, Duke of Brunswick Lunenburgh, ' Prince 
of Wales and Earl of Chester,' the investiture is thus de- 
scribed : ' Likewise, we invest him, the said Prince, with the 
aforesaid principality and county, which he may continue to 
govern and protect ; and we confirm him in the same by these 
ensigns of honour — the girding of a sword, the deHvering of a 
cap and placing it on his head, with a ring on his finger, and a 
golden staff in his hand, according to custo?n, to be possessed 
by him and his heirs, Kings of Great Britain.' ^ 

The practice now is that the Prince of Wales is invested 
with the Earldom of Chester by special patent, while he 
enjoys by a sort of hereditary prescription certain other 
titular distinctions. In the patent of creation of Albert 
Edward, Prince of Wales (dated Dec. 8th, 1841), the Queen, 
in the patent, states : ' We do ennoble (our most dear son) 
and invest with the said principality and earldom, by girting 
him with a sword, by putting a coronet on his head, and a 
gold ring on his finger, and also by delivering a gold rod 
into his hand,' &c. 

' A MS. account of the 'Conveyance of Great Estates into the 
King's presence at the time of their creation' (British Museum, Addi- 
tional MSS. No. 6,297) gives the preparation for a creation of the 
Prince, After the rich habits given on this occasion, we read: * Item, a 
sword, the scabbard covered with crimson cloth of gold, plain, and a 
!:,Mrdle agreeable to the same. Item, a coronal. Item, a verge of gold, 
hem, a ring of gold to be put on the third linger.' 


According to French writers it was formerly a custom 
in that country to give a marquis, on his elevation to that 
dignity, a ring set with the ruby ; a count received a diamond 

The royal signet-ring in Anglo-Saxon times served as an 
authority in law-suits about land. In the Cottonian MSS. 
(Aug. 2, p. 15), one charter states that ' Wynfleth, to prove 
a gift of land by Alfrith, led witnesses to the King, who sent 
a writ to Leofwin, and desired that men should be sum- 
moned to the shire-gemot to try the case, and as an 
authority sent his signet-ring to this gemot by an abbot and 
greeted all the witan.' 

The charters given by our early kings received the 
royal confirmation by the ring : thus Richard Coeur-de-Lion, 
in a charter relating to the exchange of Andeli, in Nor- 
mandy, belonging to the clergy of Rouen, for other pro- 
perties, much to the advantage of the ecclesiastics, passed 
his ring, in sign of investiture, in the silk threads suspended 
to the parchment. This ring was still attached to the 
charter in 1666, as appears in the * Histoires des Arche- 
vbsques de Rouen ' (p. 424), but has since disappeared. 
M. Achille Deville, in his ' Histoire du Chateau-Gaillard,' 
observes : ' II n'est pas de fois que j'aye touche la charte de 
ce monarque celebre (et je I'ai eue souvent entre les mains), 
que la perte de ce precieux anneau ne m'ait cause de 
cuisants regrets ' — a regret which all lovers of historic 
relics will fully share. 

'The ninth, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries,' says 
Willemin, ' offer rings attached to diplomas, but it is question- 
able whether they served to hold the place of the seal, or 
were simply marks of investiture ; we know that anciently 


the purchaser and recipient of a gift were put into posses- 
sion by a ring.' Dugdale states that ' Osbert de Camera, 
some time in the twelfth century, being visited with great 
sickness, granted unto the canons of St. Paul in pure alms 
for the health of his soul certain lands and houses lying 
near Haggelane, in the parish of St. Benedict, giving pos- 
session of them with his gold ring, wherein was set a ruby, 
appointing that the said gold ring, together with his seal, 
should for ever be fixed to the charter whereby he so 
disposed them.' From the same source we are told that 
' William de Belmers gave certain lands to St. Paul's 
Cathedral, and at the same time directed that his gold ring, 
set with a ruby, should, together with the seal, be afliixed to 
the charter for ever.' 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute, in March 
1850, Mr. W. Foulkes exhibited a gold signet-ring, pre- 
served by the family of J. Jones, Esq., of Llanerchrwgog 
Hall, impressions of which are appended to deeds concern- 
ing that property from the middle of the thirteenth century. 
The impress is a monogram, meaning I and M (lesus and 
Maria ?), placed under a crown. It has been supposed to 
be the ring of Madoc, one of the last princes of Powis, and 
to have descended as a heir-loom, with lands granted by 
them to the ancestors of Mr. Jones. 

A ruby ring is described as the ' Charter of Poynings,' 
in the will of Sir Michael de Poynings, in 1386. Poynings, 
in the neighbourhood of Brighton, was the seat of this ancient 
family from a period soon after the Conquest till the year 
1446, when the barony, owing to the marriage of the heiress, 
merged into the earldom of Northumberland, and became 
extinct in 1679. Michael de Poynings, a banneret under 
Edward III. at the battle of Crecy, amongst other grants, 


left to his heir the ruby ring '■ which is the charter of my 
heritage of Poynings.' This ruby ring of inheritance, the 
charter of the ' Sires of Ponynges/ came into possession of 
his son Thomas, and then to his second son Richard. 
According to tradition the famous Isabella de Fortibus, 
Countess of Devon, in the reign of Henry HI., settled the 
boundaries of certain disputed parishes by flinging her ring 
into a marsh, hence called ' Ring in the Mire.' 

So late as the sixteenth century the conveyance of 
property by means of a ring may be remarked in the fol- 
lowing passage or item in the will of Anne Barrett, of Bury, 
dated 1504, ' My maryeng ryng wt all thynggs thereon.' It 
is worthy of note that among the numerous kinds of evidence 
allowed in courts of law to establish a pedigree, engravings 
on rings are admitted upon the presumption that a person 
would not wear a ring with an error upon it.^ 

John O'Molony, Bishop of Limerick in 1687, who, after 
the siege of that city, followed James 11. to Paris, where he 
assisted in the foundation of a University for the education 
of Irish priests, left a gold ring at his death, which was to 
be sent to, and to denote, the head branch of the family. 
This conferred the privilege to have any of the name of 
Molony brought up as priests at the University, free of 

The custom of Serjeants presenting rings on taking the 

The use of a seal, or signet-ring, for the purchase of property is 
mentioned in the Bible. In Jeremiah the formalities are thus 
given : ' And I bouglit the field of Hanameel, and weighed him 
the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. And I subscribed the 
evidence, and sealtd it, and took witnesses, and weighed him the 
money in the balances. So I took the evidence of the purchase, both 
hat which was sealed, according to the law and custom, and that 
which was open ' (chap, xxxii. ). 


coif, has formed the subject of some interesting notices in 
that valuable work * Notes and Queries.' Mr. Serjeant 
Wynne in his observations touching the antiquity and 
dignity of serjeants-at-law (1765) remarks : 'The first intro- 
duction of rings themselves on this occasion of making 
Serjeants is as doubtful as that of mottoes. They are taken 
notice of by Fortescue in the time of Henry VI., and in 
•the several regulations for general calls, in Henry VHI. 
and Queen Elizabeth's time. Whatever is the antiquity of 
these rings, that of mottoes seems to fall short of them 
at least a century. That in the 19th and 20th Elizabeth 
(1576-77) may perhaps be the first, because till that time 
they are no more mentioned. When Dugdale speaks of 
the posies that were usual, he must be understood to speak 
of the usages of his own time.' The motto which Serjeant 
Wynne notices as of the earHest occurrence in 19th and 
20th Elizabeth was 'Lex regis praesidium.' ^ 

In the ' Diary of a Resident in London ' (Henry Machyn, 
Camden Society) we find that on October 17, 1552, 'was 
made vii serjants of the coyffe, who gayf to (the judges) and 
the old serjants, and men of the law, rynges of gold, every 
serjant gayf lyke rynges.' 

In the inventory of the effects of Henry Howard, K.G., 
Earl of Northampton (1614), (Archseologia, vol. ii., part ii., 
page 350) we find ' v serjeantis ringes waighinge one oulice, 
three quarters, four graines.' These were presentations to 
him in his official capacity of Lord Privy Seal. 

' In the Braybrooke Collection is a gold band-ring with a similar 
inscription, found at Wimbish, in Essex. It is noticed in the seventh 
vohime of the * Archaological Institute Journal,' p. 196, and is de- 
scribed as a serjeant-at-law's gold ring, the hoop | of an inch in width, 
and of equal thickness ; the motto ' Lex regis praesidium.' 


Serjeant Wynne brings his list of the Serjeants called 
down to the year 1765, and gives, in most cases, the mottoes, 
which were not confined, it seems, to individuals^ but 
adopted by the whole call. He remarks that in late years 
they have been strictly classical in their phrase, and often 
elegant in their application — whether in expressing the just 
idea of regal liberty — in a wish for the preservation of the 
family, or in a happy allusion to some public event, and, at 
the same time, a kijid of prophetic declaration of its success. 
In the same work will be found an account of the expense 
and weight of the rings — that these matters were important 
appears from an extract in i Modern Reports, case 30 : 
' Seventeen Serjeants being made the T4th day of November 
(1669?), a daye or two after, Serjeant Powis, the junior of 
them all, coming to the King's Bench Bar, Lord Chief Justice 
Kelynge told him ' that he had something to say to him, 
viz., that the rings which he and the rest of the Serjeants 
had given weighed but eighteen shillings apiece ; whereas 
Fortescue, in his book " De Laudibus Legum Angliae," says 
" the rings given to the Chief Justices and to the Chief 
Baron ought to weigh twenty shillings apiece," and that he 
spoke not this expecting a recompense, but that it might 
not be drawn into a precedent, and that the young gentle- 
men there might take notice of it' 

With regard to the cost of the Serjeants' rings, and the 
parties to whom they are presented, Mr. Mackenzie 
Walcott, M.A., writes in ' Notes and Queries' that on June 
8, 1705, fifteen serjeants-at-law took the customary oaths 
at the Chancery Bar, and delivered to the Lord Keeper a 
ring for the Queen, and another to H.R.H. Prince George 
of Denmark, each ring being worth 6/. i3J-. 4^. The Lord 
Keeper, and the Lord Treasurer, Lord Steward, Lord Privy 


.>cal, Lord High Chamberlain, Master of the Household, 
1 .ord Chamberlain, and the two Chief Justices, each received 
a ring of the value of iSj. ; the Lord Chief Baron, the 
Master of the Rolls, the Justices of either Bench, and two 
Chief Secretaries, each, one worth i6j. ; the Chief Steward 
and Comptroller, each a ring valued at i/. ; the Marshal, 
Warden of the Fleet, every Serjeant-at-law, the Attorney- 
General and Solicitor-General, each a ring worth 1 2s. ; the 
three Barons of Exchequer, one each of 10s. ; the two 
Clerks of the Crown, the three Prothonotaries, the Clerks of 
the Warrants, the Prothonotary of Queen's Bench, and the 
Chirographer, each a ring worth $s. ; each Filazer and 
Exigenter, the Clerk of the Council, and the Custom 
Brevium, each a ring that cost 2s. 6d. The motto on the 
rings was ' Moribus, armis, legibus. ' 

On the admission of fourteen Serjeants in 1737, 1,409 
rings were given away, at a cost of 773/., and besides this 
number, others were made for each Serjeant's own account, 
to be given to friends at the bar, which came to more than 
all the rest of the expense. 

There are some quaint old customs still adhering to the 
making of a serjeant. He is presented to the Lord Chan- 
cellor by some brother barrister (styled his ' colt '), and he 
kneels while the Chancellor attaches to the top of his wig 
the little, round, black patch that now does duty for the 
' coif,' which is the special badge of the Serjeant. The new 
Serjeant presents a massive gold ring to the Chancellor, 
another to his ' colt,' one to the Sovereign, and each of the 
Masters of the Court of Common Pleas. These rings used 
also to be given to all the Judges, but of late years the 
Judges have refused to receive them, thus diminishing a 
somewhat heavy tax. 


It would be curious to know whether this custom is 
derived from the Romans. Juvenal alludes to the practice 
of lawyers exhibiting their rings when pleading : — 

Ideo conducta Paulus agebat 
Sardonyche et que ideo plurisquam Cossus agebat 
Quam Basilus. Rara in tenui facundia panno. 


The reader will find a list of mottoes, and much informa- 
tion on the subject of Serjeants' rings, in 'Notes and Queries' 
(ist Series, vol. v. pp. no, 139, 1 8 1, 563 ; 2nd Series, vol. 
i. p. 249). The most recent instance (January 1872) of the 
presentation of a Serjeant's ring is that of Mr. J. R. Quain, 
who chose for his motto ' Dare, facere, praestare.' 

At the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery 
at the South Kensington Museum, in 1872, a Serjeant's gold 
ring, inscribed ^ lex x regis x presidium, was shown — 
the property of Mr. John Evans — as the earliest known, the 
date being 1576-77. The small size of the ring would 
assume that it was merely complimentary. 

Some barristers that Lord Brougham did not think much 
of, wishing to be made Serjeants, he sug- 
gested that the most appropriate motto 
that could be found for their rings would 
be the old legal word ' scilicet.' 

Serjeants' ring. 

This illustration represents a Serjeant's 
ring, supposed to be of the seventeenth century — a plain 
band of gold, engraved with ' Imperio regit unus aequo ' 
(Horace, lib. iii.. Ode iv.). 

In the collection of Mr. J. W. Singer is a very fine 
Serjeant's ring, which that gentleman attributes as of very 
early manufacture. It is a rare type of rings of this 
description, which have not been much noticed. The 
inscription reads : ' Legis executo regis pservatio.' 


In France, Italy, and Germany, a forensic order of 
knighthood was frequently conferred on the successful 
practitioner at the bar. Bartoli, the oracle of the law in the 
fourteenth century, asserted that at the end of the tenth 
year of successful professional exertion, the avocat belonging 
to the denomination of COrdre des Avocats became ipso 
facto a knight. 

When the distinction was applied for, the King com- 
missioned some ancient Knight of the Forensic Order to 
admit the postulant into it. The avocat knelt before the 
Knight-commissary and said : ' I pray you, my lord and 
protector, to dress me with the sword, belt, golden spurs, 
golden collar, golden ring^ and all the other ornaments of a 
true knight. I will not use the advantages of knighthood for 
profane purposes ; I will use them only for the purposes of 
religion, for the Church, and the holy Christian faith, in the 
warfare of the science to which I am devoted.' The postulant 
then rose ; and being fully equipped, and girded with the 
sword, he became, for all purposes, a member of the order 
of knighthood. 

In the Memoirs of the Marechal de Vieilleville, who 
died in 1571, such knights are mentioned as very common. 

In 1795 the Order of Avocats was suppressed, after 427 
years of a brilliant existence. 

Doctors, as indicative of their position, wore formerly a 
ring on the third finger of the right hand. 

A ring formed part of the investiture of three poets-laure- 
ate by the Chancellor of the University of Strasburg in 162 1, 
who at their installation pronounced these words : ' I create 
you, being placed in a chair of state, crowned with laurel 
and ivy, and wearing a ring of gold., and the same do pro- 
nounce and constitute poets-laureate in the name of the 


Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. 

Gower, in his ' Confessio Amantis,' mentions a statue of 
Apollo, adorned with a ring : — 

Forth ryghte he straighte his finger oute, 
Upon the which he had a ringe, 
To seen it was a ryche thynge, 
A fyne carbuncle for the nones, 
Most precious of all stones. 


In the early Saxon times, we read that Gumlaughr, the 
scald, presented to King Ethelred a heroic poem which he 
had composed on the royal virtues, and received in return 
' a purple tunic lined with the richest furs,' also ' a gold ring 
of the weight of seven ounces.' 

In ancient Wales the Judge of the King's palace had as 
ensign of his office a gold ring from the Queen. It was his 
duty at his own cost to reward the successful competitor in 
the musical contests of the bards with a silver chair as 
' Pen Cerdd ' (chief of song), and who in return presented 
him with a gold ring, a drinking-horn, and a cushion. The 
royal minstrel received on his appointment a harp from the 
King, and a ring from the queen. 

' Merchant Marks ' (to which I have alluded in the first 
chapter of this work) originated from the guild or mayor's 
rings, which were used as personal signets, by such as were 
not entitled to bear arms. They were worn on the thumb 
for constant use in sealing. A fine ring of this kind is 
engraved in the ' Journal of the Archaeological Institute.' 
It was found in the bed of the Severn, near Upton, and is, 
probably, a work of the fifteenth century ; it is of silver and 
has been strongly gilt. The hoop is spirally grooved, and 
upon the circular face is a large H surrounded by branches. 


In the custody of the Mayor of Winchester is a signet-ring 
with the arms of the city and initials E. W., probably 
Edward White, Mayor in 16 13 and 162 1. 

In late times we have the ring adopted as a club badge 
by the famous Beef-Steak Club, of con- 
vivial notoriety. The members wore a 
blue coat, with red cape and cuffs, 
buttons with the initials B. S., and 
behind the President's chair was placed 
the Society's halbert, which, with the '"^ ° 
gridiron, was found among the rubbish after the Covent 
Garden fire in 1808. 

Ashmole, in his '■ History of the Most Noble Order of 
the Garter,' mentions that gold rings have been cast into 
the figures of garters, ' the ground on the outside enamelled 
with a deep blue, through which the golden letters of the 
motto appearing, set them off with an admirable beauty. 
And it seems such rings were in vogue, since the preface to 
the black book of the Order makes mention of wearing the 
garter on the leg and shoulder, and sometimes subjoins the 
thumb, interdum pollice gestare, by which we may naturally 
conclude that gold rings were formed into the fashion of 
garters, and bestowed by some new-installed knights upon 
their relations and friends to wear in memorial of so great 
an honour conferred upon them.' 

In the collection of the Rev. W. B. Hawkins is a gold 
official ring of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John of 
Jerusalem (Malta), with bezel oval, glazed, with skeleton, 
hour-glass, and scythe, in enamel on a black ground ; on 
the shoulders of the ring is a death's head with cross-bones. 

At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute at Norwich 
in July 1847, a ring formed like a strap or garter, buckled, 



was exhibited, bearing the inscription * Mater Dei memento 
mei,' found at Necton, date about 1450. Rings of this 
fashion were in use from the close of the fourteenth century, 
shortly after the institution of the Order of the Garter. 
Other specimens are to be seen in the British Museum, and 
in the collection of the Archaeological Institute. 

A cap and a ring are conferred with the degree of Doctor 
of Civil Laws in Belgium. 

In the ' Biographia Britannica ' (Article * Crichton ') we 
read of the bestowal of a ring on a college disputant. This 
was in the case of the '■ Admirable Crichton,' who, when he 
was only twenty years of age, entered the academic lists 
with anyone who would compete with him in Hebrew, 
Syriac, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, 
English, Dutch, Flemish, and Sclavonian, besides every 
kind of courtly accomplishment. This he maintained in the 
College of Navarre, and the president, after many compH- 
ments on his vast acquirements, gave him a diamond ring 
and a purse of money. 

At the ceremonies observed on the inauguration of a 
king-at-arms the crown and ring were generally bestowed 
by the hand of the monarch himself, as in the case of Sir 
David Lindsay, Lord Lion, King-at-arms : 

Whom royal James himself had crowned, 
And on his temples placed the round 

Of Scotland's ancient diadem ; 
And wet his brow with hallow'd wine, 
And on his finger given to shine 

The emblematic gem. 

Among the insignia of the Knights of the Order of St. 
John of Jerusalem is a ring bearing the Cross. 

In the ' Dublin Penny Journal ' we read of the signet- 
ring of the famous Turlough Lynhoch; which was found at 


Charlemont, in the county of Armagh. It bears the bloody- 
hand of the O'Neils, and initials T. O. The signet part of 
the ring is circular, and the whole of it is silver. James the 
First made this bloody hand the distinguishing badge of a 
new order of baronets, and they were created to aid, by 
service or money for forces, in subduing the O'Neils. 

In 1780 a large gold ring, supposed to have belonged to 
one of the knights hospitallers of Winckbourne, some of 
whom are beheved to have been buried at Southwell, was 
found by the sexton of Southwell church while digging a 
grave. It is six-eighths of an inch in diameter, and three- 
eighths of an inch in breadth. The following motto is deeply 
cut on the inside: ' +miev+mori + qve + change + ma + 
FOi-f' (better to die than change my faith). 

I have already mentioned how, from the earliest times, 
the ring was considered to denote peculiar distinction, and 
was the emblem of nobility ; and so, amidst many diver- 
gences, it still continued to a later period to be considered 
as a badge of honourable birth. Thus Rabelais alludes to 
the rings that Gargantua wore because his father desired 
him ' to renew that ancient mark of nobility.' On the fore- 
finger of his left hand he had a gold ring set with a large 
carbuncle, and on the middle finger one of mixed metal, 
then usually made by alchemists. On the middle finger of 
the right hand he had * a ring made spire- wise, wherein was 
set a perfect balew ruby, a pointed diamond, and a Physon 
emerald of inestimable value.' 

The French expression une bague au doigt means a 
sinecure — pay without the work. 

In former times the victor in a wrestling match received 
a ram and a ring. In the Coke's * Tale of Gamelyn,' 
ascribed to Chaucer, we read : — 


There happed to be there beside 

Tryed a wrestling ; 
And therefore there was y setten, 

A ram and als a ring. 

And in the * Litil Geste of Robin Hood' :— 

By a bridge was a wrestling, 

And there tayred was he ; 
And there was all the best yemen 

Of all the west countrey. 
A full fayre game there was set up, ^. 

A white bull up yspight, 
A great courser with saddle and brydle. 

With gold burnished full bryght ; 
A payre of gloves, a red golde ringe, 

A pipe of wine, good fay ; 
What man bereth him best, I wis. 

The prize shall bear away. 

So Sir Walter Scott, in the ' Lady of the Lake ' :— 

Prize of the wrestling-match, the King 
To Douglas gave a golden ring. 

In the ' Gulistan/ or rose-garden of Sadi, is a pretty- 
story in connection with a prize-ring for shooting. A certain 
King of Persia had a very precious stone in a ring. One 
day he went out with some of his favourite courtiers, to 
amuse himself, to the mosque near Shiraz, called Musalla ; 
and commanded that they should suspend the ring over the 
dome of Azad, saying that the ring should be the property 
of him who could send an arrow through it. It so befell 
that four hundred archers, who plied their bows in his service, 
shot at the ring, and all missed. A stripling at play was 
shooting arrows at random from a monastery, when the 
morning breeze carried his shaft through the circle of the 
ring. The prize was bestowed upon him, and he was loaded 
with gifts beyond calculation. The boy, after this, burned 


)iis bow and arrows. They asked him why he did so; he 
. l)Hed : ' That my first glory may remain unchanged.' 

At the tournaments held in the reign of Henry VII. 
^1494) a proclamation was put forth 'that hoo soo ever 
justith best in the justys roiall schall have a ryng of gold, 
with a ruby of the value of a m^ scuttes or under \ and hoo 
soo ever torneyeth the best, and fairyst accumplishit his 
strokkis schall have a ryng of gold, with a diamant of like 

On November 9 (1494) John Peche received from the 
Ladie Margerete '■ the kyngis oldeste doughter, a ryng of 
gold with a ruby.' 

On the nth, the Earl of Suffolk, Thomas Brandon, re- 
ceived as a reward for his prowess in the lists ' a ryng of gold 
with a rubee.' 

On the third tournament (November 13) Sir Edward A. 
Borough, as victor, received ' a ryng of gold with a dyamant.' 

The Earl of Essex, for his valour in this tournament, 
received ' a ryng of gold with an emerauld/ 




The ring has, for many ages, formed a part of ecclesiastical 
insignia. It appears to have had a twofold purpose and 
signification, the one as a mark of dignity and authority, the 
other symbolic of the mystical union between the priesthood 
and the Church. 

To commence with the head of the Romish hierarchy : 
that distinguished authority on antiquarian topics, Mr. Octa- 
vius Morgan, M.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., &c., has contributed to 
the ' Archseologia ' (vol. xl. p. 392) a very interesting account 
of ' Episcopal and other Rings of Investiture ;' and, since the 
publication of that paper, has kindly informed me that Mr. 
Waterton states, from his own knowledge, that the ' Fisher- 
man's Ring ' is the Pope's ring of investiture, and is placed 
on his finger immediately after his election, before it is en- 
graved. But if, as it sometimes happens, the Pope-elect is 
not a bishop, he is consecrated prior to his coronation as 
Supreme Pontiff, and receives the ring with the usual formula, 
except that the consecrating cardinal kisses his hand after 
investing him with the ring. ' There is a ring which the 
Pontiff wears on state occasions — the stone of which is an 
exquisitely fine cameo, cut in bloodstone, of the head of 
Our Saviour — which is known to be more than three hundred 


years old, and is, probably, a fine cinque-cento gem. This 
descends from one Pope to another. 

'What is called the Annulus Piscatoris, or the " Fisherman's 
Ring," is the Pope's lesser seal, or signet, used for documents 
of minor consequence, and the impression is usually made 
on red wax or stamped on the paper ; the Bulla being what 
may be termed the great seal, employed for giving validity 
to instruments of greater importance, and the impression of 
it is always on lead. The origin of 
the Fisherman's Ring is obscure, but 
it derives its name from a repre- 
sentation of St. Peter in a fisherman's 
boat of ancient form, which is en- 
graved on it, and not from any 
tradition that it ever belonged to 
St. Peter, as, from its English name. The Fisherman's Rin-. 
is not uncommonly supposed. The Germans call it Der 
Fischer-ring^ which is " the Fisherman Ring," whereas we, 
probably in our translation oiAn?tulus Fiscatoris, have termed 
it the " Fisherman's Ring," seeming to imply thereby that it 
had once belonged to "the Fisherman." The figure of 
St. Peter forms the centre.' 

After the reign of Pope Calixtus the Third, the Ring of 
the Fisherman was no longer used as the private seal of the 
Popes, but was always attached to briefs. 

On the death of Innocent the Tenth the name was cut 
out of the ring or erased. At the decease of Pius the Sixth 
the usual ceremonies were not observed, and the ring was 
not broken, as was the practice at the elevation of each 
pontiff. Aimon, in his ' Tableau de la Cour de Rome,' says 
that after the Pope's death ' le Cardinal Camerlingue vient en 
habit violet, accompagne des clercs de la chambre en habits 


noirs, reconnoitre le corps du Pape. II I'appelle trois fois 
par son nom de bapteme, et comme il ne liii donne ni 
re'ponse, ni signe de vie, il fait dresser im acte sur sa mort 
par les Protonotaires Apostoliques. II prend du Maitre de 
la Chambre Apostolique, Vanneau du Pecheur, qui est le 
sceau du Pape, d'or massif, et du prix de cent ecus. II le 
fait mettre en pieces et donne ces pieces aux Maitres des 
Ceremonies k qui elles appartiennent. Le Dataire et les 
Secre'taires qui ont les autres sceaux du Pape defunt, sont 
obliges de les porter au Cardinal Camerlingue, qui les fait 
rompre en presence de I'Auditeur de la Chambre du Tr^sorier, 
et des Clercs Apostoliques, et il n'est permis \ aucun autre 
des Cardinaux d'assister a cette fonction.' 

When it was decided by the French in 1798 that the 
Pope was to be removed to France, on February 18 in that 
year the Republican Haller, son of the celebrated Swiss phy- 
sician of that name, chose the moment when the Pontiff was 
at dinner in the Vatican to announce to him the resolution 
of the French Republic. He entered the apartment rudely, 
and, advancing to the Pope, announced the object of his 
visit, and demanded the instant surrender of the Papal, 

' We have already given up all we possessed,' replied the 
Pope calmly. 

' Not all^ returned Haller, ' you still wear two very rich 
rings ; let me have them.' 

The Pope drew one from his finger: ' I can give you,' he 
said, ' this one, for it is indeed my own ; take it : but the 
other is the Ring of the Fisherman, and must descend to my 

* It will pass first to me, holy father,' exclaimed Haller, 


' and if you do not surrender it quietly it will be taken 
from you by force.' 

To escape further insult the Fisherman's Ring was given 
up, but as it was found to be intrinsically of no value it was 
soon afterwards restored to the Pontiff. 

The ring of Pius the Ninth is of plain gold, weighing one 
and a half ounces, and it was made from the gold which 
composed the Ring of the Fisherman of Pope Gregory the 
Sixteenth. ^ 

The Fisherman's Ring is always in the custody of the 
Grand Papal Chamberlain. It is taken to the Conclave, or 
Council of the Cardinals, with the space left blank for the 
name ; and as soon as a successful scrutiny of votes for a 
new Pope has taken place, the newly-elected Pontiff 'js 
declared, and conducted to the throne of St. Peter, where, 
before the cardinals have rendered homage to their chief, 
the Grand Chamberlain approaches, and, placing the Papal 
ring on the finger of the new Pope, asks him what name he 
will take. On the reply of the Pontiff, the ring is given to 
the first Master of the Ceremonies to have the name en- 
graved on it that has been assumed. The announcement 
of the pontifical election is then made to the people from 
the balcony of the Papal palace. 

Kissing the Pope's ring as an act of reverent homage is 
a custom which has descended to our own times. One of 
the important ceremonies at the opening of the great 
CEcumenical Council at Rome (December 8, 1869) was that 

' Horace Walpole, in one of his letters, alludes to the ' Fisherman's 
Ring ' in his usual lively manner : ' Mr. Chute has received a present 
of a diamond mourning-ring from a cousin ; he calls it lannello del 
Piscatore. Mr. Chute, \ih.o is unmarried, meant that his cousin was 
fishing for his estate.' 



every single primate, patriarch, bishop, and mitred abbot, 
who were present on this solemn occasion at St. Peter's, and 
who were to take part in the Council, paused before Pius 
the Ninth, and, in an attitude of profound reverence, kissed 
his ring. As high dignitaries they were exempted from 
kissing the Pope's toe, a condescension reserved for the 
laity and lower clergy. 

In Bishop Bale's 'Image of Both Churches' occurs 
a curious passage on the subject of episcopal rings : 
' Neyther regarde they to knele any more doune, and to 
kisse their pontifical ryngs, which are of the same metall ' 
{i.e. fine gold). 

It would seem that the Popes were formerly buried in 
their pontifical habits and ornaments. In the ' Journal ' of 
Burcard, Master of the Ceremonies in the Pope's chapel 
from Sixtus the Fourth to Julius the Second, he mentions as 
having, by virtue of his office, thus clothed the body of 
Sixtus the Fourth, and amongst other things a sapphire ring 
of the value of three hundred ducats was placed on his 
finger, and so little trust was placed in the honesty of those 
who came to see the body that guards were placed to 
prevent the ring and other ornaments from being stolen. ' 

In 1482 Cardinal d'Estouteville, Archbishop of Rouen, 
was buried with great magnificence at Rome, where he 

' To show how little, in former times, the sanctity of the Popes 
was regarded after death, Aimon, in his ' Tableau de la Cour de Rome,' 
relates that ' when the Pope is in the last extremity, his nephews and 
his servants carry from the palace all the furniture they can find. Im- 
mediately after his death, the officers of the Apostolic Chamber strip 
the body of everything valuable, but the relations of the Pope generally 
forestal them, and with such promptitude that nothing remains but bare 
walls and the body, placed on a wretched mattress, with an old wooden 
candlestick and a wax end in it.' 


died. The body of the prelate was arrayed in the richest 
robes of cloth of gold, and his fingers were covered with 
rings of the greatest rarity and beauty. The brilliancy of 
liie jewels (observes Dom Pommeraye in his ' Lives of the 
Archbishops of Rouen ') excited the cupidity of the canons 
of St. Mary Major at Rome, where he was interred, inso- 
much that they threw themselves on the body, and strug- 
gled with each other to get at the rings. The monks of St. 
Augustine, who also attended on this occasion, pretended 
to be highly scandalized at this profanation — 'peut-etre,' 
however, * pour avoir part au butin ' — and attempted on their 
part to seize the rings. In this unclerical skirmish the body 
of the archbishop was entirely stripped of its gorgeous 
trappings, and left naked, a piteous spectacle. 

Matthew Paris informs us that archbishops, bishops, and 
abbots, with other principals of the clergy, were buried in 
their pontificalibus ; thus ' they prepared the body of Hubert, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, for the burial, closing him in his 
robes, with his face uncovered, and a mitre put on his head, 
with gloves upon his hands, a ring on his finger, and all the 
other ornaments belonging to his office.' 

In describing the finger-ring found in the grave of the 
Venerable Bede, the writer of a brief account of Durham 
Cathedral adds : ' No priest during the reign of Catholicity 
was buried or enshrined without his ring.' The practice 
may have prevailed generally, as many instances of rings 
recovered from the graves of ecclesiastics show, but it was 
more particularly the usage of prelates. Martene (' De Anti- 
quis Ecclesise Ritibus') remarks : ' Episcopus debet habere 
annulum, quia sponsus est. Caeteri sacerdotes non, quia 
sponsi non sunt, sed amici sponsi, vel vicarii.' 

The bones of St. Dunstan were discovered in the time of 


William, fortieth abbot of Glastonbury : a ring was on the 
finger-bone of this saint. 

William, the twenty-second abbot of St. Alban's Abbey, 
who died in 1235, was buried in pontifical habits ' with a 
ring on his finger.' 

Richard de Gerbery, forty-fifth Bishop of Amiens, in the 
thirteenth century, died in 12 10, and was buried in the 
cathedral, in pontificalibus, with mitre, ring, and ivory cross. 
When the body of St. John of Beverley (died 721) was 
translated into a new shrine, about the year 1037, a ring, 
among other articles, was found in his coffin. We have a 
much earlier instance cited b> Aringhi, that the ring of St. 
Caius (283-296) was found in his tomb: 'intra sepul- 
chrum tria Diocletiani Imperatoris numismata, sub quo 
coronatus fuerat, et Sanctissimi Pontificis annulus adinven- 
tatus est' 

A gold ring .was found in the tomb of St. Birinus, 
Bishop of Dorchester, who died in 640. 

Mr. E. Waterton mentions a remarkable ring, set with 
fine opal, preserved at Mayence Cathedral, where it was 
found with an enamelled crosier in the tomb, as was sup- 
posed, of Archbishop Sigfroi III. (1249). 

In the Londesborough Collection is the ring of Thierry, 
Bishop of Verdun (who died in 1165), found in his tomb in 
1829. It is of gold, with a sapphire, 
an irregular oval with five capsular 
marks on the face ; the shank, two 
winged dragons, between the heads 
of which is the inscription ave. 

Ring of Thierry, Bishop of ^^^^^ .^^^T^^' ^his ring WaS prO- 

Verdun. cured in exchange from the collec- 

tion of M. Failly, Inspector of Customs, at Lyons in 1848. 


Mr. Octavius Morgan remarks : ' It is difficult to re- 
oncile the practice of returning the ring to the Emperor ' 
o which I have in this chapter alluded) 'with that of 
interring the bishop with his ring on his finger ; but it is 
probable that, when in the twelfth century the Emperor 
ceded to the Popes the right of investiture by the ring 
the ^sending back the ring was dispensed with ; and, being 
the property of the Church, and not of the Emperor, the 
bishop was allowed to be interred with his ring as an 
emblem of his dignity.' 

The Rev. C. W. King remarks that the custom of 
burying ecclesiastics with all their official insignia appears 
to have lasted far down into the Middle Ages ; for, amongst 
the amusing adventures of Andreuccio da Perugia, related 
by Boccaccio, he, when reduced to despair, joins some 
thieves in plundering the tomb of the Archbishop of 
Naples, interred the previous day in all his precious vest- 
ments, and with a ring on his finger valued at five hundred 
scudi. Two parties of plunderers, headed by a priest of the 
cathedral, visit the tomb in succession, and almost at the 
same time; to which circumstance Andreuccio owes his 
escape from a horrible death, and returns home in posses- 
sion of the ring, which more than makes up for all his 

The Rev. C. W. King considers it probable that this 
common practice of plundering the tombs, gave origin to 
the huge rings of gilt metal, which bear the titles, or coats of 
arms, of some pope or bishop. 

On the subject of pontifical rings of an ordinary cha- 
racter, I may observe that they are found in several collec- 
tions, usually of brass or copper gilt. 

Benvenuto CelUni, in his ' Memoirs,' mentions a magnifi- 



cent diamond as having been presented to Pope Paul the 
Third by the Emperor Charles the Fifth on his entry into 
Rome (1536), for which he was desired to make a ring, and 

Ring of Pope Pius II. 


succeeded in giving the diamond a tint which surpassed 
anything yet done. 

In the collection of Thomas Windus, Esq., F.S.A., is a 
ring bearing the arms of Pope Pius II. of the family of 
I'lccolomini, the Papal tiara, and inscription, ' Papa Pio.' 
The ring is of brass, thickly gilt ; the stone topaz : on the 
sides are the four beasts of the * Revelation.' 

In the Braybrooke Collection is the ring of Pope Boni- 
face, from whose tomb it was taken during the popular 
insurrection at Rome, 1849. I^ i^ large, and of gilt bronze, 
set with a large amethyst, cut into facets. It is of the usual 
type of Papal rings, and massive ; on one side of the broad 
shank is engraved the triple crown, with bands for tying it, 
extending until they are met by the cords attached to the 
keys, which appear on the other side. The sides of the box- 
setting are square for an inch below the stone, and on them 
are the emblems of the four Evangelists in high relief : all 
these are winged. 

In the Waterton Collection at the South Kensington 
Museum are some remarkably fine specimens of bronze-gilt 
Papal rings of the fifteenth century, very massive and in 
excellent condition. Most of these have the symbols of the 
four Evangelists, the triple crown, and crossed keys. 

At a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries in November, 
1858, Octavius Morgan, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A., exhibited a 
Papal ring of great interest, massive, and of copper-gilt, set 
with blue glass. At the angles were the symbols of the four 
Evangelists in relief; on the hoop was inscribed pavlvs pp 
SECNDVS (Paulus Papa Secundus). At the sides were two 
shields ; one of them bearing three fleurs-de-lys, and 
ensigned with an open crown, probably the arms of France ; 
the other charged with a lion debruised by a bend, being 



the arms of the family of Barbo of Venice, to which Paul 11. 
belonged. In the upper part of this shield was a small 
Papal tiara, which might have been placed there for want of 
room above, or might have been adopted by tlie Pope's 
relation, Marco Barbo, made by him a cardinal in 1464, and 
who died 1490. 

Mr. Morgan had received this interesting addition to his 
collection from Venice. 

Papal Rings (Gorlaeus). 

In the Londesborough Collection is a fine specimen of a 
Papal ring. The crossed keys surmount a coat of arms on 

Papal Ring 

one side of the ring ; the keys alone appear on the opposite 


side ; foliated ornament fills the space above the circlet on 
either side. This ring is set with a large crystal. 

At the suppression of the monasteries there were found 
in Worcester Cathedral ' four pontifical rings of gold, with 
precious stones .' At the same period, amongst the plate and 
jewels in Winchester Cathedral was a ' pontyfycall ryng of 
silvare and gilt, with counterfeitt stones.' At St. Augustine's 
Church at Canterbury were three pontifical rings with 
precious stones, and one of silver gilt; at St. Swithin's 
Church at Winchester, four pontifical rings with precious 

The earliest document with a certain date in which 
mention is made of a bishop's ring is that usually cited in 
the 28th canon of the Council of Toledo, held in 62,^- 
The ring was of gold and jewelled, but at this Council it 
was ordained that the ring of a prelate reinstated in his 
diocese, after an unjust deposition, should be delivered to 
him, which was merely confirming a ceremony already 
ancient in the confimiation of bishops, which may be traced 
to the fourth century. 

In the consecration of bishops in the Anglo-Saxon 
Church, the hands and head were anointed with oil, the 
crosier delivered into his hands, and the ring placed on 
his finger ; each ceremony being accompanied with a prayer. 
' There is, however,' remarks Mr. Octavius Morgan (' Archaeo- 
logia,' vol. xxxvi. part ii. p. 373), ' another authority, at least 
contemporary with the Toledo Council, if not of earlier 
date. St. Isidor, Bishop of Seville, who died a.d. 636, in 
his work ' De Ecclesiasticis Officines ' (lib. ii. cap. 5), when 
writing on the episcopal dignity, informs us that the staff 
and ring were given to the bishop on his consecration, and 
mentions the twofold purpose and signification of the ring, 



but does not tell us from what source these insignia were 

That the episcopal ring, from the earliest times, was con- 
sidered a symbol of sacerdotal authority, we have many 
instances. In the ' Continuation of the History of Simeon 
of Durham' we are told that Bishop Ralph (1099) having 
been inveigled into a boat and his life in danger, he drew 
the ring which he wore from off his finger, and his notary 
took his seal, and they cast them into the river, being 
apprehensive that, as these were well known everywhere 
throughout England, the enemy would prepare deceitful 
writs by their means. 

The same bishop, a month before his decease in 1128, 
directed that he should be carried into the church, opposite 
the altar, there to make confession of his sins. Placing a 

* In the * Archoeologia, ' vol. xxxvi. , Mr. Octavius Morgan remarks , 
' that in the beginning of the seventeenth century some attention seems 
to have been paid to the subject of rings in general, and several persons 
wrote concerning them. John Kirchmann, a learned German of 
Lubeck, published a treatise " De Annulis ; " and about the same time 
Henry Kornmann v^^rote another small treatise " De Triplici Annulo." 
Kirchmann appears to have made deep researches on the subject, and 
in the chapter on "Episcopal Rings " he gives their history as far as he 
was able to trace it, though he cannot find in ancient writers any facts 
relating to them earlier than the reign of Charlemagne. In gratitude 
to this monarch for the important services he had rendered the Church, 
it was decreed in the eighth century that the Emperor should have the 
power of electing the Popes and ordering the Holy See, and that in 
addition the archbishops and the bishops of the provinces should receive 
investiture from him. No newly-elected prelate could be consecrated 
until he received from the Emperor the ring and the staff ; these were 
to be returned on the death of the prelate. But this practice was dis- 
used for a time ; for we find enumerated in the old chronicles of 
Mayence, among the jewels in that city, "sixteen large and good pon- 
tifical rings— one of ruby, with other gems, one of emerald, one of 
sapphire, and one of topaz. " ' 


ring upon the altar he thereby restored to the church every- 
thing of which he had deprived it, and this restitution he 
confirmed by charter and seal, which are still preserved in 
the treasury of the Dean and Chapter of Durham. To the 
charter was also attached the episcopal gold ring (which is 
no longer there). The charter states that 'he has sur- 
rendered to the Lord St Cuthbert and his monks whatsoever 
he had taken from them after he came to the bishopric,' &c., 
' restoring them by (placing) a ring upon the altar,' &c. 

Thomas k Becket, when at Rome in 11 66, during his 
quarrel with Henry II., solemnly resigned, in the presence 
of the Papal Court, his episcopal ring into the hands of Pope 
Alexander, whom he exhorted to name a fitting successor. 

In the History of the Archbishops of Canterbury, by 
Gervase, we read that in 1179, Godfrey, Bishop-elect of St. 
Asaph's, resigned his bishopric by surrendering his ring. 

An ancient custom in the Archbishopric of Rouen was 
that the body of the deceased prelate, before being interred 
in the cathedral, was carried to the church of St. Ouen (at 
Rouen), where it remained exposed a whole day. The 
dean of the cathedral, in committing the body to the charge 
of the Abbot of St. Ouen, said ' Ecce,' to which the latter 
replied ' Est hie' Then the dean gave the Archbishop's 
ring to the abbot, at the same time placing his hand in the 
coffin of the defunct, and saying : ' You gave it to him living ; 
behold he is dead,' alluding to the custom of the Arch- 
bishops of Royen being consecrated in the church of St. 

Mr. Waterton remarks 'that in 511, the Council of 
Orleans makes mention of the rescript of Clodovicus, 
wherein he promises to leave certain captives at the disposi- 
tion of the Gallican bishops, " si vestras epistolas de annulo 



vesiro signatas sic ad nos dirigatis.'" The same eminent 
antiquarian states that ' prior to the eleventh century, many, 
if not all, of the episcopal rings were signets ; for before 
that time large official seals were not in general use. Each 
bishop seems to have chosen the subject to be engraved 
on his ring, at pleasure. St. Augustine, in one of his 
letters, mentions that he sealed it with his ring, " qui ex- 
primit faciem hominis attendentis in latus." In writing 
to Apollinaris, Bishop of Valence, Clodovicus begs him 
to send the seal, or signet {stgnatorum), which he had 
promised, made in such a way " ut annulo ferreo et admodum 
tenui, velut concurrentibus in se delphinulis concludendo, 
sigili duplicis forma geminis cardinalis inseratur." And, 
referring to the subject to be engraved on the bezel, he 
adds, " si quaeras quid insculpendum sigillo, signo mono- 
grammatis mei per gyram scripti nominis legatur indicio." ' 

In the early days of Christianity bishops sealed with 
their rings the profession of faith which the neophytes 
made in writing. They also sealed their pastoral letters. 
Ebregislaus, Bishop of Meaux, in 660, wore on his ring an 
intaglio, representing St. Paul, the first hermit, on his knees 
before the crucifix, and above his head, a crow, by which he 
was miraculously fed. 

In conformity with a decree of St. Sergius I. (687-701), 
the bishops of France and Spain used to seal up the bap- 
tismal fonts with their rings from the beginning of Lent to 
Holy Saturday. 

From ancient documents it would appear that bishops 
sometimes called their rings 'annuli ecclesiae.' David, 
Bishop of Benevento, in the time of Charlemagne, issued a 
mandate, ending as follows : ' annulo sancts nostrae 
ecclesiae firmavivus roborandum.' In 862, Rathbodus,.; 


Bishop of Treves, writes thus : ' Hanc epistolam Graecis 
htteris, hinc, inde, munire decrevimus, et annulo ecclesiae 
nostrae bullare censiiimus/ In 985 Pope John XVI, 
sealed with his ring the confirmation of the decree made by 
the Council of Mayence, in favour of the monks of Corvey^ 
in Saxony. 

These quotations are sufficient to prove that until the 
nth century the bishops used their rings as signets ; but 
we must not infer that every episcopal ring was a signet. 
It is probable that each bishop had a large jewelled ring to 
use when pontificating. 

Of the importance attached to the possession of the 
episcopal ring we are told that Gun^iili^ the good Bishop of 
Rochester, in his last days distributed^ all his g oods to the 
poor, even to his shoes, and bequeathed his rich vestments 
to the cathedral. TEere was only one ornament with which 
he could not part, that was the episcopal ring, and he con- 
fided this to the care of his attendants, intending, probably, 
that it should be delivered to his successor. Ralph, who 
had lately been elected Abbot of Battle, had formerly been 
Prior of Rochester, and had been deservedly popular. 
The monks were anxious that he should be the successor of 
Gundulf, and were prepared to elect him, if they could 
obtain the consent of the archbishop. If to the Abbot of 
Battle Gundulf bequeathed or resigned the episcopal ring, 
it might be produced as an indication of Gundulf s wish 
that Ralph, of Battle Abbey, should succeed him. A sug- 
gestion to this effect was made to the old bishop, who said 
curtly : ' He is a monk, what has he to do with an epis- 
copal ring ? ' He was, probably, offended at the ambition of 
the ex-prior of Rochester, who ought to have been contented 
with his newly-acquired dignity at Battle Abbey. Soon 


after this, another Ralph made his appearance at the priory, 
Ralph of Seez, who afterwards became Archbishop of 
Canterbury. Having been ejected from his monastery by 
violence, he came to England, and was received everywhere 
with hearty regard, on account of his virtues and accom- 
plishments. Hearing of Gundulf s illness, he hastened to 
Rochester, to console his old friend on the bed of sickness. 
Ralph was obliged to leave Rochester after a short visit, but 
on quitting his friend he was recalled, and Gundulf, demand- 1 
ing of his attendant the episcopal ring, placed it as a parting 
gift in the hand of Ralph of Seez, who suggested it might be 
better disposed of to one of Gundulf s episcopal friends, 
since it did not pertain to an abbot to wear a ring. He 
reminded the bishop that, though not living a monk, still a 
monk he was. ' Take it, nevertheless,' said the bishop, ' you 
may want it some day.' 

The possession of this ring reconciled the monks to the 
appointment of Ralph of Seez as successor of Gundulf to 
the bishopric of Rochester, as they regarded the donation 
in the light of a prophecy. 

' Before,' says Mr. Waterton, ' receiving the pastoral 
staff and mitre, the bishop-elect is invested by the conse- 
crating bishop with the pontifical ring. The formula seems 
to have varied at different times, the most ancient one, 
contained in the Sacramental of St. Gregory, 590, is this 
''Accipe annulum discretionis et honoris, fidei signum, et 
quae signanda sunt signes, et quae aperienda sunt prodas, 
quae Uganda sunt liges, quae solvenda sunt solvas, atque 
credentibus per fidem baptismatis, lapsis autem sed poeni- 
tentibus per mysterium reconciliationis januas regni coelestis 
aperias; cunctis vero de thesauro dominico ad seternam 
salutem hominibus, consolatus gratia Domini nostri Jesu 


* Another form, of a later date, has the above, with the 
ollowing addition : — " Memor sponsionis et desponsationis 

ecclesiasticae et dilectionis Domini Dei tui, in die qua asse- 
cutus es hunc honorem, cave ne obliviscaris illius." 

* The ancient Ordo Romanus contains a formula couched 
in more elegant words : " Accipe annulum pontificalis 
honoris, ut sis fidei integritate ante omnia munitus, miseri- 
cordise operibus insistens, infirmis compatiens, benevolen- 
tibus congaudens, aliena damna propria deputans, de alienis 
gaudiis tanquam de propriis exultans." 

' The formula,' continues Mr. E. Waterton, ' seems to 
have varied at different times ; that contained in the ponti- 
fical of Ecgberht, Archbishop of York, is as follows : 
"Accipe annulum pontificalis honoris ut sis fidei integritate 
munitus." The Anglo-Saxon pontifical at Rouen, and that 
of St. Dunstan at Paris, both give the following : " Accipe 
ergo annulum discretionis et honoris, fidei signum, et quae 
signanda sunt signes, et quae aperienda sunt prodas." ' 

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the ring, as a part 
of ecclesiastical investiture, was a fruitful subject of discord 
between the Emperors and the Popes, until 1123, the 
Emperor Henry the Fifth, alarmed by the threats of the 
Pontiff, ceded the right to Calixtus II., from which time the 
rings were sent to the bishops-elect from the Pope — a practice 
continued in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to the present 
time. In preceding ages, however, monarchs were not so 
yielding. In the romance of * King Athelstan,' the sove- 
reign says to an offending archbishop : — 

Lay down thy cross and thy staff, 
The myter and the ryng that I to thee gaff, 
Out of my land thou flee. 

Cardinals on their creation receive a ring in which is 


usually a sapphire. Wolsey was raised to this dignity in 
1515, the Pope having forwarded with the hat (an unusual 
thing to be sent out of Rome) a ring of more than ordinary 

Cardinals wear their rings at all times, but on Good 
Friday they lay them aside, as a sign of the mourning in 
which the Church is placed for her Spouse. At the recent 
installation of cardinals (September 1875) the venerable 
Pontiff presented each dignitary with a gold ring set with a 
sapphire. J 

In 1 191 the fashion of the episcopal ring was defini-" 
tively settled by Innocent III., who ordained that it should 
be of gold, solid, and set with a precious stone, on which 
nothing was to be cut ; previous to this, bishops' rings were 
not restricted to any special material or design. ' In the 
thirteenth century,' remarks Mr. E. Waterton, ' many of the 
episcopal rings were of very rude fashion, frequently in 
almost literal conformity with the rescript of Innocent III., 
without regard to shape or elegance. The stone was set 
just as it was found, merely having the surface poHshed, and 
the shape of the bezel was adapted to the gem. There are 
proofs that cameos were worn in episcopal rings. In the 
list of rings and precious stones collected by Henry III, 
for the shrine of St. Edward, in Westminster Abbey, 
there is enumerated : " j chamah in uno annulo pontificali." 
We know that during the Middle Ages the glyptic art had 
declined very much, and that from their fancied assimilation 
antique gems were occasionally used for devout subjects. 
Thus the monks of Durham converted an antique intaglio 
of Jupiter Tonans into the ' caput Sancti Oswaldi.' 
\-^ During the latter part of the thirteenth century the 
1 large episcopal rings were enriched by the addition of 


l^iecious stones, which were set around the principal one. 
Thus, in the ' Wardrobe Book ' there is the following 
entry : 'Annulus auri cum quatuor rubettis magnis qui 
fuit Fratris J. de Peccham, nuper Cantuariensis Archiepis- 
copi. He died in 1292.' 

Episcopal rings were usually set with sapphires, pro- 
bably from a popular beHef that this precious stone had the 
power of cooling love ; owingj perhaps, to the coldness of its 
touch, due to its density. The Rev. C. W. King, however, 
gives as a reason for the choice of the sapphire that, besides 
its supposed sympathy with the heavens, mentioned by 
Solinus, and its connexion with 
the god of day, Apollo, the violet 
colour agrees with the vestments 
appropriated to the priestly office. 

An episcopal ring, with gold, 
and a sapphire, said to have be- 
longed to St. Loup, is in the ^V^^cov^l ring. 

treasury of the Cathedral of Sens, and is, probably, of the 
Carlovingian period. 

'Mention occurs,' remarks Mr. E. Waterton, 'of epis- 
copal rings being set with the balass-ruby, the emerald, the 
topaz, the turquoise, the chalcedony, and, as accessories, 
pearls and garnets. Sometimes these gems were of great 
value.' The Rev. C. W. King thinks it probable that 
when mediaeval rings occur, set with a ruby instead of a 
sapphire, they belong to bishops who were at the same 
time cardinals. At the disgraceful seizure of Archbishop 
Cranmer's effects, in 1553, we find mentioned, among the 
articles of considerable value taken from his house at 
Battersea : ' six or seven rings of fine gold, with stones in 



them, whereof were three fine blue sapphires of the best ; 
an emerald, very fine ; a good turquoise and a diamond.' 

At the degradation of a bishop in former times, the 
reasons were given in a solemn assembly, and judgment 
pronounced, the mitre was removed from his head, and the 
pontifical ring drawn off his finger, as having outraged the 

With regard to the finger on which the episcopal ring is 
worn, a correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (vol. v., first 
series, p. 114), remarks that 'all who wear rings, ex officio^ 
wear them on the third finger of the right hand. Cardinals, 
bishops, abbots, doctors, &c., do this for the reason that it 
is the first vacant finger. The thumb and the first two 
fingers have always been reserved as symbols of the Three 
Persons of the Holy Trinity. When a bishop gives his 
blessing he blesses with the thumb and two first fingers. 
Our brasses, with sepulchral slabs, bear witness to this fact.' 

A French writer observes that formerly the episcopal 
ring was worn on the fore-finger, but as, for the celebration 
of the holy mysteries, bishops were obliged to place it on 
^t fourth finger, the custom prevailed of carrying it thus. 

Mr. E. Waterton gives his explanation thus, and there 
could be no better authority : ' It appears that bishops for- 
merly wore their rings on the index of their right hand, 
being the middle one of the three fingers which they extend 
when they are giving their blessing, but when celebrating 
mass they passed the ring on to the annular. They wore 
it on the index as the fore-finger was indicative of silence, 
that they ought to communicate the divine mysteries only to 
the worthy. Gregory IV., in 827, ordered that the episcopal 
ring should not be worn on the left, but on the right hand, 


as it was more distinguished {nobile) and was the hand with 
which the blessing was imparted.'^ 

The episcopal ring is now always worn on the annular 

Episcopal Thumb-ring. 

finger of the right hand, and bishops never wear more than 
one. In the pictures of the early Italian masters, however, 

' The mode of giving the benediction differs in the two Churches. 
In the Greek it is given with the forefinger open, to form an I, the 
middle finger curved like a C, the ancient sigma of the Greeks, the 
thumb and annulary crossed form an x, and the little finger curved 
represents a c. All this gives IC XC, the Greek monogram of Jesus 
Christ. Thus, as the author of the 'Guide of Painting,' of Mount 
Athos, observes : — * By the Divine providence of the Creator, the fingers 
of the hand of man, be they more or less long, are arranged so as to 
form the name of Christ. ' 

The Latin benediction is more simple, being made with the annu- 
lary and the little finger closed, the three first fingers open, symbolical 
of the Trinity. 

' Formerly, bishops and priests blessed alike ; latterly, bishops re- 
served to themselves the right of blessing with their fingers, the priest 
•with the open hand ; the bishops facing the congregation, the priests in 
profile, with the hand placed edgeways. The sign of the cross was 
formerly made with three fingers open, but now with the open hand, 
from the forehead to the breast, and from the left to the right shoulder 
by the Latins, but from the right to the left by the Greeks ' (Didron, 
* Iconographie Chretienne ' ) . 


and on sepulchral effigies, bishops are represented with many 
rings, some of which are not unfrequently on the second 
joint of the fingers. A thumb-ring is often seen ; one is 
represented (p. 2 19) belonging to a late Dean of St. Patrick's, 
the sketch of which was made by the late Mr. Fairholt, when 
it was in the possession of Mr. Huxtable, F.S.A., in 1847. 
It is of bronze, thickly gilt, and set with a crystal. In Raf- 
fs, elle's portrait of Julius II. the Pope is represented as 
wearing six rings. Certain it is, as late as the year 15 16, the 
Popes occasionally wore two or more rings. 

As the large pontifical ring was of a size sufficient to 
enable the bishop to pass it over the silk glove which he 
wears when pontificating, a smaller, or guard ring, was used 
to keep it on the finger. 

In the Waterton Collection is a very pale gold episcopal 
ring, with oblong hexagonal bezel, set with a pale cabochon 
sapphire, and the hoop divided into square compartments 
chased with rosettes, and finished on the shoulders with 
monsters' heads. French, of the early part of the fifteenth 

In the Anglo-Saxon annals, an archbishop bequeaths a 

ring in his will, and a king sends a golden ring, enriched 

with a precious stone, as a present to a bishop. So great 

was the extravagance among the clergy for these ornaments 

that Elfric, in his ' canons,' found it necessary to exhort the 

ecclesiastics 'not to be proud with their rings.' In the 

mediaeval romances we are told that at the marriage of Sir 

Degrevant, there came 

Erchebyschopbz with ryng 
Mo than fiftene. 

In the effigy of Bishop Oldham (died 1519), in Exeter 
Cathedral, the uplifted hands of the recumbent figure, which 


are pressed together, are adorned with no less than seven 
large rings on the fingers, three being on the right, and four 
on the left hand. In addition to these, a single signet-ring 
of extraordinary size is represented as worn over both the 

But the number of these rings is exceeded by far in the 
case of the arm of St. Blaize, exhibited in the Cathedral of 
Brunswick, on the fingers of which are no less than fourteen 
rings. This reHc was brought from Palestine by Henry the 
Lion in the eleventh century, and is encased in silver. 

In a miniature in the ' Heures d'Anne de Bretagne ' 
(1500), representing St. Nicholas and the miracle of the 
three children, the bishop is represented with one hand ex- 
tended in the act of blessing, with a large ring over two 
fingers. A ring is on one of the fingers of the other hand. 
In paintings of the early bishops of the Church they are 
figured with gloves having the ruby on the back of the hand, 
and the official ring on the fore-finger of the right hand 
sometimes, but not always, introduced. 

Dart, in his ^ History of Canterbury,' gives an inventory 
of the Ornamenta Ecclesiastica taken in 13 15. One of the 
afmuli pontificales was of elaborate character, and is thus 
described : 'Annulus quadratus magnus cum smaragdine 
oblongo, et quatuor pramis, et quatuorgamettis.' The others 
had sapphires surrounded by smaller gems. One of these 
rings was set ' cum sapphiro nigro in quatuor cramponibus 
ex omne parte discoperto.' 

In the 'Archaeological Journal' (vol. ii., 1854) is an 
interesting account by the late Mr. Albert Way, of the 
ecclesiastical mortuary or corse-present : ' Whether this was 
originally a composition for offerings omitted, or in the 
nature of a payment for sepulture, frequently consisted, 


amongst other things of a ring. Thus in the archdeaconry of 
Chester, on the death of every priest, his best signet, or ring, 
with various other objects belonging to the bishop as being 
the archdeacon.* 

The King, in like manner, on the death of every arch- 
bishop and bishop, was entitled to a gold ring with other 
things. On the death of some abbots the King claimed the 
like. These rights existed in the reign of Edward I. and 
probably earlier. In the province of Canterbury the second- 
best ring of the bishop accompanied the seals, which, there 
is reason to think, were given up to their metropolitans. 
In 13 lo, on the death of Robert Orford, Bishop of Ely, his 
pontifical ring not having been delivered up in due course, 
a mandate was issued by Archbishop Winchelsey, directed 
to Richard de Oteringham, then administering the spiritu- 
alities of the vacant see, to obtain possession of the ring, 
which appeared to have been kept back by two of the 
monks of Ely. The mandate recites all the circumstances 
which had occurred, describing the ring as ' annulum qui 
pontificaHs vulgariter appellatur, qui de jure et consuetudine 
nostre ecclesie Cantuariensis ad nos dignoscitur pertinere.' 
It was alleged by the monks of Ely that the deceased 
prelate had made a gift of this ring in his lifetime to the 
Prior and Convent, but that, having no other pontifical ring, 
he had retained it for his own use until his death. The 
Prior and Convent then had possession of the ring, which 
they forthwith caused to be afiixed to the shrine of St. 
Ealburga. The two monks incurred the penalty of excom- 
munication ; the Archbishop forthwith cited the Prior and 
Convent to appear before him, and there can be little doubt 
that the ring was ultimately delivered up. The details of 
this curious transaction are related in Archbishop Winchel- 


sey's Register, and may be seen in Wilkins's ' Concilia,' vol. 
ii. p. 403. 

In regard to two of the sees in Wales, St. Asaph and 
Bangor, the claim extended to the palfry with bridle and 
saddle, the capa pluvialts, or riding-cloak, and the hat used 
by the deceased prelate. The seals and best ring were like- 
wise demanded, as in the case of the other bishops of the 
Principality, and of the province of Canterbury in general. 
On the decease of Anian, Bishop of Bangor, in 1327, the 
metropolitan see being at that time vacant, the Prior of 
Christ Church claimed the ring, seals, and other effects, 
which had not been rendered up to him in due course. The 
following entry appears on this occasion : ' De annulo et 
sigilis Episcopi Bangorensis restituendis. — Magister Kenew- 
ricus Canonicus Assavensis, officiaHs noster sede Bangorensi 
vacante, habet literam de annulo secundo meliori et omni- 
bus sigillis bone memorie domini Aniani Episcopi Bangor- 
ensis, ac etiam de aliis bonis nobis et ecclesie nostre 
Cantuarien. de jure et consuetudine antiqua et approbata 
debitis post mortem cujuslibet Episcopi Bangorensis, que 
de Magistro Madoco Archidiacono Angles' executore 
testimenti dicti domini Aniani recepit, nobis absque more 
majoris dispendio apud Cantuariam transmittendis necnon 
de omnibus aliis bonis que ad manus suas sede Bangorensi 
vacante vel plena devenerunt ; et ad certificandum nos infra 
XX dies post recepcionem presentium quod super premissis 
duxerit faciendis. Dated at Canterbury, July 15, 1328.' 

These instructions from the Prior to his official seem to 
have produced no effect. A letter is found subsequently in 
the same register (K. 12, f. 158, v^), addressed from May- 
field by Simon Mepham, Archbishop of Canterbury, to 
Henry Gower, Bishop of St. David's, stating the demand of 


the Prior had not been satisfied, and requiring him to obtain 
restitution of the seals and ring which had belonged to the 
deceased prelate. The matter appears accordingly to have 
been adjusted without delay, since a formal acquittance is 
found in the same volume, dated at Canterbury, February 
3; 1328. 

A similar occurrence is recorded in the register on the de- 
cease of David Martyn, Bishop of St. David's, March 9, 1328. 
His executors had delivered the seals and ring to Master 
Edmund de Mepham, who had departed this life ; and a letter 
is found from Henry de Eastry, Prior of Christ Church, 
to Robert Leveye, Edmund's executor, requesting him to 
render up these objects to which the Prior was entitled. 

The Wardrobe Books and other records would doubtless 
show that the rights of the Crown were constantly enforced 
on the decease of archbishops and bishops with no less 
jealous vigilance than those of the Church of Canterbury. 
In the Wardrobe Book of 28th Edward I., for instance, 
amongst various articles mention is made of the gold ring of 
William de Hothum, Archbishop of Dublin, who died in 
1298, set with a sapphire, as also of many silver ciphi 
and gold rings set with various gems, delivered to the King 
on the decease of several other prelates at that period. In 
the same record are to be found the gold rings of the abbots 
of Glastonbury, St. Alban's, and Abingdon, lately deceased, 
in custody of the King's wardrobe. 

It is deserving of remark that at an earlier period no 
claim, as regarded the pontifical ring, appears to have been 
acknowledged by the Bishops of Rochester. 

Mr. Edmund Waterton, in the ' Archaeological Journal ' 
(vol. XX. pp. 235 et seq.), gives a list of a few of the authen- 
tic episcopal rings now in existence in England. 



The ring of Seffrid, Bishop of Winchester, who died in 
1 151. This is most curious, for it is set with a gnostic gem, 
representing the figure with the head of a cock. It is a 
strange subject for the ring of a bishop. 

A massive gold ring set with a sapphire, found in a tomb 
on the thumb of the skeleton of a bishop, supposed to be 
Hilary, Bishop of Chichester, who died in 1169, together 
with a silver chalice, and paten, and a pastoral staff. 

A gold ring with an octagonal sapphire, set a griffes, and 
with four small emeralds in the corners. This was found in 
a stone coffin on which was inscribed episcopus, and which 
also contained some remains of vestments, and a pastoral 

These three rings belong to the Dean and Chapter of 

Gold ring set with a ruby, and found in York Minster in 
the tomb of Archbishop Sewall, who died 1258. 

A gold ring, also set with a ruby, found in the tomb of 
Archbishop Greenfield, who died 13 15. 

Ring of Archbishop Sewall. 

Ring of Archbishop Greenfield. 

A gold ring, the stone of which has fallen out and which 
bears on the inside the chanson 'xhonnorxetxjoyex,* 
found in the tomb of Archbishop Bowett, who died in 1423. 

The three last rings are preserved in York Minster. 

A large gold ring set with an irregular oval sapphire 



secured by four grips in the form of fleurs-de-lys. The 
stone is pierced longitudinally. This was found in Win- 
chester Cathedral, and may be as- 
signed to the thirteenth century. 

The ring of William of Wyke- 
ham, Bishop of Winchester, died 
1404. A massive plain gold ring, 
set with a sapphire. By his will 
he bequeathed to his successor 
in the Bishopric of Winchester, 
his best book, De Officio Ponti- 
ficalia his best missal, and his 
larger gold pontifical ring, set 
with a sapphire, and surrounded with four balass-rubies. 

A gold ring found in the tomb of Bishop Gardiner, in 
Winchester Cathedral (died 1555). It is set with an oval 
plasma intaglio of the head of Minerva ; on the shoulders of 
the hoop are two square facetted ornaments, each set with 
five small rubies en cabochon. 

These rings belong to the Dean and Chapter of Win- 
chester Cathedral. 

A massive gold ring set with a sapphire. The shoulders 

Episcopal ring (thirteenth century). 

Ring of Bishop Stanbery. 

are ornamented with flowers, and inside is the chanson ' en : 


bon : an.' Found in the tomb of John Stanbery, Bishop of 
Hereford, 1452. 

A gold ring set with an uncut ruby, and which has on 
either shoulder a Tau cross, filled in with green enamel, and 
a bell appended. Within is the inscription enamelled ' Ave 
Maria.' Found in the tomb of Richard Mayhew, or Mayo, 
Bishop of Hereford, 1504. 

These rings were found in Hereford Cathedral. They 
are figured in the ' Archseologia ' (vol. xxxi. p. 249). 

A massive gold ring set with a sapphire, en cabochon. 
This was found on one of the fingers of St. Cuthbert, when 
his cofiin was opened by the visitors in 1537. It came into 
the possession of Thomas Watson, the Catholic Dean 
appointed on the dismissal of Robert Home, the Protestant 
Dean, in 1553. Dean Watson gave the ring to Sir Thomas 
Hare, who gave it to Antony Brown, created Viscount 
Montague, by Queen Mary, in 1554. He gave it to Dr. 
Richard Smith, Bishop of Calcedon, in paiiibus, and Vicar 
Apostolic of the Northern District, whom he had for a long 
time sheltered from the persecution. Bishop Smith gave 
the ring to the monastery of the English Canonesses of St. 
Augustine at Paris ; and it is now preserved at St. Cuthbert's 
College, Ushaw, near Durham. The ring is evidently not 
one worn by the sainted bishop during his lifetime. It does 
not appear to have been of an earlier date than the four- 
teenth century ; and a gold ring, set with a sapphire, and 
almost its counterpart, which was found at Flodden, is now 
in the British Museum. Probably the ring had belonged to 
one of the bishops of Durham, and had been offered to the 
shrine of St. Cuthbert, and placed on a finger of the corpse 
on some occasion when the shrine was opened. The 



authentication of the ring simply states the fact that it was 
found on the hand of St. Cuthbert in 1537. 

The ring of Arnulphus, consecrated Bishop of Metz in 
<6i4, is stated to be preserved in the treasury of the cathe- 
dral of that city. It is believed to be of an earlier date 
than the fourth century, and it is set with an opaque milk- 
white cornelian, engraved with the sacred symbol of the 

In addition to these examples are two other French 
episcopal rings. One is that of Gerard, Bishop of Limoges, 
who died in 1022. Didron thus describes it : * Get anneau 
est en or massif; il pese 14 gram. 193 m. ; aucune pier- 
rerie ne le decore. La tete de I'anneau, ou chaton, est 
formee de quatre fleurs trilobees opposees par la base sur 
iesquelles courent de legers filets d'email bleu.' 

In August 1763 the remains of Thomas de Bitton, 
Bishop of Exeter from 1293 to 1307, were discovered in the 
cathedral of that city. The skeleton was nearly entire, and 
among the dust in the coffin a gold ring was found and a 
large sapphire set in it. This ring and a chalice recovered 
at the same time are preserved within a case in the chapter- 
house of the cathedral. 

The following extracts from the Wardrobe Book of 28th 
Edward I. (a.d. i 299-1360), relating to episcopal rings, are 
of interest : — 

' Jocalia remanencia in fine anni 27. 

' Annulus auri cum sapphiro qui • fuit fratris Willelmi 
quondam Dublin' archiepiscopi defuncti. 

'Jocalia remanencia in fine anni 27 de jocalibus 
Regi datis, et post decessum prselatorum Regis restitutis 
anno 25. 

' Annulus auri cum sapphiro crescenti qui fuit N. quondam 
Sarum episcopi defuncti. 



* Annulus, auri cum nibetto perforate qui fuit Robert! 
Coventr' et Lichfield' episcopi defuncti. 

'Jocalia remanencia in fine anni 27 de jocalibus Regi 
datis et post decessum prgelatorum Regis restitutis. Annu- 
lus auri cum sapphiro qui fuit J. Ebor' archiepiscopi 
defuncti anno 24. 

' Jocalia remanencia in fine anni, 27 de jocalibus receptis 
de venerabili Patre Will' Bathon' et Wellen' episcopo. 

' Tres annuli auri cum rubettis. 

*Unus annulus auri cum amerauda. 

' Unus annulus auri cum topacio (chrysolite). 

*Unus annulus auri cum pereditis (topaz).' 

Thtjocalia Sancti Thomce, which is given by Dart in his 
history of Canterbury Cathedral, are as follows : — 

^ Annulus pontificalis magnus cum rubino rotundo in 
medio : 

* Item. Annulus magnus cum sapphiro nigro qui vocatur 

' Item. Annulus cum parvo sapphiro nigro qui vocatur 

' Item. Annulus cum sapphiro quadrato aquoso. 

* Item. Annulus cum lapide oblongo qui vocatur tur- 

^ Item. Annulus unus cum viridi cornelino sculpto 

' Item. Annulus parvus cum smaragdine triangulato. 

*■ Itevi. Annulus unus cum chalcedonio oblongo.' 

The term lup may signify en cabochon, uncut. 

In 1867 Mr. Binns exhibited a gold episcopal ring, at a 
meeting of the Society of Antiquaries, which he obtained at 
the shop of a jeweller at Worcester, and supposed to be 
the ring of Walter de Cantilupe, who presided over the see 
of Worcester from 1236 to 1266. In the ' Archseologia ' 



(vol. XX. p. 556) is figured an amethyst ring, which was 
discovered at Evesham Abbey, on the finger of the skeleton 
of Henry of Worcester, abbot of that house, 1256-1263. 

In the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Wells is a 
fine massive episcopal ring of gold, the date supposed to be 
the commencement of the twelfth century. It has a solid 
projecting bezel, set with an irregularly-shaped ruby, 
polished on the surface and pierced longitudinally — an 
oriental stone which has been used as a pendant. 

At the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery 
at the South Kensington Museum, in 1872, Mr. R. H. 
Soden Smith contributed, amongst his fine collection of 140 
finger-rings, a series of seven gold episcopal rings of the 
pointed or stirrup- shaped type ; these are mostly set 
with sapphires, rudely shaped and 
polished. Date from the 13th and 
14th centuries. 

This engraving represents a gold 
episcopal ring, in the Londesborough 
Collection, with sapphire. French work of the thirteenth 

In the Royal Irish Academy is 
a large episcopal ring, but, of com- 
paratively modern date. It is the 
largest ring in the collection, and 
had originally held a very fine ame- 
thyst, which was removed by Dean 
Dawson, when the ring was in his 
possession, and a piece of glass 
inserted in its stead. 
piscopa ring. j^ ^^ Watcrton Collection is 

one of the finest of mediaeval gold episcopal rings, obtained 

FrenchEpiscopal ring. 



at Milan. It has been reset with an amethyst, the original 
stone, stated to have been a valuable sapphire, having been 
removed. No date is assigned to it. 

Episcopal ring. 

Abbots were invested with the ring. Lawrence, 
seventeenth Abbot of Westminster, is said to have been the 
first of that dignity who obtained from the Pope (Alexander 
III.) the privilege of using the mitre, ring, and gloves. He 
died in 1167, and was represented on his monument with a 
mitre, ring, and staff. In 1048, Wulgate, twelfth Abbot of 
Croyland, received the crosier and rifig from the king. The 
consecration of an abbot was similar, in most respects, to 
the episcopal ceremony. The abbot received from the 
bishop, or whoever was appointed to officiate, the insignia 
of his ecclesiastical dignity. 


The privilege of the mitre, pontifical ring, &c., was con- 
ceded to the abbots of St. Denis, in France, about the year 
1 177 by Alexander III. 

Jocelyn of Brakelond, in his ' Chronicles of St. Edmunds- 
bury ' (twelfth century), informs us that Sampson was inaugu- 
rated abbot of that monastery in 1182, by the Bishop of 
Winchester, who placed the mitre on his head, and the ring 
on his finger, saying : ' This is the dignity of the abbots of 
St. Edmund ; my experience early taught me this.' 

In the reception of novices into the Roman Catholic 
sisterhood, one of the ceremonies performed was the pre- 
sentation of a ring blessed by the bishop, usually of gold 
with a sapphire. After the benediction of the veil, the 
ring, and the crown, the novices receive the first as a mark 
of renouncing the world ; the ring, by which they are married 
to the Son of God, and the crown, as a type of that pre- 
pared for them in heaven. The origin of this custom of 
espousals to Christ dates from a very remote period. ' We 
meet,' remarks Lingard, in his ' History and Antiquities of 
the Anglo-Saxon Church,' ' for more than a thousand years 
after the first preaching of Christianity, with females who, 
to speak the language of our ancestors, had wedded them- 
selves to God.' 

On one of four rings of St. Eloy (6th century), preserved 
before the Revolution of 1793 in the treasury of the church 
at Noyon, in France, was inscribed : — 

Annulus Eligii fuit aureus iste beati, 

Quo Christo sanctam desponsavit Godebertam. 

(This gold ring of the ever-blessed St. Eloy was that with 
which he married St. Godiberte to Christ.) 


John Alcock, Bishop of Ely (i486), gives * an exhortacyon 
made to relygyous systers in the tyme of theyr consecracyon 
by him : " I aske the banes betwyx the hyghe and moost 
myghty Prynce, Kyng of all kynges, Sone of Almyghty God, 
and the Virgyn Mary, in humanyte Cryste Jesu of Naza- 
reth, of the one partye, and A. B. of the thother partye, that 
yf ony or woman can shewe any lawfuU impedymente other 
by any precontracte made on corrupcyon of body or soule 
of the sayd A. B. that she ought not to be maryed this 
daye unto the sayd mighty Prynce Jesu, that they wolde 
accordynge unto the lawe shewe it." ' 

There is no doubt that these * espousals to Christ ' were 
in connection with the spiritual marriage of the bishop 
with the Church implied by the sanctity of the episcopal 
ring. ' The mystical signification,' observes Mr. E. Waterton, 
* attached to this ring has been set forth by various ecclesi- 
astical writers. " Datur et annulus episcopo,'' observes St. 
Isidore, of Seville, in the i6th century, *' propter signum 
pontificalis honoris, vel signaculum secretorum." In 1191 
Innocent III. wrote that "annulus episcopi perfectionem 
donorum Spiritus Sancti in Christo significat." Durandus, 
who lived in the 13th century, enlarges upon the subject in 
his " Rationale." "The ring," he says, "is the badge of fidelity 
with which Christ betrothed the Church, his holy Bride, so 
that she can say : ' My Lord betrothed me with his ring.' 
Her guardians are the bishops, who wear the ring for a 
mark and a testimony of it ; of whom the Bride speaks in 
the Canticles : ' The watchmen who kept the city found me.' 
The father gave a ring to the prodigal son, according to the 
text, * put a ring on his finger.' A bishop's ring, therefore, 
signifies integritatum fidei ; that is to say, he should love as 
himself the Church of God committed to him as his Bride, 


and that he should keep it sober and chaste for the heavenly 
Bridegroom, according to the words, ' I have espoused you 
to one Husband, that I my present you as a chaste virgin 
to Christ,' and that he should remember he is not the lord, 
but the shepherd." ' 

It was the custom in former ages for the high dignitaries 
of the Church, at the time of their elevation to episcopal 
rank, to celebrate such event with pompous ceremonies. 
We find recorded, among others, the marriage of prelates, 
especially in Italy. In 15 19, Antonio Pucci was elected 
Bishop of Pistoja, and made his solemn entree with a 
brilliant cortege. On reaching a nunnery called San Pier 
Maggiore, 'he descended from his horse,' says Michel- 
Ange Salvi, ' and entered the church, which was richly 
decorated. After praying, he went towards the wall which 
separated the church from the convent, where an opening 
had been made, and, in an apartment there, wedded the 
abbess, placnig on her finger a sumptuous ring. After this 
he went to the cathedral, and with various ceremonies was 
inducted into his bishopric' 

At Florence, when an archbishop was elected, he pro- 
ceeded to a convent dedicated to St. Peter, and was 
married to the abbess. A platform was erected, surmounted 
by a rich baldequin, near the high altar ; a golden ring was 
brought to the prelate, which he placed on the finger of the 
abbess, whose hand was sustained by the oldest priest of 
the parish. The archbishop slept one night at the convent, 
and the next day was enthroned, with great ceremony, in 
the cathedral. 

The same usages were practised at the installation of 
the archbishops of Milan, the Bishops of Bergamo, Modena, 


Aimon, in his ' Tableau de la Cour de Rome/ describing 
1:10 ceremonies attending the consecration of cardinals, says : 
• I -e Pape leur fait alors une exhortation, et leur assigne des 
litres; leur met au doigt annulaire de la main droite, un 
;inneau d'or, dans lequel est enchasse un saphir, qui coute 
a chaque Eminence cinq cents ducats. Get anneau est 
(ionne'au nouveau Cardinal pour lui suppiendre ^u' i/ a r£g/ise 
ir epoiise, et qu'il ne le doit jamais abandonner.' 

During the ceremony of consecrating the Bishop of 
Limoges at Notre Dame in Paris (1628), in presence of the 
Queen and the Duke of Orleans, the former sent the Bishop 
a rich diamond ring, which she took from her finger, in token 
of the spiritual marriage which he was contracting with 
the Church. 

M. Thiers, in his ' Traite des Superstitions,' gives a 
curious instance of these espousals to Christ : a Carmelite, 
in his assumed quality of ' Secretary of Jesus,' had persuaded 
some of his devotees to sign contracts of marriage with the 
Saviour. A translation of one of these I now give : ' I, 
Jesus, son of the living God, the husband of my faithful, 
take my daughter, Madelaine Gasselin, for my wife ; and 
promise her fidelity, and not to abandon her, and to give 
her, for advantage and possession, my grace in this life, 
promising her my glory in the other, and a portion of the 
inheritance of my Father. In faith of which I have signed 
the irrevocable contract by the hand of my secretary. Done 
in the presence of the Father Eternal, of my love, of my 
very worthy mother Mary, of my father St. Joseph, and of 
all my celestial court, in the year of grace 1650, day of my 
father St. Joseph. 

'Jesus, the husband of faithful souls. 


' Mary, mother of God. Joseph, husband of Mary. 
The guardian angel Madelaine, the dear lover of Jesus. 

'This contract has been ratified by the Holy Trinity, 
the day of the glorious St. Joseph, in the same year, 

* Brother Arnoux, of St. John the Baptist, Carmelite. 
Dechauss^, unworthy secretary of Jesus.' 

* I, Madelaine Gasselin, unworthy servant of Jesus, take 
my amiable Jesus for my husband, and promise him fidelity, 
and that I never have any other but Him, and I give Him, 
as a proof of my truth, my heart, and all that I shall ever 
be, through life unto death doing all that is required of me, 
and to serve Him with all my heart throughout eternity. . 
In faith of which I have signed with my own hand the 
irrevocable contract, in the presence of the ever-adorable 
Trinity, of the holy Virgin, Mary, mother of God, my 
glorious father St. Joseph, my guardian angel, and all the 
celestial court, the year of grace 1650, day of my glorious 
father St. Joseph. 

* Jesus, lover of hearts. 

' Mary, mother of God. Joseph, husband of Mary. The 
guardian angel Madelaine, the dearly-beloved of Jesus. 

'This contract has been ratified by the ever-adorable 
Trinity the same day of the glorious St. Joseph, in the 
same year. 

' Brother Arnoux, of St. John the Baptist.' 

A curious legend of a ring of espousals received from 
our Saviour by a pious maiden, is recorded by Nider, in his 
treatise ' In Formicario,' and is referred to by Kirchmann 
(' De Annulis '). He writes in praise of celibacy, and describes 
a certain maiden who, rejecting all earthly loves, is filled with 


sincere affection for Christ only. After Spraying for some 
token of Divine acceptance : ' orti locello quo nunc oculis 
corporeis visum dirigo. Et ecce in eodem momento et 
locello vidit tres or duos circiter violarum amenos flosculos. 
. . . Violas manu collegit propria et conservavit solliciter, 
ut exinde amor et spes artius ad suum sponsum grate suc- 

After enforcing the miraculous character of the event by 
reminding his readers that it was not the season of flowers, 
but somewhere about the feast of St. Martin, he continues : 
— '■ In sequenti anno iterum in orto suo laboraret quodam 
die, et ibidem in locum certum intuitum dirigeret, optando 
ex imo cordis desiderio quatenus ibi reperiret in signum 
Christifere desponsationis annulum aliquem, si divine 
voluntatis id esset : et en altera vice non sprevit Deus 
preces humilis virginis sed reperit materialem quemdam 
annulum quem vidi postmodum. Erat autem colons albi, 
de minera qua nescio, argento ihundo videbatur similior. Et 
in clausura ubi jungebatur in circulum due manus artificiose 
insculpte extiterunt. . . . Hunc annulum virgo gratissime 
servavit in posterum, et altissimo suo sponso deinceps ut 
antea in labore manuum suarum vivere studuit.' Vide 
J. Nider, In Formicario, Cologne, 1473 (?) [' Notes and 
Queries ']. 

This mystical union by the ring was exemplified in a 
singular manner in the instance of Edmund Rich, who was 
consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1234. When a 
young man he made a vow of celibacy, and, that he might 
be able to keep it, he wedded himself to the mother of our 
Lord. He had two rings made with ' Ave Maria ' engraved 
on each. One he placed on the finger of an image of the 
Virgin, which stood in a church at Oxford, and the other he 


wore on his own finger, considering himself espoused in 
this manner to the Virgin. He cherished the remembrance 
of this transaction to his death, and at his funeral the ring 
was observed on his finger.^ 

In the legends of the saints there are frequent allusions 
to the espousals with Christ, in which the ring is promi- 
nently mentioned ; thus of St. Catherine of Alexandria, it is 
said that, as she slept upon her bed, 'the blessed Virgin 
appeared to her again, accompanied by her divine Son, and 
with them a noble company of saints and angels. And 
Mary again presented Catherine to the Lord of Glory, say- 
ing, " Lo, she hath been baptized, and I myself have been 
her godmother ! " Then the Lord smiled upon her, and 
held out his hand, and plighted his troth to her, putting a 
ring upon her finger. When Catherine awoke, remembering 
her dream, she looked, and saw the ring upon he?- finger ; 
and, henceforth regarding herself as the betrothed of Christ, 
she despised the world, and all the pomp of earthly sove- 
reignty, thinking only of the day which should reunite her 
with her celestial and espoused Lord.' 

In a painting by Ghirlandago, St. Catherine is repre- 
sented with a ring conspicuous on her finger, in allusion to 
her mystical espousals. 

Mrs. Jameson, in her ' Sacred and Legendary Art,' 

' The reader will be reminded of the anecdote of Queen Elizabeth, 
who, drawing from her finger the coronation ring, showed it to the 
Commons, and told them that when she received that ring she had 
solemnly bound herself in marriage to the realm, and it would be quite 
sufficient for the memorial of her name, and for her glory, if, when she 
died, an inscription were engraved on her marble tomb : ' Here lyeth 
Elizabeth, which {sic) reigned a virgin, and died a woman.' This coro- 
nation ring was filed off her finger shortly before her death, on account 
of the flesh having grown over it. 


liicntions an engraving of the marriage of St. Catherine by- 
one of the earliest artists of the genuine German school, the 
anonymous engraver known only as * Le Graveur de 1466,' 
■ the scene is Paradise ; and the Virgin-Mother, seated on a 
llowery throne, is in the act of twining a wreath, for which 
St. Dorothea presents the roses ; in front of the Virgin 
kneels St. Catherine, and beside her stands the Infant 
Christ (here a child about five or six years old), and presents 
the ring,' &c. 

In Titian's 'Marriage of St. Catherine,' * the Infant Christ 
is seated on a kind of pedestal, and sustained by the arms 
of the Virgin. St. Catherine kneels before him, and St. 
Anna, the mother of the Virgin, gives St. Catherine away, 
presenting her hand to receive the ring; St. Joseph is 
standing on the other side ; two angels behmd the saint, look 
on with an expression of celestial sympathy.' 

St. Agnes, in the old legend, when tempted to marry the 
son of Sempronius, the prefect of Rome, by rich presents, 
rejects them with scorn, ' being already betrothed to a lover 
who is greater and fairer than any earthly suitor.' 

In Hone's 'Everyday Book' (vol. i. p. 141) there is a 
curious story connected with St. Agnes, * who,' says Butler, 
'has always been looked upon as a special patroness ot 
purity, with the immaculate mother of God.' It seems that 
a priest who officiated in a church dedicated to that saint 
was very desirous of being married. He prayed the Pope's 
licence, who gave it him, together with an emerald ring, 
and commanded him to pay his addresses to the image of 
St. Agnes in his own church. The priest did so, and the 
image put forth her finger and he put the ring thereon ; 
whereupon the image drew her finger again, and kept the 
ring fast, and the priest was contented to remain a bachelor, 


* and yet, as it is sayd, the rynge is on the fynger of the 

Mrs. Jameson remarks, on a painting representing in one 
compartment of the picture the Espousal of St. Francis of 
Assisi with the Lady Poverty, that she is attended by Hope 
and Charity as bridesmaids, being thus substituted for Faith. 
St. Francis places the ring upon her finger, while our 
Saviour, standing between them, at once gives away the 
bride and bestows the nuptial benediction. 

St. Herman of Cologne, in the thirteenth century, is said 
to have had an ecstatic dream, in which the Virgin descended 
from heaven, and, putting a ring on his finger, declared him 
her espoused. Hence he received from the brotherhood 
with which he was connected the name of Joseph. He died 
in 1236. 

In Hone's ' Everyday Book ' it is remarked that the 
meeting of St. Anne and St. Joachim at the Golden Gate 
was a popular theme. The nuns of St. Anne, at Rome, 
showed a rude silver ring as the wedding one of the two 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a thick, gold, nun's 
ring, with a conical surface to the band of the hoop, and 
an inscription of the fourteenth century, in Longobardic 
characters, ' x O (for avec) cest (for cet) anel sen (for j'e suis) 
espose de yjieiisii Crist.^ In the Waterton Collection at the 
South Kensington Museum is also a nun's ring of the same 
date, inscribed ' God with Maria.' 

In former times complaints were made in the ' Consti- 
tutions ' of nuns wearing several rings. In the ' Ancren 
Riwle, or Regulae Inclusarum ' (Camden Society) nuns are 
forbidden to have brooch or ri?ig^ or studded girdle : — 
Ring ne broche nabbe ye ; ne giirdel i-membred. 


' Espousals to God ' were not confined to the religious 
portion of the community. 

Eleanora, third daughter of John, King of England, on 
the death of her husband, the Earl of Pembroke, in 1231, 
in the first transports of her grief, made in public a solemn 
vow, in presence of Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
that she would never again become a wife, but remain a 
true spouse of Christ, and received the ring in confirmation, 
which vows she, however, subsequently broke, to the indig- 
nation of a strong party of the laity and clergy of England, 
by her marriage with Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. 
At the head of the clergy was one William de Avendon, a 
Dominican friar, who quoted a tractate on vows, by one 
' Master Peter,' from which it appears that a sacred plight- 
ring was considered almost as impassable a barrier as the 
veil itself, against the marriage of the wearer. 

Mary, sixth daughter of Edward I., took the veil at 
Amesbury, thirteen young ladies being selected as her com- 
panions. The spousal rings placed on their fingers were of 
gold, adorned with a sapphire, and were provided at the 
expense of the King. 

In a very interesting paper by Mr. Harrod, F.S.A., in the 
* Archaeologia ' (vol. xl. part 2) we have particulars of the 
custom, which prevailed in the Middle Ages, of widows 
taking a vow of chastity, and receiving a particular robe and 
ring. Sir Harris Nicolas printed in the ' Testamenta Vetusta ' 
an abstract of the will of Lady Alice West, of Hinton 
Marcel, widow of Sir Thomas West, dated in 1395, and 
proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. There is a 
bequest to her son Thomas, amongst other things of ' a ring 
with which I was yspoused to God.' 

Sir Harris rightly says that this could not have been her 



marriage-ring, and it was certain she had not entered a 
convent. This is still more clearly made out by a reference 
to the transcript of the will in the registers of the Prerogative 

Gough, in his ' Sepulchral Monuments/ quotes a stor)', 
from Matthew Paris, of one Cecily Sandford, a lady of con- 
dition, who, on her deathbed, having passed through the 
usual forms with her confessor, and he ordering her atten- 
dants to take off a gold ring he observed on her finger, 
although just expiring, recovered herself enough to tell them 
she would never part with it, as she intended carrying it to 
heaven with her into the presence of her celestial spouse, in 
testimony of her constant observance of her vow, and to 
receive the promised reward. She had, it appears, made a 
vow of perpetual widowhood, and with her weddtng-rmg 
assumed the russet habit, the usual sign of such a resolution. 

* In the " Colchester Chronicle," portions of which are 
printed in Cromwell's " History of Colchester," one entry 
appears to confirm the conjecture that the whole was com- 
posed in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, "Anno Dni 
ccciij. Helena mortuo Constancio perpetuam vovit vidui- 

' By the testament of Katharine Rippelingham, dated 
Februarys, 1473, who calls herself " advowes," she desires 
to be buried in the church of Baynardes Castell of London, 
where she was a parishioner ; and by her will, in which she 
gives herself the title of " widow advowes," she shows herself 
in the full exercise of her rights of property, devising estates, 
carrying out awards, and adjusting family differences, and 
in an undated codicil she bequeaths to her daughter's 
daughter, Alice Saint John, '' her gold ring v^iXh a diamante 
sette therein, wherewith she was * sacred.^ " ' 


' Sir Gilbert Denys, Knight of Syston, 1422 : " If Margaret 
my wife will after my death vow a vow of chastity, I give 
her all my moveable goods, she paying my debts and pro- 
viding for my children ; and, if she will not vow a vow of 
chastity, I desire that my goods may be distributed, or 
divided into three equal parts, &c.' 

' John Brakenbury, in 1487, leaves his mother certain real 
estate, " with that condicion that she never mary, ^/le which 
she promised afore the parson and the parish of Thymmylbe^ 
and if she kepe not that promise, I will she be content with 
that which was my fader's will, which she had every peny/ 

* William Herbert, knight, Lord Pembroke, in his will 
dated July 27, 1469, thus appeals to 'his wife : " And, wife, 
that you remember your promise to take the order of 
widowhood, so ye may be the better maistres of your owen, 
to perform my will, and to help my children, as I love and 
trust you." 

'William Edlington, esquire, of Castle Carlton, on June 
II, 1466, states in his will : "I make Christian, my wife, my 
executor on this condicion, that she take the mantle and the 
ring soon after my decease ; and, if case be that she will 
not take the mantle and the ring, I will that William, my 
son (and other persons therein named) be my executors, 
and she to have a third part of all my goods moveable.' 

* Lady Joan Danvers in 1453, gives the ring of her pro- 
fession of widowhood to the image of the crucifix, near the 
north door of St. Paul's. 

' Lady Margaret Davy, widow, in 1489, leaves her profes- 
sion-ring to " Our Lady of Walsingham." ' 

Gough prints the Act of Court from the Ely Registers, 
on the taking the vow by Isabella, Countess of Suffolk, in 
1382. This took place at the priory of Campsey, in the 


presence of the Earl of Warwick, the Lords Willoughby, 
Scales, and others. The vow was as follows : ' Jeo Isa- 
bella, jadys la femme William de Ufford, Count de Suffolk, 
vowe \ Dieu, &c., en presence de tres reverentz piers en Dieu 
evesques de Ely et de Norwiz, qe jeo doi estre chaste d'ors 
en avant ma vie durante.' And the Bishop of Ely, with 
authority of the Bishop of Norwich (in whose diocese 
Campsey was) received and admitted the same, * et mantel- 
lum sive clamidem ac annulum dicte voventis solempniter 
benedixit et imposuit super eam.' 

Catherine, sixth daughter of Henry the Fourth, married 
to William Courtenay, Earl of Devon, on the death of her 
husband, took the vow of perpetual widowhood in 151 1. 

Dugdale, in his * History of Warwickshire ' and in his 
* Baronage,' prints a licence from John, Bishop of Lichfield, to 
one N . N. to administer the vow of chastity to Margery, wife 
of Richard Middlemore, who died 15th of Henry the 
Seventh, which contains this passage : ' In signum hujus- 
modi continentiae et castitatis promisso perpetuo servando 
eandem Margeriam velandam seu peplandam habitumque 
viduitatis hujusmodi viduis, ut praefertur, ad castitatis pro- 
fessionem dari et uti consuetum cum unico annulo assig- 

Legacies and gifts of rings for religious purposes were 
frequent in former times ; thus, amongst other rich gifts to 
the Cathedral of Canterbury, Archbishop Hubert, in 1205, 
presented four gold rings adorned with precious stones. 
Henry the Third, while on a visit to St. Alban's Abbey, made 
some costly presents, including bracelets and rings, and five 
years afterwards gave similar gifts at another visit to the 
same abbey. 


The same monarch, among other gifts to Salisbury 
(Cathedral, 'offered one gold ring with a precious stone 
ailed a ruby.' After hearing mass he told the dean that he 
would have the stone and the gold applied to adorn a 
sumptuous gold 'text' (a Bible for the use of the altar) 
enriched with precious stones given by Hubert de Burgh. 

Dugdale mentions in a list of jewels formerly in the 
treasury of York Cathedral ' a small mitre, set with stones, 
for the bishop of the boys, or, as he was anciently called, 
the barne bishop ; also a pastoral staff and 7'ing for the 

The Bishop of Ardfert, in Ireland, gave to St. Alban's 
' three noble rings ; one set with an oriental sapphire, the 
second with a sapphire that possessed some medicinal 
quality, and was formed like a shield, and the other with a 
sapphire of less size.' 

Henry de Blois presented to the same abbey a large 
ring set with jewels ; the middle one was a sapphire of a 
faint colour, and in the circuit four pearls and four garnets. 

John of St. Alban's, a knight, left as a legacy to the 
monks of the abbey ' a number of rings containing many 
precious stones.' 

At the death of Walter, Abbot of Peterborough, among 
his effects, containing many rich articles, were no less than 
thirty gold rings, the offerings of the faithful. 

Thomas Chillenden, fortieth Abbot of Canterbury, gave 
several pontifical rings to the abbey. 

Thomas de la Chesnaye (died 15 17) left, for the shrine 
of the Virgin at Rouen Cathedral, a ring garnished with a 
costly precious stone. Eustace Grossier, canon of the 
same cathedral, bequeathed, in 1534, his signet-ring to the 
shrine of St Romain. Two years afterwards Jean de Lieur, 


another canon, left four rings to the shrine of the Virgin, ' ou 
il y a en une, une petite esmaraude ; en laultre une petite 
turquoise, en laultre ung petit saphir, et en laultre ung petit 
rubi.* In 1544 Etienne Bumel leaves to Our Lady a gold 
ring with a ruby enchased, and a pendant pearl ; and to 
the shrine of St. Romain a gold ring with a diamond. 

Charles the Third (? Naples) took from his finger a ring 
of great value to adorn the golden canopy, enriched with 
precious stones, for the Host, in the church of the Holy 
Sepulchre at Jerusalem. 

Lady Morgan, in her ' Italy,' mentions the miraculous 
statue of the Virgin and Child at Loretto : ' The Bambino 
holds up his hand as if to sport a superb diamond ring on 
his finger, presented to him by Cardinal Antonelli : it is a 
single diamond and weighs thirty grains.' 

In the 'Annals of Ireland' we read that in 1421 Richard 
O'Hedian, Archbishop of Cashel, was accused, among 
other crimes, of taking a ring away from the image of St. 
Patrick (which the Earl of Desmond had offered) and 
giving it to his mistress. 

Louis VII., of France, laid the first stone of the porch 
and two towers of the abbey church of St. Denis, in 1140. 
When the officiating minister pronounced the words ' lapi- 
des pretiosi omnes muri tui et turres, Jerusalem, gemmis 
aedificabunter,' the King took a costly ring from his finger, 
and threw it into the foundations. Several of the other 
persons present followed the example. 

Saint Honore, eighth Bishop of Amiens, in the sixteenth 
century, left his pastoral ring to the treasury of the cathe- 
dral, but it was sold by one of his successors, Bishop 
Gervain. It was afterwards repurchased and replaced in the 
treasury by Bishop Godefroy. 


We read in the account of the spoHation of the shrine of 
St. Thomas ^ Becket, at Canterbury (temp. Henry VIIL), 
of a stone 'with an Angell of gold poynting thereunto, 
offered there by a King of France ' (which King Henry put) 
* into a ring, and wore it on his thumb.' The shrine blazed 
>vith gold and jewels ; the wooden sides were plated with 
gold, and damasked with gold wire : cramped together on 
this gold ground were innumerable jewels, pearls, sapphires, 
balasses, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, and also * in the 
midst of the gold, rings, or cameos of sculptured agates, 
cornelians, and onyx stones.' 

The stone that the rapacious Henry took was said to be 
as large as a hen's egg, or a thumb-nail, and was commonly 
called the ' Regale of France ' offered to the shrine by 
Louis VII. of France, when on a pilgrimage there. ^ 

At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute at Norwich 
in 1847 Sir Thomas Beevor exhibited a silver ring, with a 
zigzag tooling and the word * (f^DancaskJ*,' signifying a token 
of thanks, or acknowledgment of services received, or, 
possibly, an ex voto, in accordance with the common 
usage of suspending such ornaments near the shrines of 
saints, as appears in the inventories of St. Cuthbert's shrine, 

Adam Sodbury, fifty-third Abbot of Glastonbury, gave 
to the abbey, among other precious gifts, * a gold ring with a 

' In * A Relation, or rather True Account of the Islands of England,' 
about the year 1500 (Camden Society), the author, after describing the 
shrine of St. Thomas, at Canterbury, adds : * Everything is left far be- 
hind by a ruby not larger than a man's thumb-nail, which is set to the 
right of the altar. The church is rather dark, and particularly so where 
the shrine is placed, and when we went to see it the sun was nearly 
gone down, and the weather was cloudy, yet I saw the ruby as well as 
if it had been in my hand. They say it was a gift of the King of 


stone called Peritot, which was on the finger of St. Thomas 
the Martyr, when he fell by the swords of wicked men.' 

Among what may be called ' religious ' rings, I would 
notice those which are termed ' decade,' ' reliquary,' ' pil- 
grims,' &c , some of which are highly interesting, and serve 
to show how, in past ages, the zeal of our forefathers was 
animated by these rings, or, as some would call them, these 
aids to superstition. In olden wills they are frequently 
mentioned as heir-looms of great value. 

What are termed DECADE-rings, having ten projections 
at intervals all round the hoop, were common in former 
times, and were used as beads for repeating Aves. In the 
Braybrooke Collection a ring is mentioned with eleven 
knobs, the last being larger than the others, indicating ten 
Aves and one Paternoster. Each of the knobs is separated 
by three small beaded dots across the hoop from its neigh- 
bour, probably symbolic of the Trinity. At a meeting of 
the Archceological Institute at Norwich, in 1847, a curious 
ring was exhibited dating from the reign of Henry VI., 
found at St. Faith's, near Norwich. It is engrailed, pre- 
senting ten cusps, and may be placed in the class of decade- 
rings. On the facet is engraved the figure of St. Mary 
Magdalen (or St. Barbara ?), and on the outer circle ' de 
bon ever ' (' de bon coeur '). 

Another ring of the same date is of a more delicate 
workmanship, and bears on the facet, St. Christopher, the 
hoop engrailed like the last, and has the legend ' en. bo. n. 
ane ' (' en bon an '). 

At the same exhibition of antiquities among the rings of 
latten or base-metal was shown one engraved with the 
figure of a female saint, probably St. Catherine ; the hoop 


formed with eleven bosses, date about 1450. A similar 
brass ring bearing the same figure, found near British and 

Latten ring, with figure of St. Catherine (?). Thumb-ring. 

Roman weapons in the bed of the Thames, at Kingston, 
engraved in Jesse's ' Gleanings in Natural History,' is here 
represented. This ring has eleven bosses, and, although 
found in the immediate vicinity of vestiges of an earlier date, 
may be regarded as of mediaeval date, having been acciden- 
tally thrown together in the alluvial deposit. 

Two decade-rings of the fifteenth century were also 
exhibited at the Norwich meeting, bearing the monogram 
I.H.S. one found in Norwich Castle, and the other at 

A gold ring with ten knobs, was found in 1846, at 
Denbigh, in pulling down an old house. Its weight is a 
quarter of an ounce. A similar ring of base metal, dis-- 
covered in a tomb in York Minster, is preserved in the 
treasury of that chiu-ch ; and another example, in silver, 
of precisely similar form, was found in Whitby Abbey, 

Mr. Edward Hoare, of Cork, writing to the editor of the 
* Archaeological Journal/ observes that, as far as he has been 



able to obtain information about decade-rings, they were 
worn by some classes of religious during the hours of 
repose, so that on awaking during 
the night they might repeat a certain 
number of prayers, marking them 
by the beads or knobs of the rings. 
If worn on any finger except the 
thumb, at other periods of time 
than those of repose, it must have 
Silver Decade-ring. (In the ^een as a sort of pcnance, and 
possession of E. Hoare, Esq.) perhaps thcsc riugs were somctimes 
so used. The addition of a twelfth boss marked the repeti- 
tion of a creed. 

The following illustration is from the ' Gentleman's 
Magazine ' (1792), of a ring found near Croydon, concerning 
which a correspondent of that work 
wrote that he remembered a similar 
ring in the possession of a man 
advanced in years, who had passed 
his youth at sea. ' The ring,' he 
said, 'was a dicket (a corruption 
of " Decade "), to be placed, suc- 
cessively, on each of the fingers, 
and turned with the thumb ; the 
cross and larger boss for the Pater- 
noster ; the ten smaller ones for Ave 
Maria, and that he used to say his 
prayers with it on board ship with- 
out being noticed by the sailors, in 
the hurry and confusion of a man of war.' 

In the rich collection of E. Hoare, Esq., is a curious 
decade signet-ring, of which the following is a representation 

Decade-ring, found near 


from the 'Archaeological Journal ' (vol. ii. p. 198). It was 
discovered near Cork in 1844, and is thus described : * The 
hoop is composed of nine knobs or bosses, which may have 
SLived instead of beads in numbering prayers, whilst the 
( cntral portion which forms the signet supplied the place of 
the gaude' Some persons (as Mr. Hoare remarked) have 
considered this ring as very ancient ; Mr. Lindsay supposed 
11 to have been of earlier date than the ninth century, 
irding the device as representing an arm, issuing from 
I c clouds, holding a cross with a crown, or an ecclesiastical 
cip, beneath it. Sir William Betham expressed the follow- 
ing opinion respecting this relic : ' There can be little doubt 
but your ring is a decade ring, as there are ten knobs or 
balls about it. The globe surmounted by a cross is a 
Christian emblem of sovereignty ; the ring and cross, of a 
bishop ; the cap looks like a crown, and, only that the ring 
is too old, it might be considered the ciulid or barred crown 
of a sovereign prince. It certainly is of considerable anti- 
quity, and Mr. Lindsay is not far 
out in his estimation.' 

Decade signet-ring, Decade-iing. 

In the Londesborough Collection is a ' religious ' ring, 
apparently a work of the fourteenth century. It has a 
heart in the centre, from which springs a double flower. On 
the upper edge of the ring are five protuberances in each 
side : they were used to mark a certain number of prayers 


said by the wearer, who turned his ring as he said them, 
and so completed the series in the darkness of the night. 



It has been stated by French antiquaries that metal rings 
formed with ten bosses, and one of as early date as the 
reign of St. Louis, have been found in France. It was at 
that period that the use of the chapelet in honour of the 
Blessed Virgin is supposed to have been devised by Peter 
the Hermit. 

A decade silver ring found at Exton, in Rutlandshire, 
in the possession of Mrs. Baker, of Stamford, has also a 
central projection engraved with a cross. 

In Mr. Hoare's collection is a silver decade-ring found 
in 1848 in Surrey. The hoop has ten projections resem- 
bling the cogs of a wheel, and on the circular facet is the 
monogram I.H.S. surmounted by a cross, with a heart 
pierced by three nails. 

In the Londesborough Collection is a ring of Delhi 
workmanship which has been referred to as a decade. The 
face is convex, circular, and of turquoise, engraved and inlaid 
with Oriental characters in gold, surrounded by ten cup- 
shaped bosses of rubies. The sides of the bosses are ena- 
melled green, and the backs red and white like leaflets. 
The back of the face is richly enamelled with flowers having 
red blossoms and green leaves, among which, upon the 
shank, are intermingled some pale-blue blossoms, and 



within the centre, where the shank is attached to the back 
of the face, are small golden stars upon an enamelled ground, 
and on each side leaves of green 
enamel. The inscription reads 
' Jan (John) Kaptani.' 

Mr. Edmund Waterton, at a 
meeting of the Archaeological 
Institute (December, 1862), gave 

Ring of Delhi work. 

the following notice of some 

rings of a peculiar class, of which 
he sent several specimens for 
inspection : ' On a former occasion I exhibited, at one 
of the meetings, some of the so-called— and wrongly — 
rosary-rings, one of which had seven, the other eleven, 
and the third, thirteen knobs or bosses. I stated my 
opinion that we ought to consider these examples as be- 
longing to a form of ring prevalent about the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries, and described in wills and invento- 
ries as rings with "knoppes or bulionys." I had never 
met with a proper rosary, or, more properly, decade, ring of a 
date anterior to the sixteenth century. But a remarkable 
specimen has lately been added to my collection which I 
send for exhibition. It is of ivory ; there are ten knobs or 
bosses for the Aves, and an eleventh of larger size and dif- 
ferent form, for the Fater. There are holes around the hoop, 
probably merely for ornament. I am inclined to ascribe it 
to the fourteenth century, and think it not unlikely it is of 
Irish origin. I am induced to form this opinion from the 
peculiar fashion of the eleventh boss, which presents a type 
found in rings discovered only in Ireland. This ring was 
found many years ago in an old tomb in Merston church- 
yard, in Holdemess. I also send another decade-ring, of 



silver, and of a later date and type. This ring was formerly 
in the possession of the Reverend Mother Anne More, Lady 
Abbess of the English Augustinian Nuns at Bruges, and 
sister of Father More, of the Society of Jesus, the last male 
descendant of Sir Thomas More. He gave the More relics 
to Stonyhurst College.' 

Among other examples of ' religious ' rings, I may men- 
tion a beautiful one of gold, of fifteenth-century work, found 

Trinity ring. 

at Orford Castle m Suffolk, and the property of the Rev. S. 
Blois Turner. On the facet is engraved a representation of 
the Trinity, the Supreme Being supporting a crucifix ; on the 
flanges are St. Anne instructing the Virgin Mary, and the 
Mater Dolorosa. These designs were probably 

A representation is here given of a gold 
triple ring, brought from Rome, and, possibly, 
emblematic of the Trinity. It is an Early 
Christian ring, dating, probably, from the end of 
the third or beginning of the fourth century. 
At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute in March 
1850 an exquisite gold ' religious' ring of the fifteenth cen- 


tury was exhibited, found within the precincts of Lewes 
Priory. It is delicately chased with the following subjects : 
on the facet, the Virgin and child ; on one side, the Em- 
peror Domitian ; on the other, St. Pancras ; on the flanges 
are represented the Holy Trinity, and St. John with the 
Holy Lamb. The work was originally 
enriched with transparent enamel. 

In the Londesborough Collection is 
a gold ' religious ' ring, enamelled with a 
diamond in the centre, and six rubies, ar- 
ranged like a sacred cross, around it. 
The scrolls are enriched with white, blue, 

J T Religious ring. 

and green enamel. 

At Barnard Castle, in 1811, a gold ring was found of 
eight globules, in weight equal to three guineas and a half. 
On the second is s ; on the fourth, us ; on the sixth, jh ; 
on the eighth, s, the abbreviation of Sanctus Jesus ; on the 
first, is the Saviour on the cross in the arms of God ; on the 
third, the Saviour triumphing over death ; on the fifth, the 
Saviour scourged; on the seventh, Judas, the traitor. 

The accompanying illustration represents a ' religious ' 
ring, found in the eighteenth century near Loughborough, 


Religious ring. 

and described in the * Gentleman's Magazine ' for 1802. The 
figures are those of the Virgin Mary, Child, and St. Michael. 



A ring of a curious form is described in the ' Gentleman's 
Magazine' for 181 t, as having been found in the parish of 
Stonham-Aspal, Suffolk. The gold seemed pure, but the 
workmanship was rude, and the gem which it enclosed was 
supposed to be a virgin sapphire. 

oXYMTrei ®^HcAic 

Religious ring. 

The following represents a large and curious ring found 
about 1750 at the hermitage on the River Itchen, at South- 
ampton, which is noticed in Sir Henry Englefield's ' Walk 
Round Southampton,' and is mentioned in the ' Gentleman's 
Magazine' for 1802. The bezel is Httle broader than the 

Religious ring. 

In the collection of Mr. Octavius Morgan, F.R.S., F.S.A., 
is a Jewish ring enamelled with figures in relief, representing 



the Creation, the Temptation, and the Fall of Adam and 
Eve ; date, sixteenth century. 

Paradise ' rings. 

In the cathedral library at Chichester is an ancient gem 
having the Gnostic equivalent of the blessed name Jehovah. 
This was used by Seffrid, Bishop of Chichester (died 1159), 
as his episcopal signet. 

Reliquary ring. 


In the Gerente Collection is a reliquary ring of silver-gilt 
elaborately ornamented. 

The Bessborough Collection has a ring with a frog or toad 
cut in a magnificent almandine, of Roman work — a favourite 
device in the later Imperial times, the animal typifying a 
new birth by its total changes of form and habits, and hence 
adopted into the list of Christian symbols. 

The Rev. C. W. King notices in his 'Antique Gems,' 
among some ' highly curious and undoubted Christian sub- 
jects engraved on gems, one of the most interesting — a red 
jasper set in an elegant antique gold ring, the shank formed 
of a corded pattern, in wire, of a novel and beautiful design. 
The stone bears, in neatly-formed letters : IHCOYC-eEOY- 
YIOC-THPE, " Jesus, Son of God, keep us." Another, of 
equal interest and of the earliest period of our religion, a fish 
cut on a fine emerald (quarter of an inch square), is set in an 
exquisitely-moulded six-sided ring, with fluted and knotted 
shank, imitating a bent reed, very similar to a bronze one 
figured in Caylus. 

The first of the annexed illustrations represents an early 
Christian ring with the symbol of an anchor. 

Early Christian rings. 

The other engraving is from Gorlseus, ot an early 
Christian ring with the sacred emblems, found in the Cata- 
combs at Rome. 


The following illustration represents a key-ring, with 
sacred monogram. 

In the Waterton ' Dactyliotheca ' is 
an early Christian ring having *the 
Holy Church represented by a pillar, 
on which are figured twelve dots, which 
denote the twelve apostles. Three 
steps, thrice repeated, lead to the pillar, 
symbolising the lavacrum regenerationis, 
which was formerly received by three 

. . Early Christian. 

immersions, and three interrogations, 
and three replies given by those who were being baptised.' 
^ In the treasuries of various continental churches are 
* religious ' rings, to which a high value is attached. In the 
church of St. Ursula, at Cologne, is one called the ring of 
that saint, and is, certainly, of very early date. 

Mr. J. W. Singer informs me that he has seen in the 
treasury of the cathedral of Liege, a large shrine, far above 
the size of life, in silver-gilt, the bust of St. Lambert, the 
patron of the cathedral. One hand has a crosier, and the 
other holds a book. On the right hand are six rings, and 
on the left are three, of the seventeenth and eighteenth 
century style ; the shrine being late fifteenth or early six- 
teenth century. The rings are on very different parts of the 
fingers, some being on the first joint. 

These rings may have been votive offerings ; one is a 
ruby ring having a stone weighing ten carats. 

In a catalogue (kindly lent to me by Mr. Singer), ' Des 
Bijoux de la Trbs Sainte Vierge del Pilar de Saragosse ' ot 
offerings by the pious to the sacred treasury for many cen- 
turies, and which were sold in 1870 to defray the expenses 

s 2 



of repairs and embellishments to the Holy Chapel, numerous 
costly rings are included among other precious objects. 

With a few instances of ' religious ' rings, including pil- 
grims' rings, &c., now in the possession of several eminent 
collectors, and exhibited at various meetings of the Archaeo- 
logical Society, I must conclude the present chapter. 

In the curious catalogue of Dr. Bargrave's Museum 
(Camden Society) is mentioned * a small gold Salerno ring, 
written on the outside — not like a posey, in the inside, but 
on the out — Bene scripsisti de Me, Thoma. The story of 
it is, that Thomas Aquinas, being at Salerno, and in earnest 
in a church before a certain image there of the Blessed 
Virgin Mary, his devotion carried him so far as to ask her 
whether she liked all that he had writ of her, as being 
free from original sin, the Queen of Heaven, &c., and 
entreated her to give him some token of her acceptance of 
his endeavours in the writing of so much in her behalf ; 
upon which the image opened its lipps and said, Bene scrip- 
sisti de Me, Thoma. 

'Salerno layeth a little beyond 
Naples on the Mediterranean Sea ; 
and the goldsmiths of that place, 
for their profit, make thousands of 
these rings, and then have them 
touch that image which spake. And 
no merchant or stranger that cometh 
thither but buyeth of these rings for 
presents and tokens.' 

A seal-ring, considered to belong 
to the fifteenth century, was dis- 
Reiigious seal-ring. covcrcd at Cuddcsdcn in 1 8 14, by 

some workmen, in front of the gate of the episcopal palace. 


It is of brass ; the impress is an oblong octagon ; the device 
is the vfordpax, with a crown above, and a heart and palm- 
branches below. 

In the collection of the Hon. Richard Neville is a ring 
of silver-gilt (time, Henry VII.), with bevelled facets, 
engraved with figures of saints, found at the Borough Field, 
Chesterford; also a latten ring found in the Thames (1846), 
the impress being the Virgin and Child ; and the ring of 
latten — ibt — discovered in repairing Weston Church, Suffolk ; 
within is inscribed, in Deo snUis. 

A gold ring in the possession of Mrs. Baker, of Stamford, 
stated to have been found in the tomb of an ecclesiastic, in 
a stone coffin, near Winchester, bears a representation of St. 

A ring found at Loughborough, in 1802, represents the 
Virgin and St. Michael, with motto. 


Religious ring. 

A silver ring found at Carlisle, in 1788, bears an inscrip- 
tion below, which has been suggested for ' Mary, Jesus.' The 
bezel of this ring is a rude representation of joined hands, sur- 
mounted by a crown, and a portion of the hoop is decorated 
with lozenge-shaped spaces, filled with a row of quatrefoils. 
A correspondent to the ' Gentleman's Magazine 'for 1788, 
in allusion to this ring, mentions that the hands joined to- 
gether exactly resemble one found at Shaf Abbey, with the 



motto 'iheu.' Or, he suggests, 'it may be a wedding-ring, 
and to be read, Marith (marrieth) us' 

A similar ring, with the hands joined, and inscribed 
Jesus Nazarenus, is represented in the ' Gentleman's Maga- 
zine ' (vol. liv. p. 734, and vol. Iv. p. 333). 

Inscription on a supposed religious ring, found at Carlisle. 

The annexed engraving represents a ring found, about 
1790, in Stretly Park, near Nottingham. The figure is that 
of St. Edith, and the ring probably belonged to the abbess 
of some religious house in the neighbourhood. 

The following illustration represents a ring discovered, in 
181 2, while harrowing near Froxfield, Hants ; weight 4 dwt. 
7 grs. It is supposed to have been worn by a warrior in the 
Crusades. The bezel part exhibits on the dexter side a knight 
with a shield, charged with a cross, thrusting a lance down the 
throat of a dragon — probably meant for St. George. The 
figure on the corresponding side varies in having a cross on 



the right side of his mantle, and appears to be in a boat, 
or wading through water; and it may be conjectured to be 
intended for St. Christopher. 

Religious ring. 

Representation of a ring with a crowned i over a pillar, 
supposed to be the initial of our Saviour's name as King of 
the Jews : 

Religious ring. 

Mr. Davis, of Hempton, Oxfordshire, possesses a brass 
ring found there, in the form of a strap and buckle, or 
of a garter, so contrived as to admit of being contracted or 
enlarged, to suit the wearer's finger ; the end of the strap 
being formed with little knobs, upon which the buckle 
catches, and keeps the ring adjusted to the proper size. 
The hoop is inscribed in relief, mater dei memento. 

In the Waterton Collection is an ecclesiastical ring, 
silver-gilt, with circular bezel set with a cabochon crystal, 
the shoulders ornamented with cherubs' heads in full relief, 
supported by brackets ; on the reverse of the bezel is 



engraved the figure of Christ on the Cross ; sixteenth 
century ; diameter two and a half inches. 


Ecclesiastical ring. 

A singular sih^er ring, of which a representation is given 
in the 'Archaeological Journal' (vol. iii. p. 78) was exhibited 
at a meeting of the Institute in 1846 by Mr. Talbot. The 
interlaced plated work resembles some ornaments of the 
Saxon period, but is remarkable for having the impress of 
two feet, which may, probably, be regarded as one of the 
emblems of the Passion, or as a memorial of the pilgrimage 
to the Mount of Olives, where the print of the feet of the 
Saviour which miraculously marked the scene of His Ascen- 
sion, was visited by the pilgrims with the greatest veneration. 

Pilgrim ring. 

In the collection of Mr. Octavius Morgan, F.R.S., F.S.A., 
is a gold ring, probably one of those obtained at Jerusalem, 


as tokens of pilgrimage to the Holy City. On the head, 
which is circular, is engraved the Jerusalem Cross, and 
around the hoop the first words of Numbers vi. 24 : 
• The Lord bless thee and keep thee,' in Hebrew characters. 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute (Feb. 1855), 
Mr. Gough Nichols exhibited impressions from two signet- 
rings, also bearing as a device the 'Jerusalem Cross,' or 
cross potent between four crosslets, the insignia of the 
Kingdom of Jerusalem, worn likewise on the mantles of the 
Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. This device is regarded as 
emblematic of the five wounds of our Lord. On one of 
these rings, of gold, purchased at Brighton, the cross appears 
between two olive-branches, with the word 'Jerusalem' in 
Hebrew characters beneath ; on the other the branches 
alone are introduced. The ring last mentioned, which is of 
silver, is in the possession of Mr. Thompson, of Leicester. 
These are supposed to be memorial rings brought as tokens 
of pilgrimage to the Holy City. 

A ^ gold ring of most beautiful workmanship was exhi- 
bited at the Lincoln meeting of the Archaeological Institute, 
by the Rev. S. Blois Turner, bearing the device of the bear 
and baton ragule, with the motto inscribed above, ' Soulement 
une' (only one). Around the hoop are the words, 'be 
goddis fayre foot'. This very singular legend has been 
supposed to have reference to the miraculous impress of the 
Saviour's feet on the Mount of Olives, which was regarded 
by pilgrims with extreme reverence, and, like the five wounds, 
was probably used as a symbol of talismanic virtue. This 
ring, formerly in the possession of George IV., now belongs 
to General Johnson. Weight 230 grains. 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a brass ring strongly 
gilt, with a long, oval, flat signet, engraved with Hebrew 


characters, ' Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,' from Psalm 
cxxii., supposed to be one of the rings given to tourists to 
the holy city, as a certificate of their visit, and called in the 
East 'hadji ' or pilgrims' rings. 

In the same collection is a slight silver ring, with narrow 
and flat band to hoop, surmounted by a circular signet ; on 
the hoop is this inscription, in relief, between lines raised 
along each edge, headed and ended by small flowers, ' m s d 
MONSERRATA.' On the signet, also in reHef, appears a 
double- handled stone-mason's saw (serra), the Latin for 
which furnished the key to this monkish riddle ; it reads thus, 
' Mater Sancta de Monserrata,' or Holy Mother of Monserrat, 
in Spain, where there was a chapel dedicated to the Virgin, 
and this is, probably, the ring of a pilgrim to that shrine. 

At the meeting of the Archaeological Institute at Norwich 
in 1847 some curious examples of religious rings (of silver) 
were exhibited, connected, most probably, with charms and 
superstitions. A ring dating about the period of Henry VI, 
is engraved with the figure of a female saint, and the symbols 
of the five wounds. Another, of the same age, found at 
Fransham, has the hoop swaged or twisted ; on the angular 
facets had been engraved figures of saints. The engraving 
on another ring was ' + Maria + Anna -f- Ih'us.' 

Amongst the rich collection of rings lent by Mr. R. H. 
Soden Smith to the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modern 
Jewellery at the South Kensington Museum in 1872, were 
six rings, gold and silver, of the iconographic type, having 
for the most part figures of saints engraved on the bezel, one 
inscribed within, in Gothic letters, ' yspartir+ cane + dec + ' 
[partir sans desir). 

In the ' Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall ' 
(Sept. 1875) is a note on an ancient signet-ring found at 


I'enryn by Mr. W. H. Tregelles : ' This ring was found a 
few years since in a field near Budock church, by a watch- 
maker of the neighbourhood, of whom I bought it for Mr. 
Octavius Morgan, F.S.A., late M.P. for Monmouthshire. It 
has been the subject of much interesting discussion, the 
result of which, with a description of the ring, and three 
impressions in hard wax, I have deposited in the Museum 
of the Royal Institution of Coniwall, at Truro. 

' It is an oriental ring ot silver, set with an oblong sard, 
engraved ; it appears at one time to have been gilt, and the 
loop and back of the bezel were ornamented with a small 
pattern in niello, now almost obliterated by long wear. 

' In the middle of the device is a cartouche, or escutcheon, 
terminating at the top in a Greek cross potent. In the 
lower part of the escutcheon is engraved a paschal lamb, 
and in the upper part are some oriental characters, which 
have not been deciphered with certainty. On either side of 
the escutcheon is some ornamental scroll-work, having in 
the middle the Jerusalem cross potent. 

' It was submitted to Mr. Albert Way and Mr. C. W. 
King ; and the latter gentleman, who took much pains to 
make out the inscription, considered that the characters 
were Servian, and that they represent the name of some 
ecclesiastic of the Greek Church to whom it once belonged. 

' It was evidently an ecclesiastical ring, and M. Castellane 
stated that he has seen several Armenian priests at Rome 
wearing similar rings. It may, perhaps, date from the early 
part of the last century. 

' The most probable conjecture as to the reason of such 
an object being found in Cornwall is that it may have been 
brought over by some traveller, and, having been lost by him 



or the person to whom he gave it, was mislaid among rubbish, 
and carted out with manure.' 

In the first chapter of this work I have alluded to rings 
of the early Christians, a subject of great interest, to which 
I again refer in these notices of * religious ' rings, with addi- 
tional illustrations from the * Archaeological Journal.' 

The following cut represents a portion of a ring of dark- 
green jasper, from Rome, dating, probably, from the second 
or third century. On the oval bezel a symbol is engraved 
in intaglio, viz. a boat, on which is a cock, carrying a branch 
of palm. 

A bronze ring, probably Christian, of the third or fourth 
century, of an oval octagonal form, set with red jasper, 
engraved in intaglio with the subject of a shepherd. From 
Rome . 

The ring here represented is of bronze, engraved with a 
ship, the emblem of the Church, between the 
letters chi and rho. This ring was obtained 
at Rome. 

The accompanying illustrations are of small gold rings, 


\n workmanship and form dating from the third or fourth 


Annexed (probable date about 440) is a signet-ring, the 
subject incised upon the gold apparently a matrimonial or 

To the same period may be 
ascribed a bronze ring, [of coarse 
workmanship, taken from the Ro- 
man catacombs. A circular hoop is 
surmounted by a flat circular bezel, 
on which is engraved an ear of corn 

between two fishes, emblem of the bread of life, and those 
who live in faith of it. 

Another bronze ring is engraved with the sacred symbol, 
the united chi and rho between the alpha and otnega above, 
and two sheep below. Probable date, the middle of the 
fourth century. Found at Rome. 

To the same class of rings belongs the last of the above 
engravings. It is of bronze, having a simple convex hoop ; 



the device, a draped male figure with nimbus, and standing 
before a cross appearing to spring from a bunch of grapes. 
It was brought from Athens, and is probably Byzantine, of 
the sixth or seventh century. 

The following engraving represents a ring of duplex form, 
of solid gold, weighing 5I dwts. It 

has engraved filinan and in Deo*. 

The ring probably dates from the latter 
part of the third, or beginning of the 

fourth, century. It was discovered in the neighbourhood 

of Masignano, a small township of Fermo. 

Early Christian rings of silver are unusual ; that now repre- 
sented is of duplex form. On one oval 
is engraved the name favstvs, and on 
the other is a palm-branch. The date 
is, probably, of the latter half of the 
fourth century. 
A bronze ring, intended for a signet. On the bezel is a 

monogram deeply cut in reverse, which has been rendered 

by Rossi, Deus dona vivas in Deo. From Rome, and of the 
fourth century. 

A bronze ring with circular hoop, the bezel engraved 

with the sacred monogram. This ring is said to have been 
found in the neighbourhood of the house of Pudens. 



A bronze ring of coarse workmanship and angular form. 
The device, two doves and a fish. 

The shoulders of the following bronze ring are engraved 
as palm branches. The bezel is raised by four steps or 
tables, and engraved with a monogram. From Rome. 

A bronze ring with high, projecting bezel. On the 
square face the subject of Abraham's sacrifice is deeply 
engraved. The execution may be attributed, perhaps, to 
the latter end of the third century, but, more probably, to 
the fourth. Brought from Viterbo. 

Bronze ring, formed as a circle of half-round metal, 
engraved with a double-fluked anchor, crossed by one of a 



single fluke, and surrounded by a pearl border. From the 

catacombs at Rome. 

Bronze ring, with plain 
rounded hoop. Device, a 
draped female standing be- 
tween two birds. On either 

side is the Christian monogram. Found, it is believed, in 

the catacombs of St. Calixtus ; date, fourth century of our era. 
An iron ring of octagonal form, the bezel engraved with 

two human figures and the sacred monogram. A human 

figure is represented on each face of the octagon. This is a 

remarkable ring of its class. 

Bronze ring, with bezel shaped as the sole of a shoe, 
and incised with the legend in deo, in the collection of 
C. D. E. Fortnum, Esq., F.S.A. : 

In Montfaucon's * L'Antiquite Expliquee ' are several 
illustrations of Roman rings with the bezels representing a 


human foot. One seems to have been a Christian seal, the 
inscription on which, dedonao, is there, perhaps, put for 
DEI DONA. Montfaucon mentions one in his own cabinet, 
inscribed, between two crosses, dei dona. 

A bronze stamp, formed as the sole of a shoe, is pre- 
served in the Christian Museum of the Vatican. Inscription 
reversed, spes in dec. 

A child's ring of gold. A simple hoop, flattened out 
on the bezel, which is engraved with the palm-branch. 
This ring was found in a child's tomb in the neighbourhood 
of Rome. 

Bronze ring, the bezel engraved with the sacred mono- 
gram, round which is placed the inscription, cosme vivas. 
This was discovered in one of the catacombs on the Via 

A small iron ring, on which is engraved the lion of St. 
Mark, dating, probably, from the sixth century. Found in a 

Coptic grave near the temple of ' Medinet Aboo,' at Thebes. 



Mr. Hodder M. Westropp, in his ' Handbook of Arch- 
aeology/ remarks that Christian inscriptions ' are all funeral, 
and are, for the most part, found in the Catacombs, or subter- 
ranean cemeteries of the early Christians in Rome. They 
are characterised by symbols and formulae, peculiar to the 
Christian creed ; the idea of another life — a life beyond the 
grave — usually prevails in them. The symbols found in con- 
nection with the funeral inscriptions are of three kinds ; 
the larger proportion of these refer to the profession of 
Christianity, its doctrines and its graces. A second class, 
of a partly secular description, only indicate the trades of the 
deceased, and the remainder represent proper names ; thus 
a lion must be named as a proper name, Leo ; 0?iager, an 
ass ; a dragon, Dracontius. Of the first kind the most 
usually met with is the monogram of Christ. The other 
symbols generally in use are the ship, the emblem of the 
church ; the fish, the emblem of Christ ; the palm,the symbol 
of martyrdom ; the anchor, representing hope in immor- 
tality ; the dove, peace ; the stag, reminding the faithful of 
the pious aspiration of the Psalmist ; the horse was the 
emblem of strength in the faith ; the hunted hare, of perse- 
cution ; the peacock and the phoenix stood for signs of the 
resurrection ; Christ, as the good pastor, and the A-O of the 
Apocalypse, was also introduced in the epitaphs. Even 
personages of the pagan mythology were introduced, which 
the Christians employed in a concealed sense, as Orpheus, 
enchanting the wild beasts with the music of his lyre was the 
secret symbol of Christ, as the civilizer of men, leading all 
nations to the faith. Ulysses, fastened to the mast of his 
ship, was supposed to present some faint resemblance to 
the Crucifixion.' 




It would be difficult to find a subject more interesting in all 
its associations than a wedding-ring. From the most re- 
mote times it has had a mystical signification, appealing to 
our most cherished feelings, hopes and wishes. The cir- 
cular form of the ring was accepted in days by-gone, as a 
symbol of eternity, thus indicative of the stability of affec- 
tion. We find some of our noted divines echoing the 
sentiments of old enthusiasts on the figurative virtues of a 
ring. Thus Dean Comber and Wheatley express themselves : 
' The matter of which this ring is made is gold, signifying 
how noble and durable our affection is ; the form is round, 
to imply that our respect (or regards) shall never have an 
end 3 the place of it is on the fourth finger of the left 
hand, where the ancients thought there was a vein that 
came directly from the heart, and where it may be always in 
view ; and, being a finger least used, where it may be least 
subject to be worn out ; but the main end is to be a visible 
and lasting token of the covenant which must never be 

Jeremy Taylor, in his sermon on a * Wedding-ring for 
the Finger,' conveys, in quaint and forcible language, the 
duties and responsibilities of married lite. ^ 

* See Appendix. 
T 2 


In an old Latin work, ascribing the invention of the 
ring to Tubal Cain, we find : ' The form of the ring being 
circular, that is, round, and without end, importeth thus 
much, that mutual love and hearty affection should roundly 
flow from one to the other, as in a circle, and that con- 
tinually and for ever.' 

Herrick has versified this conceit : — 

Julia, I bring 

To thee this ring, 
Made for thy finger fit ; 

To show by this 

That our love is, 
Or should be, like to it. 

Close though it be, 

The joint is fi-ee ; 
So, when love's yoke is on, 

It must not gall, 

Nor fret at all 
With hard oppression. 

But it must play 

Still either way, 
And be, too, such a yoke 

As not, too wide, 

To overslide. 
Or be so straight to choke. 

So we who bear 

This beam, must rear 
Ourselves to such a height 

As that the stay 

Of either may 
Create the burthen light. 

Atid as this round 

Is nowhere found 
To flaw, or else to sever. 

So let our love 

As endless prove, 
And pure as gold for ever. 


The same idea is conveyed in some lines by Woodward 
(1 730) ' to Phoebe, presenting her with a ring : ' — 

Accept, fair maid, this earnest of my love, s 

Be this the type, let this my passion prove ; 
Thus may our joy in endless circles run, 
Fresh as the light, and restless as the sun ; . 
Thus may our lives be one perpetual round. 
Nor care nor sorrow ever shall be found. 

In modern poetry we have many sweet and tender 
allusions to the wedding-ring. Thus Byron writes : — 

In that one act may every grace 
And every blessing have their place, 
And give to future hours of bliss 
The charm of life derived from this : 
And when e'en love no more supplies. 
When weary nature sinks to rest, 
May brighter, steadier light arise 
And make the parting moment blest 1 

In a collection of poems printed in Dublin (1801) we 
find some touching lines to 'S. D., with a ring : ' — 

Emblem of happiness, not bought nor sold, 
Accept this modest ring of virgin gold. 
Love in the small but perfect circle trace, 
And duty in its soft yet strict embrace. 
Plain, precious, pure, as best becomes the wife ; 
' Yet firm to bear the frequent rubs of life. 
Connubial love disdains a fragile toy, 
Which rust can tarnish, or a touch destroy, 
Nor much admires what courts the gen'ral gaze, 
The dazzling diamond's meretricious blaze. 
That hides with glare the anguish of a heart, 
By nature hard, tho' polish'd bright by art. 
More to thy taste the ornament that shows 
Domestic bliss, and, without glaring, glows ; 
Whose gentle pressure serves to keep the mind 
To all correct, to one discreetly kind ; 


Of simple elegance th' unconscious charm, 

The only amulet to keep from harm, 

To guard at once and consecrate the shrine ; 

Take this dear pledge — it makes and keeps thee mine. 

The most painful ordeal for 'Patient' Grisild (in 
Chaucer's ' Clerk's Tale ') is the surrender of what she most 
valued to her imperious lord, the Marquis, the wedding- 
ring with which she had espoused him. This, in her sore 
affliction, she returns to him : — 

Here again your clothing I restore, 

And eke your wedding-ring for evermore. 

The celebrated Sanscrit drama, which Kalidasa wrote 
upon the beautiful Sakuntala, turns upon Dushyanta's re- 
cognition of his wife by means of a ring which he had given 
to her. 

The tender and affectionate faith derived from the 
wedding-ring is illustrated in the legend of Guy, Earl of 
Warwick. The doughty knight, when in a moment of 
temptation he is about to marry the beautiful Loret, daughter 
of the Emperor Emis, is recalled to his duty at the sight of 
the wedding-ring, and remembers his fair Felice, who is far 
distant, pining at his absence : — 

The wedding-ring was forth brought ; 
Guy, then, on fair Felice thought, 
He had her nigh forgotten clean. 
* Alas,' he said, ' Felice, the sheen !' 
And thought in his heart anon — 
' 'Gainst thee now have I misdone ! ' 
Guy said, ' penance I crave, 
None other maid my love shall have.' 

We see also the tenderness that a wedding-ring can 
inspire in the instance of Louis IX. of France, who in 
his youth was married to Marguerite of Provence, the 


victim of a cruel jealousy on the part of Blanche of Castile, 
the King's mother. The young Prince, who loved his wife 
dearly, constantly wore a ring ornamented with a garland of 
lilies and daisies, in allusion to his spouse and himself. A 
magnificent sapphire bore the image of a crucifix, and the 
inscription ' hors cet annel pourrions noifs trouver amour.' 

In the German ballad of ' The Noble Moringer,' trans- 
lated by Sir Walter Scott, the hero, after some years' absence 
on a pilgrimage, returns disguised as a palmer to his castle, 
on the eve of his wife's nuptials with another knight. The 

Bade her gallant cup-bearer a golden beaker take, 

And bear it to the palmer poor to quaff it for her sake. 

It was the noble Moringer, that dropp'd amid the wine 

A bridal-ring of burning gold, so costly and so fine. 

Now listen, gentles, to my song, it tells you but the sooth, 

'Twas with that very ring of gold he pledged his bridal troth. 

Then to the cup-bearer he said, ' Do me one kindly deed, 
And, should my better days return, full rich shall be thy meed. 
Bear back the golden cup again to yonder bride so gay. 
And crave her of her courtesy to pledge the palmer grey. 

The cup-bearer was courtly bred, nor was the boon denied, 
The golden cup he took again, and bore it to the bride. 
'Lady,' he said, 'your reverend guest sends this and bids me pray 
That, in thy noble courtesy, thou pledge the palmer grey.' 

The ring hath caught the lady's eye, she views it close and near. 
Then might you hear her shriek aloud, ' The Moringer is here ! * 
Then might you see her start from seat, while tears in torrents fell, 
But whether 'twas for joy or woe, the ladies best can tell. 

The veneration for a wedding-ring is shown in the 
instance of the great lexicographer. Dr. Samuel Johnson. 
He writes, under date March 28, 1753 : ' I kept this day as 
the anniversary of my Letty's death, with prayers and tears 


in the morning. In the evening I prayed for her condition- 
ally, if it was lawful.' Her wedding-ring was preserved by 
him, as long as he lived, with an affectionate care, in a little 
round wooden box, and in the inside of which was a slip of 
paper inscribed : ' Eheu ! Eliz. Johnson, nupta Jul. 9, 
1736; mortua, eheu ! Mart. 17, 1752.' 

According to the * London Press,' Mr. John Lomax, 
bookseller, of Lichfield, who died lately at the age of 
eighty-nine, possessed, among many other Johnsonian 
relics, this wedding-ring of Mrs. Johnson. 

The poet Moore, in his ' Diary,' mentions the gift of his 
mother, of her wedding-ring. He writes : 'Have been pre- 
paring my dear mother for my leaving her, now that I see 
her so much better. She is quite reconciled to my going, 
and said this morning : " Now, my dear Tom, don't let 
yourself be again alarmed about me in this manner, nor 
hurried away from your house and business." She then 
said she must, before I left her this morning, give me her 
wedding-ring as her last gift ; and accordingly, sending for 
the little trinket-box in which she kept it, she herself put 
the ring on my finger.' 

The value, even to death, attached to wedding-rings has 
been frequently shown. In a testamentary document made 
at Edinburgh Castle by Mary, Queen of Scots, before the 
birth of her son James, and when under the impression that 
she would die in childbed, among numerous bequests, 
she enumerates her rings, of which she had a large number. 
Among them was a diamond ring, enamelled red, recorded 
by the Queen herself as that with which ' she was espoused.' 
On the other side is written ' For the King who gave it me.' 
This is presumed to be the ring with which Darnley wedded 


Mary in the privacy of Rizzio's chamber at Stirling, for at 
the public solemnity of their nuptials in the Chapel Royal of 
Holyrood three rings of surpassing richness were used. 

The ring with which James, Duke of York (afterw^ards 
King James the Second), married Mary of Modena, had a 
small ruby set in gold. The Queen showed it to the nuns of 
Chaillot, with whom she resided chiefly in the days of her 
sorrowful widowhood, exile, and poverty. Although obliged 
to part with most of her jewels, she would never give up this 
ring, which she valued above everything. Even William of 
Orange, remarkable for his stern and taciturn disposition, 
felt sensibly the tender feelings which a marriage-ring can 
nourish after the death of a beloved object. On his decease 
a ribbon was found tied to his left arm, with a gold ring 
appended to it, containing some hair of the Queen. The 
Londesborough Collection contained a royal ring, which is 
supposed to have been the same given by the Prince of 
Orange to the Princess Mary. It is of gold, the strap and 
buckle set with diamonds, and is enamelled black. En- 
graved in letters in relief is the motto of the Order of the 
Garter. The following words are engraved within : ' I '11 win 
and wear thee if I can.' ' This posy ' (as the late Crofton 
Croker observed) ' has a double construction ; whether ad- 
dressed to the princess before marriage or after is doubtful, 
with reference to William's design to contest the crown of 
England with her father.' 

Baron Rosen was sent a captive to Siberia, in conse- 
quence of political tumults which occurred on the accession 
of the Emperor Nicholas to the throne of Russia. On his 
arrival he was searched, and some family trinkets taken 
from him. He was then required to give up a gold ring 


which he wore on his finger. He replied : ' It is my wed- 
ding-ring, and you can only have it by taking the finger 
also.' Fortunately the ring was spared. 

However, like everything, humanly speaking, the wed- 
ding-ring has had its vicissitudes, and, fi-om being the 
emblem of all that is pure and holy in life, has been dese- 
crated to the vilest and most impious of usages. Nothing 
can be more humiliating to good faith and rectitude than to 
read the accounts of what took place not many years ago 
concerning the ' Fleet Marriages.' In Burns' ' Registers ' 
of these mock celebrations we read sad cases of this 
abominable system, which prevailed in the last century, of 
clandestine marriages. A case is there mentioned of a 
young lady who had been inveigled into the trap of a 
marrying parson (?), and, finding herself unable to escape 
without money or a pledge, told her persecutors, who 
wanted to force a marriage upon her, that she liked the 
gentleman who desired to marry her so well that she would 
meet him on the next night. She gave them a ring as a 
pledge, which she said was her mother's ring, who enjoined 
her that if she should marry it was to be her wedding-ring. 
By this contrivance * she got rid of the black doctor and his 
tawny crew.' 

Great was the disgust of the respectable portion of the 
community for these disgraceful alHances. It is recorded 
in the 'Daily Post' for 1742, of a gentleman possessed 
of a considerable fortune, that he bequeathed it in the 
hands of trustees for his wife, with the proviso that if she 
married an Irishman they were to pay her ten guineas for a 
' Fleet ' marriage, a dinner, and ring ; the remainder, about 
eight thousand pounds, to devolve on his nephew. On a 
trial for bigamy in 1731, Samuel Pickering deposed : ' The 


prisoner was married at my house in the " Fleet." I gave 
her away, and saw the ring put upon her hand, and broke 
the biscuit over her head.' 

On the suppression of the Fleet marriages in the middle 
of the last century commenced the scandalous Gretna Green 
marriages — the name derived from that of a farmstead in 
the vicinity of the village of Springfield, in the parish of 
Graitney, Dumfriesshire. The official who performed these 
irregular marriages was of different vocations — sometimes a 
blacksmith. In the report of a late Court of Probate 
case at Westminster, an agriculturist, Thomas Blythe, ad- 
mitted that he did a small stroke of business in the * joining' 
line as well ; and in reply to counsel's question * how the 
marriage ceremony was performed ' he replied : ' I first asked 
them if they were single persons. They said they were. I then 
asked the man, " Do you take this woman for your wife ? " 
He said, " Yes." 1 then asked the woman, " Do you take 
this man for your lawful husband ? " She said, " Yes." I 
then said, " Put on the ring," and added, " the thing is done, 
the marriage is complete." ' 

A ring sent as a love-pledge, or token, was in frequent 
use in former times. Philip de Comines relates in his 
' Memoirs ' that, a marriage between the Princess of Bur- 
gundy and the Duke of Austria (1477) being determined 
upon, a letter was written by the young lady at her father's 
command signifying her consent to the alliance, and a 
diamond ring of considerable value was sent as a pledge 
or token of it. At the time arranged for the ceremony the 
Princess was at Ghent, and, in the presence of ambassadors 
sent on that occasion, she was asked whether she designed 
to make good her promise. The Princess at once re- 
plied ' that she had written the letter and sent the ring in 


obedience t6 her father's command, and freely owned the 
contents of it' 

The engagement by a ring is also historically exempli- 
fied in late times by the notorious intimacy of George the 
Fourth, when Prince Regent, with Mrs. Fitzherbert. In 
order to overcome her scruples to a private marriage (the 
Royal Marriage Act having been a bar), the Prince caused 
himself one day to be bled, and put on an appearance of 
having attempted his own life, and sent some friends to 
bring her to him. She was then induced to allow him to 
engage her with a ring in the presence of witnesses, but she 
afterwards broke the engagement, went abroad, and for a 
long time resisted all the efforts made to induce her to 
return. It is singular that one of the chief instruments in 
bringing about the union of this ill-assorted pair was the 
notorious Philippe Egalite, Duke of Orleans. 

In old times rings made of rushes were used for immoral 
purposes, not only in England, but in France. Douce 
refers Shakspeare's * Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger ' to this 
custom ('All's Well that Ends Well,' act ii. sc. 2). In 
D'Avenant's ' Rivals ' we find : — 

I'll crown thee with a g^arland of straw, then, 
And I'll marry thee with a rush ring. 

The ' crack'd ' ring (alluded to in Beaumont and Fletcher's 
* Captain ') applied metaphorically to female frailty : — 

Come to be married to my lady's woman, 
After she's crack'd in the ring. 

The abuse of the rush ring led to the practice being strictly 
prohibited by the constitutions of Richard Poore, Bishop of 
Salisbury, in 1 2 1 7 ; but it had a long continuance. Quarles, 
in 'Shepheard's Oracles' (1646), writes : — 


And while they sport and dance, the love-sick swains 
Compose rush rings and myrtleberry chains. 

In Greene's ' Menaphon ' we find : — ' 'Twas a good world 
when such simplicitie was used, saye the olde women of 
our time, when a ring of a rush would tye as much love 
together as a gimmon of gold.' 

The practice of the rush ring in France prevailed for a 
considerable period. 

Another equivocal pretence for engagement was the ring 
of St. Martin,^ so named from the extensive franchises and 
immunities granted to the inhabitants of the precincts of 
the Collegiate Church of St. Martin's-le-Grand. In a rare 
tract, entitled 'The Compter's Commonwealth' (1617), is 
an allusion to these rings, which shows their import : ' This 
kindnesse is but like alchimie, or Saint Martiiis rings, that 
are faire to the eye and have a rich outside, but if a man 
should break them asunder and looke into them, they are 
nothing but brasse and copper.' 

In 'Whimsies, or a New Cast of Character' (1631), 
mention is made of St. Martin's rings and counterfeit brace- 
lets as ' commodities of infinite consequence. They will 

* The gilding and silvering of locks, rings (firmalx anelx), and other 
articles of a similar nature made of copper or latten (faitz de cupre ou 
laton) having been prohibited by the statute 5th Henry IV. c. 13, under 
what was then a heavy penalty, the * disloyal artificers, ' against whom 
this enactment was made, appear to have taken refuge in the sanctuary 
of St. Martin's-le-Grand, where they were able to labour in their voca- 
tion unmolested by the marshal or the sheriff. This may be inferred 
from 3 Edw. IV. c. 4, by which it was declared unlawful to import 
various articles of foreign manufacture, including rings of gilded copper 
or laten, but with an express declaration that the Act was not to extend 
to or be prejudicial or hurtful to Robert Styllington, clerk, dean of the 
King's Free Chapel of • St. Martin's le Graunt, de Londres,' nor to his 


passe for current at a May-pole, and purchase a favour from 
their May-Marian.' 

So also in ' Plaine Percevall, the Peace-maker of Eng- 
land ' : ' I doubt whether all be gold that glistereth, sith 
St. Martin's rings be but copper within, though they be gilt 
without, sayes the goldsmith.' 

The materials of which wedding-rings have been made 
are numerous ; besides the various metals, we have an in- 
stance of a leather ring made on the spur of the moment 
out of a piece of kid cut from the bride's glove. As a sub- 
stitute for the usual ring, the church key has been put into 
requisition. Horace Walpole, in a letter to Mr. (afterwards 
Sir Robert) Mann, dated July 27, 1752, alludes to the use 
of a curtain-ring for this purpose : ' The event which has 
made most noise since my last is the extensive wedding of 
the youngest of the two Gunnings,' and he then describes 
an assembly at Lord Chesterfield's, when the Duke of 
Hamilton made love to Miss Gunning, and two nights after 
sent for a parson to perform the marriage ceremony. The 
Doctor refused to act without a licence and a ring. ' The 
Duke swore he would send for the Archbishop ; at last they 
were maiTied with a ring of the bed-curtain, at half-an-hour 
past twelve at night, at May Fair Chapel.' 

In ' Notes and Queries ' (2nd series, vol. x.) we find an 
editorial note on this subject. A parish clerk recollected 
an instance of a party that came to the church, and re- 
quested to be married with the church key. It was what 
is called a ' parish wedding,' and the parochial authorities, 
though wining to pay the church fees, because ' they were 
glad to get rid of the girl,' had not felt disposed to furnish 
the wedding-ring. The clerk stated, however, that, feeling 
some hesitation as to the substitution of the church key in 


his own church, he stepped into the great house hard by, 
and there borrowed an old curtain-ring, with which the 
marriage was solemnised. 

Sir John Suckling, in his ballad on a * Wedding,' has this 
conceit on a ring : — 

Her fingers were so small, the ring 
Would not stay on which they did bring, 

It was too wide a peck : 
And to say truth, for out it must, 
It look'd like the great collar, just 

About our young colt's neck. 

Perhaps one of the smallest wedding-rings on record is 
that which is mentioned in the fia7i^ailles of the Princess 
Mary, daughter of Henry VIII., to the Dauphin of France, 
son of King Francis I. The fiance was represented 
on that occasion by Admiral Bonnivet, the French Am- 
bassador. The dauphin was bom February 28, 15 18, and 
the event of his birth was made a matter of State policy, for 
a more intimate alliance with France. On October 5, 
in the same year, the bridal ceremonies took place at 
Greenwich with great pomp. King Henry took his station 
in front of the throne ; on one side stood Marie of France, 
and Queen Katherine ; in front of her mother was the 
Princess Marie, just two years old, dressed in cloth of gold, 
with a cap of black velvet on her head, blazing with jewels. 
On the other side stood the two legates, Wolsey and Cam- 
peggio. After a speech by Dr. Tunstal, the Princess was 
taken in arms ; the consent of the King and Queen was 
demanded, and Wolsey approached with a diminutive ring 
of gold, fitted to the young lady's finger, in which was a 
valuable diamond. Admiral Bonnivet, as proxy for the 


baby bridegroom, passed it over the second joint. The 
bride was blessed, and mass performed by Wolsey, the King 
and the whole Court attending it. 

The blessing of the wedding-ring is of ancient origin. 
The form prescribed for the ' halowing ' is given in ' The 
Doctrine of the Masse Booke from Wottonberge, by 
Nicholas Dorcaster,' 1554 : ' Thou Maker and Conserverof 
mankinde, Gever of Spiritual Grace, and Grauntor of Eternal 
Salvation, Lord, send thy + blessing upon this ring, that she 
which shall weare it maye be armed wyth the virtue of 
heavenly defence, and that it may profit her to eternal sal- 
vation, thorowe Christ,' etc. A prayer followed this : 
* + halow Thou, Lord, this ring which we blesse in Thy holye 
Name, that what woman soever shall weare it, may stand 
fast in Thy peace, and continue in Thy wyll, and live, and 
grow, and wax old in Thy love, and be multiplied into the 
length of daies, thorow our Lord,' etc. 

Rings were forrfierly placed on the missal book, with 
money at piarriages ; thus in the ' Wardrobe Book,' roll 18, 
of Edward the First, there is an entry of ' money given to 
place upon the missal book, along with the ring with which 
she was married, 40^-.' 

A similar entry occurs on the marriage of Margaret, 
fourth daughter of the same monarch, when the King gave 
sixty shillings to be placed on the missal with the spousal 

The ^heathenish origin,' as it was termed, of the wedding- 
ring, led during the Commonwealth to the abolition of its 
use during weddings, and is thus referred to in Butler's 
' Hudibras : ' — 

Others were for abolishing 
That tool of matrimony, a ring, 


With which the unsanctified bridegroom 

Is marry'd only to a thumb * 

(As wise as ringing of a pig, 

That's used to break up ground and dig), 

The bride to nothing but her will 

That nulls the after-marriage still. 

This ' heathenish ' origin may have been derived from 
the supposition that the ring was regarded as a kind of 
phylactery, or charm, and to have been introduced in 
imitation of the ring worn by bishops. 

'Though the Puritans,' remarks Mr. Jeaffreson, in his 
* Brides and Bridals,' ' prohibited and preached against 
the ring, to the injury of goldsmiths, and the wrath of ring- 
wearing matrons, they did not succeed in abolishing the tool, 
or even in putting it so much out of fashion as some people 
imagined. Even Stephen Marshall, the Presbyterian minister 
of Finchingfield, Essex, when his party was most prosperous, 
married one of his Hghtly-trained daughters with the Book 
of Common Prayer and a ring ; and gave this for a reason, 

' English ladies at one time wore the wedding-ring on the thumb. 
At Stanford Court, Worcestershire, may be seen the portraits of five 
ladies of the Salway family, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, all of 
whom have their wedding-rings on their thumbs. According to the 
' British Apollo, ' the brides of George the First's time used to remove 
the ring from its proper abiding-place to the thumb as soon as the 
ceremony was over. 

In Southerne's ' Maid's Last Prayer ' (Act iv, vol. i. p. 67) we 
find : — 'Marry him I must, and wear my wedding-ring upon my thumb, 
too, that I'm resolved.' 

An instance of several wedding-rings being used at the bridal cere- 
mony is related by Burcard, master of the ceremonies to the Pope's 
Chapel from Sixtus IV. to Julius II. At the marriage of a daughter of 
Pope Innocent VIII. to Lewis of Arragon, Marquis of Geracio (January 
3, 1492), the pair approached the Pope, and, both being on their knees, 
the husband put the ring on the proper finger of the left hand of his 
spouse, then several rings on the other fingers of both hands. 



that the statute estabHshing the Liturgy was not repealed, 
and he was loth to have his daughter turned back upon him 
for want of a legal marriage.' 

The Rev. George Bull, subsequently Bishop of St. 
David's, also in these Presbyterian times, who married a 
Miss Gregory, in defiance of tyrannical enactments used a 
wedding-ring with the motto : ' Bene parere, parere, parare 
det mihi Deus.' (See chapter on * Posy, Motto, and Inscrip- 
tion Rings.') 

The Puritan scruples against the wedding-ring were much 
criticised at the time : — 

Because the wedding-ring's a fashion old, 
And signifies, by the purity of golcl, 
The purity required i' the married pair, 
And by the rotundi;.y the union fair, 
Which ought to be between them endless, for 
No other reason, we that use abhor. 

A Long-winded Lay-lecture (published 1674). 

They will not hear of wedding-rings 

For to be us'd in their marriage ; 
But say they're superstitious things. 

And do rehgion much disparage : 
Thev are but vain, and things profane ; 

WTierefore, now, no wit bespeaks them. 
So to be tyed unto the bride. 

But do it as the spirit moves them, 
A Curtain-lecture ('Loyal Songs,' vol. i. No. 15). 

The objections of the Dissenters to the ring in marriage 
were answered by Dr. Comber, (' Office of Matrimony,' &c., 
folio edition, part 4,) by Dr. Nicholls upon the Office of 
Matrimony, and Wheatley in his ' Rational Illustration.' 

In the ancient ritual of marriage the ring was placed by 
the husband on the top of the thumb of the left hand, with 
the words, * In the name of the Father ; ' he then removed it 


to the forefinger, "saying, ' and of the Son,' then to the 
middle finger, adding, ' and of the Holy Ghost ; ' finally he 
left it on the fourth finger, with the closing word ' Amen/ 

The English ' Book of Common Prayer ' orders that the 
ring should be placed on the fourth finger of the woman's 
left hand. The spousal manuals of York and Salisbury 
assign this practical reason for the selection of this finger : 
' quia ui illo digito est quaedam vena procedens usque ad 
cor.' ^ Other reasons than its connection with the heart are 
assigned by Macrobius. The author of the ' Vulgar Errors ' 
had entirely overthrown the anatomical fiction. 

On the subject of ring-fingers, a 'Polyglot Dictionary' 
by John Minshew (1625) says: 'Vetus versiculus singulis 
digitis Annulum tribuens, Miles, Mercator, Stultus, Maritus, 
Amator. Pollici adscribitur IMiliti, seu Doctori ; Mercatorum, 
a pollice secundum ; Stultorum, tertium ; Nuptorum vel 
Studiosorum, quartinum ; Amatorum, ultimum.' 

Amongst the Hebrews, the finger of God denoted his 
power, and it was the forefingers of the gods of Greece and 
Italy which wore the ring, the emblem of divine supremacy. 

Why the ring is worn on the left hand is said to signify 
the subjection of the wife to the husband ; the right hand 
signifies power, independence, aujthority, the left dependence 
or subjection.^ Columbiere remarks : 'Some of the ancients 

' In the Waterton Collection, at the South Kensington Museum, a 
forefinger, from a bronze statue of late Roman work, wears a large ring 
upon the second joint. In Germany it is still customaiy to wear the 
ring in this fashion, a custom borrowed from their Roman subjugators. 

■■' A correspondent to ' Notes and Queries ' (vol. viii. series i, p. 
575) observes, with regard to the ring being placed on the third finger 
of the right hand of the Blessed Virgin in Raffaelle's ' Sponsalizio/ at 
Milan, and in Ghirlandais's fresco of the same subject in the Santa 
Croce, at Florence, * that it has been customary among artists to repre- 
sent the Virgin with the ring on the right hand, to signify her superiority 

U 2 


made the ring to denote servitude, alleging that the bride- 
groom was to give it to his bride, to denote to her that she 
is to be subject to him, which Pythagoras seemed to con- 
firm when he suggested wearing a straight ring, that is, not 
to submit to over-rigid servitude. 

It is very observable that none of the Hereford, York, 
and Salisbury missals mention the hand, whether right or 
left, on which the ring is to be put. 

In the ' British ApoHo ' (vol. i. page 127, edit, mdccxxvi.) 
a question is asked : ' Why is it that the person to be 
married is enjoined to put a ring upon the fourth finger of 
his spouse's left hand ? ' The answer is : ' There is nothing 
more in this than that the custom was handed down to the 
present age, from the practice of our ancestors, who found 
the left hand more convenient for such ornaments than the 
right, in that 'tis ever less employed ; for the same reason 
they chose the fourth finger, which is not only less used 
than either of the rest, but is more capable of preserving a 
ring from bruises, having this one quality peculiar to itself, 
that it cannot be extended but in company with some 
other finger, whereas the rest may be singly stretched 
to their full length and straightened. Some of the ancients' 
opinions in the matter, viz. that the ring was so worn be- 
cause to that finger, and to that only, comes an artery from 
the heart ; but, the politer knowledge of our modern anato- 
mists having clearly demonstrated the absurdity of that 
notion, we are rather inclined the continuance of the custom 
owing to the reason above mentioned.' 

These explanations, given in the curious and entertaining 
miscellany, from which I have quoted, are from the writings 

over St. Joseph, from her surpassing dignity of Mother of God. Still, 
she is not always represented so. 


jf Macrobius, to which I have alluded. These appear to 
cttle the contention as to the proper finger for the wedding- 

'■ Rings in modern times/ remarks Madame de Barrera, 
' have been made in some countries Love's telegraph. If a 
gentleman wants a wife, he wears a ring on the first finger of 
he left hand ; if he be engaged, he wears it on the second 
nger; if married, on the third; and on the fourth if he 
;ever intends to be married. When a lady is not engaged 
he wears a hoop or diamond on her first finger; if engaged, 
>\\ her second ; if married, on the third ; and on the fourth, 
t she intends to die a maid. As no rules are given for 
•idows, it is presumed that the ornamenting of the right 
i;md, and the little finger of the left, is exclusively their 

'■ This English fashion is, perhaps, too open a proclama 
;on of intentions to suit such as do not choose to own 
hemselves as mortgaged property.' 

The Greek Church directs that the ring be put on the 
;ght hand, and such may have been the practice in Eng- 
nid, since Rastell, in his counter-challenge to Bishop 
Jewell, notes it as a novelty of the Reformation * that the 
man should put the wedding-ring on the fourth finger in 
the left hand of the woman, and not in the right hand as 
hath been many hundreds of years continued.' 

With the bridal ring, formerly, were delivered the keys 
of the house. This is of ancient origin, as I have noticed in 
mentioning the rings of the Romans. We read in Photius 
that Theosebius says to his wife : * I formerly gave to thee 
the ring of union ; now of temperance to aid thee in the 
seemly custody of my house.' He advisedly speaks of that 
custody, for the lady of the house in Plautus says : — 



Obsignate cellas, referte annulum ad me, 
Ego hue transes. 

Some Roman keys attached to rings, so as to be worn 
on the fingers, and which are well known to antiquaries, 
were recently found at Water Newton, in digging for gravel, 
close to the road from Stamford to Peterborough. These 
were of brass and bronze, and of the size used by the 
Roman ladies, who were accustomed to carry their casket- 
keys in this manner. 

Roman Key-rings. 

Mr. Waterton suggests that the key-rings found on 
Roman sites may have been worn by slaves or by the con- 
fidential servi who had care of the wardrobes, cabinets, &c., 
of their masters. 

Among the old Northmen, the keys of the store-room 
were occasionally deputed to the wife on the wedding-day, 
and were carried at her side as a sign of housewifely dignity. 

In the Saxon formula of matrimony, the father of the 
bride said : ' I give thee my daughter to be thy honour and 
thy wife, to keep thy keys, and to share with thee in thy 
bed and goods, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy 

Leybard, the famous saint of Tours, in the sixth century, 
being persuaded in his youth to marry, gave his betrothed 
a ring, a kiss, and a pair of shoes — the latter being a sign 


of his great subjection to her and to bind his feet, the ring 
binding his hands. 

A MS. in the Harleian library, quoted by Strutt, states 
that *by the civil law, whatsoever is given ex sponsalitia 
largitate, betwixt them that are promised in marriage, hath 
a condition (for the most part silent) that it may be had 
again if marriage ensue not, but if the man should have had 
a kiss for his money, he should lose one half of that which 
he gave. Yet with the woman it is otherwise, for, kissing or 
not kissing, whatsoever she gave, she may ask and have it 
again.' However, this extends only to gloves, rings, brace- 
lets, and such like small wares. 

Plain gold wedding-rings which are at present used as a 
visible pledge of m.atrimony, seem to have descended to us 
in the mere course of traditionary practice from the times of 
the Saxons, without any impulse from written authority or 
rubric. At the marriage of Queen Mary with Philip of 
Spain in 1554 the wedding-ring was laid m the Bible to be 
hallowed. Some discussion had previously taken place in 
the Council about this ring, which the Queen decided by 
declaring that she would not have it adorned with gems, 
' for she chose to be wedded with a plain hoop of gold, like 
other maidens.' ^ 

Plain gold rings appear to have been given away at 

' A bishop, in the thirteenth century, gives the following reasons 
why the ring should be of gold. He says that ' one Protheus made a 
ring of iron with an adamant enclosed therein, as a pledge of love, 
because as iron subdueth all things, so doth love conquer all things, 
since nothing is more violent than its ardour, and, as an adamant cannot 
be broken, so love cannot be overcome, for love is strong as death. In 
course of time gold rings set with gems were substituted for the ada- 
mantine ones of baser metal, because, as gold excelleth all other metals, 
so doth love excel all other blessings, and as gold is set off with gems, 
so is conjugal love set off by other virtues.' 


weddings in great numbers at this period ; thus Anthony- 
Wood writes that * Killey (in 1589) at Trebona was equally 
profuse beyond the limits of a sober philosopher, and did 
give away in gold-wire rings (twisted), at the marriage of 
one of his maid-servants to the value of four thousand 
pounds.' j 

The Prince Regent, on the celebration of his unhappy ' 
marriage with Caroline of Brunswick, presented a number of 
rings to the members of his family and friends. These 
gifts, with other accounts, being in the list for settlement by 
Parliament later, gave rise to the undignified Jeffreys 

At the marriage of Queen Victoria, rings were distributed 
having the royal likeness in profile in gold ; the legend 
being 'Victoria Regina.' The whole was less than a 
quarter of an inch in diameter, but with the aid of a power- 
ful magnifying-glass the features were disclosed, beautifully 
delineated. The Queen was so pleased with this micro- 
scopic work of art that she ordered six dozen impressions to 
be struck and set by the court jewellers, Rundle and Bridges, 
in gold rings for distribution among distinguished person- 

At the marriage of the Princess Royal of England, in 
1858, to the heir of the now German Empire, the wedding- 
rings used were of Silesian gold, manufactured at Breslau. 
The maker of these, who has a large gold-refining establish- 
ment in that town, had the two rings mounted on a skin of 
parchment, on which was engrossed a short history of his 

^ In the reign of George the Fourth, a limited number of plain gold 
rings were made, having a well-executed miniature medallion of that 
King set beneath a large diamond. One of these was in the possession 
of the late Lady Fellows. 


^^old-works at Richenstein, from which we learn that in 
former days Silesia was a California on a small scale, gold 
not only being obtained by mining, but by washing the 
sands of certain rivers. In the form of a heading to an 
historical document, the two gold wedding-rings were pre- 
sented to the Prince. 

To give an idea of the immense number of plain gold 
wedding-rings required in the present day, it is stated that 
no less than thirty thousand have passed through the Bir- 
mingham Assay Office in one year. 

As pledges of betrothal, or wedding gifts, rings are of 
very ancient origin. They were worn by the Jews prior to 
Christian times, and constitute, even at present, an impor- 
tant feature in their marriage ceremonials. Wheatley says : 
' The reason why a ring was pitched upon for the pledge, 
rather than anything else, was because anciently the ring 
was a seal, by which all orders were signed, and things of 
value secured, and therefore the delivery of it was a sign 
that the person to whom it was given was admitted into the 
highest friendship and trust. For which reason it was 
adopted as a ceremony in marriage to denote that the wife, 
in consideration of being espoused to the man, was admitted 
as a sharer in her husband's counsels, and a joint partner 
in his honour and estate, and therefore we find that not 
only the ring, but the keys, were, in former times delivered 
to her at the marriage.' 

A passage in Ruth (chap. iv. verse 7) gives some 
reason to suppose that the ring was used by the Jews, as a 
covenant, in making agreements, grants, &c., whence the 
wedding engagement by a ring may have been derived. 
Leo Modena, in his 'History of the Rites, Customs, and 


Manner of Life of the Present Jews throughout the World ' 
(translated by Edm. Chilmead, 8vo. ; London, 1650), allu- 
ding to the Jewish manner of marrying, states that ' before 
the bride's dowry is produced and read, the bridegroom 
putteth a ring upon her finger, in the presence of two wit- 
nesses, which commonly used to be the Rabbines, saying, 
withal, unto her : " Behold thou art my espoused wife, ac- 
cording to the custom of Moses and of Israel." ' 

Selden says that rings were first given in lieu of dowry- 
money,^ and that the wedding-ring came into general use 
by the Jews after they saw it was everywhere prevalent. 
These Jewish rings were, in past ages, generally of large 
size and elaborate workmanship. Some curious examples 
are mentioned in the Londesborough Collection Catalogue. 
One ring, formerly belonging to the late Crofton Croker, is 
of German or Flemish work of the seventeenth century. It 
is of brass, with three points, or bosses, and belongs to a 
class of ring called Mazul-touv (pronounced Miissul-taub), 
or, freely translated, ' Joy be with you,' or ' Good luck to 
you.' In the same collection is a Jewish ' tower ' betrothal 
ring, enamelled blue, of the sixteenth century. Another 
betrothal ring belongs to the same class and date, called 
' temple,' or ' tower,' from the figure of the sacred temple 
placed on their summit. In one of the Londesborough 
specimens it takes the form of a sexagonal building with a 
domed roof of an Eastern character ; in another it is square, 
with a deeply-pitched roof, having movable vanes at the 
angles, and is probably the work of some German gold- 
smith. On the former of these rings the inscription is in 
enamelled letters, ' Joy be with you ; ' and the same words 

' It was formerly the custom in Brittany that, on the night after the 
marriage, the husband presented his wife with a ring and act of do\vy- 


are in more richly-designed letters on the curve of the latter 

Hebrew Marriage Rings. 

A ring of gold, enamelled and decorated with five blue 
enamelled rosettes and five filigree bosses. The roof only 
of the temple surmounts the 
ring ; it is decorated with light- 
green enamel, it opens oi;i a 
hinge, and exhibits beneath 
the letters 31D. From the 
Londesborough Collection. 

A remarkably fine ex- 
ample of these rings is in 
the Braybrooke Collection. It 
has five filigree bosses equi- 
distant along the broad exte- 
rior, which is also ornamented 
with filagree scroll-work, filled 
with blue and white enamel; 
the summit of the hoop is surmounted by a pyramid-shaped 
tower opening upon a hinge, but without any inscription, 
which is often covered by it. In this case the word or 

Hebrew Betrothal Ring. 



words are engraved on the inside of the ring, and are pro- 
bably Mazul-touv or Mussul-taub (' Joy be with you '). The 
tower is to represent the ark of the covenant ; the bosses or 
points are sometimes supposed to represent the number of 
witnesses at the ceremony required by law of the Jews. 
The points or bosses consist of rosettes with six leaves, 
each of blue, and six leaves of white, enamel. The pyra- 
midical ark has the sides filled with blue enamel only ; on 
the two narrow sides there is a small perforation to repre- 
sent the window, in allusion to the dove. 

A large silver-gilt Hebrew wedding-ring, in the same 
collection, is of a remarkable form. The hoop is three- 
quarters of an inch wide, with raised edges, and plain sur- 
face between the five elevations on its upper portion. The 
centre one of these is a hexagonal tower, with pent-house 
roof sloping on each side to the course of the hoop ; the 
gables and sides of these are pierced with fourteen holes for 
windows, and the roof is scored to imitate 
tiles ; on each side of this is a smaller bell- 
shaped tower, equidistant from it, with four 
circular holes in them ; and on each side 
of these last is a still smaller 
tower of the same shape, and 
at an equal distance, but with- 
out any windows. There is 
not the usual inscription on 
any part of this ring. 

The annexed illustrations, 
from rings in the Bailewski 
Collection, represent a gold 
Jewish ring of the thirteenth century, and one of the four- 
teenth century. 



In the collection of the late Lady Fellows was a fine 
Jewish betrothal ring of gold decorated with filigree and 
enamel. Instead of any setting, the head is formed with a 
steep ridge, like the roof a house, opening on hinges; 
within is a cavity, closed by a lid, and probably intended 
to contain a charm or pastille. On the inner side of the 
hoop are engraved two Hebrew words signifying good 

In a communication from Mr. Singer (whose unique 
collection of wedding-rings with inscriptions I have noticed 
;n the chapter on ' Posy, Inscription, and Motto Rings ' ) he 
informs me that he has a fine Hebrew ring of sixteenth- 
century work — * a real old one, as most of those now about 
are forgeries. This has the Hebrew word " mussul taub " 
in a short Hebrew character, meaning " We wish you good 
luck," engraved on the inside.' 

According to Jewish law in modern times, it is necessary 
that the ring should be of a certain value. It is therefore 
exam.ined and certified by the officiating Rabbi and the 
chief officers of the synagogue, when it is received by the 
lidegroom. When absolute property it must not be ob- 
tained by credit or by gift. When this is properly certified 
the ring is returned to him, and he places it on the bride's 
finger, calling attention to the fact that she is by these 
means, consecrated to him. So completely binding is this 
action that, should the marriage be - no further consecrated, 
no other could be contracted by either party, without a legal 

The Rev. C. W. King, in ' Antique Gems,' remarks that 
huge gold rings adorned with filigree-work and surmounted 
bv a small temple, with Hebrew inscriptions on the interior 
of the shank, puzzle the beholders as to their use, being 



much too large for the finger. They were made for the use 
of the synagogue, and are placed on the finger of the couple 
at a certain part of the marriage rites. 

Mr. Singer, in describing the Hebrew wedding-ring in 
his collection, adds : ' The Hebrews married on the first 
finger, as to the ring. This is done now, but even the Jews 
change a little, and after the ceremony the Jewish ladies 
take off their ring, and place it on the third finger, the 
same as we do, for now they wear the ordinary ring.' 

The following illustrations represent the mar:iage-rings of 
the German Jews, the workmanship of the sixteenth century, 
and very fine specimens of art. Both are of gold ; the larger 
one is richly ornamented in filigree with enamels of light 
and dark green. It is crowned by a house ; the roof, which 
is covered with enamelled tiles, opens by means of a key, 
and the space within serves for perfumes or some souvenir. 
Four small crowns of gold are suspended from the ring. 

Jewish Wedding-rings (from the Fould Collection). 

The other, smaller in size, is also richly decorated, but is 
crowned with only the roof of a house, enamelled white and 


red. The enamels which decorate the other parts of the 
ring are white. 

The wedding-rings of the Romans were generally of 

iron, called ' Pronubum/ ^ symbolical of the lasting character 

f the engagement, and probably springing out of another 

Roman custom, the giving of a ring as earnest, upon the 

( onclusion of a bargain. 

It was the custom to betroth before marriage, as it is at 
this day. They that acted between the two parties were 
called ' Proxenetse/ 'Auspices/ and 'Pronubi,' which last 
Tiame was very much in use. When the marriage-maker 
was a woman she was called ' Pronuba ' ; and it was a 
condition that such a one was to have had but one husband. 
They arranged about the portion, and other marriage 
articles, which conditions were afterwards written on tablets, 
and sealed with the ring called annulus signatorius. 

The ring was used in marriage among Christians as 
early as 860. Pronubal or pledge rings passed between 
the contracting parties among the Romans. When the 
marriage settlement had been properly sealed, rings, bear- 
ing the names of the newly-married couple, were handed 
round to the guests. 

' Latour St. Ybars, in his tragedy of 'Virginius,' alludes to the 
iron ring : — 

Alors qu' Icilius ne m'a jamais offert 
Pour gage de sa foi que cet anneau de fer, 
Claudius, sans respect pour I'amour qui m'anime 
Par cet appas grossier croit m'entrainer au crime, 
Et ces ornaments vils qu'il m'ose presenter 
Sont fait de ce metal qui sert pour acheter ! 
Va rendre ^ Claudius tous ces dons, et sur I'heure 
Les presents de cet homme ont souilles ma demeure, 
Et ce seroit blesser notre honneur et nos dieux 
Que d'y porter la main, que d'y jeter les yeux. 



There were others, also, of pure gold and a plain circle 
{liiiea infinita) to symbolise conjugal fidelity, and to act as a 
reminder that the love of married people should be infinite. 
Kirchmann asserts that in Rome the custom was to place 
in the hand of the newly-made bride a ring of pure gold, at 
the same moment in which a ring of iron was sent to the 
house of her parents, a remembrance of modesty and 
domestic frugality. 

In the possession of A. W. Franks, Esq., M.A., F.R.S., 
F.S.A., is a gold ring, remarkable for the amount of the 
ornamentation with which it is covered. This fine Byzan- 
tine bicephalic ring was, doubtless, used as a signet, and 
was, possibly, a matrimonial or betrothal gift. It has been 
suggested that the heads resemble those of the Emperor 
Eeo I. and Verina (a.d. 457-74), but it is doubtful whether 
they are imperial portraits. It is presumed that this ring 
was found in Egypt, where it had been preserved in the 
Demetrio Collection (' Arch. Journal,' vol. xxix. page 305). 



A loadstone sometimes was set instead of a jewel, indi- 
cative of love's attractions. 

Later, however, Tertullian and Isidore, Bishop of 
Seville, mention the ' annulus nuptialis sponsalitius,' as being 
of gold. Sometimes there were inscriptions on the rings, 


such as ' May you live long ! ' * I bring you good fortune ! ' 
Frequently a stone was inserted upon which was engraved an 
intaglio, such as a hand pulling the lobe of an ear, and the 
words * Remember me ' above it. 

Among the old Northmen, the exchanging of rings between 
the betrothed did not form, so far as can be ascertained 
from the ancient sagas and laws, any essential part in the 
wedding ceremonial, neither in pagan, nor in Christian 
times. Mention is, however, made of an exchange of 
rings, but this was only done as a kind of memorial gift, 
and no importance was attached to it. The custom of the 
betrothal ring was first introduced into Norway at a much 
later period, in imitation of that in vogue in southern 

In the ' Sword,' Tyrfing, in the ' Hervarer-Saga,' the 
Princess Ingburgo, who is betrothed to Hia\mar, says to the 
latter, as he is leaving for battle : ' I swear by Varra,' present- 
ing to him her ring in pledge, ' that to whomever UUer gives 
victory, I am the bride but of one.' 

Viga Glum's ' Saga ' we read of the Scandinavian use 
of a ring. In the midst of a wedding-party Glum calls upon 
Thorarin, his accuser, to hear his oath, and, taking in his 
hand a silver ring which had been dipped in sacrificial blood, 
he cites two witnesses to testify to his oath on the ring. 
* In Iceland ' (remarks Mr. Wood, in his ' Wedding-days in 
all Countries ') ' a large ring was used for the ratification of 
all engagements ; it was variously formed of bone, jet, stone, 
gold, and silver. Sometimes it was so large as to allow the 
palm of the hand to be passed through it. So in the 
solemnisation of a betrothing contract the' bridegroom passed 
four fingers and his palm through one of these rings, and in 



this manner he received the hand of his bride. Sometimes 
these rings for confirming mutual contracts were placed 
upon the altar and there used. We may, perhaps, trace 
this custom in the old form of marriage in the Orkneys, 
where the contracting parties join their hands through a per- 
foration, or ring, in a stone pillar.' ■ 

Among the Anglo-Saxons, at the betrothal of a young 
couple, after the taking of hands, an exchange of presents 
was made. Amongst those given by the bridegroom was a 
ring, which, after being blessed by the priest with a prayer, 
was placed on the maiden's right hand, and was to be worn 
so until the time of marriage. On this event, if espousals 
had previously taken place (for they were not necessary), 
the ring was removed by the bridegroom to the bride's left 
hand, and was placed on the first finger, having been 
blessed by the priest with a prayer. 

Betrothal rings sometimes bore the name and title of the 
Saviour in full ; one in the Londesborough Collection re- 
presents two hands clasped in front, so that it was, most 
probably, a gift, or betrothal ring. It is of silver, somewhat 
rudely fashioned. The inscription is in uncial characters, 
and, shorn of its somewhat awkward abbreviation, reads : 
* Jesus Nazareneus Rex.' 

Mr. H. T. Wake, of Cockermouth, gives the following 
account of a curious betrothal ring in ' Notes and Queries ' 
(Series v. vol. ii. p. 528) : ' In a small shrubbery, adjoining a 
house at Mosser, near Cockermouth, has recently been 
found a massive finger-ring, of fine gold. When discovered, 
it was lying on the surface, but is supposed to have been 
removed, along with some mould, from a garden at the 
back of the house, a short time previously. It is plain 
inside, without any hall-mark, but the exterior is polygonal 


in shape, having the following inscription engraved in large 
capitals on thirteen facets, viz. : — 

X I 10 I sv I I i s I ig I n I e i | de | am | is | t | e i | a 

* The posy seems to be : " Josui signe de amis te," and to 
mean " Joshua's token of love to thee," the a following being 
the initial of the young woman to whom it was presented. 
I take it to be a betrothal ring of the eleventh or twelfth 
century ; and from the admixture of the Roman and Gothic e 
in the inscription, which peculiarly appears also in the great 
seal of William the Conqueror, in the word " evnde," as 
well also from its being in French, it is probably as old as 
the Norman period. I bought it of the farmer's wife who 
found it' 

A betrothal ring, in the collection of the Rev. James 
Beck, has two hearts surmounted by a crown — denoting 
the sovereignty of love over the heart — set with marcasites. 

A silver ring of a similar import, found at Carlisle, is 
here represented, and from the clasped hands, crowned, was 
evidently a betrothal ring. 

Betrothal ring. 

In the Middle Ages, solemn betrothal by means of the 
ring often preceded matrimony. 

Henry, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, married Matilda, 
eldest daughter of Henry the Second, King of England, in 
1 168. A picture of this event was painted at the time, and 
afterwards hung up in the church of St. Blosius, at Bruns- 


wick, which is engraved by Scheidius in his 'Origines 
Guelficas/ Matilda is represented as holding the plight-ring, 
a golden hoop, adorned in the centre with a magnificent 
brilliant, but she seems much at a loss to know what to do 
with it. 

In 1235 an embassy was sent to make a formal petition 
for the hand of Isabella, second daughter of King John of 
England, from the Emperor Frederick of Germany. She 
was presented with a plight-ring, and as the chief of the 
embassy, Peter de Vinea, placed it on her finger, he 
formally declared her the empress of the whole Roman 
empire. Isabella, on her part, sent a ring to the Emperor 
in token of her acceptance of his troth. 

In the ' Dutch Courtezan,' an old play, a pair of lovers 
are introduced plighting their troth. Beatrice says to Free- 
ville : ' I give you faith, and prethee, since, poore soule, I 
am so easie to believe thee, make it much more pitty to 
deceive me. Weare this sleight favour in my remembrance.' 
(Throweth down a ring to him.) 

Freeville. ' Which when I part from, 

Hope, the best of life, ever part from me! 
Graceful mistresse, our nuptiall day holds.' 

Beatrice. * With happy constancye a wished day.' 

In the ' Merchant of Venice ' Bassanio and Gratiano 
give the rings received from Portia and Nerissa to the 
young doctor and his clerk, after the discomfiture of Shy- 
lock, although Portia had said : — 

This house, these servants, and this same myself, 
Are yours, my lord ; I give them with this ring : 
Which, when you part from, lose, or give away. 
Let it presage the ruin of your love, 
And be my vantage to exclaim on you. 



Bassanio answers : — 

When this ring 
Parts from this finger, then parts life from hence ; 
O, then be bold to say, Bassanio's dead. 

Solemn betrothal was sometimes adopted by lovers, who 
were about to separate for long periods. Thus Chaucer, in 
' Troilus and Cressida,' describes the heroine as giving her 
lover a ring, and receiving one from him in return : — 

Soon after this they spake of sundry things, 
As fell to purpose of this aventure, 
And, playing, interchangeden their rings, 
Of which I cannot tellen no scripture. 

Shakspeare has more than one allusion to this custom, 
which is absolutely enacted in the 'Two 
Gentlemen of Verona,' when Julia gives 
Proteus a ring, saying : * Keep you this 
remembrance for thy Julia's sake,' and 
he replies : * Why, then we'll make ex- 
change : — here, take you this.' A ritual of 
Bordeaux (1596) gives a form of betrothal 
by public ceremony, when rings were 
interchanged. Kleist, in his ' Kate of 
Heilbron,' makes Frederick say : — 

To tally close, 
As joints of rings dissever 'd, 

alluding to the custom sometimes practised by lovers, 
among the common people, plighting a faith, when a ring is 
broken in two, one half of which was kept by each party, 
that if from time to time, or at the day of marriage, the two 
pieces agree with each other, proof may be thus afforded 
that they have not been transferred, and consequently that 

Half of broken 
betrothal ring. 


both bride and bridegroom remain still of the same mind ; 
otherwise, the engagement is annulled. 

A ring of pure gold she from her finger took, 
And just in the middle the same then she broke ; 
Quoth she : ' As a token of love you this take, 
And this, as a pledge, I will keep for your sake.' 

('Exeter Garland.') 

De Laet, writing in 1647, states that he remembers 
when it was the custom (and an ancient one) for the gentle- 
man to present the lady on their betrothal with two rings, 
the one set with a diamond, the other with a ruby table- 
cut. This gift went by the French name ' Mariage.' 

Among the Germans at the present day the interchange 
of rings is practised at the publication of the banns among 
the Lutherans ; the minister joins the hands of the couple, 
and rings are interchanged. 

' The Italians,' observes Mr. Wood, ' in the fifteenth and 
sixteenth centuries used betrothing rings, which were gene- 
rally made of silver, inlaid with niello. The bezel was 
either oval or circular, and the shoulders of the hoop were 
shaped so as to form sleeves, from each of which issued a 
right hand. The hands were clasped together in the Fede. 
Some of these rings were of a large size, and were worn by 
men. The diamond was long esteemed by the mediaeval 
Italians as the favourite stone for setting in espousal rings, 
and it was called " pietra della reconciliazione," from its sup- 
posed power to maintain concord between man and wife.^ 

It was also usual, at the periods mentioned, for the 
Italian ladies to give their lovers rings which contained 
their portraits. Lovers wore these rings on holidays, as 
was the practice in England, as we find in ' England's 
Helicon' (1600) : — 


My songs they be of Cinthia's prayse, 
I weare her rings on hoUy-dayes. 

When a noble Venetian married in the seventeenth 
century, a day was appointed for giving the bride a ring, 
and the ceremony was performed in her house, in the pre- 
sence of relations and friends. The ring- giving was fol- 
lowed by the usual sacrament in church. 

In modem Greece, two rings, one of gold and the other 
of silver, are interchanged at the betrothal, which takes place 
as follows : — The priest, remaining in the sacrarium, delivers 
to the persons to be betrothed, and who are standing 
without the sacred doors, lighted candles into the hands of 
each, and then returns with them into the body of the 
church. Here, after prayers have been said, two rings are 
brought out, of gold and silver respectively, which had 
previously been placed upon the altar to be dedicated and 
consecrated, and the priest gives the gold ring to the man, 
and the silver ring to the woman, repeating three times this 
form of words : * The servant of God, M., espouses the 
handmaid of God, N., in the name of the Father, and of 
the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever, and to 
endless ages, Amen.' 

After a threefold repetition of the same words to the 
woman, the rings are put on the right-hand finger, and are 
taken otf, and interchanged by the bridegroom's man, both 
in order that the woman may not take too deeply to heart 
lier inferiority, which the less costly material of the ring 
seems to hint at, as also to confirm the mutual right and 
possession of property, either present or future. 

The ring ceremony in Russian marriages differs mate- 
rially from that of English usage. In the first place, there 
are two rings, and these are changed three times. The 


man places the ring first on the woman's finger, then the 
priest changes the man's ring, and places it on her finger, 
and then again the priest and the man join and place the 
ring where it is to remain for life. 

Have these three changes anything in connection with a 
peculiarity in Russian legends of the ever-predominating 
number * three ' ? Thus fathers are said usually to have 
three sons, the heroes and knights-errant ride through three 
times nine empires ; the bravest are always thirty- three 
years old ; they achieve their deeds only on the third at- 
tempt. Or, are the three changes emblematic of the Trinity ? 

At the Russian marriages of the Imperial family the 
rings are exchanged by a third person. At the wedding of 
the Duke of Edinburgh and the Grand Duchess Marie 
Alexandrovna, daughter of the Emperor of Russia (January 
23, 1874), the master of the ceremonies carried the marriage 
rings on plates of gold, and placed them on the altar. The 
confessor of the Emperor and Empress then received the 
rings from the Archipretres of the court, and, whilst a 
prayer was being said, placed them upon the fingers of the 
bride and bridegroom, when the Metropolitan began the 

In Spain the gift of a ring is looked upon as a promise 
of marriage, and is considered sufficient proof to enable a 
maiden to claim her husband. 

Among the Armenians (observes Madame de Barrera) 
children are betrothed from their earliest youth, sometimes 
when only three years old, sometimes as soon as bom. 
When the mothers on both sides have agreed to marry their 
son and daughter, they propose the union to their husbands, 
who always sanction the choice of the wives. The mother 
of the boy then goes to the friends of the girl, with two old 


women and a priest, and presents to the infant maiden a 
ring from the future bridegroom. The boy is then brought, 
and the priest reads a portion of the Scripture, and blesses 
the parties. TJie parents of the girl make the priest a 
present, in accordance with their means ; refreshments are 
partaken of by the company, and this constitutes the cere- 
monies of the betrothals. Should the betrothals take place 
during the infancy of the contracting parties, and even 
should twenty years elapse before the boy can claim his 
bride, he must every year, from the day he gives the ring, 
send his mistress at Easter a new dress, &c. 

The olden matrimonial Gemmel, or Gemmow, ring was 
a kind of double ring, curiously made. There were links 
within each other, and though generally double, they were, 
by a further refinement, made triple, or even more com- 
plicated ; thus Herrick writes : — 

Thou sent'st to me a true love-knot, but I 

Return a ring of jimmals, to imply 

Thy love had one knot, mine a triple tye. 

Ray, among his north-country words, explains ' jimmers ' 
as 'jointed hinges,' and adds, 'in other parts called wing- 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute, in Novem- 
ber 1 85 1, the Rev. W. C. Bingham exhibited a silver 
gemmel-ring of singular fashion, date fourteenth century, 
found in Dorsetshire, the hoop formed in two portions, so 
that a moiety of the letters composing the legend, ►J^ Ave 
Mar I, appears on each, and it only becomes legible when 
they are brought together side by side. Each demi-hoop is 
surmounted by a projecting neck and a small globular knob, 
so that the ring appears to have a bifid head. The two 
portions of this ring are not intertwined, and as no adjust- 


ment now appears by which they might be kept together 
in proper juxtaposition, it is possible that in this instance 
it was intended that each of the affianced parties should 
retain a moiety of the gemmel. 

There is an allusion to the 'joint ^ ring in Dryden's play 
of ' Don Sebastian ' : — 

A curious artist wrought 'em, 
"With joynts so close as not to be perceived ; 
Yet are they both each other's counterpart. 
(Her part had Juan inscribed, and his, had Zayda — 
You know those names were theirs :) and in the midst 
A heart divided in two halves was placed. 
Now if the rivets of those rings, inclos'd, 
Fit not each other, I have forged this lye, 
But if they join, you must for ever part. 

A ring in the Londesborough Collection illustrates this 
passage. It parts into three hoops, secured on a pivot; 

Jointed betrothal ring. 

the toothed edge of the central hoop forming an ornamental 
centre to the hoop of the ring, and having two hearts in the 
middle ; a hand is affixed to the side of the upper and 
lower hoop ; the fingers slightly raised, so that when the 
hoops are brought together they link in each other, and 
close over the hearts, securing all firmly. 


The late Mr. Crofton Croker, in his privately-printed 
( atalogue of Lady Londesborough's Collection, gives the 
following account of the use to which the ring has been put : 
' There can be little doubt, from the specimens that have 
come under observation, that it had been used as a betroth- 
i ng ring by an officer of the King's German Legion with 
some Irish lady, and that the notched ring was retained 
by some confidential female friend, who was present as a 
witness at the betrothal ceremony — usually one of the most 
solemn and private character — and at which, over the Holy 
Bible, placed before the witness, both the man and the 
woman broke away the upper and lower rings from the 
( entre one, which was held by the intermediate person. It 
would appear that the parties were subsequently married, 
when it was usual, as a proof that their pledge had been 
fulfilled, to return to the witness or witnesses to the con- 
tract the two rings which the betrothed had respectively 
worn until married ; and thus the three rings, which 
had been separated, became reunited, as in the present 
instance.' ■ 

A gemmel-ring, of which a representation is given (page 

r6), was dug up in 1800, at Horselydown, Surrey, found 

iiong some Roman and English remains and skeletons of 

unan bodies, about nine feet below the surface. The ring 

IS constructed in twin or double hoops, one side being flat, 

the other convex. On the lower hand is represented a 

heart. On the flat side of the hoops are engraved in 

Roman capitals, ' Use de Vertu.' This ring is probably not 

later than Queen Elizabeth's reign. 

A plain gemmel wedding-ring, with an inscription inside 
each hoop, which the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., 
had given to Mrs. Fitzherbert, was exhibited, with the lady's 



miniature, at the Loan Collection of precious objects at the 
South Kensington Museum in 1872. 

Gemmel-ring, found at Horselydown. 

This practice of dividing the betrothal rings has its 
origin from ancient times, and reminds us of the practice 
among the Franks of breaking the sou d'or in two pieces, 
in sign of a sacred engagement Thus we read of Childeric, 
King of France, when in exile, wishing to know when he 
might return to his country, dividing the sou (fo?', keeping 
one part, and giving the other to a trusty friend, who tells 
him : ' When I send to you this half, and you find that it 
unites with the other, you will understand that you can 
return.' The propitious moment having arrived, Childeric 
received the token, and, returning, was re-established in his 

' The ' betrothing penny ' given at the ceremony of marriage was 
in olden times a common usage both in England and in France, repre- 
senting either earnest-money, or the actual purchase of the bride. In 
the pontifical of Amiens, the bridegroom is to say: 'De cet anneau 


From other passages in * Don Sebastian,' it appears that 
one of the two rings was worn by Sebastian's father, the 
ther by Almeyda's mother, as pledges of love. Sebastian 
Likes off his ring, which had been placed on his finger by 
his dying father ; Almeyda does the same with hers, which 
had been given to her by her mother at parting, and Alvarez 
iiiscrews both the rings and fits one half to the other. 

In Sir Henry Ellis's ' Original Letters Illustrative of 

ICnglish History' (series ii. vol. ii. page 290) we have a 

( urious anecdote in connection with linked rings. Lady 

Catherine Grey (a sister of Lady Jane Grey) married the 

:arl of Hertford, much to the displeasure of Queen Eliza- 

jth, who sent the bridegroom to the Tower, and subjected 

le countess to great hardships. They were both exposed 

) an ordeal of examination to prove the validity of the 

larriage, and amongst other evidence Lady Catherine 

xhibited a ring which she declared had been used at the 

marriage ceremony. 

It was of gold, and consisted of five links, on four of 
'. hich were engraved as many verses of the Earl's composi- 
tion, expressing the assurance of his lasting faith and love, 
nd the ring could, apparently, have been prepared for no 
ither purpose than that of serving as their marriage- ring. 

The judgment of the commissioners appointed to ex- 
nine into the marriage was to dissolve it, and it was so 
, renounced in the Bishop of London's palace in 1562. 
Lady Hertford sank under this cruel conduct of the 
Jueen, and on her dying bed called to her attendants to 

I espouse, et de cet argent te hounoure, et de mon corps te doue. ' In 
an ancient manuscript of the Salisbury Missal, in the Harleian Col- 
lection, the bridegroom says: ' Wyth thys rynge y the wedde, and thys 
golde and selvir the geve, and with my bodi y the worshippe, and with 
all my worldith catel y the honoure.' 


bring her the box in which her wedding-ring was. She first 
took from it a ring with a pointed diamond in it, and said 
to Sir Owen Hopton (at whose house, Cockfield Hall, 
Suffolk, she had been staying) : ' Here, Sir Owen, deliver this 
unto my lord ; it is the ring that I received of him, and 
gave myself unto him, and gave him my faith.' ■ 

* What say you, madam,' answered Sir Owen, ^ was this 
your wedding-ring ? ' 

* No, Sir Owen, this is the ring of my assurance unto my 
lord, and there is my wedding-ring,' taking another ring of 
gold out of the box. This consisted of five Hnks, having 
engraved in it the verses of the Earl's composition, which 
she had exhibited to the commissioners of inquiry. (See 
chapter on * Posy, Inscription, and Motto Rings. ') 

* Deliver this,' she said, ' unto my lord, and pray him, as 
I have been a faithful and true wife, that he would be a 
loving and natural father unto my children, to whom I give 
the same blessing that God gave unto Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob.' (See chapter on ' Remarkable Rings.') 

A gemmel-ring of the fifteenth century, in the Londes- 
borough Collection, bears an engraved head of Lucretia, the 

Ring with representation of Lucretca. 

same kind as that mentioned by Shakspeare ('Twelfth 
Night,' act ii. sc. v.) where Malvolio, breaking open the letter, 
purporting to be in the handwriting of his mistress, says : — 

By your leave, wax. Soft ! and the impressure her Lucrece, with 
which she uses to seal. 



Lucretia is seen grasping her dagger. The clasped hands, 
adopted on the gemmel-rings, became a frequent emblem on 
the solid wedding-ring. 

The betrothal or wedding ring of Sir Thomas Gresham 
(1544) engraved in Burgon's life of 
that eminent merchant prince, opens 
horizontally, thus forming a double 
ring of gold, linked together in the 
form of a gemmel ; in one half is 
set a white stone, in the other a 
red; in the interior of each half 
is a cavity, in one of which is a 
small figure of a child in gold, „^ ^^. . , e- -n, 

° ° ' Wedding-ring of Sir Thomas 

enamelled ; ' qvod devs conivnsit ' Gresham. 

is engraved on one half, and ' homo non separet ' on the 


This interesting relic was formerly in the possession of 
ilie Thruston family, at Weston Hall, Suffolk, and was ex- 
liibited at the Society of Antiquaries (April 1862) by Gran- 
ville Leveson Gower, Esq. 

A gemmel-ring of the sixteenth 

LHtury, found in the Thames, is 

1 the Londesborough Collection. 
< )riginally gilt, it is of silver : two 
iKinds are clasped ; on the opposite 
-icle two quatrefoils spring from a 

cart engraved : ' Help God ! ' or 

(;od help ! ' 
A remarkably fine gemmel-ring 
( I .ondesborough) is here engraved. 

• is set with sapphire and ametliyst, 


.le elaborate and beautiful design 
enriched by coloured enamels. The lower figure in the 


representation of this ring shows it parted, displaying the 
inscription on the flat side of each section, which is also 
enriched by engraving and niello. 

The clasped hands (originating from the ancient Ro- 
mans), adopted on the gemmel-rings, we are told in Cham- 
bers's * Book of Days,' are still the fashion, and in constant 
use in that curious local community of fishermen inhabiting 
the Claddugh at Galway on the western coast. They 
number with their families between five and six thousand, 
and are particularly exclusive in their tastes and habits ; 
rarely intermarrying with others than their own people. The 
wedding-ring is an heirloom in the family ; it is regularly 
transferred from the mother to the daughter who is first 
married, and so passes to her descendants. Many of these 
gemmel-rings, still worn there, are very old. 

'Claddugh' ring. 

Mr. Mackenzie E. C. Walcot, F.S.A., etc., in ' Notes and 
Queries,' writes : ' A ring of gold, about the time of the 
thirteenth century, was found at Burbage, near Marlborough, 
and, apparently, from the clasped hands on the lower side, 
a gemmel or betrothal ring, has a sapphire uncut, held by 
four bent cramps, and on the circle the following letters in 
two lines, divided by punctuation in the form of x . The 
letters, of course, are of the period : — 




I have alluded to sacred inscriptions on some betrothal 
rings. The following engraving refers to one in the Londes- 
borough Collection, described in page 306. 


Betrothal ring with sacred inscription. 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a splendid gold gemmel 
ring, with enamelled and jewelled twin or double hoops, 
which play one within another, like the links of a chain. 
Each hoop has one of its sides convex, the other flat, and 
each is set with a stone, one a fine ruby, the other an aqua- 
marine, or beryl, so that, upon bringing together the flat 
surfaces of the hoops the latter immediately unite in one ring, 
and as they close, the stones slide into contact, forming a 
head to the whole. The inside flat surfaces are inscribed 
with the words ' Quod Deus conjunxit, homo non separet,' 
art on one hoop, part on the other, so as to be legible 
hen these are opened, but entirely concealed when they 
re reunited in one ring. This seems to be an exception to 
ne general rule, with respect to rings of the same denomina- 
;on, since the hoops cannot be dissevered according to the 
usual custom at betrothals. Nares, in his * Glossary,' ob- 
serves that the name * gimmal ' was preserved to rings made 
triple, or even more complimentary. This splendid speci- 
men is of Italian workmanship, dating about the end of the 
fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century. 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute in March 
1863 the Rev. John Beck exhibited some curious specimens 




of linked or * puzzle-rings.' One of gold consists of seven 
slender rings linked together, which, when property adjusted, 
combine in a knot. Another, of silver, consists of four slight 
rings, set with a blue stone, and ornamented with flowers of 
forget-me-not. A third, also of silver, has nine rings, which, 
when intertwined, unite so as to present a fede as the head 
of the ring. 

The French term for the hooped rings is foi^ alliance^ 
which last word in the * Dictionnaire de Trevoux ' is defined 
to be a ring '- que I'accorde donne k son accordee, ou il y a 
un fil d'or et un fil d'argent.' 

Devices on Wedding-rings, 




* iNGS as * tokens ' date from very early times. We are 
old that Clovis, King of the Franks, in the latter part 
of the fifth century, wishing to marry Clotilde, niece of 
Gondebauld, King of Burgundy, deputed Aurelianus, in 
vvhom he had perfect confidence, to ascertain whether the 
maiden had any predilection for him. The messenger 
travell^ in very humble guise, and arrived at the castle in 
JJurgundy where Clotilde resided. The princess, however, 
knew bdbrehand his mission, and was prepared to receive 
him. She concealed this knowledge, however, and treated 
liim as an ordinary mendicant, receiving him hospitably, 
and, according to the custom of those times, even washing 
)iis feet. While this operation was being performed, Aure- 
' anus said : 'Princess, if you will permit me, I will tell you 
r strange things.' 

* Speak,' replied Clotilde. 

* Clovis, King of the Franks, has sent me to announce 
his wish to marry you. Is it your desire that I should ask 
permission from your father ? ' 

* What proof can you give me of the truth of your 
mission ? ' 

* The ring of my Sovereign, which he entrusted me with 
for this object.' 



' But,' said Clotilde, ' I am a Christian, and I cannot 
marry a pagan. If, however, it is the will of God that I 
should become the wife of Clovis, I am content.' 

Thus saying, she received the ring, and gave Aurelianus 
her own ring in return, and after some difficulties with 
Gondebauld were overcome, Aurelianus married Clotilde in 
the name of King Clovis, by the gift of ' one sou and one 
denier,' as the price of her liberty, according to the custom 
of that period. 

If the old historians are to be credited, this is the 
earliest instance of a marriage by proxy. 

Edward the First, in 1297, presented Margaret, his 
fourth daughter, with a golden pyx, in which he deposited 
a ring, the token of his unfailing love. He placed it 
in her hands with a solemn benediction, when she bade 
him farewell, preparatory to rejoining her husband at 

Hardyng, in his ' Chronicles,' relates a pretty story of 
Oswald, King of Northumberland (seventh century), and 
Kineburg, his consort. A hermit, of extraordinary sanc- 
tity, desirous of ascertaining whether any person surpassed 
himself in purity of life, was, in answer to his meditation, 
told by revelation '■ that King Oswald was more holy, though 
he had wedded a wife.' The pious hermit accordingly re- 
paired to the king, with holy zeal, to be informed concern- 
ing his course of life. On which Oswald, in the true spirit 
of that love and confidence which reposed on the purity 
and virtue of his beloved wife, referred the hermit to her, 
bidding him carry to her his ring, with his command that 
she should entertain him (the hermit) as though he were 
her own royal spouse. The Queen, who had the greatest 
veneration for her husband, failed not to obey his instruc- 


tions, but, while she shared with the holy man the regal 
repast, showed him that it consisted only of bread and 
water, no other food being permitted to him ; thus ex- 
hibiting an example of that self-denial by which purity of 
life is alone attainable. When night came, the hermit was 
more surprised than ever when the queen ordered him to 
be put into a cold-water bath, according to the custom of 
the King whom he wished to imitate. Gladly, and yet right 
early in the morning, did the venerable man take leave of 
the queen ; and, having restored to King Oswald his ring, 
frankly acknowledged that his whole entire life was not 
so holy as one of the King's days and nights. I must ob- 
serve, however, that, with this rigid observance of sobriety 
and virtue, King Oswald is the first prince of our Saxon 
rulers who is recorded to have been served in silver dishes. 
We can easily understand a hermit's repugnance to bathing 
of any kind. 

Some other instances of rings as tokens are related by 
mediaeval historians. We are told by Matthew Paris that 
Pope Innocent, desiring to gain King John over to favour 
his plans, and knowing that he was covetous, and a diligent 
seeker after costly jewels, sent him four gold rings adorned 
with precious stones, in token that the rotundity of the rings 
signified eternity ; ' therefore your royal discretion may be 
led by the form of them to pray for a passage from earthly 
to heavenly, from temporal to eternal things. The number 
of four, which is a square number, denotes the firmness of 
mind which is neither depressed in adversity nor elated in 
prosperity 3 which will then be fulfilled, when it is based on 
the four principal virtues, namely — ^justice, fortitude, pru- 
dence, and virtue. . . . Moreover, the greenness of the 
emerald denotes faith ; the clearness of the sapphire, hope \ 


the redness of the pomegranate denotes charity, and the 
purity of the topaz, good works. ... In the emerald, 
therefore, you have what to beheve ; in the sapphire, what 
to hope for ; in the pomegranate, what to love ; and in the 
topaz, what to practise ; that you ascend from one virtue to 
another, until you see the Lord in Zion.* 

Henry the Fourth, Emperor of Germany, was cruelly 
treated by his son, who conspired against him, and forced 
him to abdicate the throne. The degraded emperor is said 
to have been reduced by famine to such extremities that he 
ate the leather of his boots for hunger. He sent his ring 
and sword as his last token of forgiveness to his rebel son, 
with the simple and touching message : ' If thou hadst left 
me more, I would have sent more to thee.* 

Thomas Chester, a writer for the minstrels in the reign 
of Henry the Sixth, and who is stated to have translated the 
' Erie of Tolouse,' a metrical romance, relates that an Earl 
of this house, disguised in pilgrim's weeds, asked alms of 
the empress, consort of Diocletian, Emperor of Germany, 
to whom his secret is known, and who gives him forty 
florins and a ring. He receives the latter present with the 
greatest satisfaction, and, although obliged to return home, 
comforts himself with this reflection : — 

Well is me I have thy grace 
Of the to hav thys thyng. 
If ever I hav grace of the 
That any love between us be 
This may be a tokenyng. 

The empress, on the false accusation of two knights, is 
thrown into prison. The Earl of Toulouse, disguised as a 
monk, obtains permission to act as her confessor ; the 
empress, not knowing him in his present disguise, confesses 


that she once gave a ring to the ' Erie.' On this he chal- 
lenges the two knights, and, of course, overcomes them 
111 combat. On the death of the emperor he marries the 

This story reminds us of the lines in 'Marmion,' by- 
Sir Walter Scott :— 

The fair Queen of France 
Sent him a turquoise ring and glove, 
And charged him as her knight and love 

For her to break a lance : 

a fatal gift, as Flodden Field. proved.* 

In the * Lays ' of Marie, the Princess Guilliadun, having 
fallen in love with Sir Eliduc, sends him as tokens a ring 
and a rich girdle. 

In the ' Lyfe of Ipomydon,' the manuscript of which is 
in the Harleian Collection at the British Museum, the queen 
gives her son a ring-token : — 

It befell upon a day 
The queen to her son gan say, 
In privitie and in counsail, 
* Thou hast a brother withouten fail, 
Privily gotten me upon, 
Ere I was wedded to any mon. 
But hastily he was done fro me, 
I ne wot if he alive be, 
And he me sent, this ender (last) year, 
A rich ring of gold full clear ; 

' Pitscottie says ' the Queen of France wrote a love-letter to the King 
of Scotland, calling him her love, showing him that she had suffered 
much rebuke in France for defending his honour. She believed surely 
that he would recompense her with some of his kingly support in her 
necessity ; that is to say, that he would raise her an army and come 
three foot of ground on English ground for her sake. To that effect 
she sent him a ring off her finger, with 14,000 French crowns to pay 
his expenses.' 


An ever he any brother had, 
That I should give it him, he bade ; 
That vi^here he come, among high or low, 
By that ring he should him know. 
Than take this ring, my son, of me : 
In what country that he be. 
Who that knoweth this ilke ring. 
He is thy brother without lesing.' 

Ipomydon accepts the ring, and promises to spare no pains 
in searching for its original proprietor, who, after various 
adventures, is found in the person of Sir Campanys, with 
whom he has an encounter, during which the latter discovers 
his mother's ring on the finger of Ipomydon. 

In the romance of ' Sir Isumbras,' when he and his wife 
and child are taken prisoners by the ' Soudan,' the lady, 
before her separation from her husband and child — 

callyd hir lorde to hir agayne, 

A rynge was thaire takynnynge. 

The mother of Sir Perceval of Galles gives him a ring- 
token : — 

His nioder gaffe hym a ryng. 
And bad he solde agayne it bryng ; 
* Sonne, this salle be oure takynnynge, 
For here I salle the byde.' 

The knight sets forth on his travels, and soon changes the 
ring for another : — 

Thofe he were of no pryde 
Forthirmore ganne he glyde 
Tille a chambir ther besyde, 

Moo sellys to see ; 
Riche clothes faude he sprede 
A lady slepuned on a bedde 
He said, ' forsothe a tokyne to wedde 

Salle thou lefe with mee j ' 


Ther he kyste that swete thynge, 
Of hir fynger he tuke a rynge, 
His aweune moder takynnynge 
He lefte with that fre. 

In the very pretty poem of * Lay le Fraine,' by Marie, 
the lady of a knight, * a proud dame and malicious,' having 
twins, consigns the charge of one of them to a confidential 

crvant, to be taken away and left to the mercy of anyone 
■A ho might find it. At the same time, that the child might 
])e known to have been born of noble parents, she took a 

xh mantle lined with fur — ' . 

And lapped the little maiden therein, 
And took a ring of gold fine, 
And on her right arm it knit 
With a lace of silk in plit. 

The child is placed in a hollow ash-tree, near a nunnery, 
y the maid, and on being discovered by the porter is taken 
\) the abbess, by whom she is reared and becomes an ac- 
omplished and beautiful maiden. A rich knight falls in 
)ve with her and persuades her to live with him in his 
castle, to which she repairs, and 

With her took she no thing 
But her pel, and her ring. 

The lord, however, is induced to marry her sister, taking 
1 .e Fraine with him to the wedding, who places on her bed 
i n her room the magnificent ' pel,' or mantle, by which and 
lie ring she is discovered by her mother. 

In the romance of the * Seven Wise Masters ' (Cotton 
MSS.) is a story, ' The Two Dreams,' in which a ring displays 
i prominent feature. 

In the ballad of the * Lass of Lochroyan ' (* Minstrelsy of 
he Scottish Border ') Lord Gregory says :^ 


* Gin thou be Annie of Lochroyan 

(As I trow thou binna she), 
Now tell me some of the love-token 
That passed between thee and me. 

* O dinna ye mind, Lord Gregory, 

As we sat at the wine, 
We changed the rings from our fingers, 
And I can show thee thine ? 

* O yours was gude and gude enough, 

But aye the best was mine ; 
For yours was of the gude red gowd, 
But mine o' the diamond fine.' 

In the ballad of * Cospatrick ' (the designation of the 
Earl of Dunbar in the days of Wallace and Bruce) we 
have : — 

' He gae to me a gay gowd ring. 
And bade me keep it abune a' thing.' 

' And what did you wi' the gay gowd ring 
I bade you keep abune a' thing ? ' 

* I gae them to a ladye gay 
I met in greenwood on a day.' 

In the ballad of ' Prince Robert,' 

Prince Robert has wedded a gay ladye 

He has wedded her with a ring, 
Prince Robert has wedded a gay ladye. 

But he dafna bring her hame. 

The Prince is poisoned, and his lady-love arrives just 
after the funeral, and is told : — 

* Ye'se get nane o' his gowd, ye'se get nane o' his gear, 

Ye'se get nothing frae me. 
Ye'se no get an inch o' his good braid land, 

Though your heart suld burst in three.' 


' I want nane o' his gowd, I want nane o' his gear, 

I want nae land frae thee : 
But I'll hae the rings that's on his finger, 
For them he did promise to me. ' 

' Ye'se no get the rings that's on his finger, 

Ye'se no get them frae me ; 
Ye'se no get the rings that's on his finger, 

An your heart suld burst in three.' 

In the ballad of ' Broomfield Hill ' a witch-woman says 
o 'a lady bright : ' 

Take ye the rings off your fingers, 

Put them on his right hand, 
To let him know when he doth wake. 

His love was at his command. 

The Child of Elle receives from'the page of his lady-love, 
he ' fayre Emmeline,' some tokens of her affection to him 
m her ' woe-begone ' state : — 

And here she sends thee a ring of golde. 

The last boone thou mayst have, 
And biddes thee weare it for her sake. 

When she is layde in grave. 

The famous Guy, Earl of Warwick, after marvellous 

idventures abroad, returns to his own country, and becomes 

hermit at Guy's Cliff, near Warwick Castle. Falling 

:ck, he sends a ring- token to the fair Felice. He came to 

is rocky dwelling, 

Like pilgrim poore, and was not knowne; 

And there I lived a hermit's life, 
A mile and more out of the towne. 

And dayle came to beg my bread 
Of Pheliss, att my castle-gate. 

Not known unto my loved wiffe, 
Who dayle mourned for her mate : 


Till, at the last, I fell sore sicke, 
Yea, sicke soe sore that I must dye ; 

I sent to her a ringe of golde, 
By which she knew me presentlye. 

In the romance of ' Floire and Blanceflor/ the young 
hero, on his way to Babylon, arrives at a bridge, the keeper 
of which has a brother in the city, to whose hospitality he 
wishes to recommend Floire, and for that purpose he gives 
him his ring. ' Take this ring to him,' he says, ' and tell 
him from me to receive you in his best manner.' The 
message was attended with complete success. 

King John is said to have made use of a ring to aid his 
criminal designs upon the beautiful wife of the brave Eustace 
de Vesci, one of the twenty-five barons appointed to enforce 
the observance of Magna Charta. The tyrant, hearing that 
Eustace de Vesci had a very beautiful wife, but far distant 
from court, and studying how to accomplish his licentious 
designs towards her, sitting at table with her husband and 
seeing a ring on his finger, he laid hold of it and told him 
that he had such another stone, which he resolved to set in 
gold in that very form. And having thus got the ring, he 
presently sent it to her in her husband's name ; by that 
token conjuring her, if ever she expected to see him alive, 
to come speedily to him. She, therefore, upon sight of the 
ring, gave credit to the messenger and came with all expedi- 
tion. But it so happened that her husband, casually riding out, 
met her on the road, and, marvelling much to see her there, 
asked what the matter was ; and when he understood how 
they were both deluded he resolved to find a wanton, and 
put her in apparel to personate his lady. 

The King afterwards boasting to the injured husband 
himself, Eustace had the pleasure to undeceive him. 


When Richard III. brings his rapid wooing to a conclu- 
sion he gives the Lady Anne a ring, saying : — 

Look, how this ring encompasseth thy finger, 
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart ; 
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine. 

Passionate words, but too noble for a man both faithless and 

Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII., married to 
James IV. of Scotland, when requiring money, sent to her 
royal husband, not only letters, but a token, as is seen in 
the Treasurer's accounts : 'June 30 (1504) : Given to the 
Queen to give away, when she sent Master Livesay, English- 
man, with a ring in token — iSj-.' So we have later : ' Luke of 
the wardrobe carried letters, with a ring, to Stirling to the 
Queen's grace.' 

In 15 15, while under the tyranny of the Duke of Albany 
?X Edinburgh, Margaret endeavoured to escape to Black - 
ater, a fortress within a few miles of Berwick. She sent a 
faithful clerk, Robin Carr, to Lord Dacre, who had proposed 
lier flight, and a ring was to be Carr's credential to King 
Henry the Eighth, whom he was to see afterwards. The 
King, however, did not recognise the token, though it was 
one that his sister had worn in her girlish days. 

In 'Cymbeline' (act i. sc. ii.) Imogen gives Posthumus 
a ring when they part, and he gives her a bracelet in ex- 
change : — 

* Look here, love ; 

This diamond was my mother's ; take it, heart ; 
But keep it till you woo another wife. 
When Imogen is dead.' 
Posthumus. — ' How ! how ! another ? 
You gentle gods give me but this I have. 
And sear up my embracements from a next 


With bonds of death ! Kemain thou here, 
{Putting on t/ie ring) 
While sense can keep it on.' 

Yet he afterwards gives it up to lachimo — upon a false 
representation, however — to test his wife's honour : — 

Here, take this too ; 

It is a basilisk unto my eye, 
Kills me to look on't. 

A diamond ring was sent by Henry the Eighth in 1542 
to Sir Arthur Plantagenet (Lord Lisle, natural son of Edward 
the Fourth) in token of forgiveness, and accompanying an 
order for his release from the Tower, but the unfortunate 
prisoner, in his excess of joy, died. 

In Shakspeare's ' Henry the Eighth ' (Act v. sc. i.) a ring 
is delivered by the King to Cranmer, in token of royal con- 
fidence and esteem : — ■ 

Be of good cheer. 

They shall no more prevail than we give way to. 

Keep comfort to you ; and this morning see 

You do appear before them ; if they shall chance, 

In charging you with matters, to commit you, 

The best persuasions to the contrary 

Fail not to use, and with what vehemency 

The occasion shall instruct you : if entreaties 

Will render you no remedy, this ring 

Deliver them, and your appeal to us 

There make before them. 

The sequel of this incident is related in Foxe's ' Acts and 
Monuments of the Christian Martyrs,' printed in 1563 : — 
' Anon the Archbishop was called into the council-chamber, 
to whom was alleged as before is rehearsed. The Arch- 
bishop answered in like sort as the King had advised him ; 
and in the end, when he perceived that no manner of per- 
suasion or entreaty could serve, he delivered them the 


King's ring, revoking his cause into the King's hands. The 
whole council being thereat somewhat amazed, the Earl of 
Bedford, with a loud voice, confirming his words with a 
solemn oath, said : " When you first began the matter, my 
Lords, I told you what would become of it. Do you think 
the King would suffer this man's finger to ache ? Much 
more, I warrant you, will he defend his life against brabling 
varlets. You do but cumber yourselves to hear tales and 
fables against him." And, incontinently, upon the receipt 
of the King's token^ they all rose, and carried to the King his 
ring, surrendering that matter, as the order and use was, 
into his own hands.' 

By the same capricious monarch a turquoise ring was 
sent to Cardinal Wolsey, in his last troubles at Esher, by 
Sir John Russel, as a * token ' from His Majesty, with the 
assurance that ' he loved him as well as ever he did, and 
was sorry for his trouble.' On hearing subsequently from 
Dr. Buttes of the serious illness of his discarded favourite, 
he sent a valuable ring to him, and Mistress Anne Boleyn, 
then at the King's side, at her royal lover's request, took a 
gold tablet from her girdle, and gave it with a speech 
expressing sympathy and commendation — false gifts and 
hollow words ! 

In after years, when a deputation was sent by the 

council of King Edward the Sixth to reduce the recusant 

Princess Mary to conformity with the Protestant religion, 

lie, on her knees, delivered a ritig as a token to the King, 

lying ' she would die his true subject and sister, and obey 

lim in all things, except in matters of religion.' 

When, as Queen, Mary lay on her deathbed, King 
Philip, her husband, who did not revisit England after his 
return to Spain, sent a message and a ring-token to his 


consort, a ruby set in gold, which she bequeathed to him 
among other jewels. 

One of the most interesting episodes of ring-tokens is 
that which Queen Elizabeth is said to have given to the 
Earl of Essex ' in token of esteem,' with the intimation that 
if ever he forfeited her favour, and it should be sent back to 
her, the sight of it would ensure his forgiveness. The chief 
authorities for the story appear to be the ' Relation of 
M. Aubrey de Maurier,' printed in 1688, and the account 
given at the same period by Lady Elizabeth Spelman. The 
particulars of this occurrence are related in the memoirs of 
Robert Carey. When Essex lay under sentence of death, 
he determined to try the virtue of the Queen's ring by send- 
ing it to her and claiming the benefit of her promise. 
Knowing, however, that he was surrounded by the creatures 
of those who were bent on taking his life, he was fearful of 
trusting to any of his attendants. At length, looking out 
of his window, he saw, early one morning, a boy whose 
countenance pleased him, and he induced him by a bribe 
to carry the ring, which he threw down from above, to the 
Lady Scroop, his cousin, who had taken so friendly an 
interest in his fate. The boy, by mistake, took the ring to 
the Countess of Nottingham, the cruel sister of the fair and 
gentle Scroop, and, as both these ladies belonged to the 
royal bed-chamber, the mistake might easily occur. The 
Countess carried the ring to the Lord Admiral, who was a 
deadly foe of Essex, and told him the message, but he bade 
her suppress both. The Queen, unconscious of the inci- 
dent, waited in the painful suspense of an angry lover for 
the expected token to arrive, but, not receiving it, she con- 
cluded that he was too proud to make the last appeal to her 
tenderness, and, after having once revoked the warrant, she 
ordered the execution to take place. \ 


The romantic story of the Queen visiting the Countess 
of Nottingham, who had kept back the ring ; of her shaking 
lier on her death-bed, and crying out bitterly * that God 
might forgive, but she could not,* is somewhat credited 
as documents come to light. In Birch's * Memoirs of the 
1 'eers of England during the Reign of James the First,' this 
ory is given, as having been repeatedly told by Lady 
iizabeth Spelman, great-granddaughter of Sir Robert Carey. 
ihe Queen is said to have been so hurt by this revelation of 
Lady Nottingham that she never went to bed, nor took 
niiy sustenance from that period. ' In confirmation of the 
time of the Countess's death,' says Birch, 'it appears from 
tlie parish register of Chelsea that she died at Arundel 
i louse, London, February 25, and was buried the 28th, 
1603. Her funeral was kept at Chelsea, March 21st fol- 
lowing, and Queen Elizabeth died three days afterwards.' 

The celebrated ring on which the life of the Earl of 
1 ssex is thus said to have depended has been claimed by 
rious persons. In 'Old England' (vol. ii. p. 74) a story 
told that when, in 1564, Mary, Queen of Scots, married 
] )amley, she sent to her fair cousin of England a diamond- 
ring in the form of a heart, in token of the event and her 
own affection. The ring was accompanied by some Latin 
verses by Buchanan, thus translated r — 

This gem behold, the emblem of my heart, 
From which my cousin's image ne'er shall part ; - 
Clear in its lustre, spotless does it shine, 
'Tis clear and spotless as this heart of mine. 
"What though the stone a greater hardness wears, 
Superior firmness still the figure bears. 

' According ' (observes the editor of ' Old England ') ' to 
information which has been communicated to us, with an 
implicit faitii on the part of our informants, that was the 



ring presented by Elizabeth to Essex, as being the most 
precious it was in her power to give him.' 

Another account says that Mr. Thomas Penning, of the 
Exchequer, had, in 1781, a purse and ring by bequest from 
Mr. Sotheby, whose sister he married, and who was related 
to the late Mrs. Cooke, by long succession and inheritance 
from Sir Anthony Cooke, of Giddy Hall, Essex, preceptor 
of Edward the Sixth, and to whose family, according to 
tradition, these precious objects were given by Queen 
Elizabeth. The ring was of gold, with the Queen's bust 
in bas-relief on a garnet, dressed as in her sixpenny and 
threepenny pieces of 1574, with the same features round it 
in the garter with the motto, and fastened with a buckle 
composed of two diamonds, and the strap turned by an- 
other. Over the bust was the crown, composed of twelve 
diamonds, and on each side the collet three diamonds. On 
the inner surface, immediately under the bust, was the 
union rose. 

The ' Devereux ' Ring. 

Perhaps the strongest claim to the possession of the real 
ring of Essex is that which was exhibited at the Society of 
Antiquaries, March 1858, by the Rev. Lord John Thynne. It 
is of gold, slightly made, and ornamented on the inside with 
blue enamel. On the face is set a cameo cut in sardonyx, 
representing Queen Elizabeth in a high ruff. The workman- 
ship is good, and shows considerable skill in the adaptation of 


the layers of the stone to the details of the dress. It seems 
to have been originally made for a very small finger, and 
to have been subsequently enlarged. The ring is said to 
have been the property of Lady Frances Devereux, daughter 
of the Earl of Essex, and afterwards Duchess of Somerset, 
ind to have passed from mother to daughter until it came 
to Louisa, daughter of John, Earl of Granville, who married 
Thomas Thynne, second Viscount Weymouth, great-grand- 
f^ither of the present owner. It has been stated by Captain 
Devereux that no mention of the ring in question is made 
in the elaborate will of the Duchess of Somerset. She may, 
however, have given it to her daughter in her lifetime. 
The ring appears to have been made for a female finger, 
and as it is not very likely that the Queen would have worn 
her own portrait in a ring, it is more probable that this ring 
was intended for one of the ladies of her court, and it may 
have been enlarged for some subsequent owner. It is 
undoubtedly a remarkable work of art of the period of 

It may be noticed that the Hon. Captain Devereux, in 
his 'Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex,' 
cems to beHeve in the story of the ring, but the evidence 
le adduces is not sufficient to justify his faith. 

Another ring, which is in the possession of C. W. 
Warner, Esq. (and is, together with that noticed, engraved 
ill the ' Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex'), 
cts forth a rival claim to be the identical ring given to 
.ssex, of which, however, it shows no internal evidence, 
)eing a slight ring, without any device, and has an enamelled 
•oop, set with a pear-shaped diamond. 

In ' Manningham's Diary,' 1602-1603 (Camden Society), 
s the following entry: 'Dr. Parry told me the Countess 


Kildare assured him that the Queene caused the ring where- 
with shee was wedded to the crowne to be cutt from hir 
finger, some six weekes before her death, but wore a 
ring which the Earl of Essex gave her unto the day of hir 
death.' ^ 

The interchange of rings as royal tokens between Queen 
Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, was frequent ; whether 
genuine in the feelings that prompted their transmission (at 
least, as regards the former) may be questioned. On the 
baptism of the son of the Scottish Queen (afterw^ards James 
the Sixth) we are informed that the Duke of Bedford, be- 
sides a gold font, the present of Queen Elizabeth, sent * ane 
ring with ane stane to be delivered to the said woman who 
should occupy the place of the Queen's Grace of England 
at the said baptism.' Mary is mentioned by the English 
ambassador to the Scottish court as wearing, on the cele- 
bration of Twelfth Day in 1562, no jewels or gold, but a ring 
sent to her by Elizabeth. It may have been that which, 
a prisoner at Lochleven Castle, she wished to obtain from 
the royal jewels which had been kept back from her by the 
Earl of Moray. ^ It had been sent to her as a token of 

• Appendix. 

2 Lady Moray, the wife of the Scottish Regent, had appropriated, 
during the Queen's troubles, many of her most valuable jewels. She 
wrote to her from Tutbury, March 28th, 1570 : — 

' We are informed that ye have tane in possession certain of our 
jewels, such as our Henry of dyamant and ruby, with a number of other 
dyamant, ruby, perles, and gold worke, whereof we have the memoir 
to lay to your charge, which jewels incontinent, after the sight hereof, 
ye sail deliver to our right trusty cousins and counsellors, the Earl of 
Huntley, our lieutenant, and my Lord Setoun, who will, on so doing, 
give you discharge of the same.' 

Lady Moray paid no attention to Queen Mary's request for the 
return of her jewels, well knowing that she was in no condition for 
enforcing her demands. 


friendship, and the promise that if it were returned to the 
(Jonor in any period of misfortune she would do her best to 
assist her. 

Miss Strickland informs us that Mary, in a letter to 
iUizabeth, though unable, as she mentions, to send back the 
ring, reminds Elizabeth of her promise. This interesting 
letter is still preserved at Hatfield House. ' It will please 
} ou to remember,' she writes, * you have told me several 
times that on receiving the ring you gave me you would 
assist me in my time of trouble. You know that Moray has 
seized all that I have, and those who had the keeping of 
some of these things have been ordered not to deliver any 
of them to me. Robert Melville, at any rate, to whom I 
Imve secretly sent for this ring, as my most precious jewel, 
says "he dare not let me have it" Therefore I implore 
ou, on receiving this letter, to have compassion on your 
vJod sister and cousin, and believe that you have not a more 
affectionate relative in the world,' etc. etc., ' dated from my 
prison this ist of May' (1568). 

On the escape of Mary from her ' prison,' Sir Robert 
Melville, anticipating a counter-revolution from the general 
feeling in favour of the Queen, was one of the first who came 
to her at Hamilton Castle to renew his homage, bringing 
with him as a peace-offering the precious ring so often de- 
manded in vain. 

' On leaving Scotland,' says Miss Strickland, * after her 
fatal resolution of throwing herself on the protection of 
Queen Elizabeth, Mary sent the ring as an avant-courier^ 
with a letter. This romantic toy, which she regarded in the 
same light as one of the fairy talismans in eastern love, was 
actually the lure which tempted her in this desperate crisis 
of her fortunes to enter England, under the fond idea that 



its donor could not refuse to keep her promise. She con- 
cludes an affecting letter to Queen Elizabeth (dated from 
Dundrennan) thus : " To remind you of the reasons I have 
to depend on England, I send back to the Queen the token of 
her promised friendship and assistance" ' 

This memorable ring is described by Aubrey, to have 
been a delicate piece of mechanism, consisting of several 
joints, which, when united, formed the quaint device of two 
right hands supporting a heart between them. This heart 
was composed of two separate diamonds, held together by 
a central spring, which, when opened, would allow either of 
the hearts to be detached. 

* Queen Elizabeth,' says Aubrey, ' kept one moietie, and 
sent the other as a " token " of her constant friendship to 
Mary, Queen of Scots, but she cut off her head for all that.' 
The circumstance of the ring is further verified beyond 
dispute by Mary herself, in a subsequent letter to EHzabeth, in 
which she bitterly reproaches her with her perfidious conduct. 

'After I escaped from Loch- 
leven,' she says, 'and was 
nearly taken in battle by my 
rebellious subjects, I sent 
you by a trusty messenger 
the diamond you had given 
me as a token of affection 
and demanded your as- 
sistance. I believed that 
the jewel I received as a 
pledge of your friendship would remind you that when you 
gave it me I was not only flattered with great promise 
of assistance from you, but you bound yourself on your 
royal word to advance over the border to my succoiir, and 

Essex ring (?). 


to come in person to meet me, and that if I made the 
I )iirney into your realm that I might confide in your honour.' 
1 Elizabeth, as is well known, took no notice either of the 
jjledge or allusions to her former professions. 

The illustration on the preceding page represents the 
ring mentioned (p. 339) as the property of the Warner 
family. Sir Thomas Warner, to whom it was presented by 
James the First, placed it on his shield of arms, with the 
motto, ' I hold from the King.' 

During the Duke of Norfolk's imprisonment in the 
Tower he sent two diamond rings, as love-tokens to Maiy, 
Queen of Scots, while she was at Coventry. 

In the metrical chronicle of the ' Life of Sir Nicholas 

Throgmorton ' we find that when Elizabeth heard rumours 

of the death of her sister, Queen Mary, to be really sure, she 

sent Sir Nicholas Throgmorton to the palace to request one 

of the ladies of the bed-chamber, who was in her confidence, 

' if the queen were really dead, to send her as a token the 

black enamelled ring which Her Majesty wore night and 


She said (since nought exceedeth woman's fears, 
Who still do dread some baits of subtlety) : 

* Sir Nicholas, know a ring my sister wears 

Enamell'd black — a pledge of loyalty — 
The which the King of Spain in spousals gave, 
If aught fall out amiss, 'tis that I crave. 

* But hark ! ope not your lips to anyone 

In hope us to obtain of courtesy, 
Unless you know my sister first be gone, 

For grudging minds will still coyne (coin) treachery. 
So shall thyself be safe, and us be sure. 
Who takes no hurt shall need no care of cure.' 

Elizabeth's meaning seems to have been that the ring 
should not be sought for until Mary's death. 


A ring * token ' was also the announcement of Queen 
Elizabeth's death. Lady Scroope, it seems, gave the first 
intelligence of the event by dropping from the window of 
the palace a sapphire ring to her brother, Sir Robert Carey, 
who was lurking beneath the chamber of death at Richmond* 
He departed with this ring at his utmost speed to announce 
the tidings to the Scottish monarch. 

The sapphire in this ring is in the possession of the 
Countess of Cork, and was exhibited at the Loan Exhibi- 
tion of Jewellery at South Kensington in 1872. A statement 
in the catalogue records the incident related. The ring is 
mentioned in Robertson's 'History of Scotland' and 
Banks' ' Peerage Books.' It was afterwards given to John, 
Earl of Orrery, by the Duchess of Buckingham, natural 
daughter of James the Second. 

I may here remark that Camden relates a romantic inci- 
dent, that while Queen Elizabeth was celebrating the 
anniversary of her coronation, Henry of Anjou, one of her 
royal suitors, in a fit of gallantry, took from her finger a ring 
in token of betrothal, and put it on his own in presence of 
the Court ; but as this story is entirely refuted by history I 
forbear the details. 

An incident in connection with ring-tokens is related in 
the life of that distinguished knight and courtier. Sir John 
Perrot, which has additional interest from having formed the 
subject of a poem by the late Mrs. Maclean (' L. E. L.'). The 
ballad, which appeared some years ago in one of the 
'annuals,' is so charming and characteristic that I have 
ventured to reproduce it : — 

The evening tide is on the turn ; so calm the waters flow, 
There seems to be one heav'n above, another heav'n below ; 
The blue skies broken by white clouds, the river by white foam, 
The stars reflect themselves, and seem to have another home. 



A shade upon the elements ; 'tis of a gallant bark, 
1 1 cr stately sides fling on the waves an outline dim and dark ; 
i he difference this by things of earth, and things of heav'n made, 
The things of heav'n are trac'd in light, and those of earth in shade. 

Wrapt in his cloak a noble knight stept to and fro that deck, 
]<^ evolving all those gentler thoughts the busier day-hours check ; 
A thousand sad, sweet influences in truth and beauty lie 
Within the quiet atmosphere of a lone starry sky. 

A shower of glittering sparkles fell from off the dashing oar, 

As a little boat shot rapidly from an old oak on shore ; 

1 lis eye and pulse grew quick, the knight's, his heart kept no true time 

In his unsteady breathing, with the light oar's measur'd chime. 

' Thou hast loiter'd — so, in sooth, should I — thy errand be thy plea, 
And now, what of my lady bright, what guerdon sent she me ? 
Or sat she lonely in her bower, or lovely in the hall ? 
1 low look'd she when she took my gift ? sir page, now tell me all.' 

' 1 found her with a pallid cheek, and with a drooping head ; 

eft her, and the summer rose wears not a gladder red. 

A she murmur'd something like the tones a lute has in its chords ; 
. -^ very sweet the whisper was, I have forgot the words. ' 

' A health to thee, my lady love, a health in Spanish wine. 
To-night I'll pledge no other health, I'll name no name but thine.' 
The young page hid his laugh, then dropp'd in rev'rence on his knee : 

♦ In sooth, good master, that I think to-night may scarcely be. 

* While kneeling at your lady's feet another dame passed by. 
The lion in her haughty step, the eagle in her eye : 

"And doth the good knight barter gems? God's truth, we'll do the 

A pleasant meaning lit the smile that to lier proud eyes came. 

* She took the fairest of the gems upon her glittering hand. 
With her own fingers fasten'd it upon a silken band, 

And held it to the lamp, then said : *' Like this stone's spotless flame 
So tell your master that I hold his high and knightly fame." ' 

Low on his bended knee the knight received that precious stone. 
And bold and proud the spirit now that in his dark eyes shone : 

• Up from your sleep, my mariners, for ere the break of day, 
And even now the stars are pale, I must be miles away.' 


The spray fell from the oars in showers, as in some fairy hall 
They say in melting diamonds the charmed fountains fall ; 
And though, as set the weary stars, the darker grew the night, 
Yet far behind the vessel left a track of silver light. 

They saw again that self-same shore which they that mom had pass'd, 
On which they look'd as those who know such look may be the last — 
Then out he spoke, the helmsman old : ' I marvel we should go, 
Just like a lady's messenger, on the same path to and fro.' 

* And 'tis to see a lad/s face this homeward task we ply. 
I wot the proudest of us all were proud to catch her eye. 
A royal gift our queen hath sent, and it were sore disgrace 
If that I first put on her gem, and not before her face ! ' 

On the terrace by the river-side there stood a gallant band, 
The very flower of knight and dame were there of English land; 
The morning wind toss'd ostrich plume, and stirr'd the silken train, 
The morning light from gold and gem was mirror'd back again. 

There walk'd the Queen Elizabeth ; you knew her from the rest 
More by the royal step and eye than by the royal vest ; 
There flashed, though now the step was staid, the falcon eye was still. 
The fiery blood of Lancaster, the haughty Tudor's will. 

A lady by the balustrade, a little way apart, 
Lean'd languidly, indulging in the solitude of heart 
Which is Love's empire tenanted by visions of his own — 
Such solitude is soon disturb'd, such visions soon are flown. 

Love's pleasant time is with her now, for she hath hope and faith. 
Which think not what the lover doth, but what the lover saith. 
Upon her hand there is a ring, within her heart a vow ; 
No voice is whispering at her side — what doth she blush for now ? 

A noble galley valiantly comes on before the wind ; 

Her sails are dyed by the red sky she's leaving fast behind. 

None other mark'd the ship that swept so eagerly along ; 

The lady knew the flag, and when hath lover's eye been wrong ? 

The lonely lady watch'd ; meantime went on the converse gay. 
It was as if the spirits caught the freshness of the day. 

* Good omen such a morn as this,' her Grace of England said, 

* What progress down our noble Thames hath Sir John Perrot made ? ' 


'hen spoke Sir Walter Raleigh, wilh a soft and silvery smile, 
lid an earnest gaze that seem'd to catch the Queen's least look the 
' Methinks that ev'ry wind in heav'n will crowd his sails to fill, 
1 or goeth he not forth to do his gracious Sovereign's will ? ' 

With that the bark came bounding up, then staid her in her flight ; 
And right beneath the terrace she moor'dher in their sight. 
' Xow, by my troth,' exclaimed the Queen, *it is our captain's bark. 
\\ hat brings the loiterer back again ? ' — her eye and brow grew dark. 

' Fair Queen,' replied a voice below, * I pay a vow of mine. 

And never yet was voyage delayed by worship at a shrine.' 

He took the jewel in his hand, and bent him on his knee, 

riien flung the scarf around his neck, where all the gem might see. 

Ills white plumes swept the very deck, yet once he glanc'd above; 
The courtesy was for the Queen, the glance was for his love. 
' Now fare-thee-well,' then said the Queen, 'for thou art a true knight.' 
]jut even as she spoke the ship was flitting from the sight. 

\Voe to the Spaniards and their gold amid the Indian seas. 
When rolled the thunder of that deck upon the southern breeze, 
] or bravely Sir John Perrot bore our flag across the main. 
And England's bells for victory rang when he came home again. 

In the will of Thomas Sackville, Duke of Dorset (Lord 

High Treasurer in the times of Elizabeth and James I.), 

iven in Collins's ' Baronage,' is a mention of a token ring. 

L is described as ' of gold and enamelled black, and set 

jund with diamonds to the number of twenty ; whereof, 

ve, being placed in the upper part of the said ring, do re- 

lesent the fashion of a cross.' It is further mentioned as 

) be a heirloom. ' And to the intent that' they may knowe 

owe just and great cause bothe they and I have to hould the 

i>ayed Rynge, with twentie Diamonds, in so highe esteeme, 

yt is most requisite that I doe here set downe the whole 

course and circumstance, howe and from whome the same 

rynge did come to my possession, which was thus : In the 


Begynning of the monethe of June, one thousand sixe hun- 
dred and seaven, this rynge thus set with twenty Diamonds, 
as is aforesayed, was sent unto me from my most gracious 
soveraigne. King James, by that honourable personage, the 
Lord Haye, one of the gentlemen of His Highnes Bed- 
chamber, the Courte then beying at Whitehall in London, 
and I at that tyme remayning at Horsley House in Surrey, 
twentie myles from London, where I laye in suche ex- 
tremetye of sickness as yt was a common and a constant 
reporte all over London that I was dead, and the same con- 
fidentlie affirmed even unto the Kinge's Highnes himselfe ; 
upon which occasion it pleased his most excellent majestic, 
in token of his gracious goodness and great favour towards 
me, to send the saied Lord Hay with the saied Ringe, and 
this Royal message unto me, namelie, that his Highness 
wished a speedie and a perfect recoverye of my healthe, with 
all happie and good successe unto me, and that I might live 
as long as the diamondes of that Rynge (which therewithal! 
he delivered unto me) did endure, and in token thereof, 
required me to weare yt and keepe yt for his sake.' 

Among other token rings, under affecting circumstances, 
I may also mention those given on the eve of his execution 
( 1 651) by James Stanley, Earl of Derby, Governor of the 
Isle of Man — 'a man,' observes Lodge, ' of great honour and 
clear courage.' A minute narrative of the circumstances of 
his final hours was penned with touching simplicity by a 
Mr. Bagaley, one of his gentlemen, who was allowed to 
attend him to the last, and the manuscript has been care- 
fully preserved in the family. A transcript of the most part 
of it may be found in Collins's ' Peerage.' He wrote letters 
to his wife, daughter,, and sons, and sent a servant to pur- 
chase all the rings he could get. These were wrapped in 


separate papers, and Bagaley, under the Earl's instructions, 
iirected them to his children and servants, and the unfor- 
iinate nobleman said: 'As to them I can say nothing; 
ilence and your own looks will best tell your message.' 

Rings, as ' tokens,' or pledges, for the repayment of loans 
were made for Queen Henrietta Maria, the consort of 
Charles the First, while she was in Holland, endeavouring 
to raise money and troops for her unfortunate husband. To 
such as gave her pecuniary assistance she w^as accustomed 
to show her gratitude by the gift of a ring, or some other 
trinket from her own cabinet ; but when the increasing 
exigencies of the King's affairs compelled her to sell or pawn 
in Holland the whole of her plate and most of her jewels 
for his use, she adopted an ingenious device by which she 
was enabled, at a small expense, to continue her gifts to her 
riends, and in a form that rendered them more precious to 
lie recipient parties, because they had immediate reference 
o herself She had a great many rings, lockets, and brace- 
let clasps made with her cipher, the letters ' h. m. r.,' 
Henrietta Maria Regina, in very delicate filagree of gold, 
jiitwined in a monogram, laid on a ground of crimson 
velvet, covered with thick crystal, cut like a table-diamond 
and set in gold. These were called the King's pledges, or 
' tokens,' and presented by her to any person who had lent 
her money, or had rendered her any particular service, with 
an understanding that if presented to Her Majesty at any 
future time, when fortune smiled on the royal cause, it 
would command, either repayment of the money ad- 
vanced, or some favour from the Queen as an equivalent. 

' Many of these interesting testimonials are still in ex- 
istence ' 'observes Miss Strickland), * and, in families where 
the tradition has been forgotten, have been regarded as 


amulets which were to secure good fortune to the wearer.' 
One of these royal pledges, Miss Strickland informs us, has 
been preserved as an heirloom in her family, and there is a 
ring with the same device, in possession of Philip Darrell, 
Esq., of Cales Hill, Kent, which was presented to his 
immediate ancestor by that queen. 

It was in the reign of Charles the First that a fearful 
incident occurred in Scotland (1630) at the Castle of Fren- 
draught — a fire breaking out at midnight in a sudden 
manner, ' yea, in ane clap,' says Spalding, involving the 
whole of the inmates in destruction, excepting three per- 
sons. Viscount Melgum, son of the Marquis of Huntly, 
only twenty-four years of age, who was a guest of the Laird 
of Frendraught at the time, perished, leaving a widow and 
child. A popular ballad of the day speaks of his being 
called on to leap from the window : — 

* How can I leap, how can I win, 

How can I leap to thee ? 
My head's fast in the wire-window, 

My feet burning from me.' 
He's ta'en the rings from afif his hands, 

And thrown them o'er the wall ; 
Saying, ' Give them to my lady fair, 

Where she sits in the hall.' 

A pledge or token ring of remarkable interest was ex- 
hibited by Mr. J. W. Singer at the Loan Exhibition of 
Ancient and Modem Jewellery, South Kensington Museum, 
in 1872. This ring (of silver, set with a yellow topaz, 
diamonds, and a small ruby of Enghsh manufacture) has 
been preserved in the Penderell family, as that given by 
King Charles IL as a token of gratitude for the fidelity 
which saved him in the oak-tree at Boscobel, after the battle 
of Worcester. At the King's Restoration the five brothers 


Penderell attended at Whitehall, 'when his Majesty was 
pleased to own their faithful service, and graciously dismissed 
them with a princely reward ' (' Boscobel Tracts '). 

This ring now belongs to Mrs. Whiteby, of Beckington, 
Somerset, fifth in descent from Penderell. A yearly pension 
of one hundred pounds for ever was conferred upon the 
family, a portion of which (forty pounds) is now only received 
by a male relative. 

A ring-token, of sinister omen, is mentioned of the same 
monarch. This ill bestowal of a ring from royalty is exem- 
plified in the case of that hideous judicial monster Jeffreys. 
With thorough want of judgment, Charles II., in a fit of 
imprudency, habitual to him, gave the infamous judge a ring 
from his own finger. This was popularly termed yeffreys's 
blood-stone^ as he obtained it soon after the execution of Sir 
Thomas Armstrong. Roger North says : ' The King was 
persuaded to present him with' a ring, publicly taken from 
his own finger, in token of his Majesty's acceptance of his 
most eminent services; and this, by way of precursor, 
being blazoned in the Gazette, his Lordship went down into 
tiie country as from the King, legatus d latere' And a mission 
of blood and brutality it was ! 

A ring-token or present is mentioned in the ' True Re- 
membrances ' of Richard Boyle, the great Earl of Cork, who 
says: * When first I arrived in Ireland, June 23, 1588, all 
my wealth then was twenty-seven pounds three shillings in 
money, and two tokens which my mother had given me, viz. 
a diamond ring, which I have ever since and still do wear, 
and a bracelet of gold worth about ten pounds.' 

Many other instances of ring-tokens might be mentioned, 
but the limits to which this work is confined prevent me 
from enlarging on the subject. I will merely allude as a 


memorable instance in modern times, to the ring-token pre- 
sented to George III. on his birthday in 1764 by his Queen. 
It was a ring splendidly ornamented with brilliants, and 
contained an enamel in which were the portraits, exquisitely 
represented, of their children. 

I will conclude these notices of token rings with a 
very stirring ballad by Mr. Planche, entitled ' The Three 
Rings ' :— 

* Good morrow, lovely lady ! Is thy noble lord with thee ? ' 

' Sir knight, since to the wars he went, full moons have wasted three ; 
Three weary moons have wax'd and waned since he sail'd o'er the main, 
And little wist I when these eyes shall see my lord again.' 

' Forget him, lovely lady, as by him thou art forgot. ' 

' Thou dost him wrong, sir knight ; by him forgotten I am not : 

I hold within my arms a pledge for his true love to me, 

This new-born babe — his child and mine — which he hath yet to see.' 

' Oh, let me be thy servant, lady — I will love thee dear — ' 

* Sir knight, I am a wedded wife, such words I may not hear — ' 
' None else can hear them, lady. What witnesses are nigh ? ' 

' This heart, which is Hernando's, and God who sits on high.' 

* Sweet lady, yet a boon, upon my bended knee, I crave — ' 

* Sir knight, if one which I can grant with honour, ask and have.' 
' Oh, give me these three golden rings that on thy fingers shine. ' 
' Sir knight, with life alone I part with these three rings of mine ! ' 

'■ Oh, lend them but a day — an hour — to wear them for thy sake — ' 
' It may not be, such act my lord would proof of falsehood make. ' 
'Enough, enough, unkind one ! Then I may nought obtain?' 
< When thou would'st aught that I may grant, sir knight, demand again.' 

The knight hath mounted his steed and away — his love is changed to 

At the nearest town he lighted down before a goldsmith's gate : 
He hath bought three rings of plain red gold, like those by Clara worn, 
' O bitterly thy slight of me, proud lady, shalt thou mourn ! ' 

He hath mounted again his coal-black barb before the break of day. 
And who is he, the warrior bold, who meets him on the way ? 


1 1 is the brave Hernando, who, the Soldan's city won, 

Now pants to hold within his arms his wife and new-born son. 

' What news ? what news ? thou noble knight ; good friend, thy tidings 

I low fare my wife and infant child — say, are they safe and well ?* 

* Thy wife is well, and eke the boy ' — ' Thy speech is brief and cold ; 
lara is true? ' — 'For answer, look on these three rings of gold.' 

( )ne instant, arid his vizor's clos'd, his lance is in the rest — 
' Defend thee now, thou felon knight ! Foul shame be on thy crest ! ' 
)ne charge — one shock. The traitor's corse is from the saddle cast, 
through plate, and chain, and gambeson, Hernando's spear hath pass'd. 

He buries in his courser's flank his bloody spears again; 
Away ! away ! he scales the hill — ^he thunders o'er the plain ! 
' Up, Clara, up ! ' her mother cries ; ' Hernaado comes ! I see 
The well-known blazon on his shield. 'Tis he, my child, 'tis he I ' 

' Oh, mother ! rides he fast as one who to his true-love hies ? 

"anst see his face, dear mother? Looks joy from out his eyes?' 

His helmet, child, is open, and he rideth fast enow, 
liut his cheek is pale, and bent, as if in anger, seems his brow.' 

The tramp of armed feet is heard upon the turret stair ; 
} orth springs to meet her lord's embrace that lady fond and fair. 
]!y the silken locks, in which his hands have oft been fondly twined, 
I le hath seized and dragged her from her bower with jealous fury blind. 

I le hath bound her at his horse's heels — nor shriek nor praj'er he heeds ; 
( )'er rugged rock, through bush and briar, the goaded courser speeds ; 
I ler flesh is rent by every thorn, her blood stains every stone, — 
Now, Jesu sweet, have mercy ! for her cruel lord hath none ! 

And lo ! the sharp edge of a flint hath shorn the cord in twain ; 
>own leaps the vengeful lord to make his victim fest again. 
What have I done ? Before I die, my crime, Hernando, say ? ' 

• rhe golden rings I charged thee keep, thou false one, where are they?' 

Oh where, but on the hand which, with my heart, I gave to thee ! 
'raw off" my glove— I cannot— for my strength is failing me ! ' 
t )h curses on my frantic rage ! — my wrong'd — my murder'd wife — 
ome forth, my sword ! Then, Clara, shall life atone for life !' 

-he staggered up, love gave her strength, the sword afar she hurl'd, 
Ihou know'st my innocence 1 Oh, live to prove it to the world I 
A A 


Weep not for Clara — loved by thee, contented she expires ! 
Live for our child — the boy whose fame shall emulate his sire's ! ' 

* Our child ! — the child my fury hath made motherless to-day ! 
And when he for his mother asks — O God — what shall I say ? ' 
' Say that her name was Clara — that thy love was her pride — 
That, blessing him and thee, she smiled, as in thy arms she died ! ' 

Mr. Planche has borrowed the subject of his admirable 
poem from a legend still popular in Normandy. It is that 
of Marianson, the wife of a French noble. An evil spirit 
instigates a false knight to borrow the three golden token- 
rings of the lady during the absence of her lord. He takes 
them to a jeweller, who is ordered to prepare three others 
exactly similar, and then returns the lady her own rings. 
On his way he meets the husband, whose wife he declares 
has been unfaithful, and in proof of his assertion he shows 
the three surreptitious rings. The result of this is the fear- 
ful death of Marianson, being tied to the tail of a wild horse, 
and torn to pieces, and the after-discovery of the three rings 
in her drawer by the jealous husband. 

A somewhat similar legend is related of the Lady of 
Toggenburg, who lived in a castle near the Lake of Zurich. 
Her ' token ' ring was stolen by a crow, who dropped it in 
the park, where it was found by a young squire, who placed 
it on his finger. The Count of Toggenburg, passing at the 
time, saw the ring, and, inflamed by jealous fury, without 
asking any questions, rushed into the castle, and hurled his 
wife from the battlements into the lake. The young squire 
was torn to pieces by wild horses. 




Bequests of rings are frequently mentioned in wills of the 
middle and later ages. In the reign of Henry the Third, 
[ wo rings were bequeathed to that monarch by a bishop of 
Chichester, one adorned with an emerald, the other with a 
ruby. These jewels were taken out and employed to deco- 
rate an image of the Virgin at Westminster, and were placed 
')n her forehead. 

In the will of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford 
md Essex (1319), among various bequests is *un anel d'or 
ivec un ruby qe ma femme me devisa, qe ad tout pleni de 
coups, et est en un petit forcer en une graunte husche au 
bout de la basse gardrobe' (the gold ring with a ruby 
which his wife devised to him, and which is all covered with 
bruises, and is in a little casket in a great box at the end 
)f the lower wardrobe). This is probably the same ring 
nentioned in an inventory of effects as an *anel d'or ove 
i Rubie.' 

Thomas de Hoton, rector of Kyrkebymisperton (13 51), 
bequeathed to his chaplain, amongst other objects, *j an- 
nilum vertuosum.* Another is to ' Domine Thome de 
iiouthum.' These were supposed to possess some healing 
or talismanic properties, such rings being termed, in mediaeval 
Latin, vertuosus. 

A A 2 


In the ' Bury Wills and Inventories ' (Camden Society) 
are various bequests of rings. Some of these entries are 
very curious. John Baret (1463) leaves to * Elizabet Drury, 
my wyf, a ryng of gold with an ymage of the Trinitie.' To 
Dame Margarete Spurdaunce ' a doubyl ryng departyed of 
gold, with a ruby and a turkeys, with a scripture wrety with 
jnne, for a rememberaunce of oold love vertuously set at all 
times to the pleseer of God.' To his nephew, Thomas 
Drury, ' my best ryng of gold next my signet, therein is 
wretyn Grace 7ne governe, with letteris of i and B, accordyng 
to my name innamelid.' To his niece Katerine, ' for a 
tookne of rememberaunce, a gold ryng, wretyn with jnne 
the gold ryng, In note Ihhi signo me signo tab.' To William 
Clopton, 'the jemews and the rynges of sylvir, therin 
wretyn Grace me gov erne, for a tookne he vowchesaf in tyme 
comyng to shewe his good maistershepe to my wil' To 
' Thomais Brews, esquiyer, my crampe ryng, with blak in- 
namel and a part sylvir and gilt' 

Anne of Cleves, who survived Henry VIII., left by her 
will several mourning-rings of various values for distribution 
among her friends and dependents. 

In the 'Wills from Doctors' Commons, 1495 to 1695' 
(Camden Society), Cecily, Duchess of York (1495), gives to 
John Metcalfe and Alice his wife ' all the ringes that I have, 
except such as hang by my bedes and Agnus, and also 
except my signet' 

Anne Barett (1504) bequeaths to Our Lady of Walsing- 
ham ' my maryeng ryng, with all thyngys hangyng theron.' 

Agnes Hals (1554) leaves to her son 'a rynge with 
the Passion of gold,' and to her niece ' my ringe with the 
wepinge eie ; ' to another son ' my rynge with the dead 
manes head.' 


Jasper Despotin, M.D. (1648), wills and appoints 'ten 
rings of gold to be made of the value of twenty shillings a 
peece sterling, with a death's head vpon some of them, 
within one moneth after my depture, and to be disposed of 
amongst my friends as my executiices shall thinke meet.' 
To Mr. Gibbon, * fortie shillings sterling to buy him a ring 
for a memoriall of me.' 

Lady Anne Drury (162 1) bequeaths ' tenne pounds a 
peece to all my brothers to buy them ringes, and twentie 
pounds to be bestowed in ringes of tenne shillinges amongest 
my freinds whom they shall thinke fitte.' 

Edmund Lee (1535) mentions in his will 'my ij wrethed 
rynge of gold, whych I ware on my thombe ; ' also ' my 
gold ryng wt a turkes, and a crampe ryng of gold wt all.' 

Dame Maude Parr (1529), amongst other bequests of 
rings, mentions one ' with a table diamontt sett with blacke 
aniell, meate for my little finger.' 

Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester (1557), be- 
queaths, ' to my Lord Legate's Grace (Cardinal Pole) a ring 
■with a dyamounte, not so bigge as he is wourthie to have, 
but such as his poore orator is able to geve.' 

Speaker Lenthall (1682) appoints his executor* to give 
my friends Sir John Lenthall, his lady and hildren, and 
other my cozens and nephews, 50 gold rings with this 
motto, " Oritur non Moritur." ' In a codicil he adds : * I also 
desire that my son will weare his mother's wedding-ring 
about his arme in remembrance of her.' 

William Prynne (1699) bequeaths 'to my deare brother, 
Mr. Thomas Prynne, my best gold ring with my father's 
armes.' To Katheryne Gierke, 'my best Serjeant's ring.' 
To her husband, * one of my gold rings. Item. I give to 
every one of their sonnes and daughters who shal be living 


at the tyme of my decease one gold ring, and one hundred 
pounds a peece.' 

In the will of Sir Richard Gresham (died 1548), father of 
the founder of the Exchange, he bequeathed a ring to the 
Protector, Duke of Somerset, and another to the profligate 
Duchess of Somerset, each of the value of five pounds, and 
he also left rings to all his friends. 

John Meres, an ' Esquire Beadle ' of Corpus Christi 
College, left, in 1558, to the Vice-Chancellor of the College 
a ring weighing a royal (valued at ten shillings) : to Dr. 
Hutcher, a ring worth fifteen shillings, and a gold ring set 
with a cornelian to each of the * supervisors.' Meres had a 
patent for being ganger in 1550. 

Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, gave by 
will (1575) a gold ring with a round sapphire to Edmund 
Grindal, Archbishop of York, who succeeded him in the see 
of Canterbury. 

In Collins's ' Baronage ' is the curious will of Thomas 
Sackville, Earl of Dorset (Lord High Treasurer in the 
times of Elizabeth and James I.), in which several rings are 
mentioned (see chapter on ' Token-Rings '). Amongst others 
' a ring of gold enamelled black, wherein is set a great table 
diamonde, beying perfect and pure, and of much worth.' 
This ring, with other jewels, was given to him by the King 
of Spain. During the minority of his descendants, these 
were to be consigned, as heirlooms, ' in a strong chest of 
iron, under two several keys,' to the custody of the Warden, 
and a senior fellow of New College, Oxford. 

Sir Philip Sidney (1586) desires that 'three gold rings, 
set with large diamonds, might be fashioned exactly alike, 
for his aunt, the Countess of Sussex ; another aunt's hus- 
band, the Earl of Huntingdon ; and his brother-in-law, the 
Earl of Pembroke.' 


Thomas Wentworth, one of the chiefs of that great 
house, who died in 1587, bequeathed to his son and heir, 
WilHam, besides other valuables, his gold ring, ' whereon is 
engraved his crest, badge, and cognizance.' 

Among the Rokeby family papers, in the will of Sir 
Ralph Rokeby (1600), is the bequest of several rings, 
' gratuities to kynsfolkes.' 

Thomas Sutton, founder of the Charter House, be- 
queaths (in 161 1) ten pounds to Mr. Thomas Brown, 'to 
make him a ring.' 

Our great national dramatist, Shakspeare, in his will 
(dated 16 16) mentions certain moneys for the purchase of 
rings by several of his friends. Five are mentioned : two 
are his townsmen, Hamlet {Hamiiet) Sadler, and William 
Reynolds, who have each twenty-six shillings and eightpence 
left them ' to buy them ringes,' the other three being the 
actors (* my fellows,' as he affectionately terms them), John 
Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, each of 
whom has a similar sum. 

In the testament of Richard Burgess, vicar of Witney 
(1632), he gives to his eldest son, John, the ring which he 
usually wore on his left hand, and also * twenty shillings 
to each of the two overseers of his last will, to purchase 

Sir Henry Wotton, in 1637, leaves to each of the Fellows 
at Eton College 'a plain gold ring, enamelled black, all 
save the verge, with this motto within, "Amor unit omnia." ' 

In a will, dated 1648, occurs this clause : * I do will 
and appoint ten rings of gold to be made, of the value of 
twenty shillings a piece, sterling, with a death's-head upon 
some of them.' 

The stock of rings described in the Duke of Newcastle's 


play, 'The Varietie' (1649), ^s the treasure of an old 
country lady, is suggestive of past legacies or memorials as 
well as the tastes of the yeomanry at that period : ' A toad- 
stone, two Turkies (turquoises), six thumb-rings, three al- 
derman's seals, five gemmals, and foure death's-head/ The 
enumeration concludes with the uncom- 
plimentary observation, * these are ale- 
house ornaments ' (Fairholt). 

There are numerous varieties of 
mourning rings left by bequest in former 
times. The accompanying illustration re- 
oid Mourning ring, pj-gsents ouc that would appeal to the feel- 
ings of the survivors in the simple and affecting inscription 
which it bears : '■ When this you see, remember me.' The 
ring is of silver, jet, and gold. 

Miss Agnes Strickland, in her * Lives of the Four Prin- 
cesses of the Royal House of Stuart,' mentions a circum- 
stance in the Hfe of the Princess Henrietta Anne (1670), 
that, ' as Bossuet was kneeling by her bedside, she suddenly 
turned to one of her ladies and spoke to her in English, 
which the Bishop did not understand, to tell her that when 
she should have entered into her rest, she was to give Bossuet 
the emerald ring which had been ordered to be made for 
him as a memorial of her.' 

Izaak Walton added a codicil to his will (1683) for the 
distribution of memorial rings to several of his relations and 
friends, with the motto, 'A friend's farewell. I. W., obiit;' 
the value of the rings to be thirteen shillings and fourpence 
each. In the will itself he gives to his son-in-law, Dr. 
Hawkins, * whom I love as my own son ; ' to his daughter, 
his wife, and his son Izaak, a ring to each of them, with the 
motto, ' Love my memory. I. W., obiit.' To the Lord 


Bishop of Winchester a ring, with the motto, *A mite 
for a million. I. W., obiit/ 

In a codicil of the last testament of Nell Gwyn (1687) 
she requests that Lady Fairborne may have fifty pounds 
given to her to buy a ring. 

Dr. John Spencer, Master of Corpus Christi College, in 
his will (1693) left twenty shillings to each of the Fellows of 
his college for a funeral ring. 

Queen Elizabeth, eldest daughter to James the First, 
wore to the day of her death a mourning ring, in which was 
a lock of her brother's hair, brought over to Bohemia by a 
aithful servant, with the device of a crown over a skull and 
cross-bones, and the letters 'C. R.' After her death, in 
1662, it was much prized by her descendants, and was long 
I heirloom among them. 

On the eve of the death of Henrietta Anne, the 
daughter of Charles the First, she sent most tender messages 
to her brothers King Charles the Second, and James, Duke 
of York ; and, drawing from her finger a ring, she expressed 
a wish that it might be sent to the former, as a memorial of 
her dying love. 

A remarkable interest is attached to the bequest of a 
ring by Sir Charles Cotterell, master of the ceremonies, who 
died in 1700. The particulars are given in the * Proceed- 
ings of the Society of Antiquaries' (January 30, 1862). *I 
bequeath to my constantly obliging Friend, S"* Stephen Fox, 
.1 ring w**^ a figure cut in an onyx, which was given by 
King Charles y® first, from his Finger to S' Philip Warwick, 
It y® Treaty in the Isle of Wight, to seal letters he there 
.\ritt for him, and wh<=^ S"^ Philip left to me for a Legacy, 
nid w^*^ I cannot leave to anybody that has been a greater 
i lonourer of that Excellent Prince's Memory, nor a Worthier 


Friend to us both, and who for these reasons I know will 
vakie it.' To this has been added, by Sir Stephen Fox, 
* which I leave to my son Stephen and his Heirs, enjoining 
him to keep it in remembrance of the excellent King that 
gave it off his Finger to S^ Philip Warwick, who died in 
August 1684, and his son Philip at New Market a month 
after, and excellent S"^ Charles Cotterell died in the year 
1700, and after this was left to my good son Charles, who 
died in September 17 13. Ste(phen) Fox.' 

At the commencement of the first of these memoranda, 
and (observes Mr. Franks, by whom these particulars were 
given to the Society) at the conclusion of the last are much- 
mutilated impressions from a very small antique gem, 
which, there can be no doubt, is the onyx set in the ring in 
question. The figure is of fine workmanship, and represents 
a partially- draped young man standing in profile to the 
right. It is, possibly, a representation of Mercury, and 
resembles somewhat in attitude the bronze statue found at 
Huis, in the south of France, and known as the Payne 
Knight Mercury. 

Mr. Franks corrects an error of Sir Stephen Fox as to 
the date of the death of Sir Philip Warwick, which took 
place January 15, 1682-3. 

The subsequent history of this remarkable ring is con- 
tained in a short note written on the envelope enclosing the 
above memoranda, by the Earl of Ilchester, son of Sir 
Stephen Fox. ' Memorandum : I am much concerned for 
the loss of the ring which was given by King Charles I. to 
Sir Philip Warwick, as mentioned in the enclosed paper. 
This ring was stolen when my house in Burlington Street 
was broken open by rogues in January 1722.' 

* With these papers ' (remarks Mr. Franks) ' is preserved 


ci long letter giving an account of the burglary, which took 
place during the absence of the family, and was of a very 
ool and daring character. It is sadly to be feared that the 
L;old setting of the ring has found its way to the melting-pot ; 
the onyx, however, may have been preserved, and may, 
j^robably, be hereafter identified by the mutilated impressions 
in the Earl of Ilchester's possession.' 

In the Appendix to Pepys's ' Diary ' is a list of all the 
persons to whom rings and mourning were presented upon 
the occasion of his death (May 26, 1703) and funeral, by 
which it appears that forty-six rings of the value of twenty 
shiUings, sixty-two at fifteen shillings, and twenty at ten 
shillings were distributed among friends on that occasion. 

In a codicil to the will of Bishop Burnet (died 1715) a 
long list of legacies occurs to his children ; some of these 
were afterwards erased, and amongst them the bequest of 
' my pointed diamond ' to Gilbert, his second son. The 
ring was given to the late Sir John Sewell of Doctors' 
Commons, by a descendant from Bishop Burnet. This 
ring is in the possession of Mr. C. Desborough, Bedford. 
In the collection of the Duke of Richmond is a memorial 
ring, gold, set with diamond, hoop enamelled in white, and 
inscribed * E. S. Dux Buckingensis,' divided by a ducal 
( oronet on a black ground. English work of the middle of 
le seventeenth century. Made in memory of Edmund 
-lieffield, second Duke of Buckingham, who died a minor 

' 1735- 
That great man, George Washington, in his will, thus 
Lcqueaths *to my sisters-in-law Hannah Washington and 
Mildred Washington, to my friends Eleanor Stuart, Han- 
nah Washington, of Fairfield, and Elizabeth Washington, of 
Hayfield, I give each a mourning-ring of the value of one 


hundred dollars. These bequests are not made for the 
intrinsic value of them, but as mementos of my esteem 
and regard.' 

In a few loving words addressed by a Lady Palmerston, 
when dying, to her husband, after mentioning the wealth at 
her disposal, which she gave to him, she mentions two 
chocolate-cups formed of mourning-rings, which were used 
daily by Lady Palmerston in memory of departed friends ; 
these she wished her husband to look upon as a remem- 
brance of death, and also of the fondest and most faithful 
friend he ever had. 

A very long list might be added of bequests of rings by 
distinguished persons, but I must be content to notice how 
the practice has been continued at intervals to the present 
time. A notable item occurs in the will of Charlotte 
Augusta Matilda, eldest daughter of George IIL, and 
Queen of Wurtemberg, in which she bequeaths to the 
Princess Augusta, among other costly objects, a ring con- 
taining a watch, set with brilliants. 

Rings were formerly given to attendants at funerals ; an 
extract from the books of the Ironmongers' Company, dated 
1 7 19, states : 'The master acquainted the court that one 
John Turney, an undertaker for funerals, had lately buried 
one Mrs. Mason for the Hall, but had refused the master, 
wardens, and clerk each a ring, &c., according to his agree- 
ment, the persons invited being served with gloves, hat-bands, 
and rings. Ordered : the said undertaker be compelled 
to perform his agreement as the master and wardens shall 
direct.' The practice of offering rings at funerals is intro- 
duced as an incident in ' Sir Amadace.' 

In former days widows wore their ring on the thumb as 
an emblem of widowhood, and the following 'trick' in 


connection with it is mentioned in the ' Spectator : ' — ' It is 
common enough for a stale virgin to set up a shop in a 
place where the large thumb-ring, supposed to be given her 
by her husband, quickly recommends her to some wealthy 
neighbour, who takes a liking to the jolly widow that would 
have overlooked the veritable spinster.' 

Among the most touching episodes in connection with 
memorial rings is that exhibited in the closing hours of the 
unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, at Fotheringay Castle, 
just previous to her execution. She distributed the jewels 
that remained to her among her faithful attendants as tokens 
of her affection and regard. Among other sad memorials, 
she desired that a sapphire ring, which she took from her 
finger, might be conveyed as a mark of grateful acknowledg- 
ment to her brave kinsman Lord Claude Hamilton. 
Concerning this ring, Bishop Burnet says, ' it is carefully 
preserved as one of the most precious heirlooms of that 
illustrious family.' Miss Strickland informs us that it is 
now in the possession of Lord Claude's accomplished repre- 
sentative, the present Duke of. Hamilton, * by whom it was 
courteously shown to me at Hamilton Palace in 1857. It 
is a large square sapj^hire of peculiar beauty, rose-cut in 
several diamond-points, and set in gold enamelled blue in 
the curious cinque-cento work of that period.' 

In the * Times' (January 2, 1857) is an account of 
another memorial ring of the last sad hours of Queen Mary 
It Fotheringay. The letter is signed ' A Constant Reader.' 
There is a lady residing at Broadstairs who is in possession 
of the identical ring which was worn by Mary, previous to 
her execution, and given by her to one of her maids of 
honour as a token of remembrance, and who was afterwards 
so reduced as to be compelled to sell it for the value of the 


gold. The engraving is on amber, the usual material for 
such purposes at that period, and, as you may see from the 
enclosed impression, is much worn by time. It is supposed 
that the seal in the late Earl of Buchan's collection was 
copied from it. This valuable antique was purchased many 
years ago by a member of the present possessor's family, at 
the sale of the celebrated antiquary John M 'Go wan, of 
Edinburgh, who considered it a most valuable gem.' 

A ring memorial was sent by the Countess of Hertford 
(the great granddaughter of Henry VII., and one of the 
victims of Queen Elizabeth's jealousy) on her dying bed by 
the hands of Sir Owen Hopton, of Cockfield Hall, Suffolk : 
' This shall be the last token unto my lord that ever I shall 
send him. It is the picture of myself.' The ring bore a 
death's head with an inscription around it : ' while I live — 

The Londesborough Collection contains two memorial 
rings of King Charles I., one of gold, with a table-faced 
diamond, and two smaller diamonds on each side. On the 

Memorial rings, Charles I. 

sjiank is engraved an elongated skeleton, with cross-bones 
above the skull, and a spade and pickaxe at the feet upon 
black enamel. Within is engraved ' C. R., January 30, 
1649, Martyr.' 




Memorial ring, 
Charles I. 

The other ring is also of gold, with a square table-faced 

diamond on an oval face, which opens and reveals beneath 
portrait of Charles in enamel. The face of the ring, the 
ick and side portions of the shank are 
:igraved with scroll- work, filled in with 

black enamel. 

In the fifteenth day's sale (May 11, 

1S42) at Strawberry Hill (lot 59), 'a 

truly interesting relic,' as the ring was 

termed, is recorded to have been bought 

])y Mr. Harvey, of Regent Street, for 
fteen guineas. In Horace Walpole's 
italogue it is described as one of the 
dy seven mourning-rings given at the burial of Charles I. 

It has the King's head in miniature behind a death's-head 

i etween the letters * C. R.' The motto is ' Prepared be to 
How me.' A present to Horace Walpole from Lady 

Murray Elliott. 

' A long and minute account of a ring,' remarks the late 

Crofton Croker, ' with a miniature of Charles I., appeared 
1 the "Gentleman's Magazine" for July 1823. It was 

men in the possession of the late Captain I. Toup Nicholas, 

R.N., and he inherited it from the Giffard family. This 
\\g had four diamonds on the top, on lifting up which, a 
L-ad of King Charles, enamelled on a turquoise, presented 
^elf. The size of the painting does not exceed the fourth 
irt of an ifich ; the execution is particularly fine, and the 
:eness excessively faithful. The small part of his Majesty's 
ress which is visible, appears similar to that in which he is 
.ually represented ; and a piece of the ribbon to which the 
( jcorge " is suspended is discernible ; on closing the lid 
le portrait becomes perfectly hid. Although miniatures of 


Charles I. are not uncommon, this is particularly valuable 
from the portrait being concealed, and also from its being 
supposed to be the smallest of him.' 

At page 152 of Hulbert's 'History of Salop' is an 
account of a ring in the possession of the Misses Pigott, of 
Upton Magna, said to be one of the four presented by 
Charles I., prior to his execution. It bears a small but 
beautiful miniature of the royal martyr. Inside the ring 
and reverse of the portrait is inscribed over a death's-head 
'January 30, 1649/ inside of the ring is engraved 'Martyr 

A similar ring to this is in the possession of Mrs. Hender- 
son (formerly Miss Adolphus), of London ; and is said to 
have come to her in the female line, through her mother's 
family. Charles presented it to Sir Lionel Walden on the 
morning in which he lost his life. It bears a miniature 
likeness of the King, set in small brilliants. Inside the ring 
are the words ' Sic transit gloria mundi.' A ring bearing 
the same inscription and a miniature of King Charles is in 
the collection of John Evans, Esq., F.R.S., Vice-President 
of the Antiquarian Society. 

In the family of Rogers, of Lota, a ring is still preserved 
as a heirloom which was presented to an ancestor by King 
Charles I. during his misfortunes. In the will of Robert 
. Rogers, which was registered in the Record-office, Dublin, 
occurs the following paragraph : ' And I also bequeath to 
Noblett Rogers the miniature portrait-ring of the martyr 
Charles I., given by that monarch to my ancestor, previous 
to his execution, and I particularly desire that it may be 
preserved in the name and family.' The miniature, which 
is beautifully painted in enamel, and said to be by Vandyck, 
has been re-set in a very tasteful and appropriate style : the 


original settings and inscriptions exactly correspond with 

those on the ring in the possession of the Misses Pigott, as 

reviously mentioned. The correspondent of * Notes and 

Queries/ from whom I have derived this information, adds : 

' I have lately seen a ring with a portrait of Charles on ivory 

in a coarse and very inferior style, and in a plain gold 

netting. It is in the possession of a gentleman, in whose 

imily it has remained for several generations/ 

Another memorial ring of Charles I. is described in the 
'Gentleman's Magazine' (September 1823) as having be- 
longed to a lady named Heanaud, who died at Chelsea in 
1809. 'The ring itself was of pure gold, and without 
jewellery or ornament of any kind. On the top of it was 
an oval of white enamel, not more than half an inch in 
longitudinal diameter, and apparently about an eighth of an 
inch in thickness. The surface was slightly con vexed, and 
( livided into four compartments, in each of which was painted 
ne of the four cardinal virtues, which, although so minute 
- to be scarcely perceptible to the clearest sight, by the 
;)plication of a glass appeared perfectly distinct, each figure 
i)eing well proportioned, and having its appropriate attitude. 
■•V touching a secret spring the case opened and exposed to 
cw a very beautifully- painted miniature of the unfortunate 
harles, with the pointed beard, mustachios, etc., as he is 
usually portrayed, and, from its resemblance to the portraits 
generally seen of the monarch, having every appearance of 
being a strong' likeness. Within the lid of this little box 
(for box, in fact, it was) were enamelled, on a dark ground, 
a skull and cross-bones.' 

Mr. Howe, master-gunner at the castle of Carisbrooke, 
had a little son, who was a great favourite of the unfor- 
tunate Charles. One day, seeing him with a sword at his 

B B 


side, the King asked him what he intended doing with it. 
*To defend your Majesty from your Majesty's enemies,' was 
the reply, which so pleased the King that he gave the child 
the signet-ring he was wearing. It has descended to Mr. 
Wallace, of Southsea, a kinsman of Mr. Cooke, of Newport, 
who belonged to the Howe family. 

In Lockhart's * Life of Scott ' it is stated that Sir Henry 
Halford gave Sir Walter Scott 
a lock of the hair of Charles 
I., when the royal martyr's 
remains were discovered at 
Windsor, April 1813. Sir 
Royalist memorial ring. j^j^^ Malcolm gavc him some 

Indian coins to supply virgin gold for the setting of this 
relic, and, for some years, Sir Walter constantly wore this 
ring, which had the word ' Remember ' embossed upon it. 

Miss Gerard is in possession of a memorial gold ring 
which is stated to have been given to Bishop Juxon by 
Charles I., on the scaffold, since which period it has been 
preserved as an heirloom in the family of the present owner. 
The ring appears to resemble those of the period of 
Henry Vlfl. It is described and 
engraved in the * Gentleman's Maga- 
zine ' for October 1797. The bezel 
is hexagonal, with death's-head in 
white enamel on black ground, sur- 
rounded by the legend ' behold . 

Memorial ring of Charles I. „, „ „„ , j .v j • ^i 

* THE . ENDE ; round the edge is the 

motto ' RATHER . DEATH . THEN . FALS . FAITH.' At the 

back the initials ' m ' and ' l ' tied with a mourning ribbon. 

This interesting ' memorial ' was exhibited at the Loan 
Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery at the South 
Kensington Museum in 1872. 


In the Braybrooke Collection is one of the Royalist 
mourning-rings, of gold, with slight hoop beautifully inlaid 
with black enamel, the top surmounted by an oval box 
three quarters of an inch long, the sides of which are orna- 
mented with perpendicular ovals of black and white enamel 
alternately. The inside or under part of the box is inlaid 
with fifteen longer ovals in a similar manner, round a black 
( entre, in imitation of a sun-flower. The box contains a 
lirge and beautifully-painted portrait of Charles I. on blue 
iiiamel ground, over a surface as large as half an acorn. 
The base of this is bound by a narrow band of plain gold. 
Lord Braybrooke described this ring as one of the most 
beautiful he had seen, and, besides the superiority of the 
^^ orkmanship, the likeness is well preserved. 

In the same collection is a Royalist gold mourning-ring 
with black enamel inlaid upon the shoulders of the hoop 
and also upon the circular box on the top, which contains a 
sort of love-knot, or possibly intended for the royal cipher, 
below a cut crystal setting. 

After the execution of Dr. John Hewett, chaplain to 
Charles I., and the object of Cromwell's vindictive cruelty, 
a mourning-ring inscribed ' Herodes necuit Johannem,' was 
worn by the Royalists. 

The mourning-ring for King Charles II. bore the inscrip- 
tion * Chs. Rex. Remem. — obiit — ber. : 6th Feb. 1685.' 

In the Waterton Collection at the South Kensington 
Museum is a memorial gold ring, with oval bezel set with 
crystal, beneath which is a crown with the initials * C. R. K. B.' 
in gold, over hair (Charles II. and Catharine of Braganza). 
English. Date about 1685. Diameter, nine-tenths of an inch. 

Devices illustrative of death have frequently formed the 
subjects of mourning-rings. Among some antiquities found 

BB 2 


in Sussex, and exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries in 
March 1866, was the fragment of a mourning-ring set with 
a coffin-shaped crystal, on which was delicately engraved a 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a gold ring of about the 
end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century, 
with a hexagonal tablet, which is inlaid with a white stone 
engraved with a death's-head ; round it on the gold are 
engraved the words * Dye to Live.' ' 

In the same collection is a 'memento mori' ring, of 
bronze, Avith a tablet on the hoop, half an inch square, and 
edges serrated ; a death's-head is engraved upon it with the 
above inscription. Rings with the same device and words 
are alluded to by Beaumont and Fletcher in the 'Chances :'• 

I'll keep it as they keep death's-heads in rings. 
To cry ' memento ' to me. 

Rings engraved with skulls and skeletons were not, 
however, necessarily mourning-rings, but were worn also by 
persons who affected gravity. Luther wore a gold ring with 
a small death's-head in enamel, which is now preserved in 
Dresden (see ' Remarkable Rings '). Biron, in * Love's 
Labour's Lost,' refers to ' a death's face in a ring.' 

Mr. Fairholt describes a ring on which two figures of 

' * The skull and skeleton decorations for rings ' (remarks Mr. 
Fairholt) ' first came into favour and fashion at the obsequious court of 
Fx-ance, when Diana, of Poictiers, became the mistress of Henry the 
Second. At that time she was a widow, and in mourning, so black 
and white became fashionable colours ; jewels were formed like funeral 
memorials ; golden ornaments, shaped like coffins, holding enamelled 
skeletons, hung from the neck ; watches, made to fit in little silver 
skulls, were attached to the waists of the denizens of a court that alter- 
nately indulged in profanity or piety, but who mourned show. ' 


keletons surround the finger and support a small sarco- 
hagus. The ring is of gold, enamelled, the skeletons 

being made still more hideous by a covering of white enamel. 
I'he lid of the sarcophagus is also enamelled, with a Maltese 
ross in red on a black ground studded with gilt hearts. 
This lid is made to slide off and display a very minute 
keleton lying within (Londesborough Collection). 

In the 'Recueil des Ouvrages d'Orfevrerie,' by Gilles 

I'Egare, published in the early part of the reign of Louis 

XIV., is an unusually good design for a mourning-ring with 
kull decorations. 

In the Londesborough Collection is a fine specimen of 

J mourning-ring of the early part of the last century. 

Memorial and mortuary rings. 

In digging a grave in or near Ripon some years ago a 
sexton discovered an ancient signet-ring, on which was en- 
graved a dormouse coiled up in sleep, with an inscription 
around it, in black-letter characters, * Wake me no man.' A 
similar ring is said to have been turned up in a churchyard 
near Scarborough. 

At a meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute in 
April 1875, Mr. Fortnum, F.S.A., exhibited a mourning-ring 
of Queen Anne, the bezel of which is formed as a coffin, 


containing a mat of the Queen's hair, over which are the 
crowned initials A. R., and a death's-head and cross-bones 
beneath a piece of crystal. The hoop is enamelled black, 
with the inscription 'Anna . Regina . pia . felix,' in letters 
of gold; inside is engraved, 'Nat. 5 Feb. 1664. Inaug. 
8 March 1702. Obt. i August 17 14.' 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a small and delicate 
lady's gold mourning-ring, in memory of Queen Mary, wife 
of William III. The hoop, which is very slight, is inlaid 
upon the shoulders with black enamel and surmounted by a 
square box for setting, ornamented with perpendicular lines 
of the same down the sides. The box contains a tress of 
the deceased Queen's hair, plaited, with ' M. R.' and a crown 
in small gold ciphers laid over it. A crystal, cut into facets, 
encloses them. The under side of the box has a death's- 
head and cross-bones inlaid in black enamel. 

In the same collection is a gold mourning-ring, inscribed, 
in letters of gold on black enamel, ' Gulielmus III. Rex., 
1702.' After the ' Rex. ' is a death's-head of gold. It is a 
slight gold hoop with a silver frame on the summit, set round 
with six small pearls, and made to imitate a buckle with a 
gold tongue across it, so that the band of it, visible below, 
resembles the garter. 

In the collection of the late Lady Fellows was an ivory 
patch-box, with figure-subject carved in relief, formerly 
belonging to the unfortunate Queen Marie Antoinette, and 
containing a small gold ring, given by her to one of her 

Pope bequeathed sums of five pounds to friends, who 
were to lay them out in rings ; and Gray, the poet, in his 
will, gives an amount of stock to Richard Stonehewer, 
adding : ' And I beg his acceptance of one of my diamond 


rings.' The same bequest is given to Dr. Thomas Warton 

r a diamond ring and five hundred pounds. To his cousms 
he leaves his watches, rings, etc. 

A touching instance of ' memorial ' rings occurs in late 
times. The Princess Amelia, before her death, in 1810, had 
the sad satisfaction of placing on the finger of her royal 
father, George III., a ring made by her own directions for 

he express purpose, containing a small lock of her hair en- 
closed under a crystal tablet, set round with a few sparks of 
diamonds. This memorial of affection, given almost on her 

ieath-bed, hastened the attack of the mental disorder from 
which the King had suffered so much about twenty years 
hefore. The circumstances attending this gift were very 

ffecting ; she held the ring in her hand at the time of her 
father's accustomed visit, and, while placing it on his finger, 
said, 'Take this in remembrance of me.' 

This affecting incident was commemorated by Dr. 
Wolcot in some elegant lines, very different to his usual 
compositions : — 

With all the virtues blest, and every grace 
To charm the world and dignify the race, 
Life's taper losing fast its feeble fire, 
The fair Amelia thus bespoke her sire : 
* Faint on the bed of sickness lying, 
My spirit from its mansion flying. 
Not long the light these languid eyes will see, 

My friend, my father, and my king, 
Receive the token and remember me ! ' 

Lord Eldon wore a mourning-ring in memory of his 
wife, and desired in his will that it might be buried with 

A very interesting memorial ring in connection with the 
death of Nelson is mentioned in a communication to ' Notes 


and Queries ' (vol. vii. ist series, p. 305). Mr. Nicholls, of 
Pelsall, Staffordshire, writes : ' I am in possession of a ring 
whicli in place of a stone has a metal basso-relievo repre- 
sentation of Nelson (half-bust). The inscription inside the 
ring is as follows : " A gift to T. Moon from G. L. Stopple- 
berg, 18 1 5." The late Mr. Thomas Moon was an eminent 
merchant of Leeds, and the writer has always understood 
that the ring referred to, is one of three or half a dozen 
which were made subsequently to Nelson's death. The 
metal (blackish in appearance) forming the basso-relievo, set 
in them, being in reality portions of the ball which gave the 
late lamented and immortal admiral his fatal wound at 

Another memorial ring of the greatest of our naval com- 
manders is described in ' Notes and Queries ' (4th series, 
vol. X. p. 292) as belonging to a lady whose husband's 
father's aunt married Earl Nelson (a clergyman), and whose 
husband inherited the ring. ' It is of gold ; on the bezel, a 
broad oblong with rounded corners, is a black enamelled 
field, surrounded by a white border. In coloured enamel 
on the field appear two coronets, one that of a viscount, with 
the velvet cap, but showing, however, only seven pearls, the 
letter " N," in Old EngHsh character, appearing underneath. 
The second coronet is a British ducal one, without the cap, 
and has under it the letter " B " in old English. Beneath the 
above runs in Roman capitals the word " Trafalgar." Round 
the broad hoop of the ring is incised, in Roman capitals, 
" Palmam qui meruit ferat," the hero's motto, and inside the 
bezel, in English cursive characters, " Lost to his country 2 1 
Oct. 1805. Aged 47."' 

Of course, the coronets and letters ' N ' and ' B ' refer to 
the titles Nelson and Bronte, but the heraldic insignia were 


evidently not executed by an adept. The case in which 

ihis ring is lodged appears to be the original one, and has 

on a printed oval label 'Sa' (the rest wanting, probably 

•ms'), *Jew' (rest, of course, *eller'), 'Silversmith, and 

udeer, 35, Strand.' 

On the subject of Nelson memorial rings, the Rev. Dr. 

i latty, in 'Notes and Queries' (4th series, vol. x. p. 356), 

ys : ' I do not think these rings can be very uncommon, 

ciiid I have no doubt that Sir Thomas Hardy and other 

officers serving under Lord Nelson received one. My wife, 

who is a daughter of the Rev. A. J. Scott, D.D., Nelson's 

laplain and foreign secretary on the "Victory," has one in possession, which was sent to her father, and to whom 

l.ord Nelson left a legacy of 200/. Our friend Mrs. Mire- 

ouse, a daughter of the late Bishop Fisher of Salisbury, has 

I so a similar ring. We have always thought they were 

iven, after the old fashion of "mourning" rings. The 

pattern is certainly handsome and tasteful.' 

Mr. H. S. Williams, F.R.H.S., writing to the editor of 
'Notes and Queries' (4th series, vol. x. p. 441), remarks 
that rings (with the Viscount's coronet with * N ' beneath it 
for the title Viscount Nelson, the ducal coronet, that of 
Sicily, for the Bronte estate and dukedom) of this description 
were made in 1806 by Lord Nelson's private friend Salter, 
jeweller in the Strand, and by the order of Dr. William 
Nelson, who was then Earl Nelson. There were fully a 
hundred of these rings originally made, as every admiral and 
post captain, then living, who was present at the Battle of 
Trafalgar had one, as well as every member of the Nelson, 
Bolton, and Matcham families. 

The custom of decorating the dead with their jewellery 
(including rings) has been traced in a remarkable manner 


to the earliest periods of the world's history. In Genesis 
xli. 56, 57, we read : ' The famine was over all the face of 
the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold 
unto all the Egyptians ; and the famine waxed sore in the 
land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt for 
to buy corn, because that the famine was so sore in all 

But Joseph could not empty the storehouses of Egypt 
to satisfy the cravings of all lands, nor sell away the bread 
of Egypt at any price when money became less precious 
than bread. 

Such was the state of things when an Arabian princess 
in Yemen wrote, or when in her name were written, to be 
inscribed on her sepulchre, some impressive lines. Ebn 
Hesham relates that a flood of rain had laid bare a sepul- 
chre in Yemen, in which lay a woman hav^ing on her neck 
seven collars of pearls, and on her hands and feet bracelets 
and armlets, and ankle-rings, seven on each, and on every 
fiiiger a ring in which was set a jewel of great price, and at 
her head a coffer filled with treasure, and a tablet with an 
inscription thus translated by Mr. Forster : — 

In thy name, O God, the God of Himyar, 

I, Tajah, the daughter of Dzu Shefar, sent my servant to Joseph, 

And he delaying to return to me, I sent my handmaid, 

With a measure of silver, to bring me back a measure of flour : 

And not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of gold : 

And not being able to procure it, I commanded them to the ground : 

And finding no profit in them, I am shut up here. 

Whosoever may hear of it, let him commiserate me ; 

And should any woman adorn herself with an ornament 

From my ornaments, may she die with no other than my death. 

Inexorable with the Arabian princess, severe with his 
own brethren, proof against the blandishments of Potiphar's 


wife, yet susceptible of every pure and generous affection, 
tills saviour of Egypt was ever consistent with himself.^ 

This BlbHcal monument confirms in a remarkable 
manner the truth of the Old Testament history. 

In opening ancient sepulchral barrows plain or jewelled 

rings have in many instances been found, which, perhaps, a 

V, idowed wife or widower took from their fingers, and flung, 

in the intensity of their grief, into the graves of those they 

mourned. A modern instance of this is given in the 

' rimes' of October 28, 1865, when, at the funeral of Lord 

Pahnerston in Westminster Abbey, the chief mourner, the 

Rev. Mr. Sullivan, as 'a precious offering to the dead,' 

*' rew into the grave several diamond and gold rings. 

nail rings are frequently met with on the breasts of 

immies. At the excavations at Veii and Praeneste, by 

idre Raffaele Garucchi, a great quantity of tiny rings of 

ilow and blue enamel were found, of a similar character to 

liiose mentioned. 

It was customary among the Anglo-Saxons to place 
igs and other ornaments in the grave : an early Anglo- 
\on poem, recounting the adventures of the chieftain 
owulf and his burial, states ' they put into the mound 
igs and bright gems.' 
The custom of burying corpses with a ring on the 
ger continued for ages, as I have remarked in several 
' lapters of this work. Annexed is an illustration, from the 
* Archaeologia ' (vol. ii. p. 32, 1773), of a ring with seventy- 
five table-diamonds, set in gold, found in 1748 in a grave at 
Carne, seven miles west of Mullinghar, in the county of 
Westmeath, Ireland. 

' Biblical Monuments, by William Harris Rule, D.D., and J. 
Corbet Anderson ; 1871, 1873. 


In the antiquarian researches in the Ionian Isles in 
1812 (' Archaeologia,' vol. xxxiii.) some rings were discovered 

Squared-work diamond ring found in Ireland. 

in tombs at Samo and Ithaca. One of these appears to have 
been a silver finger-ring, or signet, bearing on the upper 
part an elliptic piece of glass or crystal, in a state of decom- 
position, turning on the wire that passes through it. 

The other is a gold ring of solid fabric, having for 
device the figure of a female with a bare head ; one arm is 
enveloped in the folds of her dress, while the other hand is 
pouring incense on a slender altar. A zigzag garland 
surrounds the verge of the field. The locality would 
suggest that it may represent Penelope sacrificing to some 
tutelar deity, and invoking it to conduct Ulysses home in 
safety — a conceit which might hold good, even were the 
work decided to be Roman. 

There are some remarkably fine specimens of rings in 
the Royal Danish Museum, which have been discovered in 
Scandinavian graves, and some of which are represented 
in the chapter on ' Rings from the EarHest Period ' (p. 68). 

On the opening of some barrows on the wolds of York- 
shire in 1 815, 1816, and 181 7, among other disinterments 
was the skeleton of a female, and some of her ornaments ; 
amongst others, a ring of red amber, in exterior diameter 
1 1 in., in interior diameter half an inch. Also a small ring 


scarcely one inch in diameter, and a ring of very nearly 
tandard gold, weighing 3 dwts. 21 grs. In front this ring is 
clasped in a kind of rose, or quatrefoil, and it is an orna- 
ment by no means of despicable workmanship. The era of 
this interment is supposed to be prior to a general extension 
)f Christianity in Britain. ^ 

Stukeley (Abury, p. 45) records the finding of a flat gold 
ring in a barrow at Yatesbury. Douglas, in his discoveries 
of a later date (' Nenia Brit' p. 117), says ' rings to the finger 
seldom occur of any ponderous metal, like the Roman ones 
of gold, silver, and bronze.' 

In the museum at Mayence (the Roman Maguntiacum, 
or Mogontiacum), so exceedingly rich in antiquarian 
remains, there are some fine specimens of finger-rings found 
in Franconian graves. The following illustration represents 
a gold ring, set with a coin, which is probably the copy of a 
Roman one : — 

Mortuary ring at Mayence. 

In the second cut the inscription of the reverse, except- 
ng a few letters, is erased in the 
process of fastening the ring to it, 
by tiie melting of the metal. 

A metal ring with inscription 
translated ' In Dei nomine, Amen.' 

A gold finger-ring with a figure 

° ° ° '^ Mortuary nng at Mayence. 

in the centre of the shield ; the 



jEanaEZAZ, ju^ wntrrnATT ^ifrsz. j^ 


found in this tomb proclaim themselves late Roman work, 
probably of the time of Diocletian. 

It is customary in Russia on the death of a sovereign 
to distribute mourning-rings to those connected with the 
imperial court. A writer in ' Notes and Queries ' (4th 
series, vol. iii. p. 322) remarks : ' When I was at St. Peters- 
burg, I saw one of the rings given on the death of the late 
Emperor Nicholas. They were in the form of a serpent, 
enamelled black. Attached to the head and within the 
body of the ring was a narrow band of metal inscribed with 
the name of Nicholas, and the date of his death. This 
band was held within by a spring, in the same way as a 
spring measuring- tape. The serpent's head was mounted 
with two diamonds for eyes. The ring I saw was presented 
to the gentleman in whose possession it then was by reason 
of his official appointment of dentist to the imperial family.' 

In early times it was usual to bury sovereigns with their 
rings. During some repairs at Winchester Cathedral in 
1768 a monument was discovered containing the body of 
King Canute. On his forefinger was a ring containing a 
very fine stone. 

In the ' Archaeologia ' (vol. xlii. part ii. p. 309) is an 
account, by the Rev. J. G. Joyce, B.A., F.S.A., of the open- 
ing and removal of a tomb in Winchester Cathedral in 1868, 
reported to be that of King William Rufus. Gale, in his 
* History of Winchester,' states that the tomb was broken 
open during the civil wars, and amongst other articles found 
was a large gold ring. The body of Rufus, however, had 
been removed out of the tomb in which it had originally 
lain (whether this or another) many years before the civil 
wars broke out. Stow gives this testimony, and an inscrip- 
tion upon a mortuary chest into which the bones of Rufus 


rwere translated (1525), and which inscription was repeated 
a second time (1661). There is reason for doubting whether 
this ring really belonged to King Rufus, and that the tomb 
supposed to be that of the King is that of an ecclesiastical 
dignitary. The Rev. J. G. Joyce adds : ' I have not dwelt 
upon the ring, because, while Milner, after Gale, alleges such 
a ring to have been taken out of the tomb by the rebels, it 
is open to uncertainty whether this be actually the one, and 
if so it was assuredly in company with the chalice (found 
with the ring), and so makes against Rufus, and in favour of 
a more saintly occupant. 

The ring known as that found in this tomb is not of 
gold, but of bronze gilt. It is apparently intended for the 
thumb, very coarsely executed, 
and has a plain square imitation 

Ring found in the tomb of William . Ring discovered at Winchester 
Rufus, Winchester Cathedral. Cathedral. 

jewel, which is a very poor copy of a sapphire. A represen- 
tation of this and another ring from tombs in Winchester 
Cathedral are here given, from Woodward and Wilks' 
' History of Hampshire' (London, 1858-69). 

According to Matthew Paris, Henry II. was arrayed 
after death in his royal vestments, having a golden crown on 
his head and a great ring on the finger. The will of Richard 
II. directs that he should be buried with a ring, according to 
royal custom. The same monarch, as Grafton states, caused 
the dead body of Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, to be 

c c 


arrayed in princely garments, garnished with a chain of 
gold, and rich rings put on his fingers, with his face un- 

As an instance of royal interments with a ring at a late 
period, I may mention that of William Frederic, Duke of 
Gloucester, who married his cousin the Princess Mary, 
daughter of George III. He was buried in his uniform, 
and wore on his finger a ring which had been an early love- 
gift to him from the Princess whom he married. 

In 1562 the Calvinists rifled the tomb of Queen Matilda, 
consort of William the Conqueror, in the church of the 

Holy Trinity at Caen. One 
of the party observed a gold 
ring with a sapphire on one 
of the Queen's fingers, and, 
taking it off, presented it to the 
Abbess of Montmorenci. 

The same custom of 
monarchs being buried with 
ing o 1 eric. their rings prevailed in France 

during the early and middle.ages. The gold ring of Chil- 
deric I., formerly in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris, 
was found in the King's tomb at Tournay. It bore the 
inscription ' Childirici regis.' ^ 

' This great founder of the Merovingian dynasty, the father of 
Clovis, died in 482, and was buried with his treasures, weapons, and 
robes. Nearly twelve hundred years afterwards, a labourer, a poor 
deaf and dumb man, accidentally discovered the royal grave, and was 
astonished, and almost terrified, at the sight of the treasures it contained. 
Among them was the signet -ring alluded to, which, with a considerable 
number of the other treasures of the tomb, were deposited in the Biblio- 
theque, then ' Royale, ' at Paris, which was broken into by burglars in 
1 83- An alarm being given, in their hasty flight they threw the ob- 
jects into the Seine ; the ring was not recovered. 


' The ring was not set with a gem, but had an oval bezel 
in the gold, engraved with his bust in front face, holding a 
spear as in the type of the contemporary Byzantine aurei. 
He wore the long hair of the Merovingian line. Traces 
remained of the legend ' Childirici Regis.' The intaglio was 
veiy neatly cut, infinitely superior to the execution of the 
Merovingian coin-dies, and, in fact, so much in the style of 
Leo's aurei, that it might reasonably be supposed a present 
sent, with other offerings, from Constantinople ' (the Rev. 
C. W. King, ' Handbook of Engraved Gems '). The en- 
graving is taken from J. J. Chiflet's * Anastasis.' 

In 1793, at the exhumation of the bodies buried at the 
Abbey of St. Denis, rings were found in several of the royal 
tombs. That of Jeanne de Bourbon, consort of Charles V., 
was of gold, with the remains of bracelets and chains. The 
ring of Philippe le Bel was also of gold ; that of Jeanne de 
Bourgoyne, first wife of Philippe de Valois, was of silver, as 
also the ring of Charles le Bel. 

To the ancient custom of interring prelates with their 
rings I have aliuded in the chapter on ' Rings in Connection 
with Ecclesiastical Usages.' 

In 1780 the tomb of the great German Emperor Frederic, 
who died in 1250, was opened, and the body discovered 
arrayed in embroidered robes, booted, spurred, and crowned. 

In the tomb were found, besides the skeletons of his horse and page, 
his arms ; a cornelian Etruscan scarab, doubtless deposited therein as 
an amulet of wondrous virtue ; also a crystal divining-ball, two inches 
in diameter, and more than three hundred little bees^ of the purest 
gold, their wings being inlaid with a red stone like cornelian. 

On the authority of the historian Augustin Thierry, it is stated that 
these ornaments resembling bees were only what in French are called 
fleurons (supposed to have been attached to the harness of his war- 
horse). Montfaucon is of the same opinion. 

c c 2 


A costly emerald ring was on one of the fingers, and the 
ball and sceptre in the hands. 

Some interesting 'memorial' rings were shown at the Loan 
Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery at the South 
Kensington Museum in 1872, the principal of which I have 
already mentioned. One of gold, oval bezel, set round with 
amethysts, had, beneath glass, a representation of a fallen tree, 
and a funeral urn with initials ; the motto, ' Fallen to rise ; ' 
date, 1779; the property of Mr. G. F. Buncombe. Dr. Ashford 
exhibited a memorial gold ring, hasp enamelled on the out- 
side in black, with figure of a skeleton and funereal emblems. 
Date, 1 7 15. Five rings belonging to Mrs. M. E. Vere 
Booth Powell ; one of gold, oval bezel set round with rubies, 
in the centre an urn jewelled with diamonds beneath a 
weeping willow ; dated at back 1779. ^ ^i^^S with a long, 
pointed, oval bezel, with miniature of a female figure seated 
beside an inscribed pedestal, on which is an urn; date, 
1788. Another of a similar form, with miniature of an old 
man holding a skull, seated near a Gothic building ; in- 
scribed, ' Omnia vanitas ; ' 1782. A duplicate of this ring, 
undated. A ring with long eight- sided bezel, gold, with 
dark-blue translucent enamel ; in the centre an urn set with 
diamonds ; dated 1790. A gold ring, bezel set with portrait 
of Charles I. ; the property of the Rev. W. B. Hawkins. A 
massive gold ring, enamelled and set with sapphire, engraved 
inside, ' Napoleon Buonaparte k Joachim Murat,' 1809 ; 
exhibited by Mr. George Bonnor. A gold ring, richly 
chased and enamelled in black, the bezel square, with 
rounded top, which opens, showing within a representation 
of a corpse ; Italian, sixteenth century ; the property of Dr. 
Ashford. A gold ring, in the centre of which is a death's- 
head in enamel, with the legend ' Memento mori ' in 


enamelled black letters ; sixteenth century. Also, a gold 
ring with bezel hollow ; has had upon it a death's-head in 
enamel, inscribed * Remember Death ; ' round the edge of 
the bezel is ' Yeman + + Joyce ; ' early sixteenth century. 
A gold ring, hexagonal bezel with motto ' Death * sy * 
myn * eritag + ' ; sixteenth century. The last three rings 
were exhibited by R. H. Soden Smith, Esq., P'.S.A. Memo- 
rial ring with portrait of Augustus III., son of Augustus the 
Strong, King of Poland and Saxony ; early eighteenth 
century. Another with enamelled skull, set with diamonds, 
probably German of the seventeenth century : also, one of 
the same date, enamelled, with skull and female face. The 
property of C. Drury Fortnum, Esq., F.S.A. 





Within the hoop of the betrothal ring it was customary 
from the middle of the sixteenth to the close of the 


kJOn^KirutiZHT Wil 

nownalTMIi^ iteof^Dotitimrtl 


Motto and device rings. 

eighteenth century to inscribe a motto or ' posy ' (poesie), 
consisting chiefly of a very simple sentiment. 


Shakspeare, in the ' Merchant of Venice ' (act v. scene i), 
makes Gratiano, when asked by Portia the reason of his 
(juarrel with Nerissa, answer : 

About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring, 
That she did give me, whose posy was 
For all the world like cutler's poetry 
Upon a knife, Love me and leave me not. 

Hamlet (act iii. scene 2) says — 

Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring ? 

In '■ As You Like It ' (act iii. scene 2) Jaques remarks : 
' You are full of pretty answers ; have you not been ac- 
quainted with goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of 
rings ? ' 

In Ben Jonson's comedy, 'The Magnetic Lady,' the 
parson, compelled to form a hasty wedding, asks : 
Have you a wedding ring ? 

To which he receives an answer — 

Ay, and a posie : 

Annuh'-s hie nobis, quod sic utergtce, dabit. 

He exclaims : 

Good ! 

This ring will give you what you both desire ; 

I'll make the whole house chant it, and the parish. 

The following illustration repre- 
sents a posy-ring of the simplest form, 
such as would be in use in the early 
part of the seventeenth century. 

Herrick, in his ' Hesperides,' says : Posy-ring. 

What posies for our wedding-rings, 
What gloves we'll give and ribbonings ! 


And in his ' Church Miserie ' : 

Indeed, at first, man was a treasure ; 

A box of jewels, shop of rarities, 

A ring whose posie was 'my pleasure.' 

And in the same work, ' The Posie : ' 

Lesse than the least 

Of all Thy mercies is my posie still : 

This on my ring, 

This, by my picture, in my book I write. 

Some of these posies and inscriptions are very appro- 
priate and tender \ others are quaint and whimsical. Not 
the least curious among the latter is that, well known, of Dr. 
John Thomas, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1753, who had been 
married three times. On his fourth espousals he had the 
following motto inscribed on his wedding-ring : 

If I survive 

I'll make thee five. 

Burke, in his ' Anecdotes of the Aristocracy,' states that 
Lady Cathcart, on marrying her fourth husband, Hugh 
Macguire, had inscribed on her wedding-ring : 

If I survive 

I will have five. 

In far better taste than these was the motto on the ring 
presented by Bishop Cokes to his wife on the day of their 
marriage. It bore the representations of a hand, a heart, a 
mitre, and a death's-head, with the words : 

These three I give to thee, 
Till the fourth set me free. 

' On the wedding-ring that Dr. George Bull, Bishop of 
St. David's (1703), gave to his wife, was the inscription : 
" Bene parere, parare det mihi Deus " — a prayer she might 



be a prolific mother, an obedient wife, and a good house- 
keeper. The prayer was heard ; she had five sons and six 
daughters, hved in wedlock happily fifty years, and was 
esteemed a model housekeeper ' (Singer). 

Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, died 1439, ^^^ 
three daughters, who all married noblemen. Margaret's 
husband was John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and the 
motto of her wedding ring was, ' Till deithe depart.' Alianour 
married Edmund, Duke of Somerset, and her motto was, 
' Never newe.' Elizabeth married Lord Latimer, and hers 
was, ' Til my live's end.' 

The custom of having posies on rings is thus alluded to 
in the 'Art of English Poesie,' pubhshed in 1589 : 'There 
be also another like epigrams that were sent usually for 
New Year's gifts, or to be printed or put upon banketting 
dishes of sugar-plate or of March paines, etc. ; they were 
called Nenia or Apophoreta, and never contained above 
one verse, or two at the most, but the shorter the better. 
We call them poesies, and do paint them now-a-dayes upon 
the back sides of our fruit -trenchers of wood, or use them as 
devises in ringes and armes.' 

Henry VIII. gave Anne of Cleves a ring with the posy 
' God send me well to kepe ' — a most unpropitious alHance, 
for the King expressed his dislike to her soon after the 
marriage. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries posies 
were generally placed outside the ring. 

In 1624 a collection of posies was printed, with the title, 
' Love's Garland, or Posies for Rings, Handkerchiefs, and 
Gloves, and such pretty Tokens as Lovers send their 
Loves. ' 

At a meeting of the Archaeological Institute, in March 
1863, some curious posy rings were exhibited by the Rev. 


James Beck ; one, of particular interest, dating from the 
early part of the fifteenth century, had been dug up at 
Godstow Priory, Oxfordshire. It is a broad massive hoop 
of gold, of small diameter, suited for a lady's finger. The 
decoration on the hoop consists of three lozenge-shaped 
panels, in which are represented the Trinity, the Blessed 
Virgin with the infant Saviour, and a Saint, nimbed, clad in 
a monastic habit, with the cowl falling upon the shoulders. 
The intervening spaces are chased with foliage and flowers 
of the forget-me-not ; the whole surface was enriched with 
enamel, of which no remains are now visible. Within the 
hoop is delicately engraved in small black-letter character : 

Most in mynd and yn myn herrt 
Lothest from you ferto deparrt. 

Also a plain gold hoop of the sixteenth century, found in 

1862 at Glastonbury Abbey, within which is engraved 

' Devx . corps . vng . ever,' with the initials ' C. M.' united by 

a true-love knot. Several plain gold rings of the seventeenth 

century were also shown, inscribed with the following posies, 

in each case within the hoop : — 

I haue obtain'd whom God ordain'd. 
God unite our hearts aright. 
Knitt in one by Christ alone, 
Wee joyne our loue in god aboue. 
Joyn'd in one by god a lone, 
God above send peace and love. 

At the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modem Jewel- 
lery at the South Kensington Museum in 1872, J. W. 
Singer, Esq.,^ contributed a collection of posy rings, the 
mottos, for the most part, inscribed within the hoop. 

* I am greatly indebted to this gentleman for the loan of a manu- 
script catalogue of ring mottos and inscriptions on wedding-rings, of 


(iold, English of the fifteenth century, inscribed in Gothic letters 
' Gevoudroy.' 

Another of the same date, gold ; on the outside are engraved 
four Maltese crosses ; within, three Gothic letters, appa- 
rently E. 

Gold, English, early sixteenth century, inscribed in large semi- 
Gothic characters, »J«i x x am x x YOURS x x K : S. 

Gold, chased, has been enamelled »I<ESP0IR. EN. DIEU. (Eng- 
lish, late sixteenth century.) 

Gold, massive, '■ my hart and i untill i dt.' (English, late 
sixteenth century. 

Gold, massive, ' I love and ltke my choyse.' (English, early 
seventeenth century.) 

Silver gilt : within, ' i CHUSE NOT TO change.^ (English, seven- 
teenth century.) 

Gold, chased, traces of enamel, ►{•Let. Reson. Rule. (English, 
seventeenth century.) 

Gold, chased, ' Let reason rule affection.' (English, seventeenth 

Gold, chased, traces of black enamel, * A token of good-will.' 
(Enghsh, seventeenth century.) 

Brass, ' Live in Loue.' (English, seventeenth century.) 

Rings with doUble-line posies : 

Gold, * In God aboue and Christ his Sonne, We too are joyned 
both in one.' (English, seventeenth century.) 

Gold, ' Who feares the Lord are blest, wee see ; Such thou and 
I God grant may bee.' (Enghsh, seventeenth century.) 

which— besides those exhibited at the Kensington Museum— I have 
availed myself in the following pages of this chapter. Mr. Singer has, 
I believe, the finest collection of inscribed wedding-rings known, 
numbering two hundred and forty-five specimens of every kind, in gold 
and silver, each weighing from three dwts. and upwards, and none less 
than a hundred years old, some dating from five hundred years. 

Mr. Singer's collection is also enriched with some interesting be- 
trothal rings, and there are fourteen double-line motto-rings which are 
matchless. This collection has been accumulated during the last 
quarter of a century, at a veiy considerable cost. 


Gold, ' As I in thee have made my choyce, So in the Lord let 
vs rejoice.' 1637, w. D. a. (English, seventeenth century.) 

Gold, * As I expect so let me find, A faithfull %/ and constant 
mind.' (English, seventeenth century.) 

Gold, ' I like my choyce, so will . . . . ' the remainder oblite- 
rated. (English, seventeenth century.) 

Gold, chasing worn away, ' Tho' little, accept it,' letters black 
enamelled. (English, early eighteenth century.) 

Gold, chased with representation of skeleton, cross-bones, and 
hour-glass encircling the hoop ; has been enamelled black, 
'You and I will lovers dye.' (English, about 1720.) 

Gold, * Fear the Lord and rest content. So shall we live and not 
repent. B. w. 1730.' (English, eighteenth century.) 

Gold, chased, inscribed within ' T. Rowe, C. obt. 13 May, 171 5, 
aet. 28.' Worn by Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe, the poetess. 

Gold, overlaid with open-work pattern of flowers in coloured 
enamel, ' Rite to requite.' (English, eighteenth century.) 

Silver, two hands holding a heart, ' Love and feare God.' (Eng- 
lish, eighteenth century.) 

Gold, massive, ' Virtus est pretiosa gemma. Auribus frequentius 
quam lingua utere.' Outside, in Gothic letters, ' Voluptate 
capiuntur homines non minus quam hamo pisces.' (Modern 

A double-line gold wedding-ring in the collection of Mr. 
J. W. Singer bears the words : 

Them which God copleth 
Let no man put them asonder. 

This ring is a very early sixteenth-century one, and 
shows that wedding-rings were not, formerly, the plain ones 
of the present day, but were ornamented with fine work. 
Mr. Singer has several rings of this description, ornamented 
in the same way. 

Je sui ici en liu dami (Je suis ici en lieu d'ami). 

No treasure like a treu freind. (Eighteenth century.) 

Not to but on, till life be gon. 

POSY, inscription; and motto rings. 397 

Correct our ways ; Love all our dayes. 

Hearts united live contented. 

No cut to unkindness. 

Conceave consent, confirme content. 

No recompenc but remembrance. 

Vertue only bringeth felicitie. 

[The above nine rings from the Braybrooke Collection.] 

From the Waterton Collection in the South Kensington 
Museum : 

:|:AmourJMerci. (French, fourteenth century.) 

Pensez deU Parkisvici (pensez de lui par que je suis ici). (Eng- 
lish, early fifteenth century.) 

Je. le. de. sir. (EngHsh, late fifteenth century.) 

For tous jours. (English, fifteenth century.) 

Nul sans peyn; inside, Sans mal desyr. (EngHsh, early six- 
teenth century.) 

+ My worldely joye alle my trust + hert, thought, lyfe, and lust. 
(English, early sixteenth century.) 

A plain gold hoop ring, inscribed within with a heart pierced 
with an arrow, and the word ' Eygen,' a star, and the word 
* Uwer.' (Dutch or German, sixteenth century.) 

Devx. corps, vng. ever. (English, sixteenth century.) 

C'est mon plaisir. (English, sixteenth century.) 

+ Quant, dieu. plera. melior. sera. (English, sixteenth century.) 

Pour bien. (English, sixteenth century.) 

My wille were. (English, sixteenth century.) 

Time. deum. me. ama. qd . (English, sixteenth century.) 

+ Observe Wedloke ; inside^ Memento mori. (English, six- 
teenth century.) 

Loyalte na peur. (French, seventeenth century.) 

Let liking last. (English, seventeenth century.) 


This sparke will grow (set with a diamond). (English, seven- 
teenth century.) 

Accept this gift of honest love, which never could nor can re- 
move. I. Hath tide. 2. Mee sure. 3. Whilst life. 4. Doth 
last. (English, seventeenth century.) 

+ MB. Remember + the (a heart) + that + is + in + payne. 
(English, seventeenth century.) 

Time lesseneth not my love. (English, seventeenth century.) 

In constancie I live and dye. (English, seventeenth century.) 

Love the truth. (English, seventeenth century.) 

My promise past shall always last. (English, eighteenth cen- 

You have me hart. (Lady's betrothal ring. English, eighteenth 

Love ever. (English, seventeenth century.) 

Love true, 'tis joy. (English, early seventeenth century.) 

Love me. (English, eighteenth century.) 

Keepe . fayth . till . deth. 

I fancy noe butt thee alone. 

+ Not this but mee ; 

* yf . this . then me. 

Wheare grace is found 

Love doth abound. 

My soul will keep thine company to heaven. 

Mr. Singer informs me that his early pre-Reformation 
wedding-rings have the motto prefaced with a cross, and, as 
this died out, the remains of a cross, in a kind of rude star^ 
sometimes carried on between each word. 

Mr. Singer has one bronze wedding-ring with a motto, 
found in Wiltshire, but numerous silver ones. 

Ma vie et mon amour 
Finiront en un jour. 



Dieu nous unisse 
Pour son service. 

Seconde moi pour te rendre heureuse. 

Nos deux coeurs sont unis. 

En ma fid^litd je finirai ma vie. 

Domine dirige nos. 

Let us agree. 

Continue constant. 

My love is true 
To none but you. 

The gift is small, 
But love is all. 

In God and thee 
My joy shall be. 

Let not absence banish love. 

Love in thee is my desire. 

Whear this i giue 
I wish to hue. 

Let vs loue 
Like turtle doue. 

God saw thee 
Most fit for me 

(on the wedding-ring of the wife of John Dunton, the 


God did decree this unitie. 

Where hearts agree, there God will be. 

I have obtained whom God ordained. 

Virtue passeth riches. 

No force can move affixed Love. 

Vnited hartes Death only partes. 

Liue, loue, and be happie. 

The love is true that I O U. 

My love is fixt, I will not range. 
I like my choice too well to change. 


This is the thing I wish to win. 

Well projected if accepted. 

God thought fitt this knott to knitt. 

A loving wife prolongeth life. 

Let virtue be a guide to thee. 

Thy Desart hath won my hearte. 

Death only partes two loving heartes. 

* B * TRVE * IN * HARTE *. 

True loue is lye to man and wye. 
(True love is life to man and wife.) - 

Lett Death leade loue to rest. 

To Bodys on harte. 

Good will is aboue Gould. 

True love is the bond of peace. 

A virtuous wife preserveth life. 

Let our contest bee who loves best. 

No chance prevents the Lord's intents. 

I joy in thee, joy thou in me. 

And this also will pass away. 

Fear God, honour the Prince, 
Lye still Joan, and don't wince. 

If thee dosn't work, thee shasn't eat. 
(From Monmouthshire.) 

From the ' Card of Courtship ; or, The Language of 
Love, fitted to the Humours of all Degrees, Sexes, and 
Conditions,' 1653 : 

Thou art my star, be not irregular. 
Without thy love I backward move. 
Thine eyes so bright are my chief delight. 
This intimates the lover's states. 
My life is done when thou art gone. 
This hath no end, my sweetest friend. 


Our loves be so, no ending know. 

Love and joye can never cloye. 

The pledge I prove of mutuall love. 

I love the rod and thee and God. 1646. 

All I refuse, but thee I chuse. 

Gift and giver, your servants ever. 

Non moechaberis. 

Tuut mon coer. 

Mulier viro subjecta esto. 

Sans departir k nul autre. 

Tout mon cuer avez. 

Lei ami avet. 

Par ce present ami aumer rent. 
(By this gift to love me given.) 

Let Reasqn rule. 

J'aime mon choix. 

A vous k jamais. 

Je suis content. 

L'amour nous unit. ' 

Je suis content, j'ai mon ddsir. 

Je vous aime d'un amour extreme, 

Ce que Dieu conjoint, I'homme ne le separe point. 

Desire hath no rest. 

This and my heart. 

Acceptance is my comfort. 

God us ayde 

(on a curious old ring, chased with the Nortons' motto). 

i ]^ c Naserus rex Judiorum me serere + . 

My giving this begins thy bliss. 

Remember Him who died for thee. 
And after that remember me. 

Let me wish thee full happy be. 

D D 


Tibi soli 
(on Beau Fielding's ring ; teinp. Queen Anne). 

From a Commonplace Book of the seventeenth century 
in Sion College Library : 

There is no other, and I am he, 
That loves no other, and thou art she. 

Eye doth find, heart doth choose, 
Faith doth bind, death doth lose. 

Let us be one f To live in love 

Till we are none \ I love to live. 

Love well, and f Virtus non vultus 

Live well. \ Patior ut potiar. 

Sequor ut consequar. 

I seek to be 

Not thine, but thee. 

Nowe ys thus 

(inscription upon a gold ring found about 1786 on the 

site of the battle of Towton, Yorkshire. The weight was 

more than an ounce ; it had no stone, but a lion passant 

was cut upon the gold. The inscription was in old black 

characters. The crest is that of the Percy family, and it is 

supposed the ring was worn by the Earl of Northumberland 

on the day of the battle (March 29, 1461). The motto 

seems to allude to the times : ' The age is fierce as a lion '). 

Je change qu'en mourant. Unalterable to my Perdita through 

(inscribed on a ring presented to Mrs. Robinson, by the 
Prince Regent, afterwards George IV.). 

If love I finde, I will bee kinde. 

In thee my choyse how I reioyce. 

In thee my choice I do rejoice 
(this posy is on a massive gold ring, which is thus de- 
scribed by a writer in ' Notes and Queries ' : — In the centre 


of the ornamentation outside is a shield, with three Hons 
passant on it. On the right of the shield H, and on the 
left of it I, each letter having an old-fashioned crown over it. 
At the extreme ends of the ornamentation, outside the 
letters H and I are three fleiirs-de-lys). 

Take hand and heart, ile nere depart. 

Live and dye in constancy. 

A vertuous wife y* serveth life. 

As long as life your loving wife. 

I will be yours while breath indures. 

Love is sure where faith is pure. 

A vertuous wife doth banish strife. 

As God hath made my choyse in thee, 
So move thy heart to comfort mee. 

God y* hath kept thy heart for mee. 
Grant that our love may faithfull bee, 

God our love continue ever, 

That we in heaven may live together. 

The eye did find, y* heart did chuse, 
The hand doth bind, till death doth loose. 

First feare y* Lord, then rest content, 
So shall we live and not repent. 

Breake not thy vow to please the eye, 
But keepe thy love, so live and dye. 

I am sent to salute you from a faithfull friend. 

This and my heart. 

Acceptance is my comfort. 

Too light to requite. 

Patience is a noble virtue. 

Lost all content, if not consent. 

A friend to one as like to none. 

Your sight, my delight. 

Virtue meeting, happy greeting. 

As trust, bee just. 

D D 2 


For a kiss, take this. 

No better smart shall change my heart. 

Hurt not y' heart whose joy thou art 

My heart and I until I dye. 

Sweetheart I pray doe not say nay. 

My heart you have and yours I crave. 

As you now find so judge me kind. 

Let this present my good intent (1758). 

One word for all, I love and shall. 

My constant love shall never move. 

Like and take, mislike forsake. 

The want of thee is griefe to mee. 

Be true to me y* gives it thee. 

Privata di te moriro. 
Deprived of thee I die. 

Till y* I have better 
I remayne your detter. 

Men esprit est partout. 
Mon coeur est avec vous. 

Lite to requite. 

Faithfull ever, deceitefull never. 

I present, you absent. 

Despise not mee, y* ioyes in thee. 

I live, I love, and live contented. 

And make my choice not to be repented. 

Desire hath set my heart on fire. 

fv. I hope to see you yielde to mee. 

Both, or neither, chuse you whether. 

Heart, this, and mee, if you ag^ee. 

This accepted, my wish obtained. 

This accepted, my wish affected. 

Thy friend am I, and so will dye. 

O y* I might have my delight. 


Parting is payne when love doth remayne. 

My corne is growne, love reape thy owne. 

This thy desert shall crown my heart. 

I fancy none but thee alone. 

God sent her me my wife to be. 

God's appointment is my contentment. 

This is your will to save or kill. 

If you but consent, you shall not repent. 

If you deny, then sure I dye. 

W*'' teares I mourne, as one forlorne. 

A friend to one, as like to none. 

Your sight, my delight. 

Grieve not his heart whose joy thou art. 

First love Christ that died for thep. 
Next to Hym love none but me. 

Joye day and night bee our delight. 

Divinely knitt by Grace are wee. 
Late two, now one ; the pledge here see. 
B. & A. (1657). 

Loue and liue happy (1689). 

Avoid all strife 'twixt man and wife. 

Joy full loue this ring do proue. 

In thee, deare wife, I finde new life. 

Of rapturous joye I am the toye. 

In thee I prove the joy of love. 

In loving wife spend all thy life (1697) 

True love will ne'er remove. 

In unitie let 's live and dy. 

Happy in thee hath God made me. 

I loue myself in louing thee. 

Silence ends strife with man and wife. 

More weare — more were (1652). 

I kiss the rod from thee and God. 


This ring doth binde body and minde. 

Endless as this shall be our bliss 

(Thos. Bhss, 1 7 19). 

Death neuer parts such loving hearts. 

Loue and respect I doe expect. 

No gift can show the love I ow. 

Loue thy chast wife beyond thy life (1681). 

Loue and pray night and daye. 

Great joye in thee continually. 

My fond delight by day and night. 

Pray to love, love to pray (1647). 

Honour et Foye 

(inscription on a gold ring belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam) 

Motto ring. 

Body and minde in thee I finde. 

Deare wife, thy rod doth leade to God. 

God alone made us two one. 

Eternally my loue shal be. 

Worship is due to God and you. 

God aboue continew our loue. 

I wish to thee all joie may bee. 

With my body I worship thee. 

Beyond this life, loue me, deare wife. 

Rien ne m'est plus, 

Plus ne me rien (fifteenth century). 

Une seule me suffit. 
EUe m'a bien conduite. 

De cuer entier. 

In adversis etiam fida. 
Even in adversity faithful. 


Device — a mouse gnawing away the net in which a lion 
is caught. 

Non immemor beneficii. 
Mindful of kindness. 

All that I desire of the Lord is to fear God and love me. 

En bon foy. 

I cannot show the love I O. 

I love and like my choice. 

Ryches be unstable 

And beuty wyll dekay, 
But faithful love will ever last 

Till death dryve it away. 

On a mediaeval armillary ring, consisting of eight rings, 
one within the other, each having a portion of the motto : 

w. Q? A. 1^ D. G. cs, 

T. L. A. L. A. R. CT. 

(Where heart and hand do give consent, 
There live and love and rest content.) 

Device — a golden apple. 

Vous le meritez. 
You deserve it. 

I change only in Death. 

Love I like thee ; sweets requite mee. 

FaithfuU ever, deceitful never. 

I like, I love, as turtle dove. 

As gold is pure, so love is shure. 

From * The Mysteries of Love and Eloquence ; or, the 
Arts of Wooing and Complementing, as they are manag'd in 
the Spring Garden, Hide Park, the New Exchange, and 
other eminent places' (London, 1658, pp. 154, 157) : 

Thou wert not handsom, wise, but rich ; 
'Twas that which did my eyes bewitch. 


Divinely knit by God are we, 

Late one, now two, the pledge you see. 

We strangely met, and so do many, 
But now as true as ever any. 

As we begun so let 's continue. 

My beloved is mine and I am hers. 

True blue will never stain. 

Against thou goest I will provide another. 

Let him never take a wife 

That will not love her as his life. 

I do not repent that I gave my consent. 

What the eye saw the heart hath chosen. 

More faithful than fortunate. 

Love me little but love me long. 

Love him who gave thee this ring of gold, 
'Tis he must kiss thee when thou 'rt old. 

This circle, though but small about. 
The devil, jealousy, shall keep out. 

If I think my wife is fair 
What need other people care. 

This ring is a token I give to thee 
That thou no tokens do change for me. 

My dearest Betty is good and pretty. 

I did then commit no folly 
When I married my sweet Molly. 

'Tis fit men should not be alone. 
Which made Tom to marry J one. 

Su is bonny, blythe, and brown ; 
This ring hath made her now my own. 

Like Philis there is none ; 
She truely loves her Choridon. 

Nosce teipsum. 

Think on mee. 

Desire and deserve. 


Keepe faith till death. 

As God hath appointed 
Soe I am contented. 

(These are given from wills of the seventeenth century 
in the glossary appended to * Fabric Rolls of York Minster/ 
published by the Surtees Society.) 

Ever last 
(on the rings given at the funeral of John Smith, Alder- 
man of London, who * made a great gaine by musk catts 
which he kept '). 

Redime tempus 
(on the rings given at the funeral of Samuel Cnimbleholme, 
Master of St. Paul's). 

This and the giver 
Are thine for ever. 

My Joyh consisteth in Hope. 

Quies servis nulla. 

I desire to disarne (disarm). 

I will you trewllie serve. 

Success to the British flag. 

Valued •, t> 

Love inay greater B. 

(Love undervalued may greater be.) 

Great Dundee for God and me 
(engraved on the inside of a ring with a skull, Viscount 
Dundee. This relic of the famous Claverhouse, given to 
him by King James, was in the possession of Miss Graham 
of Dundrune. It is stated to have been missing since 1828). 

Christ and thee my comfort be 
(' Gentleman's Magazine,' vol. ii. p. 629). 





(on a gold ring found on Flodden Field, in the possession 
of George Allen, Esq., of Darlington, 1785). 

>I< I love you my sweet dear heart 
1^ Go ^ I pray you pleas my love 

(on a silver ring found at Somerton Castle, Lincoln, in 



(inscribed on a brass thumb-ring formerly in the possession 
of the Marquis of Donegal, 1813). 


(on a silver ring found among the ruins of the Priory of 
St. Radigund, near Dover, in 1831). 

Tout pour bein feyre 
(inscribed on a ring found at St. Andrew's Chapel, near 

Mon cur avez 
Honour et joye 

(on a gold ring found near St. Anne's Well^ Nottingham). 

»J< Amor, vincit. om. 

(on a silver ring found near Old Sarum). 

An enamelled ring is mentioned in the * Gentleman's 


Inscription ring 


Magazine ' (vol. Ixxix.) as having been found in 1808 in the 
ruins of an old manor-house, occupied in the sixteenth cen- 
tury by a family of distinction, which then becoming extinct, 
the manor-house fell to decay. 

French Inscription ring. 

(Inscription ring of gold, found in Sarthe, France, bearing 
the names ' Dromachius ' and ' Betta,' supposed to be a 
marriage ring, of, probably, the fifth century.) 

Joye sans cesse. B. L. 

Loue alway, by night and day. 

Filz ou fille (Anthony Bacon, 1596). 

To enjoy is to obey. 

Loue for loue. 

Post spinas palma. 

All for all. 

Mutual forbearance (1742). 

In loues delight spend day and night. 

Love's sweetest proofe. 

En bon foye. 

Truth trieth troth. 

Beare and forbeare. 

Lett nuptiall joye our time employe. 

Not this bvt me. 

None can prevent the Lord's intent. 

Christ for me hath chosen thee. 


By God alone we two are one. 

God^s blessing be on thee and me. 

Love me and be happy. 

The love is true I owe you. 

God did foresee we should agree. 

In God and thee my joy shall be. 

Absence tries love. 

Virtue surpasseth riches. 

Let virtue rest within thy breast. 

I lyke my choyce. 

As circles five by art compact shews but one ring in sight, 
So trust uniteth faithful mindes with knott of secret might ; 
Whose force to breake no right but greedie death possesseth 

As time and sequels well shall prove. My ringe can say no 


(The Earl of Hertford's wedding-ring consisted of five links, 
the four inner ones containing the above posies of the Earl's 
making. See page 318, ' Betrothal and Wedding Rings.') 
Joye sans fyn. (Fourteenth century.) 

In * Manningham's Diary,' 1 602-1603 (Camden Society), 
we have the following 'Posies for a jet ring lined with sylver' : 

' " One two," so written as you may begin with either 
word. " This one ring is two," or both sylver and jet make 
but one ring ; the body and soule one man ; twoe friends 
one mynde. " Candida mens est," the sylver resembhng 
the soule, being the inner part. " Bell' ame bell' amy," a 
fayre soule is a fayre frend, etc. "Yet faire within." "The 
firmer the better," the sylver the stronger and the better. 
" Mille modis laeti miseros mors una fatigat." ' 
Live as I or else I dye. 
Within thy brest my harte doth rest. 
(On two gold posy-rings found in Sussex, 1866.) 


In 1780 the sexton of Southwell, in digging a grave, 
found a gold ring weighing nine dwts. six grs. On the 
inside is the following inscription, in characters very distinct, 
deep, and not inelegantly cut : 


The cross at the beginning is of the same size as the 
letters, that between the words very small. 

You dear ! 
(The meaning is thus conjectured of, possibly, a rebus, 
or canting device, on a silver signet-ring, found in the bed 
of the river Nene, at Wisbeach St. Peter's ; the letter U 
and a deer trippant implying, perhaps, the writer's tender 
regard towards his correspondent. Date about the time of 
Henry V. or Heary VI.) 

The annexed engraving (from the ' Archaeological Jour- 
nal,' March, 1848) represents a curious ring, the property of 
Mr. Fitch, and belonging to his interesting cabinet of Nor- 
folk antiquities. It is a plain hoop of silver, of the size here 
seen, and bears the inscription ' Ethraldric on Lynd.' Its 


Inscription ring. 

date has been assigned to as early a period as Saxon times, 
but we are inclined to attribute it to a subsequent age, the 
twelfth, or, perhaps, so late a date even as the thirteenth 
century. It may deserve notice that the mintage of London, 


of coins of Canute, Harold, Edward the Confessor, the Con- 
queror, and subsequent kings, is designated by the legend 
' On Lynde.' This ring was found during the construction of 
the railway at Attleborough, in Norfolk. 

True-love knots were common formerly. In the inventory 
of the effects of Henry Howard, K.G., Earl of Northampton, 
1 6 14, is mentioned ' a golde ringe sett with fifteene diamondes 
in a true lover's knotte, with the wordes nee asfu, nee ense.' 

In the Waterton Collection in the South Kensington 
Museum are some interesting specimens of this pecuHar kind 
of ring of English and Italian workmanship. 

At the commencement of the present century * Harlequin' 
rings were fashionable in England. They were so called 
because they were set round with variously-coloured stones, 
in some way resembHng the motley costume of the hero of 

* Regard rings,' of French origin, were common even to 
a late period, and were thus named from the initials with 
which they were set forming the acrostic of these words : ^ 

* This play upon words has been applied in a political sense. * So,' 
as the late Mr. Crofton Croker observed, ' when the Repeal question 
was agitated in Ireland, rings and brooches, set in precious stones, 
made to represent the word " Repeal " were popular : — 

E merald 
■ P earl 
E merald 
A methyst 
L apis lazuli. 

One of these was given to a gentleman as a relic of this memorable 
agitation, but the bit of lapis lazuli had dropped out, and he took it to 
a working jeweller in Cork to have the defect supplied. When it was 
returned, he found that a topaz had been substituted for the missing bit 
of lapis lazuli. " How is this ?" he inquired, ♦' you have made a mis- 
take." "No mistake, sir," said the witty workman, whom he after- 


E merald 
G arnet 
A methyst 
R uby 
D iamond 

L apis lazuli 


V erd antique 

E merald. 

The French have precious stones for all the alphabet, 
excepting f, k, q, y, and z, and they obtain the words 
souvenir and amitie thus : 

S aphir or sardoine 

nyx or opale 
U raine 

V ermeille 

E meraude 

N atralithe 


R ubis, or rose diamant. 

A m^thiste, or aigue-marine 
M alachite 

1 ris 

T urquoise or topaze 


E meraude. 

Thus lapis lazuli, opal, verd antique, emerald represented 

lovcy and for me malachite and emerald. 

wards discovered to be an ardent Repealer, ** It is all right ; it was 
rc]pesJf but let us repca/ that we may have it yet." ' 


Names are represented on rings by the same means. 
The Prince of Wales, on his marriage to the Princess 
Alexandra, gave her as a keeper one with the stones set with 
his familiar name, Bertie — beryl, emerald, ruby, turquoise, 
jacinth, emerald. 

These name-rings are common in France ; thus, Adele is 
spelt with an amethyst, a diamond, an emerald, a lapis lazuli, 
and another emerald. 

Among the motto or •' reason ' rings, as they were termed, 
is an example, described in the ' Archaeologia ' (vol. xxxi), a 
weighty ring of fine gold, found in 1823 at Thetford, in 
Suffolk. The device which appears upon this ring is an 
eagle displayed ; on the inner side is engraved a bird, with 
the wings closed, apparently a falcon, with a crown upon its 

The following posy or motto, commencing on the outer 
side, is continued on the interior of the ring : ' Deus me 
ouroye de vous seuir a gree — com moun couer desire ' (God 
work for me to make suit acceptably to you, as my heart 
desires). The devices appear to be heraldic, and the motto 
that of a lover, or a suitor to one in power. The eagle is 
the bearing of several ancient Suffolk famiHes ; it was also a 
badge of the House of Lancaster, and Thetford was one 
portion of the Duchy of Lancaster. 

These mottos were occasionally engraved in relief. In 
the Londesborough Collection is one of gold, found in the 
Thames. The inscription upon it is ' Sans vilinie ' (without 

* A very early ring,' remarks Mr. Fairholt, ' with an 
unusually pretty posy, is in the collection of J. Evans, Esq., 
F.S.A. It is gold, set with a small sapphire, and is in- 
scribed " IE, svi, ici, EN Li'v d'ami " (I am here in place of 



a friend). It was probably made at the beginning of the 
fourteenth century. Beside it is placed two other specimens 
of inscribed rings. The first is chased with the Nortons' 
motto, * God us ayde ; ' the second is inscribed withinside 
with the s-^ntence, 'Mulier, viro subjecta esto.' Both are 
works of the fifteenth century. 

Posy ring. 

Inscription rings. 

Mr. Fairholt describes two gold wedding-rings of the 
sixteenth century, which were then generally inscribed with 
a posy of one or two lines of rhyme. One is formed like a 
badge of the Order of the Garter, with the buckle in front 
and the motto of the Order outside the hoop ; withinside 
are the words, ' I'll win and wear you.' The other is the 
ordinary form of wedding-ring, inscribed, ' Let likinge 
laste.' They were generally inscribed withijiside the hoop. 

Posy rings. 

Thus Lyly, in his 'Euphues' (1597), addressing the ladies, 
hopes they will favour his work — * writing their judgments 
as you do the posies in your rings, which are always next to 
the finger, not to be seen of him that holdeth you by the 
hand, and yet known by you that wear them on your hands.' 
The Rev. C. W. King remarks that * antique intagli set 

E E 


in mediaeval seals have, in general, a Latin motto added 
around the setting. For this the Lombard letter is almost 
invariably employed, seldom the black letter, whence it may 
be inferred, which, indeed, was likely on other grounds, that 
such seals, for the most part, came from Italy, where the 
Lombard alphabet was the sole one in use until superseded 
by the revived Roman capitals about the year 1450. Of 
such mottos a few examples will serve to give an idea, 
premising that the stock was not very extensive, judging 
from the frequent repetitions of the same legends, on 
seals of widely different devices. Thus a very spirited 
intagHo of a lion passant, found in Kent, proclaims — " sum 
LEO Quovis Eo NON NISI VERA VEHO ; " another gives the 
admonition to secresy — " tecta lege, lecta tege ; " a third 
in the same strain — " clausa secreta tego ; " another lion 
warns us with " ira regia," the wrath of a king is as the 
roaring of a lion — an apt device for a courtier. Less fre- 
quently seen are legends in old French, and these are more 
quaint in their style ; for instance, around a female bust — 
" PRivi^ SUY E PEU CONNU : " whilst a gryllus of a head, 
covered with a fantastic helmet made up of masks, gives the 
advice, in allusion to the enigmatical type — " creez ce ke 
vuus LiRREZ," for " Croycz ce que vous lirez." ' 




One of the most singular usages in former times in which 
a ring was employed was the annual celebration at Venice 
of the wedding of the Doge with the Adriatic. This custom 
is said to date from the era of Pope Alexander III., and the 
Doge of Venice, Zidni, in the twelfth century. This prince 
having on behalf of the pontiff attacked the hostile fleet of 
Frederic Barbarossa, and obtained a complete victory, with 
the capture of the emperor's son, Otho, the Pope in grateful 
acknowledgment gave him a ring, ordaining that hence- 
forth and for ever, annually, the governing Doge should, 
with a ring, espouse the sea. The pontiff promised that the 
bride should be obedient and subject to his sway, for ever, 
as a wife is subjected to her husband. 

It is recorded that in this year (1177) this pompous 
ceremony was performed for the first time. The Doge died 
in the following year. On Ascension Day the Venetians, 
headed by their Doge, celebrated the triumphant event. 
Galleys, sailing-vessels, and gondolas accompanied the chief 
of the State, who occupied a prominent position on the 
' Bucentoro,' which held, as its name implies, two hundred 
persons. This vessel was decorated with columns, statues, 
etc., and the top was covered with crimson velvet There 

E E2 


were twenty-one oars on each side. Musical performers 
attended in another barge. The vessel left the Piazza of St. 
Mark under a salute of guns, and proceeded slowly to the 
Isle of Lido. Here the Doge, taking the ring from his 
*finger, gave it to his betrothed wife, the Adriatic, by 
dropping it into her bosom, repeating these words : ' We 
-espouse thee, oh sea ! in token of our just and perpetual 
dominion.' ^ 

The reader will remember the well-known lines of Byron, 
written^t Venice : 

The spouseless Adriatic mourns her lord ; 

And, annual marriage now no more renew'd, 
The Bucentaur lies rotting, unrestored, 

Neglected garment of her widowhood. 

It is probable that Shakspeare alluded to this custom 

when he says in ' Othello : ' — 

I would not my unhoused free condition 
Put into circumscription, and confine 
For the sea's worth. 

Byron, in the 'Two Foscari,' again alludes to the 

' marriage ' ring of the Doge. When the Council of Ten 

demanded of the Doge Foscari — 

The resignation of the ducal ring, 

Which he had worn so long and venerably, 

he laid aside the ducal bonnet and robes, surrendered his 

ring of ofhce, and exclaimed : 

There's the ducal ring. 
And there's the ducal diadem. And so 
The Adriatic's free to wed another. 

So, Rogers : 

He was deposed. 
He who had reigned so long and gloriously ; 

^ Appendix. 


His ducal bonnet taken from his brow, 
His robes stript off, his seal and signet-ring 
Broken before him. 

Rings, in common with jewels of various descriptions, 
.ere given by our monarchs on state 
occasions, and as New Year's gifts, as 
marks of special favour. In Rymer's 
' Fcedera ' there is a curious inventory of 
rings and ouches, with other jewels, which 
King Henry VI. bestowed in 1445, as 
New Year's gifts, on his uncle and nobles. ^^ ^^^ ^ ^' * ""^' 
In the inventories of Queen Ehzabeth's jewels there are 
numerous instances of such gifts. 

At the marriage of Henry VI. with Margaret of Anjou, 
Cardinal Beaufort presented a gold ring to the bride, given 
to him by Henry V., and which the latter wore when 
crowned at Paris. 

The crest of the Cromwells is a demi-lion rampant arg., 
in his dexter gamb a gem-ring or. The origin of this is 
stated thus : — At a tournament held by Henry VIII,, in 
1540, the King was particularly delighted with the gallantry 
of Sir Richard Cromwell (whom he had knighted on the 
second day of the tournament), and exclaiming ' Formerly 
thou wast my Dick, but hereafter thou shalt be my Diamond^ 
presented him with a diamond ring, bidding him for the 
future wear such a one in the fore-gamb of the demi-lion 
in the crest, instead of a javelin as heretofore. The arms 
of Sir Richard with this alteration were ever afterwards 
borne by the elder branch of the family, and by Oliver 
Cromwell himself, on his assuming the Protectorate, though 
previously he had borne the javelin. 

A gold ring found at St. Mary's Field, near Leicester, in 


1796, had been a New Year's gift, and is inscribed 'en bon 

In former times when St. Valen- 
tine's Day was kept as a joyous festival, 
the drawing of a kind of lottery took 
place, followed by ceremonies not much 
unlike what is now generally called the 
game of ' forfeits.' Married and single 
New Year's gift ring. pcrsous wcrc alike liable to be chosen 
as a valentine, and a present was 
invariably given to the choosing party. Rings were fre- 
quently bestowed. Pepys, in 1668, notes: 'This evening 
my wife did with great pleasure show me her stock of 
jewels, increased by the ring she hath lately made as my 
valentine's gift this year, a turkey (turquoise) stone set with 
diamonds.' Noticing also the jewels of the celebrated Miss 
Stuart, he says: ' The Duke of York, being once her valentine, 
did give her a jewel of about eight hundred pounds, and my 
Lord Mandeville, her valentine this year, a ring of about 
three hundred pounds.' 

Rings have been employed frequently in facilitating 
diplomatic missions, and in negotiations of a very delicate 
and critical nature. Plutarch relates an anecdote of Lucul- 
lus to prove his disinterestedness. Being sent on an 
embassy to King Ptolemy Physcon, he not merely refused 
all the splendid presents offered to him, amounting in value 
to eighty talents (15,444/.), but even received of his table 
allowance no more than was absolutely necessary for his 
maintenance, and when the King attended him down to his 
ship, as he was about to return to Rome, and pressed upon 
his acceptance an emerald ' of the precious kind,' set in 


gold (for a ring), he declined this also, until Ptolemy made 
him observe it was engraved with his own portrait, where- 
upon, fearing his refusal should be considered a mark 
of personal ill-will, he at last accepted the ring as a keep- 
sake. At a dark epoch in the fortunes of the unhappy Mary, 
Queen of Scots, when, in 1567, scarcely a shadow of regal 
power was left to her, an attempt was made to induce her to 
resign the crown. Sir Robert Melville was employed on this 
mission, giving her, as an authority for his errand, a tur- 
quoise ring confided to him for that purpose by the con- 
federate lords. 

A ring in the possession of Miss H. P. Lonsdale is 
stated to have been given by Queen Anne, from her finger, 
to a Mr. Nugent for some diplomatic services. It is of gold, 
set with a heart-shaped ruby crowned with three small 
diamonds. At the back is a royal crown, and the letters 
'A. R.' 

Clement VII., to propitiate King Henry VIII., sent him 
a consecrated rose ; while, to gain the good services of 
Cardinal Wolsey, the Pope drew from his finger a ring of 
value, which he entnisted to the care of Secretary Pace at 
Rome, expressing regret that he could not himself present 
it in person. 

When the Duchess of Savoy was held a prisoner by 
Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, she found means to 
send her secretary to solicit the aid of Louis XL As she 
was prevented from writing, the only credentials she could 
give her emissary was the ring the King had given her on 
the occasion of her marriage. This passport would have 
sufficed, but that, unfortunately, the bearer, when he pre- 
sented himself to the King, wore the cross of St. Andre'. 
Louis ordered the man to be arrested, suspecting him to be 


a spy of the Duke of Bmgimdy, and that he had stolen his 
sister's ring. The messenger would have been hung, but 
for the timely arrival of the Lord of Rivarola, who was sent 
by the Duchess, urging the King to assist her. 

Plutarch mentions that Clearchus, Cyrus the Younger's 
general, in return for favours received from Ctesias, the 
physician of Tisaphernes, presented him with his ring as an 
introduction to his family in Sparta. 

At the declaration of peace between England and Spain 
in 1604 King James gave the Spanish Ambassador, the 
Duke de Frias, Constable of Castile, who negotiated the 
treaty, a large diamond ring, in commemoration of the 
marriage, as he called the peace. 

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, had a large 
diamond cut by Berghem into a triangle, which he had set 
in a ring representing two clasped hands, the symbol of 
good faith, and sent to Louis XL, ' an allusion ' (remarks 
the Rev. C. W. King), ' though in an acceptable form, to his 
deficiency in that virtue.' 

An anecdote connected with the celebrated ' Pitt ' 
diamond is related by Mr. Eastwick, and shows how im- 
portant results may sometimes be secured, when reason and 
logic may not prevail. This jewel passed through some 
curious adventures, and, after having ornamented the sword 
of Napoleon at Waterloo, was sent as a present in a ring 
by George IV. to the Sovereign of Persia, Fath-Ali-Shah. 
The bearer of this costly ring. Sir Harford Jones, was stopped 
in his journey by a messenger from the court, and desired 
not to enter the capital, where French interests were then 
paramount. After Sir Harford had exhausted every argu- 
ment to show that he ought to be received, without making 
any impression on the Persian Khan, he said, ' Well, if it 


must be so, I shall return, but this must go with me,' and 
he took from his pocket the beautiful diamond ring which 
had been sent for the Shah. The sparkle of the gem pro- 
duced a magical effect ; the Khan no sooner beheld it than 
he lost his balance, and fell back from his seat quite out of 
breath ; then, recovering himself, he shouted, * Stop, stop, 
Elchi ! May your condescending kindness go on increasing ! 
This alters the matter. I will send an express to the 
heavenly-resembling threshold of the asylum of the world ! 
I swear by your head that you will be received with all 
honour. Mashallah ! it is not everyone that has diamonds 
like the Inglis.' He was as good as his word ; the express 
courier was despatched, and Sir Harford Jones entered the 
city of Teheran by one gate, while General Gardanne, the 
French envoy, was packed off by the other. 

[This stone must have been a fraction or portion of the 
cutting of this famous diamond, as the ' Regent ' is still in 
the French Garde-meuble, or national treasury.] 

In 15 14 Venice deputed two ambassadors to France 
and England ; amongst other bribes, two rings were ordered 
to be given privily to the French Secretary, Robertet, ' as a 
mark of love in the Signory's name.' One had a ruby and 
a diamond. 

A correspondent of 'Notes and Queries' (3rd series, 
vol. i. p. 486) gives an interesting extract from an old news- 
paper (the 'Mercurius Publicus,' for November 29, 1660), 
in which allusion is made to the King's Gift Rings. On 
the disbanding of Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper's regiment at 
Salisbury, ' the men joyfully welcomed His Majestie's Com- 
missioners by shouts and acclamations, and understanding 
of His Majestie's goodness in bestowing freely a full week's 
pay, over and above their just arrears, they broke out into 


another great shout, and then unanimously resolved with 
that week's pay to buy, each man, a ring, whose posie should 
be " The King's gift," as an earnest and memorandum, to 
be ready on all occasions when His Majesty's service (and 
none but his), should call them.' 

I may mention the gift of rings to the native chiefs of 
India by the Prince of Wales, during his recent progress 
in that country. At Aden the Prince expressed his acknow- 
ledgments, on behalf of the Queen, for the services 
rendered by the Sultan of Lahej to the garrison of Aden, 
and put a massive gold ring with the initials ' A. E.' on the 
Sultan's finger with his own hand. 

The Maharajah of Benares was presented with a ring 
having an oval miniature portrait of the Prince, in enamel, 
set in brilliants. 

Identification by means of a ring is alluded to in the 
Greek romance, by Heliodorus, of ' Theagines and 
Chariclea.' The latter^ through a ring and fillet which had 
been attached to her at her birth, is, after many adventures, 
discovered to be the daughter of Hydaspes, and becomes 
heiress of the Ethiopian sovereignty. The modern Italian 
poets have availed themselves of this incident. 

Roger of Wendover relates how Richard Coeur de Lion, 
when returning from the Crusades, secretly, and in disguise, 
through Germany to his own country, was identified in a 
town of Slavonia, called Gazara, by means of a ring. The 
King had sent a messenger to the nearest castle to ask for 
peace and safe-conduct from the lord of that province. He 
had on his return purchased of a Pisan merchant for nine 
hundred bezants, three jewels called carbuncles, or more 
commonly 'rubies.' One of these he had, whilst on board 


ship, enclosed in a gold ring, and this he sent by the said 
messenger to the governor of the castle. When the mes- 
senger was asked by the governor who they were that 
requested safe conduct, he answered that they were pilgrims 
returning from Jerusalem. The governor then asked what 
their names were, to which the messenger replied, ' one of 
them is called Baldwin de Bethune, the other Hugh, a 
merchant who has also sent you a ring.' The lord of the 
castle, looking hiore attentively at the ring, said, ' He is not 
called Hugh, but King Richard,' and then added, ' although 
I have sworn to seize all pilgrims coming from those parts, 
and not to accept of any gift from them, nevertheless, for 
the worthiness of the gift, and also of the sender, to him 
who has so honoured me, a stranger to him, I both return 
his present and grant him free permission to depart.' 

A ring, in all probability, saved the Emperor Charles V. 
from the most critical position in which he had ever been 
placed. Having requested permission of Francis I. to pass 
through France, in order to reach sooner his Flemish do- 
minions, where his presence was urgently required, the 
rival, so lately his prisoner, not only granted the request, 
but gave him a most brilliant reception. Some of the 
French King's counsellors thought this generous conduct to 
a crafty foe was quixotic in the extreme, and that Charles 
should be detained until he had cancelled some of the hard 
conditions, to which he had compelled Francis to subscribe 
to purchase his release. Among those who strongly advo- 
cated the policy of detaining the imperial guest was the 
King's fair friend, the Duchesse d'Estampes. Charles, who 
was informed of the dangerous weight thrown in the scale 
against him, resolved to win over the influential counsellor. 


One day, as he was washing his hands before dinner, he 
dropped a diamond ring of great value, which the Duchess 
picked up and presented to him. ' Nay, madam,' said the 
Emperor gallantly to her, ' it is in too fair a hand for me to 
take back.' The gift had its full value, and Charles pursued 
his way without molestation. 

Instances are recorded in which the wearing of a ring 
has been the means of saving life. Such happened to the 
Count de St. Pol at the battle of Pavia. He had fallen 
covered with wounds ; avarice recalled him to life. A 
soldier, seeking for pillage, arrived at the place where the 
unfortunate Count lay extended, senseless, among the dead. 
He perceived a very beautiful diamond glitter on the finger 
of the apparently lifeless man. Not being successful in 
drawing the ring off, he began to cut the finger. The pain 
extorted a piercing cry from the Count, who had only 
swooned. He mentioned his name, and had the presence 
of mind to recommend silence to the soldier, telling him 
that if he boasted of having in his power a prince of the 
house of France, the Emperor's generals would take him 
into their own hands in order to get his ransom ; and he 
promised to make the soldier's fortune if he would take 
care of his wounds, and follow him to France. This 
reasoning had its effect ; the soldier secretly conveyed the 
Prince to Pavia, had his wounds dressed, and was nobly 
rewarded for it. 

Taylor, in his ' Danger of Premature Interments ' (1816) 
relates the following incident. The heroine of this event 
was named Retchmuth Adolet. She was the wife of a 
merchant at Cologne, and is said to have died of the plague, 
which destroyed a great part of the inhabitants of that city 


m 15 7 1. She was speedily interred, and a ring of great 
\ alue was suffered to remain on her finger, which tempted 
I he cupidity of the grave-digger. The night was the time 
he had planned for obtaining possession of it. On going 
to the grave, opening it, and attempting to take the ring 
from off the finger of the lady, she came to herself, and so 
terrified the sacrilegious thief, that he ran away and left his 
lantern behind him. The lady took advantage of his fright, 
and with the assistance of his lantern, found her way home, 
and lived to be the mother of three children. After her 
real decease, she was buried near the door of the same 
church, and a tomb was erected over her grave, upon which 
the incident related was engraved. 

Mrs. Bray, in a notice of ' Cotele,^ and ' the Edgcumbes 
of the Olden Time ' (' Gentleman's Magazine,' November 
1853), relates a singular circumstance of this character, 
which * is so well authenticated, that not even a doubt rests 
upon its truth.' It refers to the mother of that Sir Richard 
Edgcumbe, Knight, who, in 1748, was created Baron of 
Mount Edgcumbe. 

'The family were residing at Cotele (I do not know 
the date of the year), when Lady Edgcumbe became much 
indisposed, and to all appearance died. How long after 
is not stated, but her body was deposited in the family 
vault of the parish church. The interment had not long 
taken place, before the sexton (who must have heard from 
the nurse or servants that she was buried with something 
of value upon her) went down into the vault at midnight, 
and contrived to force open the coffin. A gold ring was on 
her ladyship's finger, which in a hurried way he attempted 
to draw off, but, not readily succeeding, he pressed with 
great violence the finger. Upon this the body moved in 


the coffin, and such was the terror of the man, that he ran 
away as fast as he could, leaving his lantern behind him. 
Lady Edgcumbe arose, astonished at finding herself dressed 
in grave-clothes, and numbered with the tenants of the 
vault. She took up the lantern, and proceeded at once to 
the mansion of Cotele. The terror, followed by the re- 
joicing of her family and household, which such a resurrec- 
tion from the tomb occasioned, may well be conceived. 
Exactly five years after this circumstance, she became the 
mother of that Sir Richard Edgcumbe, who was created 
Baron. Polwhele, in his " History of Cornwall," says : " Of 
the authenticity of this event there can be no reasonable 
doubt. A few years ago a gentleman of my acquaintance 
heard all the particulars of the transaction from the late 
Lord Graves, of Thancks, which is in the neighbourhood 
of Cotele. But I need not appeal to Lord Graves's 
authority, as I recollect the narrative as coming from the 
lips of my grandmother Polwhele, who used to render the 
story extremely interesting from a variety of minute cir- 
cumstances, and who, from her connexion and intimacy 
of her own with the Edgcumbe family, was unquestionably 
well-informed on the subject." 

' It may seem strange that when Lady Edgcumbe was 
thus committed to the grave she was not buried in lead ; 
but at the period of her supposed death it was very unusual 
to bury persons, even of high rank and station, in a leaden 
coffin, if they died and were buried in the country. The 
nearest town to Cotele of any note was Plymouth, a sea- 
port to which there was then no regular road from the far- 
distant old mansion, and I question if at that period 
Plymouth could have furnished such an unusual thing as 
a lead coffin. Lady Edgcumbe was probably buried in 


oak secured by nails or screws, which without much diffi- 
culty could be forced open by the sexton in his meditated 
robbery of the body.' 

While rings have favoured the living, they have also 
been the means of recognising the dead. An instance of 
this is related in the history of the great Duke of Burgundy, 
renowned for the splendour of his court and his love of 
jewels. He died in the battle of Nanci, and his body was 
not found until three days afterwards, when it was recognised 
by one of the Duke's household by a ring and other precious 
jewels upon it ; otherwise the corpse was so disfigured that 
it could not have been identified. 

The body of the great naval coinmander Sir Cloudesley 
Shovel, who was shipwrecked on the rocks of Scilly in 1707, 
was washed on shore, when some fishermen, it is said, 
having stolen a valuable emerald ring, buried the corpse. 
The ring, being shown about, made a great noise over the 
island, and was the cause of the discovery and ultimate 
removal of the body to Westminster Abbey. 

Another account is that which was published under the 
authority of the Earl of Romney, grandson of Sir Cloudesley 
Shovel. Some years after the fatal shipwreck, an aged 
woman confessed to the parish minister of St. Mary's on 
her deathbed that, exhausted with fatigue, one man who 
had survived the disaster reached her hut, and that she had 
murdered him to secure the valuable property on his person. 
This worst of wreckers then produced a ring taken from the 
finger of her victim, and it was afterwards identified as one 
presented to Sir Cloudesley Shovel by Lord Berkeley. 

William Trotter, of an ancient family on the Scottish 
border, is recorded to have fallen at the battle of Flodden ; 
and, in corroboration of the fact, a gold ring was found 


about the middle of the last century, upon the site of the 
field of battle, bearing an inscription in Norman-French, 
having between each word a boar's head, the armorial 
bearings of the Trotters. 

Martius, in 'Titus Andronicus,' when he falls into a 
dark pit, discovers the body of Bassianus, by the light oi 
the jewel on the dead man's hand : — 

Upon his bloody finger he doth wear 

A precious ring, that lightens all the hole, 

"Which, like a taper in some monument. 

Doth shine upon the dead man's earthy cheeks, 

And shows the rugged entrails of this pit : 

So pale did shine the moon on Pyramus, 

When he by night lay bath'd in human blood, 

I may mention the employment of rings for criminal 
purposes, such as their use for concealing poison, of which 
we have instances in past ages, and in late times, Hannibal, 
we are told, from a fear of being delivered up to the Romans 
by Prusius, King of Bithynia, swallowed poison, which, to 
be prepared for the worst, he carried with him in the hollow 
of a ring. To this Juvenal alludes in his Tenth Satire : — 

Nor swords, nor spears, nor stones from engines hurl'd, 
Shall quell the man whose frown alarm'd the world ; 
The vengeance due to Cannae's fatal field, 
And floods of human gore — a ring shall yield. 

Demosthenes is also said to have died in a similar manner. 
The keeper of the Roman treasures, after the robbery by 
Crassus of the gold deposited there by Camillus, broke the 
stone of his ring in his mouth, in which poison was concealed, 
and immediately expired. 

' The ancients,' remarks the Rev. C. W. King (' Antique 
Gems '), ' were acquainted with vegetable poisons, as speedy 
in their effects as the modem strychnine, as appears in the 
death of Britannicus from a potion prepared by Locusta, 


and in innumerable other instances. These hollow rings 
were put together with a degree of skill far beyond that of 
our modem jewellers; for the soldering of the numerous 
joinings of the gold plates of which they are formed is abso- 
lutely imperceptible even when breathed upon — a test under 
which the best modern solder always assumes a lighter tint.' 

Motley, in his ' Rise of the Dutch Republic,' relates that 
in the conspiracies against the life of the Prince of Orange 
(about 1582), under the influence of the court of Spain, the 
young Lamoral Egmont, in return for the kindness shown 
to him by the Prince, attempted to destroy him at his own 
table by means of poison which he kept con- 
cealed in a ring. Sainte Philip de Marnix, 
Lord of Aldegonde, was to have been taken 
off in the same way ; and a hollow ring filled 
with poison was said to have been found in 
Egmont's lodgings. The young noble was im- p°''°" ""s- 
prisoned, and his guilt was undoubted, but he owed his 
escape from death to the Prince of Orange. 

A poison ring of curious construction is described by 
Mr. Fairholt as richly engraved, and set with two rubies 
and a pyramidal diamond ; the collet securing the latter 
stone opens with a spring, and exhibits a somewhat large 

Venetian poison ring 

receptacle for such virulent poisons as were concocted by 
Italian chemists in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

F F 


The other ring has a representation of St. Mark seated 
holding his gospel, and giving a benediction. The spaces 
between this figure and the oval border are perforated, so 
that the interior of the box is visible, and the relic enshrined 
might be seen. 

It is recorded of the infamous Pope Alexander VI. 
(Borgia) that he caused a key, similar to the key-ring, to be 
used in opening a cabinet, but the Pope's key was poisoned 
in the handle, and provided with a small sharp pin, which 
gave a slight puncture, sufficient to allow the poison to pass 
below the skin. When he wished to rid himself of an 
objectionable friend he would request him to unlock the 
cabinet ; as the lock turned rather stiffly, a little pressure 
was necessary on the key handle, sufficient to produce the 
effect desired. 

The signet-ring of Caesar Borgia was exhibited a few 
years ago at a meeting of the British Archaeological 
Association by the Rev. C. H. Hartshome. It is of gold, 
slightly enamelled, with the date 1503, and round the 
inside is the motto, 'Fays ceque doys avien que pourra.' 
A box dropped into the front, having on it ' Borgia,' in 
letters reversed, round which are the words ' Cor unum una 
via.' At the back is a slide, within which, it is related, he 
carried the poison he was in the habit of dropping into the 
wine of his unsuspecting guests. 

Another ring-device of Caesar Borgia was : ' Aut Caesar 
aut nihil.' The folLowing distich was made upon him : — 

Borgia Caesar erat factis et nomine Caesar ; 
* Aut nihil aut Caesar ' dixit, utrumque fuit. 

In late times the death of Condorcet was occasioned 
by a subtle poison, made by Cabanis, and enclosed in a 


ring. The particulars of this tragedy are related by Arago. 
Proscribed by the Revolution of 1792, Condorcet, formerly 
secretary to the Academy of Sciences, took refuge in the 
house of a Madame Vemet, at Paris, a lady who generously 
risked her own life in endeavouring to save that of the 
eminent philosopher. Fearing to compromise his protectress 
by a longer stay, Condorcet left Paris with the intention of 
taking refuge in the country house of an old friend, who 
was, however, absent, and he wandered about, taking 
shelter at night in some stone-quarries, but was at length 
arrested, and conducted to Bourg-la-Reine, where he was 
placed in a damp cell. The next morning (March 28, 
1794) he was found dead in his prison, having taken poison, 
which he carried about with him in a ring. 

A singular story of a poisoned ring appeared in the 
French newspapers a few/ years ago, to the effect that a 
gentleman who had purchased some objects of art at a 
shop in the Rue St. Honore, was examining an ancient 
ring, when he gave himself a slight scratch in the hand 
with a sharp part of it. He continued talking to the dealer 
a short time, when he suddenly felt an indescribable sensa- 
tion over his whole body, which appeared to paralyse his 
faculties, and he became so seriously ill that it was found 
necessary to send for a medical man. The doctor im- 
mediately discovered every symptom of poisoning by some 
mineral substance. He applied strong antidotes, and in 
a short time the gentleman was in a measure recovered. 
The ring in question having been examined by the medical 
man, who had long resided in Venice, was found to be 
what was formerly called a ' death ' ring, in use by Italians 
when acts of poisoning were frequent about the middle 
of the seventeenth century. Attached to it inside were two 


claws of a lion made of the sharpest steel, and having clefts 
in them filled with a violent poison. In a crowded assembly, 
or in a ball, the wearer of this fatal ring, wishing to exercise 
revenge on any person, would take their hand, and when 
pressing in the sharp claw, would be sure to inflict a slight 
scratch on the skin. This was enough, for on the following 
morning the victim would be sure to be found dead. Not- 
withstanding the many years since which the poison in this 
ring had been placed there, it retained its strength suf- 
ficiently to cause great inconvenience to the gentleman as 

A singular interest is attached to the recovery of lost 
rings, of which there are many instances. One is recorded 
in connection with the wonder-working hand of St. Stephen 
of Hungary, which is now in the castle of Buda. In 162 1, 
Pope Gregory canonised this monarch, after a lapse of two 
hundred years that his remains had been lying in the 
cathedral of Stuhlweissenberg, and on their removal it was 
discovered that the skeleton had no right hand. This 
created much stir, as it was known that a very valuable ring 
had been on one of the fingers, but no tidings of the 
missing member were heard until some years after, when a 
certain abbot Mercurius, who had formerly been treasurer 
to the cathedral, had an interview with the reigning monarch 
Ladislaus. The story he told was a rich one, the hand 
with the ring on it had been committed to his safe keeping 
by a beautiful youth, ' dressed all in white.' The historian 
Feesler, himself an ecclesiastic, says that ' Ladislaus saw 
through Mercurius, but left God to deal with him.' In the 
chapter on * Ring Superstitions ' I have mentioned the dis- 
covery of Lady Dundee's ring, and the omen attached to it. 


The late Professor De Morgan, in ' Notes and Queries ' 
(December 21, i86i), related an instance of a recovered 
ring, which (although not vouching for its truth) he states 
as having been commented upon nearly fifty years ago in 
the country town close to which the scene is placed, with 
all degrees of belief and unbelief. A servant-boy was sent 
into the town with a valuable ring. He took it out of the 
box to admire it, and in passing over a plank bridge he let 
it fall on a muddy bank. Not being able to find it he 
ran away, took to the sea, and finally settled in a colony, 
made a large fortune, came back after many years, and 
bought the estate on which he had been a servant. One 
day, while walking over his land with a friend, he came to 
the plank bridge, and there told his friend the story. ' I 
could swear,' he said, pushing his stick into the mud, ' to 
the very spot where the ring was dropped : ' when the stick 
came back the ring was on the end of it. 

A large silver signet-ring was lost by a Mr. Murray, in 
Caithness, as he was walking one day on a shingly beach 
bounding his estate. Fully a century afterwards it was 
found in the shingle in fair condition, and restored to Mr. 
Murray's remote heir, Sir Peter Murray Thrieplund, of 

The truth of a similarly recovered ring I am able to 
attest from my acquaintance with the late Mrs. Drake, of 
Pilton, near Barnstaple, to whose family the incident refers. 
The husband of this lady, while with her in a boat off 
Ilfracombe about fifteen years ago, lost a valuable ring. Of 
course no hopes were ever entertained of its recovery. In 
1869, however, the ring was picked up on the beach at Lee, 
near Ilfracombe, by a little child who was living in the 
valley. The ring was readily identified, as it bore the in- 


scription : 'John, Lord Rollo, bom Oct. i6, 1751, died 
April 3, 1842/ 

In the bed of the river in the parish of Fornham St. 
Martin, in Sufifolk, was found, some years since, a gold ring 
with a ruby, late in the possession of Charles Blomfield, 
Esq., which is conjectured by some to be the ring that the 
Countess of Leicester is related (by Matthew Paris) to have 
thrown away in her flight after the battle of Fornham St. 
Genevieve, October 16, 1173. The Earl and Countess of 
Leicester were taken prisoners at this battle. 

A matron of East Lulworth lost her ring one day : two 
years afterwards she was peeling some potatoes brought from 
a field half-a-mile distant from the cottage, and upon divid- 
ing one discovered her ring inside. 

A Mrs. Mountjoy, of Brechin, when feeding a calf, let 
it suck her fingers, and on withdrawing her hand found that 
her ring had disappeared. Believing the calf was the 
innocent thief, she refused to part with it, and after keeping 
the animal for three years, had it slaughtered, and the ring 
was found in the intestines. 

A wealthy German farmer, living near Nordanhamn, was 
making flour-balls in 187 1 for his cattle. At the end of his 
work he missed his ring, bearing his wife's name. Soon 
afterwards the fanner sold seven bullocks, which the pur- 
chaser shipped to England, on board the ' Adler ' cattle- 
steamer on October 26. Two days afterwards an English 
smack, the ' Mary Ann ' of Colchester, picked up at sea the 
still warm carcass of a bullock, which was opened by the 
crew to obtain some fat for greasing the rigging. Inside the 
animal they found a gold ring inscribed with the woman's 
name and the date i860. Captain Tye reported the cir- 
cumstance as soon as he arrived in port, and handed the 


ring over to an official, who sent it up to London. The 
luthorities set to work to trace its ownership, and found 
I hat the only ship reporting the loss of a beast that could 
have passed the * Mary Ann ' was the steamer ' Adler,' from 
which a bullock supposed to be dead, had been thrown 
overboard on October 28. Meanwhile, the ' Shipping 
Gazette ' recording the finding of the ring had reached 
Nordanhamn, and one of its readers there had recognised 
the name inscribed upon it ; communications were opened 
with the farmer, and in due time he repossessed his ring. 

In the chapter on ' Ring Superstitions ' allusion is made 
to the marvellous stories of rings found in the bodies of 
fishes. An instance, however, of this character was mentioned 
in the newspapers lately, as having occurred at St. John's, 
Newfoundland. It is said that a signet-ring bearing the 
monogram ' P.B.' was discovered by a fisherman in the en- 
trails of a cod-fish caught in Trinity Bay. The fisherman, 
John Potter, kept the prize in his possession for some time, 
but, the incident getting known, he was requested by the co- 
lonial secretary to send or bring the ring to St. John's, as he 
had received letters from a family named Burnam, of Poole, 
England, stating that they had reason to feel certain that 
the ring once belonged to Pauline Burnam, who was one of 
the several hundred passengers of the Allan steamship 
' Anglo-Saxon,' which was wrecked off Chance Bay (N.F.) 
in 1 86 1, the said Pauline Burnam being a relative of theirs. 
The fisherman, in whose possession the ring was, brought it 
to St. John's, and presented it at the colonial secretary's 
office. After a brief delay he was introduced to a Mr. 
Burnam, who at once identified the object as the wedding- 
ring of his mother, and which she had always worn since 
her marriage at Huddersfield, in the year 1846. The ring 


was accordingly given up to Mr. Burnam, who rewarded the 
fortunate finder with fifty pounds. 

On October 7, 1868, some fishermen, throwing their nets 
in the Volga, captured a sturgeon, which was found to be 
the same as that which his Imperial Highness the heir- 
presumptive of the Russian crown had accepted as an 
offering in 1866 from the municipality of Nijni. At the 
desire of the Prince the fish was restored to the sea. Its 
identity was proved by a silver ring attached to the right 
gill of the fish, on which was inscribed the date, Aug. 27, 1866. 
Another similar ring, which had been attached to the left 
gill, had disappeared. 

It is to be presumed that the sturgeon was returned to 
the water with some mark to indicate the period at which 
it was re-captured. Some time after this occurrence a 
similar case occurred in the Volga, when another sturgeon, 
which had been off"ered as a present to the late Emperor 
Nicholas, and had been recommitted to its native element, 
was taken alive, and recognised by the rings attached to it. 

The French newspapers of May 1873 announced that 
at one of the principal restaurants in Paris, a valuable 
diamond ring was found in the stomach of a salmon pur- 
chased at the central markets. 

In the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (January 1765), is the 
account of a Mrs. Todd, of Deptford, who, in going in a 
boat to Whitstable, endeavoured to prove that no person 
need be poor who was willing to be otherwise ; and being 
excited with her argument, took off her gold ring, and, 
throwing it out into the sea, said ' it was as much impos- 
sible for any person to be poor who had an inclination to 
be otherwise, as for her ever to see that ring again.' The 
second day after this, and when she had landed, she bought 


some mackerel, which the servant commenced to dress for 
dinner, whereupon there v/as found a gold ring in one. The 
servant ran to show it to her mistress, and the ring proved 
) be that which she had thrown away. 
Brand, in his ' History of Newcastle,' relates that a 
^cntleman of that city, in the middle of the seventeenth 
c entury, dropped a ring from his hand over the bridge into the 
River Tyne. Years passed on, when one day his wife bought 
a fish in the market, and the ring was discovered in its 

A correspondent to ' Notes and Queries ' (vol. i. series 3, 
p. 36), relates the following curious anecdote : ' A gentleman, 
who was in the habit of frequenting a favourite spot for the 
sake of a view that interested him, used to lounge on a rail, 
and one day in a fit of absence of mind got fumbling about 
the post in which one end of the rail was inserted. On his 
way home he missed a valuable ring ; he went back again 
and looked diligently for it but without success. A con- 
siderable time afterwards in visiting his old haunt, and in- 
dulging in his usual fit of absence, he was very agreeably 
surprised to find the ring on his finger again, and which 
appears to have been occasioned by (in both instances), 
his pressing his finger in the aperture of the post, which 
just fitted sufficiently with a pressure to hold the ring. I 
afterwards tried the experiment at the spot, and found it 
perfectly easy to have been effected with an easily fitting 

A curious antique ring, discovered in 1867 near the 
site of the Priory of St. Mary, Pilton, near Barnstaple, 
was exhibited by Mr. Chanter, the owner, at the Exeter 
Meeting of the Royal Archaeological Institute (July 1873). 
The ring is of pure gold, weighing 131 grains, a large egg- 


shaped sapphire being in the middle, in a solid oval setting. 
The stone had a hole drilled through the lower edge, through 
which a gold stud was passed, but it did not extend through 
the gold setting. The stone had been evidently flawed by 
the operation. The ring was intended for the thumb, apd 
for ecclesiastical use, dating from about iioo or 1200. A 
singularity is attached to the discovery. Some men were 
engaged in hedging, when they had to cut down some old 
trees. After cutting down one, they found the ' moot ' of 
another underneath, and right in the centre of the latter 
was a round ball eight or ten inches in diameter, which the 
men took at first to be a carmon-ball. On opening the 
clay, however, the ring, bright and perfect, was exposed in 
the centre. A theory to account for this remarkable dis- 
covery is that the ring might have been stolen and buried 
by the thief for concealment under the tree in a ball of 
clay. For some reason or other the ring was left there, 
and in the course of time another tree grew over the 
old one. 

Among the singular discoveries of rings, I may mention 
the following : — In 1697 a woman was drowned for theft, in 
the Loch of Spynie, in Morayshire, and in 181 1 the skeleton 
was brought to light, with a ring on. its finger. In 1862, 
during some discoveries made at Pompeii, a body was too 
far decayed to be touched, but liquid plaster of Paris was 
poured upon it, and a cast was taken, so accurately done 
that a ring was found on the finger. In the excavation of 
an Anglo-Saxon burial-place at Harnham Hill, near Salisbury, 
a silver twisted ring was found on the middle finger-bone 
of a skeleton. In some sepulchral objects from Italy, 
Styria, and Mecklenburg, obtamed by the late J. M. Kemble, 
Esq., was a finger-ring of bronze, in which the bone still 


\ ly. The Abbe Cochet, the indefatigable Norman explorer, 
cntions this as of usual occurrence. ' Au doigt de la main 
sont les bagues, ou des anneaux d'or, d'argent, de cuivre, 
ou de bronze. Quelques unes de ces bagues sont unies ; 
mais d'autres ont des chatons en agate, en verroterie rouge 
ou vert, ou des croix encaustees sur m^tal. Communement, 
elles sont encore passees au doigt que les porta, dont la 
phalange est tout verdie par I'oxyde du bronze ' ('La 
Normandie Souterraine,' p. 29). 

In Moore's ' Life of Byron ' we have an instance of a 
lost ring recovered under peculiarly interesting circum- 
stances : 'On the day of the arrival of the lady's (Miss 
Millbanke) answer, he (Lord Byron) was sitting down to 
dinner, when his gardener came in, and presented him with 
his mother's wedding-ring, which she had lost many years 
before, and which the gardener had just found in digging 
up the mould under her window. Almost at the same 
moment, the letter from Miss Millbanke arrived, and Lord 
Byron exclaimed, " If it contains a consent, I will be married 
with this very ring." It did contain a very flattering ac- 
ceptance of his proposal (of marriage), and a dupHcate of 
the letter had been sent to London, in case this should 
have missed him.' 

Among the numerous applications of rings to various 
purposes, one of the most curious is the custom, once 
prevalent in the Isle of Man, that if a man grossly insulted 
a married woman he was to suffer death, but if the woman 
was unmarried the Deemster, or judge, gave her a rope, 
a sword, and a ring, and she had it put to her choice either 
to hang him with the rope, or to cut off his head with the 
sword, or to marry him with the ring. 


In one of Robin Hood's ballads we find that a ring was 
part of a prize for archery : — 

A greate courser, with saddle and brydle, 

With gold burnished full bright ; 
A paire of gloves, a red golde ring, 

A pipe of wyne, good fay. 
What man berest him best, I wist. 

The prize shall bear away. 

Rings were proffered as bribes : in the old legend of King 

Estmere, the porter of King Adlan's hall is bribed by that 

monarch and his brother, disguised as harpers, to admit 

them : — 

Then they pulled out a ryng of gold, 

Layd itt on the porter's arme, 
' And ever we will thee, proud porter. 

Thou wilt saye us no harme.' 

Sore he looked on King Estmere, 

And sore he handled the ryng, 

Then opened to them the fayre hall gates, 

He lett for no kind of thyng. 

The lady. King Adlan's daughter, for whose sake the ring 
is given, is thus described : — 

The talents of gold were on her head sette. 

Hanged low down to her knee ; 
And everye ring on her small finger 

Shone of the chrystall free. 

In the romance of ' Earl Richard,' we have another 
instance of a ring fee, or bribe, to a porter : — 

She took a ring from her finger 

And gave't the porter for his fee, 
Says, ' tak you that, my good porter. 

And bid the queen speak to me.' 

In the capital ballad of the ' Baffled Knight,' or ' Lady's 


Policy/ the latter in answer to the overtures of her drunken 
wooer says : — 

Oh, yonder stands my steed so free, 

Among the cocks of hay, sir ; 
And if the pinner should chance to see 

He'll take my steed away, sir. 

The Knight rejoins : — 

Upon my finger I have a ring, 

It's made of finest gold-a. 
And, lady, it thy steed shall bring 

Out of the pinner's fold-a. 

Miller, in his * History of the Anglo-Saxons,' relates a 
pretty story of a 'bribe' ring, an episode in the batdes 
between Edmund Ironside and Canute. It was on the eve 
of one of these conflicts that a Danish chief, named Ulfr, 
being hotly pursued by the Saxons, rushed into a wood, in 
the hurry of defeat, and lost his way. After wandering 
about some time, he met a Saxon peasant, who was driving 
home his oxen. The Danish chief asked his name. ' It 
is Godwin,' answered the peasant ; ' and you are one of the 
Danes who were compelled yesterday to fly for your life.' 
The sea-king acknowledged it was true, and asked the 
herdsman if he could guide him either to the Danish ships, 
or where the army was encamped. ' The Dane must be 
mad,' answered Godwin, 'who trusts to a Saxon for safety.' 
Ulfr entreated this rude Gurth of the forest to point him 
out the way, at the same time urging his argument by 
presenting the herdsman with a massive gold ring, to win 
his favour. Godwin looked at the ring, and after having 
carefully examined it he again placed it in the hand of 
the sea-king, and said : * I will not take this, but will show 
you the way.' Ulfr spent the day at the herdsman's cottage ; 


night came, and found Godwin in readiness to be his guide. 
The herdsman had an aged father, who, before he permitted 
his son to depart, thus addressed the Danish chief : ' It is 
my only son whom I allow to accompany you ; to your 
good faith I entrust him, for remember that there will no 
longer be any safety for him amongst his countrymen if it 
is once known that he has been your guide. Present him 
to your King, and entreat him to take my son into his 
service.' Ulfr promised, and he kept his word. The 
humble cowherd, who afterwards married the sea-king's 
sister, became the powerful Earl Godwin, of historic ce- 

In former times rings denoted quality, if we may judge 
from the expressions in an old play (' First Part of the 
Contention : York and Lancaster;' Shakspeare Society) : — 

I am a gentleman, looke on my ring, 
Ransome me at what thou wilt, it shall be paid. 

In the popular German ballad of ' Anneli,' or the ' Anneli 
Lied,' translated by Mr. J. H. Dixon (' Notes and Queries,' 
3rd series, vol. ix.), the maiden, whose lover is drowned in 
the lake while swimming, is in a boat with a fisherman who 
recovers the body, which she places on her lap : — 

And she kiss'd his mouth, and he seem'd to smile, 

' Oh, no, r will not repine, 
For God in heaven hath granted him 

A happier home than mine.' 

And she chaf d in hers his clammy hands — 

Ah ! what does the maiden see ? 
There was a bridal-ring for one 

Was never a bride to be. 

She drew from his finger that posied ring, 
' Fisherman — lo ! thy fee ! ' 


And clasping him round and round she plunged, 

And scream'd with a maniac glee — 
'No other young man in Argovie 
Shall drovvn for the love of me ! ' 

Mr. R. S. Ralston, M.A., in his * Songs of the Russians/ 
mentions an interesting custom in connection with rings : 
' Among the games is that called the " Burial of the Gold." 
A number of girls form a circle, and pass from hand to 
hand a gold ring, which a girl who stands inside the circle 
tries to detect. Meanwhile they sing in chorus the following 
verses : — 

See here, gold I bury, I bury ; 

Silver pure I bury, bury ; 

In the rooms, the rooms of my father. 

Rooms so high, so high, of my mother. 

Guess, O maiden, find out, pretty one, 

"Whose hand is holding 

The wings of the serpent. 

The girl in the middle replies : — 

Gladly would I have guessed, 
Had I but known, or had seen, — 
Crossing over the plain. 
Plaiting the niddy brown hair, 
"Weaving with silk in and out 
Interlacing with gold. 
O, my friend"?, dear companions, 
Tell the truth, do not conceal it, 
Give, oh give mfe back my gold ! 

My mother will beat me 

For three days, for four ; 

"With three rods of gold, 

With a fourth rod of pearl. 

The chorus breaks in, singing : — 

The ring has fallen, has fallen 
Among the guelders and raspberries. 
Among the black currants. 


Disappeared has our gold, 
Hidiien amid the mere dust, 
Grown all over with moss.' 

In Warner's 'History of Ireland' (vol. i. book lo) is 
the following ring anecdote : ' The people were inspired 
with such a spirit of honour, virtue, and religion, by the 
great example of Brien, and by his excellent administration, 
that, as a proof of it, we are informed that a young lady of 
great beauty, adorned with jewels and a costly dress, under- 
took to journey alone from one end of the kingdom to the, 
other, with a wand only in her hand, on the top of which 
was a ring of exceeding great value ; and such an impression 
had the laws and government of this monarch made on the 
minds of all the people that no attempt was made on her 
honour, nor was she robbed of her clothes or jewels.' 

This forms the subject of one of the sweetest melodies 

of Moore : — 

Rich and rare were the gems she wore, 

And a bright gold ring on her wand she bore ; 

But oh ! her beauty was far beyond 

Her sparkling gems and snow-white wand. 

Janus Nicius Crytraeus relates that a certain pope had 
a tame raven, which secreted the pope's ring, or anfiuhis 
Piscatoris. The pope, thinking that some one had com- 
mitted the robbery, issued a bull of excommunication against 
the robber. The raven grew very thin, and lost all his 
plumage. On the ring being found, and the excommunica- 
tion taken off, the raven recovered his flesh and his plumage. 

Upon this story was founded the admirable Ingoldsby 
legend of the ' Jackdaw of Rheims.' 

During the great war of liberation in Germany, the 


ladies deposited in the public treasury their jewels and 
ornaments to be sold for the national cause, and they each 
received in turn an iron ring inscribed ' Ich gab Gold am 
Eisen' (I gave gold for iron). Russell, who mentions this 
in his 'Tour in Germany,' 1813, adds : — 'A Prussian dame 
is as proud, and justly proud, of this coarse decoration as her 
imsband and her son is of his iron cross.' 

A singular mode of securing a ring on the finger is 
mentioned by a correspondent to * Notes and Queries' 
^4th Series, vol. vi. p. 323) : 'In the possession of a lady 
relative of mine is an old painting in oils, representing Sir 
W^illiam Segar, Principal King-at-Arms to James I. (1604), 
and his wife. They stand side by side, and are three- 
quarter portraits of life size. On the fourth finger of Lady 
Segar's right hand is a jewelled ring, to which are attached 
several black strings, curiously joined at the back of the 
hand, and fastened round the wrist.' 

A curious and tragical incident in connection with a 
ring is related in the ' Lives of the Lindsays.' The young 
Colin, Earl of Balcarres, was obtaining for his bride a 
young Dutch lady, Mauritia de Nassau, daughter of a 
natural son of iMaurice, Prince of Orange. The day arnved 
for the wedding, the noble party were assembled in the 
church, and the bride was at the altar ; but, to the dismay 
of the company, no bridegroom appeared. The volatile 
Colin had forgotten the day of his marriage, and was dis- 
covered in his night-gown and slippers, quietly eating his 
breakfast. He hurried to the church, but in his haste left 
the ring in his writing-case ; a friend in the company gave 
him one ; the ceremony went on, and, without looking at 

G G 


it, he placed it on the finger of the bride. It was a 
mourjiing ring, with the death's-head and cross-bones. On 
perceiving it at the close of the ceremony she fainted away, 
and the evil omen had made such an impression on her 
mind that, on recovering, she declared she should die 
within the year, and her presentiment was too truly fulfilled. 

Louis de Berquem, of Bruges, to whom is ascribed the 
art of cutting and polishing the diamond, made his first 
attempts in 1475, upon three rough and large diamonds, 
confided to him for that purpose by Charles the Rash, 
Duke of Burgundy. One of these was cut in a triangular 
shape, and mounted on a ring, on which were figured two 
hands, as a symbol of alliance and good faith, and was 
presented to Louis XL, King of France. 

Mr. Howitt, in his additions to the ' History of Magic ' 
of Ennemoser, remarks : ' In the St. Vitus's dance patients 
often experience divinatory visions of a fugitive nature, 
either referring to themselves or to others, and occasionally 
in symbolic words. In the " Leaves from Prevorst," such 
symbolic somnambulism is related, and I myself have 
observed a very similar case : Miss V. Brand, during a 
violent paroxysm of St. Vitus's dance, suddenly saw a 
black evil-boding crow fly into the room, from which, she 
said; she was unable to protect herself, as it unceasingly 
flew round her, as if it wished to make some communication. 
This appearance was of daily occurrence with the paroxysm 
for eight days aftenvards. On the ninth, when the attacks 
had become less violent, the vision commenced with the 
appearance of a white dove, which carried a letter containing 
a betrothal ring in its beak ; shortly afterwards the crow 



.'cwin with a black-sealed letter. The next morning the 
])OSt brought a letter with betrothal cards from a cousin, 
nd a iQ.-\N hours after the news was received of the death 
' A her aunt at Lohburg, of whose illness she was ignorant. 
Of both these letters, which two different posts brought in 
on the same day, Miss V. Brand could not possibly have 
known anything. The change of birds and their colours 
during her recovery, and before the announcement of 
agreeable or sorrowful news, the symbols of the ring and 
the black seal exhibit in this vision a particularly pure 
expression of the soul, as well as a correct view into the 

A French MS. of the thirteenth century gives the earliest 
version hitherto discovered of the fable of the three rings, 
known by the story in Boccaccio's ' Decamerone,' and 
by Lessing's ' Nathan.' From these, however, it differs 
essentially. In the present version the true ring is found 
out after the father's death, while Boccaccio and Lessing 
tell the contrary. Of course the allegorical meaning of the 
true ring is the Christian faith, and the two false are the 
Mohammedan and the Judaic faith. The Mohammedan 
faith is considered the oldest because it represents the 
pagan faith in general. 

Among the singular uses to which rings have been 
applied, I may mention what were called * meridian.' 
These were various kinds of astronomical rings formerly 
in use, "but now superseded by more exact instruments. In 
the French ' Encyclopedie ' (Diderot and D'Alembert) will 
be found an account of the ' solar ' ring {anneau solaire)^ 
which showed the hour by means of a small perforation, 


'un trou, par leqiiel on fait passer un rayon de soleil.' 
Zeller also describes a kind of sun-dial in the form of a 

Dial rings. 

ring. This was called the astronomical ring, ^annulus 
astronomicus.' ^ 

The Rev. Danson R. Currer has a brass ring-dial, pro- 
bably of the kind formerly designated as ' journey rings.* 

* In Knight's ' Pictorial Shakspeare ' is the following note on the ' 
dial which Touchstone drew * from his "poke : " ' " There's no clock in 
the forest," says Orlando ; and it was not very likely that the fool would 
have a pocket-clock. "What then was the dial that he took from his 
poke ? We have lately become possessed of a rude instrument kindly 
presented to us by a friend, which, as the Maid of Orleans found her 
sword, he picked "out of a deal of old iron." It is a brass circle of 
about two, inches in diameter. On the outer side are engraved letters, 
indicating the names of the months, with gradual divisions ; and on 
the inner side, the hours of the day. The brass circle itself is to be 
held in one position by a ring ; but there is an inner slide in which 
there is a small orifice. This slide being moved, so that the hole stands 
opposite the division of the month when the day falls of which we desire 
to know the time, the circle is held up opposite the sun. The inner 
side is then, of course in shade, but the sunbeam shines through the 
little orifice and forms a point of light upon the hour marked on the 
inner side. We have tried this dial and found it give the hour with 
great exactness.' 

A correspondent of * Notes and Queries ' (vol. xii. 3rd series, p. 79) 
mentions that rings to ascertain the time are regularly sold at the Swiss 
fairs. They are called cadrans. The price of one is twenty centimes. 


Mr. Edward Jones, of Dolgellau, has a dial-ring consisting 
of two concentric rings moving within the other, the larger 
f)ne having a linear groove, and 
the smaller one a slight hole work- 
ing into it. 

The romantic attachment of 
Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, 
to Mary, the second sister of 
Henry VIII., is an mterestmg 

episode in ring history. She had been married in 15 14 
to Louis XII . of France, a political union of youth and 
beauty to debilitated old age. Brandon was sent with 
several English nobles to grace the nuptials. There is 
reason to believe that Mary had flattered his hopes of 
marrying her long before she quitted England. King 
Louis died three months after his marriage, and a few days 
after the Queen was secretly married to Suffolk. That 
during the brief interval between the marriage and death 
of the French monarch some interchange of affection 
occurred between the lovers is certain. A rumour had 
spread that Suffolk had shown a diamond ring she gave 
him. ^ The truth is,' she writes, ' that one night at Tournay, 
being at the banquet, after the banquet he put himself upon 
his knees before me, and in speaking and in playing he 
drew from my finger the ring, and put it upon his, and since 
showed it to me ; and I took to laugh, and to him said 
that he was a thief, and that I thought not that the King 
had with him led thieves out of his country. The word 
lajTon he could not understand, wherefore I was constrained 
to a^k how one said in Flemish larron. And afterwards I 
said to him in Flemish dieffe, and I prayed him many times 


to give it me again, for that it was too much known. But 
he understood me not well, and kept it on unto the next 
day that I spake to the King, him requiring to make him 
to give it to me, because it was too much known — I pro- 
mising him one of my bracelets the which I wore, the which 
I gave him. And then he gave me the said ring ; the which 
one other time at I^ylle, being set nigh to my lady of Homes, 
and he before upon his knees, it took again from my finger. 
I spake to the King to have it again ; but it was not 
possible, for he said unto me that he would give me others 
better, and that I should leave him that. I said unto him 
that it was not for the value, but for that it was too much 
known. He would not understand it, but departed from 
me. The morrow after he brought me one fair point of 
diamond, and one table of ruby, and showed me it was for 
the other ring, wherefore I durst no more speak of it, if not 
to beseech him it should not be shewed to any person ; the 
which hath not all to me been done.' ' Thus signed, M.' 

In ' Household Words' (vol. ix. p. 277), there is an 
account of two rings supposed to have been stolen from 
Charles II. on his death-bed. * I should have told you, in 
his fits his feet were as cold as ice, and were kept rubbed 
with hot cloths, which were difficult to get. Some say the 
Queen rubbed one and washed it in tears. Pillows were 
brought from the Duchess of Portsmouth by Mrs. Roche. 
His Highness, the Duke of York, was the first there, and 
then I think the Queen (he sent for her) ; the Duchess of 
Portsmouth swooned in the chamber, and was carried out 
for air ; Nelly Gwynne roared to a disturbance, and was 
led out, and lay roaring behind the door ; the Duchess 
wept and returned ; the Princess (afterwards Queen Anne} 


was not admitted, he was so ghastly a sight (his eye-balls 
were turned that none of the blacks were seen, and his 
mouth drawn up to one eye), so they feared it might affect 
the child she goes with. None came in at the common door, 
but by an odd side-door, to prevent a crowd, but enough at 
convenient times to satisfy all. The grief of the Duchess 
of Portsmouth did not prevent her packing and sending 
many strong boxes to the French ambassador's ; and the 
second day of the King's sickness, the chamber being kept 
dark — one who comes from the light does not see very 
soon, and much less one who is between them and the 
light there is — so she went to the side of the bed, and sat 
down to, and, taking the King's hands in hers, felt his two 
great diamond rings ; thinking herself alone, and, asking 
him what he did with them on, said she would take them 
off, and did it at the same time, and looking up saw the 
Duke on the other side, steadfastly looking on her, at which 
she blushed much, and held them towards him, and said : 
" Here, sire, will you take them ? " " No, madam," he said, 
" they are as safe in your hands as mine, I will not touch 
them until I see how things will go." But, since the King's 
death, she has forgot to restore them, though he has not 
that she took them, for he told the story.' 

This extract is taken from a letter written by a lady who 
was the wife of a person about the court at Whitehall, and 
forms part of a curious collection of papers lately discovered 
at Draycot House, near Chippenham. 

In connection with incidents concerning rings, I may 
allude to the golden spoil that Messrs. Garrard, goldsmiths, 
of the Haymarket, London, purchased from the prize-agents 
of the British forces employed on the Gold Coast. These 


precious objects appear to have been collected by the King 
of Ash an tee in great haste as a propitiatory offering, and were 
evidently seized and sent at random to the British general. 
Among them are rings of the most beautiful yet fantastic 
shapes, showing the extraordinary imitative talents which 
the Ashantee goldsmiths possess. Perhaps the most curious 
of these is a ring finely chased, the signet of which is made 
of what seems to be an ancient Coptic coin. Two rings 
appear to have been copied from early English betrothal 
rings, precisely such as those by which lovers plighted their 
troth in this country many years ago. 




Ji VOLUME of some amplitude might be written on the very 
attractive subject of the present chapter, for there are very 
i^\N famihes in the kingdom cherishing a regard for ancestry 
and for the antiquarian interests of their country, who could 
not show examples of rings possessing unusual interest, not 
only of family, but of general importance. The Loan Ex- 
hibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery at the South 
Kensington Museum in 1872 exhibited an unusual display 
of finger-rings contributed from every part of the kingdom, 
many of them of extreme rarity and beauty ; while the 
famous Waterton Collection acquired by the Museum, de- 
scribed by one of the most eminent authorities on this 
particular subject as * in its almost unlimited extent, com- 
prising the rings of all ages and nations,' afforded specimens, 
many of which were unique, and of singular interest. 

The limits of the present book enable me only to mention 
a few instances of remarkable rings, in addition to those 
which have been already alluded to in the previous chapters. 
Rings of the earliest ages naturally attract our observation 
more than those of later times, and are invaluable studies 
to the historian and the antiquarian, throwing light upon 
many subjects, of which they are in some cases the only 
reflex, and enabling us to judge of the progress of art in 


distant eras, to assist chronological researches, and to 
explain by inscriptions and figures niany dubious points 
which would otherwise remain obscure. 

No doubt there are many instances in which we have 
to depend on tradition alone for circumstances in connection 
with ring incidents, but even in these cases romance and 
poetry lend their aid in rendering them full of charm and 
interest, as an acquaintance with the mediaeval writers more 
especially will prove, and to which I have frequently alluded 
in the preceding chapters. 

Among the most remarkable collections of cameos, 
intaglios, and finger-rings, are those known as the ^ Devon- 
shire Gems,' formed in the last century by William Cavendish, 
third Duke of Devonshire. Eighty-eight, including some 
of the finest cameos, were withdrawn from it, and mounted 
in enamelled gold as a parure, unsurpassed for beauty and 

These precious gems were exhibited at the South 
Kensington Museum in 1872. Amongst the finger-rings 
were a scarabseus in grey and white onyx of three strata, in 
its antique ring of massive gold, thickened and expanded 
at the shoulders ; a splendid specimen of a large gold ring 
of the best Italo-Greek work, the hoop formed of delicately 
woven corded pattern, the large deep bezel enriched with ex- 
quisite applied ornament in minute threaded work, perhaps 
the finest ring of its type known ; a ring with intaglio of 
female head chased on the gold of the bezel is of antique 
Greek type ; an intaglio of beautiful antique work on 
banded onyx, set in a massive gold ring ; a most remark- 
able Roman ring, the bezel representing a Cupid's head, 
chased in full relief on the solid ; a small gold ring, the 
square bezel engraved with a dolphin, and the hoop formed 


r triple beaded pattern ; eight antique Roman rings, for 

ic most part of the second and third centuries, one 

f which has the open-work hoop : a very interesting 

odiceval ring of rude workmanship, formed of electron, 

; gold much alloyed with silver ; on the circular bezel is 

liead in intaglio, and in rather rude lettering 'vivat,' the 

oulders have pellets at the side of the hoop — the date 

)uld appear to be of the seventh or eighth century; a 

good example of the iconographic type of English ring 

engraved on the bezel with figures of saints, fifteenth 

century ; a massive gold ring, shoulders and hoop chased, 

Gothic inscriptions within the hoop ; a fine English fifteenth 

century signet ; a massive signet of the sixteenth century ; 

a signet with shield of arms engraved on the under side 

of a thin piece of rock crystal and coloured, sixteenth or 

seventeenth century. 

Among the classical antiquities in the British Museum 
is a rich collection of gems retaining their antique settings, 
a treasure not to be surpassed by any in Europe. Among 
these is a magnificent intaglio of Hercules slaying the 
Hydra, very deeply cut on a rich sard, and set in a massive 
gold ring of the form fashionable during the Lower Empire. 
The wonderful lion-ring from the Prince of Canino's col- 
lection I have already described in the first chapter of this 
work. An account of the Museum gems will be found in 
the works of the Rev. C. W. King, on ' Precious Stones ' 
and * Antique Gems.' 

In the same magnificent collection are some curious 
rings, amongst other objects from Switzerland, of the people 
who built their habitations on piles in the lakes. 

In the British Museum is also preserved the gold signet- 
ring of Mary, Queen of Scots. On the face is engraved the 



royal arms and supporters of the kingdom of Scotland, with 
the motto ' in defens' and her initials ' M. R.' In the inner 
side of the seal a crowned monogram is engraved, ' which 
might have been an unsolved enigma, but for the existence, 
in the State Paper Office, of a letter written by Mary to 
Queen EHzabeth, in which she has drawn the identical 
monogram after signing her name. Sir Henry ElHs, who 
first traced out this curious history, says, " It is clearly 
formed of the letters m. and a. (for Mary and Albany), and 
gives countenance to the opinion that the written monogram 
was intended for Elizabeth and Burghley to study, the 
subsequent creation of the title of Duke of Albany in Lord 
Darnley ultimately opening their eyes to the enigma." ' 

A siniilarly interesting ring is that of Henry, Lord 
Darnley, husband to Mary, Queen of Scots, now in the 
Waterton Collection at the South Kensington Museum. 
On the bezel it bears the two initials ' m. h.' united by a 
lover's knot. In the hoop is the name engraved ' Henri 
L. Darnley/ and the year of the marriage, 1565. 

Signet-ring of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Darnley ring. "1 

In the interesting 'Notices of Collections of Glyptic 
Art,' by the Rev. C. W. King, M.A., published in the 
'Archaeological Journal' for October 1861, is a description 


: some remarkable rings in the Queen's and other col- 

' tions. By the kindness of the editor of the Journal 

am enabled to give an abstract of the valuable papers 

iitributed by the Rev. C. W. King. In the Royal 

)llection is a ruby set in a massy gold ring, having the 

me of 'Loys XII.,' and the date of his decease, 1515, 

igraved inside. The ruby has a head in profile of King 

l.ouis, and is a stone of considerable size (being half an 

inch in diameter) and of the finest quality. The drawing 

's correct, though somewhat stiff, after the usual manner of 

c Quattro Cento heads ; the relief is somewhat flat, and 

Jl the details most accurately finished; both for material 

and execution this gem is an invaluable monument of the 

early times of the art. 

The signet-ring made for Charles II., when Prince of 
Wales, has the ostrich plumes between the letters ' C. P.' — 
'■ Carolus Princeps ' — neatly and deeply cut upon a table 
diamond (-^xf inch in size) formed into a heater-shaped, 
seven-sided shield. The stone is slightly tinged with yellow, 
but of fine lustre, and such that of its nature no doubt what- 
ever can be entertained. The ring, holding this in every 
respect interesting relic, has the back enamelled with a 
bow and quiver €7i saltire. A marvellous specimen of 
metal-work is the signet of his unfortunate father, having 
the royal arms most minutely engraved upon a shield of 
steel, and the lion and unicorn (modelled with matchless 
skill in the same metal in full relief) reclining upon the 
shoulders of a gold ring, and that of a size by no means 
inconvenient for wear upon the little finger. 

The Marlborough gems ^ constitute a famous collection, 

* This magnificent collection was sold, in one lot (June 28th, 1875), 
to Mr. Bromilow, of Battlesden Park, for 35,ocx)/. 


as it now stands, formed by the union of the Anmdel and 
the Bessborough, together with certain additions made at the 
close of the last century by the grandfather of the present 
Duke of Marlborough. This collection includes many 
masterpieces of art set in rings of fine gold in a plain solid 
imitation of the ancient ring worn by the later Romans, 
having a slight round shank, gradually thickening towards 
the shoulders. 

The Bessborough Collection deservedly ranks as one 
of the first in Europe for the interest and value of the 
works of art it contains (as viewed exclusively in that light) 
and the gems themselves, arc pre-eminently distinguished 
by the unusual taste and elegance of the rings in which they 
are for the most part set. In this point of view alone they 
will furnish a rich treat to every amateur in that elegant 
branch of the jeweller's craft. Some are choice examples 
of the Renaissance goldsmiths' skill ; the majority, however, 
plainly show that they were made to the commission of the 
noble possessor, exhibiting as they do the most varied 
designs in the Louis XV. style, in which one is at a loss 
what most to admire, the fertility of invention displayed in 
the great variety of the forms, or the perfection of work- 
manship with which these designs have been carried out in 
the finest gold. 

The Rev. C. W. King mentions a ring in this collection, 
with a representation of a dancing fawn upon sard, as the 
most elegant design ever invented by Italian taste. Ap- 
propriately to the subject, the shank consists of two thyrsi, 
whilst around the head of the ring runs an ivy garland, the 
leaves enamelled green. The execution of this charming 
idea equals the design. 

Another exquisite old Italian ring is described as being 


orned with two masks of Pan upon the shoulders, the 

! y masterpieces of chasings in gold, so vigorous, so full 

life, are these minute full-faced heads in half relief. 

In the same collection is a sard engraved with a head 

Lucilla, mediocre in execution, but set in a ring worthy 

; Cellini, to whose age the workmanship belongs. It is 

rtainly the most artistic example of this ornament that 

LS ever come under the Rev. Mr. King's notice. Two 

ide figures, one seen in front, the other from behind, 

rved out in flat relief upon the shoulders of the shank, 

bear torches in either hand, which wind round the setting ; 

doves and flowers fill up the interval between them. The 

perfection of these minute chasings is beyond all description, 

each is a finished statuette ; curious, too, is the elegance with 

which they are employed, so as to fall naturally into the 

curvature required by their position. 

These extracts from the paper in the 'Archaeological 
Journal/ by the Rev. C. W. King, will suflSce to show the 
great value and beauty of these precious objects. 

The famous ring of Chariclea is thus mentioned by the 
Rev. C. W. King in his * Handbook of Engraved Gems.' 
It is 'an extract from the flowery pages of the tasteful 
Bishop of Tricca, Heliodorus, who, though wTiting amidst 
the fast-gathering clouds of the fourth century, still retained 
a tinge of early culture, and could not extinguish a sinful 
admiration for artistic beauty. Like other educated men 
of his, and even lower, times, he was still able to appreciate 
the productions of an art, even then, nearly extinct, for with 
what enthusiasm does he enlarge uJ)on the description of 
the ring worn by his heroine Chariclea (' ^thiop.' v. 13), 
possibly a work the beauty of which he had himself admired 
in reality, or, perhaps, actually possessed ! " Such is the 


appearance of all amethysts coming from India and Ethiopia ; 
but that which Calasiris now presented to Nausicles was far 
above them in value, for it was enriched with an engraving, 
and worked out into an imitation of nature. The subject 
was a boy tending his flocks, himself standing upon a low 
rock for the sake of looking about him, and guiding his 
sheep to their pasture by the music of his Pandean pipe. 
The flock seemed obedient to the signal, and submitted 
themselves readily to be conducted by the guidance of his 
notes. One would say they were themselves laden ^vith 
fleeces of gold, and those not of the artist's giving, but due 
to the amethyst itself, which painted their backs with a 
blush of its own. Pictured also were the tender skippings 
of the lambs ; whilst some running up against the rock in 
troops, others, turning in frolicsome turnings around the 
shepherd, converted the rising ground into an appearance 
of a pastoral theatre. Others, again, revelling in the blaze 
of the amethyst, as if in the beams of the sun, were pawing 
and scraping the rock with the points of their hoofs, as if 
they bounded up against it. Such amongst them as were 
the first born, and the more audacious, seemed as if they 
were wishing to leap over this round of the gem, but were 
kept in by the artist, who had drawn a border like a golden 
fold around them and the rock. Now this fold was in reality 
of stone, and not imitative, for the engraver, having circum- 
scribed a portion of the gem's edge for this purpose, had 
depicted what he required in the actual substance, deeming 
it a clever stroke to contrive a stone wall upon a stone!'' 
' A remark,' adds the Rev. C. W. King, ' proving that our 
author is describing a real intaglio, not drawing upon his 
fancy merely.' 

The Rev. Walter Sneyd possesses a ring of singular 



interest, supposed to have belonged to Roger, King of 
Sicily (died 1152). A representation of this relic is given 
in the 'Archaeological Journal' (vol. iii. p. 269). *It is of 
mixed yellow metal, gilt ; on either side of the hoop there 
is a crown — of the form commonly seen on coins or money 
of the twelfth century — and on the signet are the words 
" RoGERivs Rex," chased in high relief. In the form of the 
character they correspond closely with legends on coins of 
Roger, second Duke of Apulia of 
that name, crowned King of Sicily 
1 1 29. This ring has every appear- 
ance of genuine character; but it 
is difficult to tell for what purpose 
it was fabricated, the inscription not 
beinff inverted, and the letters in ^ , • r^ 

^ _ ^ Supposed ring of Roger, 

relief ill-suited for producing an im- King of Sicily. 

pression. It seems very improbable that King Roger 
should have worn a ring of base metal, and the conjecture 
may deserve consideration that it was a signet not intended 
for the purpose for sealing, but entrusted in lieu of cre- 
dentials to some envoy.' 

In the Waterton Collection is a ring assumed on good 
grounds to have been that with which Cola di Rienzi, 
the famous tribune of Rome, was united to Catarina di 
Riselli. ' The ring,' remarks Mr. Waterton, ' was purchased 
for me in Rome, for a trifling sum, at one of the periodical 
clearing sales of the Monte di Piet^, and I had it for several 
months before I discovered certain facts — which many 
archaeologists consider to be corroborative of my sup- 
position — that this ring was the nuptial ring of Cola di 
Rienzi. Its style, when compared with other objects of 
the period, enables us to ascribe its date to the first half of 

H H 


the fourteenth century. The bezel is an irregular octagon, 
in the centre there is cut, signet-wise, a device, two stars 
divided per pale. Around this are inscribed two names — 
Catarina, Nicola — the interstices being filled up with niello. 
These names are written from left to right, and not reversed. 
The ring is an elegant specimen of Italian workmanship, 
and I consider it to have been produced by a Florentine 
artist. The reasons for believing that this may have been 
the fiancial ring of Rienzi and his wife are the following : 
1. The two names, Nicola (di Rienzi) and Catarina (di 
Riselli). 2. The date of the ring, which we may assign 
to 1320-T340, the time when Rienzi lived. 3. Neither 
Rienzi nor his wife had any armorial bearing ; and, having 
great faith in his destiny, he is stated to have selected a star 
for his device. The two stars divided per pale were inter- 
preted by an eminent Roman archaeologist to be significant 
of the star of Rienzi, and that of his wife.' 

A curious seal-ring, formerly in the possession of Sir 
Richard Worsley, of Appuldercombe, in the Isle of Wight, 
was exhibited at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries 
in 1775. An impression in wax was also shown at the 
Plymouth Local Committee of the Exeter Diocesan Archi- 
tectural Society, in July 1850, by Mr. Cotton, of Ivybridge. 
The thumb-ring, set in gold, and of exquisite workmanship, 
is said to have been in the possession of the Worsley family 
since the time of Henry VIII. That King usually wore 
it on his finger, and presented it to Sir James Worsley, his 
yeoman of the wardrobe, and governor of the Isle of Wight. 
The device represents a warrior completely armed from 
head to foot, and covered with a vest or surcoat ; his 
helmet is flat at die top, and brought round under the chin, 
exactly in the same form as those worn in France about the 


middle of the thirteenth century, during the reign of Saint 
Louis. The scabbard of his sword hangs by his side, but 
the sword itself lies broken at his feet. His uplifted arms 
grasp a ragged or knotted staff, with which he is in the 

The 'Worsley' seal-ring. 

act of attacking a lion, who stands opposed to him. His 
shield bears the coat armour of the Stuart family ; viz., Or, 
a fesse cheeky Az. and Argt. Over the lion's head appears 
an arm in mail, holding a shield, with the above coat of 
arms of the Stuarts ; and in an escutcheon of pretence, a 

U H 2 



lion rampant, the arms of Scotland and of Bruce. Th 
sleeve of the drapery, which falls loosely from the arm, i 
ornamented on the border with three J^eiirs de //s; and the 
whole is enclosed within a double tressare fleury and counter- m 
fleury, which together form the arms of Scotland. 

' The warrior here represented ' (says Dr. Mills, Dean 
of Exeter, in his account of this ring) * seems to be Sir 
Walter Stuart, born anno 1393, so called from being 
hereditary High Steward of Scotland. He married Margery, 
daughter of Robert Bruce, and sister to David Bruce, Kings 
of Scotland. David dying without male issue, Margery 
became an heiress ; and therefore her arms are placed here 
in an escutcheon of pretence on those of Walter Stuart, her 

The device here represented seems to be in some 
measure ascertained by the account given by Sir Simeon 
Stuart's family in the Baronetage of England, which says 
that Sir Alexander Stuart had an honourable augmentation 
granted by Charles VI., King of France, viz. argent the 
lion of Scotland, debruised with a ragged staff bend-wise 
or. This honour was probably granted to Sir Alexander . 
on account of some martial achievement performed either | 
by him or his ancestors. But the seal seems to determine I 
it to Walter Stuart, the husband of Margery Bruce, as there ' 
is not more than fifty years between his death and the 
accession to the throne of Charles VI. As Sir James 
Worsley, ancestor to Sir Richard, married Mary, eldest 
daughter of Sir Nicholas Stuart, of Hartley Mauditt, in 
Hampshire, it is highly probable that this ring descended 
to the family of Worsley by this alliance. 

The ring of St. Louis of France was formerly kept in 
the treasury of St. Denis. In ' Le Tresor Sacre de Sainct 


Denys' (1646) this ring is thus described: * L'anneau du 
inesme glorieux Roy Sainct Louis qui est precieux : il est 

a-or, semd de fleurs de lys, (JEST^I/E^^INET^bYROi 
- arny d'un grand saphir quarre' 

ur lequel est grave'e I'image jSuMrT*iOVXS>^ 

(lu mesme sainct avec les 
!cttres S. L., qui veulent dire 
Sigillum Lodovici. Sur le rond 
■Je I'anneau par le dedans sont 
^ravez ces mots, " Cest le 
Signet du Roy S. Loins, ^' qui 
y ont este adjoustez apres sa 
mort.' A representation of ^^"^ °^ ^^ ^°"^ 

this remarkable ring is here given. It is now in the Mus^ 
des Souverains at the Louvre. 

* The wedding-ring,' remarks the Rev. C. W. King, ' of 
the same prince is said to have been set with a sapphire 
engraved with the Crucifixion ; . the shank covered with lilies 
and marguerites^ allusive to his own name and his wife's. 
This attribution is a mere custodis story. Mr. Waterton, 
who examined this gem, puts it down to a much later age : 
the King, a full length, has the nimbus, showing the figure 
to be posterior to his beatification. It probably belongs 
to Louis XII.'s time.' 

In the Braybrooke Collection is a cameo portrait of 
Madame de Maintenon, on a very large and fine ruby, 
three eighths of an inch by half an inch wide, in a most 
beautiful gold ring, contemporaneous setting ; presented 
to Louis XIV, when she retired into the convent of St. 
Cyr. In the same collection is a cameo portrait of Queen 
Elizabeth, by Valerio Vicentini, on a sardonyx of three 
strata, in a fine gold setting of the period; also a cameo 


portrait of Charles I. on black jasper, a splendid work of 
art, in a beautifully-enamelled gold ring of his time. 

The Rev, C. W. King describes the famous signet-ring 
of Michael Angelo, preserved in the Paris Collection. ' It 
is a sard engraved with a group representing a Bacchic 
festival, quite in the Renaissance style. In the exergue is 
a boy fishing, the rebus upon the name of the artist Gi'o 
Maria da Pescia. Many connoisseurs, however, hold the 
gem to be an undoubted antique. Of this relic the following 
curious story is told : — In the last century, as the Abbe 
Barthelemy was exhibiting the rarities of the Bibliotheque 
to a distinguished antiquary of the day, he suddenly missed 
this ring, whereupon without expressing his suspicions, he 
privately despatched a servant for an emetic, which, when 
brought, he insisted upon the savanfs swallowing, and the 
ring came to light again.* * 

The celebrated gem representing Apollo and Marsyas, 
which belonged to Lorenzo de' Medici, and formed one of 
the magnificent collection of the Grand-Duke of Tuscany, 

* In Montfaucon's * L'Antiquite Expliquee ' there is a fine illustration 
of this beautiful seal. My edition of the work is in English (1721), and 
the engraving is in vol. i. page 145. It is thus described : the child 
Bacchus is in the arms of his nurse. She is generally thought to have 
been Ino, called also Leucothea, or the daughters of Ino (according to 
others) brought him up. A nymph, or perhaps another nux'se, is sitting 
by. The old man is either Silenus, or it may be Athan^as, Ino's 
husband. Several other nymphs have on their heads baskets full of 
flowers and fruits. Two Cupids, or Genii, stretch a canopy over 
Bacchus and the company that are about him. A nymph presents a 
cup to one of the Cupids, On the side of the figure is an old satyr 
leaning against a tree. He is playing on a kind of crooked hautboy. 
At the end, behind the tree, is a young boy, holding with both hands a 
bason, in which a goat seems to be going to drink. It is not easy to 
say who a naked man is with the crown on, and holding a cup in one 
hand, and in the other the bridle of a horse that is prancing. Some 
have taken it for Apollo. 


once, mounted on a ring, decorated the hand of the 
jarricide Nero, who used it to sign his sanguinary mandates. 
Numbers of copies have been taken of this gem in ancient 
:ind modern times. It is thus described by Tenhove : 
Apollo, in a noble attitude, is holding his lyre, and re- 
L^arding with disdain Marsyas, who, bound to a tree, and 
his hands tied behind him, awaits the just punishment of 
his temerity. The young Scythian who is to execute the 
sentence, kneels before Apollo, apparently imploring his 
clemency. The quiver and arrows of the god are suspended 
from one of the branches of the tree ; on the foreground 
are the instruments of which the satyr has made such un- 
fortunate use. 

It is known that Nero had the folly to imagine himself 
the first musician of his time, and in selecting this subject 
he doubtless intended to get rid of all competition, by 
deterring those who might otherwise have felt disposed to 
enter the lists with him. Perhaps he was looking at his 
left hand, and assuming Apollo for his model, when he had 
the singer Menedemus, of whom he was jealous, flayed, as 
it were, with whipping, in his presence, vv'hose yells of agony 
seemed to the emperor so melodious that he warmly 
applauded. Lorenzo's feeling with regard to the gem was, 
doubtless, of a very different character : he selected the 
stone on account of its marvellous beauty of execution. 

Among the art treasures, in connection with rings and 
camei in the British Museum, the Rev. C. W. King notices 
a cameo with a lion passant, in low relief in the red layer 
of a sardonyx, exquisitely finished, which has its value 
greatly enhanced by the ' Lavr. Med.' cut in the field, 
attesting that it once belonged to the original cabinet of 
Lorenzo de' Medici. This stone, set in a ring, has its face 



protected by a glass ; a proof of the estimation in which 
its former possessor held it. 

Ring Device of Cosmo de' Medici. 

Cosmo de' Medici had for device three diamonds on 
rings, intertwined emblems of excellency, superiority, and 

Ring Device of Lorenzo de' Medici. 

Lorenzo de' Medici had a ring with a diamond ; a 
plume of three colours, green, white, and red, to signify 


that in loving God he displayed three virtues : the white 
plume representing faith ; the green, hope ; the red, charity. 
Pope Leo X. adopted this device. 

Pietro de' Medici had a falcon holding a diamond-ring 
in its claws, signifying that everything should be done to 
please God. 

Ring Device of Pietro de' Medici. 

In the Staunton collection of antiquities (Longbridge 
House, near Warwick) is a remarkable ring, which is 
described (with illustrations) in the ' Archaeological Journal ' 
(vol. iv. p. 358). It is a beautiful gold signet-ring, found, 
about the year 1825, in the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, by 
a person named Faulkner, who was in the constant habit 
of searching among the rubbish with the expectation of 
making some valuable discovery. Its weight is 4 dwts. 
10 grs. The impress is very singular; under a crown 
appear the numerals 87, of the forms usually designated 
as Arabic, of which no example has been noticed in this 
country, except in MSS. prior to the fifteenth century. Above 
the crown are the letters s and Ij ; lower down on one side 


is seen the letter a, and on the other m. Various inter- 
pretations of this remarkable device have been suggested : 
it has been supposed that it might have reference to the 
coronation of Elizabeth, Queen of Henry VII., solemnised 
at Westminster, a.d. 1487, or have been connected with the 
enterprise of Lambert Simnel, which occurred during that 
year at the instigation of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. 
Mr. Hawkins considers its age to have been about the 
reign of Edward IV., the crown with fleur-de-lys ornaments, 
and the form of the m being of similar character to those 
on his coins ; a similar type of crown may, however, be 
found in earlier times, as shown by the great seals and 
other authorities as early even as the reign of Richard II. 

Ring found at Kenilworth Castle. 

The letters have been supposed to be the initials of a 
sentence such as ' Sancta virgo adjuvame ' (the second letter 
being read as b) or, supposing the ring to be referred to 
the times of Henry VII., ' Sigillum,' or ' secretum, Henrici, 
anno (14) 87. M^.' The most probable explanation, how- 
ever, appears to have been proposed by Mr. John Gough 
Nichols : that the ring, which is of a size suited to a lady's 
finger, might have been a betrothal or wedding present ; 
the initials s.^. and a.m. being those of the two parties, the 
Arabic numerals indicating the date 1487, and the crown 
being merely ornamental, frequently used during the fifteenth 
century on seals by persons not entitled by rank to use 


The coronet, with an initial letter, adopted as a device 

)n the seals or signet-rings of commoners, appears on 

umerous rings of the fifteenth century, as well as on seals 

ppended to documents. It appears on another ring of 

Iter date in Mr. Staunton's collection, of base metal gilt, 

ound in Coleshill Church, Warwickshire. The device 

appears to be a crown placed upon a shaft or truncheon, 

resting on a heart, in base, with the initials of the wearer, 

I. G., at the sides. 

At a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries (May 1875), 

Mr. Robert Day (Local Secretary for Ireland) exhibited a 

silver ring of fourteenth-century work, the hoop portion of 

which is formed of two hands, which grasp an octagonal 

signet that bears the centre device of a letter r crowned, 

with the motto * Bacchal,' and a spray of roses in the 

border. ' To illustrate this,' remarks Mr. Day, ' I send 

a small coin of base silver, having a similar crowned r on 

the obverse. These crowned letters recall the familiar lines 

of Chaucer, of 

a crowned A, 

And after, Amor Vincit Omnia. 

The ring was dug up in a potato garden at Howth, near 
Dublin. The motto " Bacchal " I am unable to throw any 
light upon, except it be a contraction of Baccalaureus. 
On the rim is a star of six points, to show the position for 

A ring-relic of Fotheringay, belonging to Mrs. Simpson, 
of Edinburgh, is of gold, set with a diamond cut in facets, 
with three smaller diamonds over it, representing a crowned 
heart. It is considered to have belonged to the unfortunate 
Mary, Queen of Scots. 

A gold signet-ring, curious and interesting in several 


respects, the property of Mr. James Neish, of the Laws, 
Dundee, was exhibited at a meeting of the Archaeological 
Institute in May 1864, when the following particulars were 
given : — It was found about 1790, in digging the foundations 
of Heathfield House, on the Hawkhill, Dundee, formerly 
called the Sparrow Muir. The device (of which a repre- 
sentation is given in the 'Archaeological Journal,' No. 82, 
1864, p. 186) is a head, apparently regal, bearded, with the 
hair long at the sides ; on the breast there is a mullet or 
star of five points introduced in scrolled ornament ; around 
the edge is a corded bordure with knots at intervals like a 
cordeliere, instead of the pearled margin usually found on 
seals. This knotted cincture is well known as worn by 
the Franciscans, thence designated as Cordeliers; as ac- 
cessory to heraldic or personal ornaments, its use seems to 
have been first adopted by Anne of Brittany, after the 
death of Charles VIII., in 1498, as we are informed by 
PaUiot and other writers. It has, however, sometimes been 
assigned to a rather earlier period. The hoop of Mr. 
Neish's ring is plain and massive, the weight being 199 
grains. The device is engraved with skill. It is difiicult 
to tell whether the object worn on the head is intended for 
a crown or a helmet, with lateral projections resembling 
horns. Examples of helmets with cornute appendages, 
especially found in classical art, are not wanting in 
mediaeval times. It has been suggested that the mullet 
on the breast may indicate some allusion to the heraldic 
bearing of the Douglas family, especially as the ring was 
discovered in the district of Angus, of which the earldom 
was conferred in 1377 on a branch of that noble race. Mr. 
Neish — to whom both this remarkable ring and also Heath- 
field House where it was found, belong — stated that he had 


been informed by two persons that they remembered the 
discovery ; one, moreover, said that Mr. Webster, of Heath- 
field House, to whom it formerly belonged, told him that 
the late Mr. Constable, of Wallace Craigie (the Monkbarns 
of the ' Antiquary),' had taken interest in the discovery, and 
having carried the ring to Edinburgh, he had found there 
in some depository a proclamation regarding the loss of 
a gold ring on Sparrow Muir, by a certain Allan Dorward, 
who had been employed by David, Earl of Huntingdon, 
brother of William the Lion, in building a church founded 
by the Earl at Dundee, and completed in 1198. The 
King, according to tradition, was so pleased with the 
builder's work that he presented to him a ring, which 
Allan, being afterwards at a boar-hunt on the Sparrow Muir, 
had there lost, and he had offered a reward for its recovery, 
a£ made known in the proclamation before mentioned. This 
tradition has been related by Mr. Andrew Jervise, in his 
' Memorials of Angus and the Meams,' p. 178. According 
to another version the ring was asserted to have been given 
by David II. (a.d. 1329-70) to his master mason, and lost 
by him on the Sparrow Muir in tte manner before related. 

So much for tradition. The beautiful ring in Mr. 
Neish's possession may possibly be assigned to the later 
part of the fourteenth century ; the workmanship presents 
no feature of early character to justify the supposition that 
it was a gift from William the Lion. There is also the 
assurance of one of the most accurate and acute of Scottish 
antiquaries that no such document or 'advertisement' as 
is alleged to have been put forth by the loser of the ring 
is in existence ; neither is there any record of any architect 
employed by David II., or by his father Robert I. 

The supposition seems to be that the ring may have 


belonged to some person of the family of Douglas by whom 
St. Francis was held in special veneration, and that hence the 
cordeli}re was introduced upon it. There existed at Dundee 
a Franciscan convent, which appears to have received 
support from the Douglas family. 

A relic of Flodden Field (15 13), a ring, was found in 
1783, on the site of the battle. It bore the following in- 
scription in Norman-French : ' On est mal loiauls amans 
qui se poet garder des maux disans ' (no lovers so faithful 
as to be able to guard themselves against evil-speakers). 
Between every two words, and at the beginning of each 
line, is a boar's head. This being the crest of the Campbells, 
it is not improbable that the ring was that of the Argylls, 
and might have belonged to Archibald Campbell, the second 
Earl of Argyll, who was killed while commanding the van of 
the army at the fatal battle of Flodden Field, — 

Where shiver'd was fair Scotland's spear, 
And broken was her shield. 

I have previously alluded to the signet-ring of IVIary, 
Queen of Scots, in the British Museum. A few additional 
particulars of this celebrated relic wdll be interesting. It 
were now a fruitless task to seek to discover through what 
means this ring passed into the collection of the Queen 
of George III. It subsequently came into possession of 
the late Duke of York, and at the sale of his plate and 
jewels at Christie's, in 1827, it was purchased for fourteen 

This ring is massive, and weighs 212 grs. ; the hoop 
has been chased with foliage and flowers, and enamelled, 
and appears to have been much worn ; a few traces of the 
enamel remain. The impress is the royal achievement, 
engraved on a piece of crystal or white sapphire, of oval 


form, measuring about three-quarters of an inch by five- 
eighths. The royal cognizance or the crest, on a hehnet 
of mantHngs, and ensigned with a crown, is a Hon sejant 
affronte gu. crowned, holding in his dexter paw a naked 
sword, and in the sinister a sceptre, both erect and ppr. 
Above the crest appear the motto and the initials 
previously alluded to. The shield is surrounded by the 
collar of the Thistle, with the badge, and supported by 
unicorns chained and ducally gorged. On the dexter side 
there is a banner charged with the arms of Scotland ; on 
the sinister another with three bars, over all a saltire. It 
is remarkable that the heraldic tinctures are represented 
on the back of the engraved stone, either by enamelling 
or painting, and the field or back-ground is coloured dark 
blue. This mode of ornamentation is found in some of the 
fine Italian works of the period. 

Sir Thomas Hepburn has a gold ring traditionally 
regarded as having been worn by Queen Mary of Scotland. 
The hoop is enamelled black ; the setting consists of six 
opals surrounding one of much larger size, presenting the 
appearance of a six-petalled flower. 

Apropos of Queen Mary's assumption of the arms of 
England in defiance of Elizabeth, they are so engraved upon 
a signet-ring that belonged to the late Earl of Buchan, as 
certified upon the little boxes containing facsimiles of the 
seal, and sold to all sight-seers at Holyrood Palace. The 
anus of England and France are placed in the first and 
fourth quarter of the shield : those of Scotland in the 
second quarter, and those of Ireland in the third quarter. 

A ring of very exquisite workmanship connected with 
the Seymour family, and in the possession of the Earl of 
Home, was exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries (April 


1864), and is an interesting historical relic. The body of 
the ring is made of mother-of-pearl, and on it is set an oval 
medallion, with a cipher ' E. R.' in relief, the E. being made 
of diamonds, the R. of blue enamel : on each side along the 
shank of the ring is a line of rubies set in gold. The me- 
dallion with the cipher opens, and discloses a recess in the 
mother-of-pearl with a bust in low relief, apparently a 
portrait of Jane Seymour, three-quarter face. The bust is 
made of gold, coloured with enamel or paint, and is set 
with a small diamond as a brooch. The inner surface of 
the lid with the cipher encloses a bust in profile of Queen 
Ehzabeth in enamelled gold, with a ruby set as a brooch. 
Within the ring, and therefore at the back of the portrait 
of Jane Seymour, is a small oval plate of gold, ornamented 
with translucent enamel, and representing an earl's coronet, 
over which is a phoenix in flames. The phoenix was a 
well-known badge of Queen Elizabeth, but it was also 
adopted as the crest of the Seymour family, to whom it 
must here be referred. Edward Seymour, eldest son of the 
Protector by his second wife, was created Earl of Hertford 
by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, and it is probable that the 
ring was made shortly after, before he lost the favour of the 
Queen through his marriage with Lady Catherine Grey. 

In ' Archaeologia,' vol. xxxi., is a fine example of a 
weighty ring of fine gold, found in 1823 at Thetford, in 
Suffolk. The device which appears upon this ring is an 
eagle displayed ; on the inner side is engraved a bird, with 
the wings closed, apparently a falcon, with a crown upon 
its head. The following posy, or motto, commencing on 
the outer side, is continued on the interior of the ring : — 
bnts m£ ouroj7£ ti Irous Bcnir a grcc — com inauit toner brsiu — 
'God work for me to make suit acceptably to you, as my 



heart desires.' The devices appear to be heraldic, and the 

motto that of a lover, or a suitor to one in power. The 

eagle is the bearing of several ancient 

Suffolk families; it was also a badge 

of the House of Lancaster, and Thet- 

ford was one portion of the Duchy of 


In the ' Revue Britannique ' for 
January 1869, the discovery was an- 
nounced of the two wedding-rings 
interchanged between Martin Luther and Catherine von 
Bora, one of nine nuns, who. under the influence of his 
teaching, had emancipated themselves from their religious 

Heraldic ring. 

3D Ma1^l^1^otIii}l€ro^(^t^a1fmaM^)oml 

Supposed betrothal ring of Martin Luther. 

VOWS. She afterwards married Luther. The Revue states 
that the ring of the great Reformer is at Waldenburg, and 
the bride's ring is now in Paris ; that they are similar in 
composition, the latter being smaller. They are of silver 
gilt, with a figure of Christ upon the cross, and bear inside 
the same inscription, ' D. Martino Luthero Catherinan 
Boren, 13 Juni, 1589.' It is further stated that the bride's 
ring belongs to a Protestant lady, Madame Michael Girod, 
and was purchased by her at an old store-shop in Geneva. 


Considerable doubts exist, however, as to the authenticity 
of these rings, a writer in ' Notes and Queries ' pointing out 
an evident mistake in the date, and the inscription on the 
bride's ring * D. Martin^? Luther^ Catherinan Boren : ' not 
meaning * Dr. Martin Luther to Catherinan Boren ' but the 
reverse. Another correspondent of the same work mentions 
that 'Luther' rings were made for a jubilee at Leipsic in 

Mr. H. Noel Hutnphreys, an eminent authority on these 
subjects, states ('Intellectual Observer,' February 1862): 
' The betrothment-ring of Luther, which belonged to a 
family at Leipsic as late as 181 7, and is doubtless still 
preserved with the greatest care as a national relic of great 
interest, is composed of an intricate device of gold-work 
set with a ruby, the emblem of exalted 
love. The gold devices represent all the 
symbols of the " Passion." In the centre 
is the crucified Saviour : on one side the 
spear, with which the side was pierced, 
and the rod of reeds of the flagellation. 
On the other is a leaf of hyssop. Beneath 

Betrothment ring 

of Martin Luther. are the dics with which the soldiers cast 
lots for the garment without seam, and below are the three 
nails. At the back may be distinguished the inside of the 
ladder, and other symbols connected with the last act of the 
Atonement ; the whole so grouped as to make a large cross, 
surmounted by the ruby, the most salient feature of the device. 
On the inside of the ring the inscriptions are still perfect. 
They contain the names of the betrothed pair, and the date of 
the wedding-day in German, "der 13 Junij 1525." This was 
the ring presented to the wife at the betrothal, and worn by 
her after the marriage. The marriage-ri7ig worn by Luther 


after his marriage was still more intricate in its structure. 
It is an ingeniously contrived double-r'mg, every intricacy of 
structure having its point and meaning. In the first place, 
though the double-ring can be divided, so as to form two 
complete rings, yet they cannot be separated from each 
other, as the one passing through the other causes them to 
remain permanently interlaced, as an emblem of the marriage 
vow, though still forming twd perfect rings ; illustrating also 
the motto engraved within them, " Was Got zussamen fi'cget 
soil Kein Mejisch Scheiden " — what God doth join no man 
shall part. On the one hoop is a diamond, the emblem of 
power, duration, and fidelity; and on the inside of its 
raised mounting, which, when joined to the other hoop, 
will be concealed, are the initials of Martin Luther, followed 
by a D., marking his academic title. On the corresponding 
surface of the mounting of the gem of the other hoop are 
the initials of his wife, Catherine von Bora, which, on the 
closing of the rings, necessarily lies close to those of Luther. 
The gem in this side of the ring is a ruby, the emblem of 
exalted love ; so that the names of Catherine and Luther 
are closely united, when the rings are closed, beneath the 
emblems of exalted love, power, duration, and fidelity. 

Marriage ring of Martin Luther. 

* There can be but little doubt that these curious and 
interesting rings were designed by the celebrated painter and 



goldsmith, Lucas Cranach, and possibly wrought with his 
own hand, the marriage of his friend Luther being a special 
occasion which he doubtless wished to honour with every 
attention. Lucas was, indeed, one of the three select friends 
whom Luther took to witness his betrothal ; the others being 
Dr. Bugenhagen, town preacher of Wittenberg, and the 
lawyer Assel, who all accompanied him to Reichenbach's 
house, where Catherine resided.' 

Among the numerous articles of Shakspearian interest 
presented to the Shakspeare Library and Museum at Strat- 
ford, by Miss Anne Wheler, the surviving sister of the 
historian of Stratford-on-Avon, the late Mr. Robert Bell 
Wheler, is a gold signet-ring described as Shakspeare's, having 
the initials ' W. S.' a true lover's knot entwined between them. 

Shakspeare's ring (?). 

An account of the discovery of the ring appeared in the 
' Guide to Stratford-on-Avon,' by Mr. Wheler, published in 
1 814, from which it appears that the ring was found four 
years previously by a labourer's wife upon the surface of the 
mill close adjoining Stratford churchyard. 'I purchased it 
on the same day,' observes Mr. Wheler, ' for thirty-six 
shillings (the current value of the gold), yet the woman had 
sufficient time to destroy the precious cerugo by having it 
unnecessarily immersed in aquafortis, to ascertain and prove 
the metal, at a silversmith's shop. It is of tolerably large 
dimensions (weighing 12 dwts.), and evidently a gentleman's 


ring of Elizabeth's age.' To prove the authenticity of the 
ring, Mr. Wheler made many efforts to discover whether 
there existed anywhere Shakspeare's seal attached to letter 
or other writings, but ineffectually. * From a close observa- 
tion of the ring,' adds Mr. Wheler, * I should be inclined to 
suppose that it was made in the early part of the poet's life. 
Mr. Malone, in a conversation I had with him in London, 
said he had nothing to allege against the probability of my 
conjecture as to its owner.' 

No positive proof, however, according to Mr. Wheler's 
own admission, can be adduced as to the authenticity of the 
ring having belonged to Shakspeare, but the very probability 
gives an interest to it, which most persons who inspect it 
will feel. 

' Is it Shakspeare's ? ' remarks Mr. Fairholt. ' It is evi- 
dently a gentleman's ring, and of the poet's era. It is just 
such a ring as a man in his station would fittingly wear — 
gentlemanly, but not pretentious. There was but one other 
person in the small town of Stratford at that time to whom 
the same initials belonged. This was one William Smith, 
but his seal is attached to several documents preserved 
among the records of the corporation, and is totally dif- 
ferent.' [He was a draper ; and his seal has a device upon 
it consisting of a skull with a bone in the mouth ; the letters 
' W. S.' are under it, and very small. This ring was, most 
probably, of silver. It is unlikely that a small trader like 
Smith should wear a heavy gold ring, like this which claims 
to be Shakspeare's.] Mr. Halliwell, in his ' Life of Shakspeare,' 
observes, that ' little doubt can be entertained that this ring 
belonged to the poet, and, it is, probably, the one he lost 
before his death, and was not to be found when his will was 
executed, the word hand being substituted for that of seal 


in the original copy of that document' [The concluding 
words of the will are, ' in witness whereof I have hereunto 
put my seale,' the last word being struck through \\ith a pen, 
and hand substituted.] 

In the 'Gentleman's Magazine ' (May 1810) we find: 
' For further confirmation of circumstances we may observe 
over the porch leading into the gate of Charlecote Hall, 
near Stratford- on- Avon, erected in the early part of Eliza- 
beth's reign by the very Sir Thomas Lucy who is said to 
have prosecuted Shakspeare, the letters " T. L." connected in 
a manner precisely similar to that on the ring.' 

The crossing of the centre lines of the W., with the 
oblique direction of the lines of the S., 
exactly agree with the characters of that 
day. For proof, we need wander no 
farther than Stratford Church, where the 
Cloptons' and Totness' tombs will furnish 
representations of rings, and Shakspeare's 
monument of letters, exactly corresponding 
^""Efcrat^cVSero?^ in point of shape. The connection or 
union of the letters, by the ornamental 
strings and tassels, was then frequently used, of which we 
may meet with numerous instances upon seals of that period. 
In the life of Haydon the painter we have the following 
letter from him to Keats (March i, 1818) : ' My dear Keats, 
I shall go mad ! In a field at Stratford-upon-Avon, that 
belonged to Shakspeare, they have found a gold ring and seal 
with the initials " W. S." and a true lover's knot between. If 
this is not Shakspeare's whose is it ? — a true lover's knot ! 
I saw an impression to-day and am to have one as soon as 
possible : as sure as you breathe and that he was the first 
of beings the seal belonged to him. 

'O Lord!' 'B. R. Haydon.' 


The ring of Sir Walter Raleigh, which he wore at the 
time of his execution, is, according to the statement in 
' Notes and Queries ' of a descendant of that truly * great ' 
man, in the possession of a member of the Blanckley family, 
being a heir-loom, the Blanckleys being directly descended 
from Sir Walter, and having several interesting relics of 
their distinguished ancestor. 

Octavius Morgan, Esq., F.R.S., F.S.A., exhibited at a 
meeting of the Society of Antiquaries (February 1857) a 
rare and curious ' Trinity ' ring, turned out of one piece of 
ivory, and belonging to the latter part of the seventeenth 
century. It is formed by a single band of ivory, making 
three circuits, so intertwined with one another as not to 
touch, and thus forming a threefold ring. ' Its curiosity is 
great,' remarked Mr. Morgan, 'because these rings were 
only made by one person ; so much art and skill were re- 
quired in the making that they were the wonder of the time, 
and no one at the present day knows by what contrivance 
they were turned, or how they could now be made. The 
interest consists in having ascertained the maker of the ring, 
which I by chance met with some years ago in this city. . . 
We find from Doppelmayer that Stephan Zick (born 1639), 
the artist to whom I attribute this ring, was descended from 
a Nuremberg family long famous for their skill in this art. 
. . . Doppelmayer, describing some of the wonderful objects 
which he produced, says, the work which most distinguished 
him was his Trinity rings. Of these he made only three ; 
the two first were in the Museums of Vienna and Dresden, 
and the third became the property of an amateur collector 
of curiosities in Nuremberg as a wonderful work of art and 
skill. This was written in 1730. On comparing this ring 
with the engraving in Doppelmayer, it exactly corresponds. 
The little box turned as a case for it shows how it was cared 


for, and is indicative of the period when it was made. We 
also learn from Doppelmayer that these Trinity rings seem 
to have been first made in gold by a jeweller of Nuremberg, 
Johan Heel, about 1670, and he describes them as consist- 
ing of a single piece of wire, forming a three-fold circuit, 
each circuit skilfully intertw-ined with the other two so as not 
to touch each other, the ends being so cleverly united that 
the point of juncture could not be discovered. Thus there 
were three rings in one, and hence 
the name. The inventor of these 
ingenious rings is not known, but it 
is considered to be a Jesuit, named 
Scherern, about 1660. It certainly 
required great skill to have turned 
such a ring out of one piece of 
ivory, a work which I believe it is 
not possible to accomplish with any 
machinery now in use. The infer- 

Ivory-turned rings. 

ence I draw from the foregoing is, 
that if Stephan Zick alone could make these rings of ivory 
— if he only made three, and that if one of these is at 
Vienna, and another at Dresden, I must now be the fortu- 
nate possessor of the third.' 

(The greatest progress in ivory-carving was made in 
Flanders, Holland, and Germany, about the middle of the 
sixteenth century. There are in the museums of Munich, 
Vienna, and Berlin, a quantity of ivory vases, etc., covered 
with exquisite carvings. — Labarte.) 

Mr. Edwards, in his ' History and Poetry of Finger- 
rings,' mentions, and gives an illustration of, a ring that may 
well claim a place among remarkable specimens. It is a 
^^igantic ring, presented in 1852, by some citizens of Cali- 


fornia to President Pierce. The description of this golden 
monster is given from Gleason's ' Pictorial Newspaper ' 
(December 25, 1852) : * It weighs upwards of a full pound, 
and for chasteness of design, elegance of execution, and 
high style of finish, has, perhaps, no equal in the world. 
The design is by Mr. George Blake, a mechanic of San 
Francisco. The circular portion of the ring is cut into 
squares, which stand at right angles to each other, and are 
embellished each with a beautifully executed design, the 
entire group representing a pictorial history of California, 
from her primitive state down to her present flourishing 
condition, under the flag of our Union. 

'Thus, there is given a grizzly bear in a menacing 
attitude, a deer bounding down a slope, an enraged boa, a 
soaring eagle, and a salmon. Then we have the Indian with 
his bow and arrow, the primitive weapon of self-defence ; 
the native mountaineer on horseback, and a Californian 
on horseback, throwing his lasso. Next peeps out a Cali- 
fornian tent. Then you see a miner at work with his pick, 
the whole being shaded by two American flags, with the 
staves crossed and groups of stars in the angles. The part 
of the ring reserved for the seal is covered by a solid and 
deeply carved plate of gold, bearing the arms of the State of 
California in the centre, surmounted by the banner and 
stars of the United States, and inscribed with "Frank 
Pierce " in old Roman characters. This lid opens upon a 
hinge, and presents to view, underneath, a square box, 
divided by bars of gold into nine separate compartments, 
each containing a pure specimen of the varieties of one 
found in the country. Upon the inside is the following 
inscription : *^ Preserited to Franklin Pierce, the Fourteenth 
President of the United States r 


' The ring is valued at two thousand dollars. Altogether, 
it is a massive and superb affair, rich in emblematical 
design and illustration, and worthy its object.' 

In the collection of Lord Braybrooke is the ring of 
Tippoo Saib, which is thus described in the catalogue : 
' This magnificent jewel has a plain gold hoop, with the 
entire surface set with rubies ; on the centre is perched a 
large bird, apparently intended for a hawk, made of gold 
and beautifully executed, with the plumage composed com- 
pletely of precious stones, the diamond, emerald, ruby, 
and sapphire. A better idea of the splendour of this orna- 
ment will be formed from a description of the bird. Length 
from the base of the bill to the end of the tail, si inches ; 
girth round the body, si inches ; width across the scapulars, 
ii inch ; width across the tail, three-quarters of an inch ; 
height i|- inch. In the beak are two small ruby-drops, a 
single emerald in the crest, and rubies for the eyes ; a single 
row of nine sapphires encircles the throat, and 139 rubies, 
including those on the hoop, 14 in number, with 29 
diamonds^ some of them very large, and all set flat, cover 
the rest of the neck, breast, back, and tail. Several gems 
beside have been lost from their setting. Across the belly, 
behind the legs, is an inscription in some Indian characters, 
which has not yet been explained beyond the following 
remarks upon it in a letter addressed by the (late) A. Way 
Esq., who copied it, to Lady Braybrooke : " The characters 
are a corruption of the ordinary Sanscrit, that is, I suppose, 
some local variety or peculiarity of a dialect in Tippoo's 
district ; they appear to signify certain titles of the great 
chief, commencing with a portion of his proper style, ' Ma/ia 
rajah^ sufficient to show that the inscription relates only to 
the name of Tippoo Saib. This is all that I can at present 


offer in regard to your highly curious jewel. — Nov. 24, 1848." 
This unique and interesting ring was brought from India by 
some one in the army, at the time of the capture of Seringa- 
patam, 1792, under the first Marquis Cornwallis, and 
presented to his family, by whom it has been preserved and 
descended as an heirloom through his eldest grandchild, the 
late Lady Braybrooke. It was stated at the time of its 
presentation that Tippoo was in the habit of wearing it when 
he went out hawking, perhaps only when he did so in state. 
Weight of the whole 2 oz. 6 dwts. 7 gi's.' 

The Baroness Burdett Coutts possesses a gold ring set 
with large green tourmaline. It is of Indian workmanship, 
and is said to have belonged to Tippoo Saib. 

The Rev. C. W. King in his 'Precious Stones, Gems, 
and Precious Metals,' mentions * an unparalleled specimen of 
Oriental caprice and extravagance — a finger-ring cut out of 
a solid piece of emerald of remarkably pure quality, with 
two emerald drops and two collets set with rose diamonds, 
and ruby borders in Oriental mountings, formerly belonging 
to Jehanghir, son of Akbar, Emperor of Delhi, whose name 
is engraved on the ring. Diameter i^ x i^ in. This ring 
was presented by Shah Soojah to the East India Company, 
and was purchased by the late Lord Auckland, when 
Governor- General of India. Now in the possession of the 
Hon. Miss Eden.' 

A wonderful ring was presented by the Great Mogul to 
the only envoy of the Emperor of Germany who ever visited 
his court. ' The very first sight of this jewel,' observes the 
Rev. C. W. King, ' sufficed to convince one that it could 
have had no other origin than this, such a show of barbarian 
splendour did it exhibit, forming in itself a complete cabinet 
of every kind of precious stone of colour to be found in his 


dominions. Its form was that of a wheel about three inches 
in diameter, composed of several concentric circles, joined 
together by the spokes radiating from the centre, in which 
was set a large round sapphire. The spokes at all their 
intersections with the circles, had collets soldered on them, 
each containing some coloured gem ; in fact, every stone of 
value except the diamond occurred in this glorious company. 
On the back was fixed the shank, and when worn it covered 
the whole hand like some huge mushroom.' 

On the death of the late Cardinal York at Rome, 
amongst various relics of the house of Stuart, purchased for 
Lord John Scott, were the ring worn by the Pretender — 
James the Third, as he was styled abroad — on his marriage 
with the Princess Clementina Sobieski, and the marriage- 
ring of his son, Prince Charles Edward, enclosing a beauti- 
ful little miniature ; a gold ring with a white rose in enamel, 
worn by King James the Second and his son ; a ring with a 
cameo portrait in ivory of James the Second ; a ring with a 
miniature portrait of Henry Stuart, Cardinal, Duke of York, 
when young ; a ring with a cameo portrait, by the celebrated 
engraver Pickler, of James Sobieski, great-uncle of the 
Pretender's wife ; a ring with a cameo portrait, by the same 
artist, of the wife of Prince Charles Edward ; also one with 
a cameo portrait of the Duchess of Albany, and another 
containing a lock of her hair. 

In the possession of R. H. Soden Smith, Esq., F.S.A., 
is a gold ring, having in the bezel a miniature of Prince 
James Stuart, the old Chevalier, set round with small 
crystals. English contemporary work. 

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn possesses a gold ring, set with 
a ruby, surrounded by the Garter, crowned with the motto 
* Dieu et mon Droit ' on the hoop. 


This is an interesting family relic, having been a present 
from Prince Charles Edward. 

A signet-ring, believed to be the Council Seal of Queen 
Henrietta Maria, made by warrant, Sept. 6, 1626, is the 
property of Miss Hartshorne, and has a circular bezel, set 
with sapphire, engraved with escutcheon, bearing the arms 
of England surmounted by a crown, the letters M and R at 
the sides; on the shoulders is the rose of England in 
coloured enamel. Diameter of the ring i^ in. This curious 
relic was exhibited at the Loan Exhibition of Ancient and 
Modern Jewellery at the South Kensington Museum in 1872. 

Mr. Octavius Morgan, F.R.S., F.S.A., has in his valuable 
collection of rings one formed with a diminutive squirt, 
which, being concealed in the hand, would, at pleasure, 
throw a jet of water into the eye of anyone examining it.^ 

* A curious stoiy of a squirt-x'vsxg is mentioned in Thiebault's 
' Original Anecdotes of Frederick II.' M. de Guines, ambassador of 
France at Berlin, had greatly mortified the Prussian nobles, and 
especially the other foreign ministers, by the ostentatious pomp which 
he displayed. Those whose limited means he thus eclipsed longed for 
some opportunity to wound the vanity of the proud man who daily 
humbled theirs, and excited their envy. At this crisis a Russian am- 
bassador, who was returning home to present at his own court his 
newly-married bride, stopped on his way at Berlin, Prince Dolgorouki, 
the Russian ambassador there, did the honours of the Russian court to 
his countryman, and gave him and his wife a dinner, to which were 
invited all the corps diplomatique. M. de Guines was seated next to the 
bride. The lady, who had been initiated into all the court gossips, had 
enlisted under the banner of the malcontents, and taken upon herself 
the task of vexing the magnificent Frenchman. She had placed upon 
her finger a ring of very exquisite and curious workmanship, to which 
she called the attention of her neighbour during the course of ^he 
dinner. As he stooped to examine the jewel, the wearer pressed a 
spring concealed in the side of the ring within her hand, and jerked a 
small quantity of water into the eyes of the ambassador. The ring 
contained a syringe. The minister wiped his face, jested good- 
humouredly on the diminutive little instrument, and thought no more 


In the Waterton Collection is a bronze squirt-ring with 
octagonal bezel, finely chased with mask of Silenus, the ring 
_ hollow, with tube projecting from the 

hoop, so that it can be used as a squirt. 
Italian work of the sixteenth century. 
L. one and seven-tenths inch. 

In the same collection, also, is a 
ring made to serve as a whistle. It is 
of lead, with circular bezel finely chased 
in relief, with profile heads of Charles 


the Fifth and his empress. Flemish, 
sixteenth century. Diameter one and one- eighth inch. 

In the 'Annual Register 'for 1764 we read that Mr. 
Arnold, of Devereux Court, in the Strand, watchmaker, had 
the honour to present His Majesty George the Third with 
a most curious repeating watch of his own making, set in a 
ring. The size of the watch was something less than a 

of it. But his fair enemy had not yet accomplished her purpose of 
mortifying the ambassador. Having refilled the squirt unperceived by 
him, she called his attention to herself, and again discharged the water 
in his face. M. de Guines looked neither angry nor abashed, but, in 
a serious tone of friendly advice, said to his foolish aggressor : 
' Madame, this kind of jest excites laughter the first time ; when 
repeated it may be excused, especially if pi-oceeding from a lady, as 
an act of youthful levity ; but the third time it would be looked upon 
as an insult, and you would instantly receive in exchange the glass of 
water you see before me : of this, madame, I have the honour to give 
you notice.' Thinking he would not dare to execute his threat, the 
lady once more filled and emptied the little water-spout at the expense 
of M, de Guines, who instantly acknowledged and repaid it with the 
contents of his glass, calmly adding, • I warned you, madame.' The 
husband took the wisest course, declaring that the ambassador was 
perfectly justified in thus punishing his wife's unjustifiable rudeness. 
The lady changed her dress, and ihe guests were requested to keep 
silence on the affair. [Madame de Barrera] 


silver twopence; it contained 120 different parts and 
weighed altogether five dwts. seven grains and three-fourths. 

Among curious ring relics may be mentioned one in 
which a tooth of Sir Isaac Newton was set. The tooth was 
sold to a nobleman in 1816 for 730/., who had it placed in 
the ring, and wore it constantly on his finger. Denon, the 
French savant, wore a ring set with a tooth of Voltaire. 

At Norwich in 1847 a silver ring was exhibited, set with 
a dark- coloured substance, supposed to be the palatal tooth 
of a fish, like those of the Sphcerodus Gigas. This closely 
resembles the precious ring given (according to tradition) 
by Richard Coeur-de-Lion, to one of the Dawnay family in 
the Holy Wars, and adopted as their crest. It is preserved 
in the collection of Viscount Downe, and was shown by him 
at a meeting of the Institute at York. Another ring, with 
the same kind of setting, belonged to the late Mr. Albert 
Way. Date, the thirteenth century. 

In the collection of Mr. A. J. B. Beresford Hope is a 
gold ring set with a sapphire of extraordinary brilliancy, 
known as the ' saphir merveilleux,' which formerly belonged 
to Philippe d'Orl^ans (Egalit^), and is mentioned by Madame 
de GenHs. 

In 1765, a very beautiful and perfect gold ring was found 
by a workman among the ruins of the North Gate House, 
on Bedford Bridge, when that building was pulled down. 
It bears the initials ' J.B.,' and is engraved with a death's-head 
and the words * Memento mori.' There seems to be every 
probability that this ring once belonged to John Bunyan, 
who was imprisoned there. This precious relic was sold 
to Dr. Abbot, chaplain to the Duke of Bedford, and 
presented by him in his last illness to the Rev. G. H. Bower, 
perpetual curate of Elstow, the birthplace of Bunyan. 


The London press has lately announced that Dean 
Bower bequeathed to his nephew, Mr. Henry Addington, 
this ring. 

In the preceding chapter I have mentioned several 
portrait-rings of remarkable interest ; I may add that at the 
Loan Exhibition of Ancient and Modern Jewellery at the 
South Kensington Museum in 1872, some fine and highly 
curious specimens of this character were shown, and amongst 
them the following : — 

Colonel Dawson Darner is the possessor of a gold ring 
with a miniature by Cosway of the eye of George, Prince 
of Wales. 

Professor Maskelyne has an intaglio portrait of Sir Isaac 
Newton, set in a ring, which was presented to the late Dr. 
Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, by Dr. Shepherd, of Cam- 
bridge, contemporary of Newton. 

In the collection of Earl Beauchamp is a gold ring with 
enamel portrait of the Regent Orleans, by Petitot ; French, 
beginning of the eighteenth century. Also a gold ring with 
profile portrait of Frederic the Great'; and another portrait 
within ; eighteenth century. 

Belonging to the Rev. J. C. Jackson is a gold ring set 
with intaglio, an emerald portrait of James II. ; eighteenth 
century ; formerly the property of Cardinal York. A gold 
ring, black enamelled, with miniature portrait of Prince 
Charles Edward ; eighteenth century. 

A ring with a portrait head of Queen Elizabeth (?) in 
carved jacinth, mounted in gold, set with brilliants ; French, 
sixteenth century, the property of George Bonnor, Esq. 

Till, in his account of ' Coronation Medals,' mentions 
(but without citing his authority) that the late Cardinal of 
York wore constantly, till his decease, a ring which bore the 


portraits of the Pretender, James the Third, and his wife ; 
it was taken from his finger in the hour of his dissohition, 
by his servant, and sold as a perquisite — a relic of the in- 
stability and mutation of human greatness — to William, 
Baron Bartholdy, son to the Jewish Plato, Moses Mendels- 
sohn. It is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, to 
which it was presented by Mrs. Maria Graham (since Cal- 
cott), in 1824. 


K K 




Counterfeit rings belong to all ages and peoples. Hall, in 
his ' Satires/ says : — 

Nor can good Myron weare on his left hand 

A signet-ring of Bristol diamond, 

But he must cut his glove to show his pride 

That his trim jewel might be better spied : 

And that men might some burgesse him repute 

With sattin sleeves hath graced his sacke-cloth suit. 

The punishment of whipping in former days was inflicted 
on dishonest traders in rings. In the ' Diary of Henry Machyn, 
from 1550 to 1563 ' (Camden Society), is the following entry in 
1556 : — ' The iij day of July was a man wypyd a-bowtt the post 
of reformacyon be^ the standard in Chepsyd for sellyng of false 

Fines were also inflicted ; in the records of the Goldsmiths' 
Company we find : * In 1512 Robert Mayne, for mysworkyng 
of rings wars (worse) than sterling v oz and dj, leaves in pledge 
2^ dozen of the said rings, pledges as security for the payments 
of fines and defaults.' 

In the same records we have a curious account for 'costs in 
the Chauncerie for the recoverie of a counterfete Diamant set 
in a gold ring (8th Edward IV., 1469),' which affords an idea ot 
lawyers' charges in those days : — 
K K 2 



For boat-hire to Westminster and home again for the suit in the 
Chancery began in the old warden's time, for the recovery of a 
counterfeit diamond set in a gold ring . 

For a breakfast at Westminster spent on our counsel 

To Mr. Catesby, serjeant at law, to plead for the same 

To another time for boat-hire in and out, and a breakfast for two 
days ..... 

Again for boat-hire and one breakfast 

To the keeper of the Chancery door 

To Timothy Fairfax at two times , 

To Pigott for attendance at two times 

To a breakfast at Westminster 'jd. , boat-hire 4d. 

putty's account of Rings. P. 25. 















3 II 

Pliny's remarks on rings are as follow : — ' It was the custom 
at first to wear rings on a single finger only — the one, namely, 
that is next to the little finger, and thus we see the case in the 
statues of Numa and Servius Tullius. In later times it became 
the practice to put rings on the finger next to the thumb, even 
in the case of the statues of the gods ; and, more recently again, 
it has become the fashion to wear them upon the little finger as 
well. Among the peoples of Gallia and Britannia, the middle 
finger, it is said, is used for this purpose. At the present day, 
however, among us, this is the only finger that is excepted, all 
others being loaded with rings, smaller rings even being se- 
parately adapted for the smaller joints of the fingers. ' Some 
there are who heap several rings on the little finger alone ; 
while others, again, wear but one ring on this finger — the ring 
that sets a seal on the signet-ring itself; this last being care- 
fully shut up as an object of rarity, too precious to be worn in 
common use, and only to be taken from the cabinet (dactylio 
theca) as from a sanctuary. And thus is the wearing of a single 
ring upon the httle finger no more than an ostentatious ad- 
vertisement that the owner has property of a more precious 
nature under seal at home. Some, too, make a parade of the 
weight of their rings, while to others it is quite a labour to wear 
more than one at a time ; some, in their solicitude for the safety 
of their gems, make the hoop of gold tinsel, and fill it with a 
lighter material than gold, thinking thereby to diminish the risk 


of a fall. Others, again, are in the habit of enclosing poisons 
beneath the stones of their rings, and so wear them as instru- 
ments of death. And then, besides, how many of the crimes 
that are stimulated by cupidity are committed through the in- 
strumentality of rings ! How happy the times — how truly 
innocent — in which no seal was put to anything ! At the pre- 
sent day, on the contrary, our very food even, and our drink, 
have to be preserved from theft through the agency of the ring ; 
and so far is it from being sufficient to have the very keys 
sealed, that the signet-ring Is often taken from off the owner's 
fingers while he is overpowered with sleep, or lying on his 

Shrewsbury Morse-ivory Thumb-ring! P. 89. 

The coat-of-arms engraved on this ring consists of — ' Quar- 
terly of four: I. Talbot, a lion rampant, with a bordure en- 
grailed ; 2. Strange, two lions passant ; 3. Neville, a saltire ; 
4. Verdon, a fret.' 

Dr. Iliff observes : ^ The date of the ring appears to me to 
be ^bout the middle of the sixteenth century, and it may, there- 
fore, be ascribed to Francis Talbot, fifth Earl of Shrewsbury of 
that family, who was elected K.G. in 1545, and died September 
25, 1560. 

' With respect to the quarterings on the ring, I would ob- 
serve that the first coat was assumed, as the paternal coat of 
Talbot, by Sir Gilbert Talbot (who died in 1298) on marrying 
Gwenllian, daughter of Rhys Vychan ap Gruffyd, Lord of North 
Wales, in lieu of his paternal arms. Bendy of ten argent and 
gules. The second quartering (Strange) was brought in by the 
marriage of Richard, Lord Talbot, of Eccleswall, Lord Strange, 
of Blackmere, in right of his wife Angharad, daughter and 
heir of John, Lord Strange. The third and fourth quarterings 
(Neville and Verdon) were brought in by the marriage of John 
Talbot, first Earl of Shrewsbury, of that family, with Maud, 
only daughter and heir of Sir Thomas Neville, Lord Furnival, 
and great-granddaughter of Thomas de Furnival, Lord of Shef- 
field, by Joan; daughter and co-heir of Theobald de Verdon, 
Baron of Webley.' 


The Soden Smith Collection of A^icient Rings. 

In the splendid collection of rings belonging to Mr. R. H 
Soden Smith, F.S.A. (one hundred and forty specimens of which, 
dating from various periods, and commencing with ancient 
Egyptian, were exhibited at the Loan Exhibition of Jewellery 
at the South Kensington" Museum, in 1872), are some fine works 
of ancient art. I may mention an antique Etruscan gold ring, 
with broad oblong bezel, repoussd, with representa*^ion of a 
chimera and griffin, the sides of the bezel enriched with delicate 
filigree work. An antique Etruscan gold ring, terminating in 
two serpents' heads, ornamented with three collars of filigree 
work. An iron ring (probably Etruscan), the surface plated 
with gold, chased with figure of a cock upon a pillar, and having 
a gold dot inserted. An antique Grceco-Roman gold ring, the 
hoop formed of four strands of twisted wire-work, the bezel set 
with projecting onyx of four strata. An antique Roman silver 
pennannular ring, ending in two serpents' heads. A Roman 
ring, of the third century, the bezel set with a pierced piece of 
rough emerald, shoulders chased from the sohd with beaded 
ornament. A silver pennannular ring, of Oriental type, termi- 
nating in ribbed hexagonal knobs. Found with Roman coins, 
in removing old London Bridge. An antique Roman bronze key- 
ring, found at Silchester. A gold Roman ring, of the third 
century, very massive, of angular outline, set with intaglio on 
nicolo onyx, engraved with a figure of Mercury ; ploughed up 
in Sussex. A series of five gold antique Roman rings, set with 
emeralds, jasper, and sard ; some engraved with subjects in 
intaglio. Antique Greek rings of gold, hollow, set with sards, 
vitreous pastes, &c. An antique Roman bronze ring, plated 
with gold. An antique Roman silver ring, the bezel engraved 
with a hare. Two gold rings of the Lower Empire, or Byzan- 
tine, with projecting bezels ; one set with root of emerald, the 
other with ribbon onyx. 




Solomon's Ring. P. 93. 

In the Koran (chapter xxxvi., * revealed at Mecca '), it is 
stated : — ' We also tried Solomon, and placed on his throne a 
counterfeit body.' In the chapter on ' Ring Superstitions ' I 
have mentioned the fable of Solomon's ring. The exposition of 
the passage in the Koran is taken from the following Talmudic 
fiction : — Solomon, having taken Sidon and slain the king of 
that city, brought away his daughter Jerada, who became his 
favourite ; and because she ceased not to lament her father's 
loss, he ordered the devils to make an image of him for her 
consolation ; which being done, and placed in her chamber, 
she and her maids worshipped it morning and evening, accord- 
ing to their custom. At length Solomon, being informed of 
this idolatry, which was practised under his roof by his vizir 
Asaf, he broke the image, and, having chastised the women, 
went out into the desert, where he wept, and made supplication 
to God, who did not think fit, however, to let his negligence 
pass without some correction. It was Solomon's custom, while 
he washed himself, to trust his signet, on which his kingdom 
depended, with a concubine of his, named Amina. One day, 
therefore, when she had the ring in her custody, a devil named 
Sakhar came to her in the shape of Solomon, and received the 
ring from her, by virtue of which he became possessed of the 
kingdom, and sat on the throne in the shape which he had 
borrowed, making what alterations in the law he pleased. 
Solomon, in the meantime, being changed in his outer appear- 
ance, and known to none of his subjects, was obliged to wander 
about and beg alms for his subsistence ; till at length, after the 
space of forty days, which was the time the image had been 
worshipped in his house, the devil flew away and threw the ring 
into the sea, where it was immediately swallowed by a fish, 
which being taken and given to Solomon, he found the ring in 
its belly, and having by this means recovered the kingdom, took 
Sakhar, and, tying a great stone to his neck, threw him into the 
Lake of Tiberias. 


Charmed Ring of Sir Edward Neville. P. 132. 

In the Confession of Sir Edward Neville, he alludes thus to 
the ' charmed ' ring : — ' William Neville did send for me to 
Oxford that I should come and speak with him at " Weke," and 
to him I went ; it was the first time I ever saw him ; I would I 
had been buried that day. When I came he took me to a 
dttell room, and went to his garden, and there demanded of me 
many questions, and among all others, asked if it were not 
possible to have a ring made which should bring a man in 
favour with his Prince ; " seeing my Lord Cardinal had such a 
ring, that whatsoever he asked of the King's Grace, that he 
had ; and Master Cromwell, when he and I were servants in 
my Lord Cardinal's house, did haunt to the company of one 
that was seen in your faculty ; and shortly after, no man so great 
with my Lord Cardinal as Master Cromwell was ; and I have 
spoke with all them that has any name in this realm ; and all 
they showed me that I should be great with my Prince, and this 
is the cause that I did send for you, to know whether your saying 
will be agreeable to theirs, or no." And I, at the hearty desire 
of him, showed him that I had read many books, and especially 
the works of Solomon, and how his ring should be made, and 
of what metal ; and what virtues they have after the canon of 
Solomon. And then he desired me instantly to take the pains 
to make him one of them ; and I told him that I could make 
them, but I made never none of them, and I cannot tell that 
they have such virtues' or no, but by hearing say. Also he 
asked me what other works I had read. And I told him that 
I had read the magical works of Hermes, which many men 
doth prize ; and thus departed at that time. And one fortnight 
after, William Neville came to Oxford, and said that he had 
one Wayd at home at his house that did show him more than 
I did show him ; for the said Wayd did show him that he should 
be a great lord, nigh to the parts that he dwelt in. And that in 
that lordship should be a fair castle ; and he could not imagine 
what it should be, except it were the castle of Warwick. And 
I answered and said to him, that I dreamed that an angel took 
him and me by the hands, and led us to a high tower, and there 
delivered him a shield, with sundry arms, which I cannot re- 
hearse, and this is all I ever showed him save at his desire. 


I went thither with him, and as concerning any other man, 
save at the desire of Sir Gr. Done, Knt., I made the moulds 
that ye have, to the intent that he should have had Mistress 
Elizabeth's gear.' 

Wedding-ring of the Virgin Mary and Joseph. P. 93. 

In Patrick's 'Devotions of the Roman Church 'is a curious 
account of the wedding-ring of the Virgin Mary and Joseph. It 
is there described as of onyx or amethyst, wherein was discerned 
a representation of the flowers that budded on his rod. ' It was 
discovered in the year 996 in this way: — Judith, the wife of 
Hugo, Marquis of Etruria, being a great lover of jewels, em- 
ployed one Ranerius, a skilful jeweller and lapidary of Clusium, 
to go to Rome to make purchases for her. There he formed 
an intimacy with a jeweller from Jerusalem, who, when Ranerius 
was about to return home, professed great affection, and offered 
him a ring as a pledge of friendship. Ranerius, looking upon it 
as of little value, declined it with a slight compliment ; but the 
jeweller from the Holy Land bade him not contemn it, for it 
was the wedding-ring of Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, and 
made him take it, with a special charge that it should not fall 
into the hands of a wicked person. Ranerius, still careless of 
what he said, threw it into a little chest with articles of inferior 
value, where it remained until his forgetfulness cost him dear ; 
for when his son was only ten years old (the number of years 
that his father disregarded the Virgin's ring) the boy died, and 
was carried to his burial. But, behold, as the hearse went 
forward, on a sudden the dead child rose from the coffin, ordered 
the bearers to stop, and, calling to his father, told him that, by 
favour of the Blessed Virgin, he was come from Heaven to tell 
him that, as he had contemned religion by concealing her most 
holy ring in a common heap, he must immediately send for it, 
and publicly produce it, that it might be openly venerated. 
The chest being brought and delivered into the son's hand, he 
presently found the ring, although he had never seen it before ; 
then most reverently kissing it, and showing it to the spectators, 
they religiously adored it, during the joyful pealing of the bells, 
which rang of their own accord ; whereupon, ordering himself 
to be carried to the place where he desired to be buried, he 


delivered the ring to the curate of the parish, and then, laying 
himself down in the coffin, he was interred. — This ring wrought 
many miracles ; ivory ones touched with it, worn by women in 
difficult labour, relieved them ; an impression of it in wax, ap- 
plied to the hip, removed the sciatica ; it cured diseases of the 
eyes, reconciled married people that quarrelled, and drove out 
devils. Five centuries afterwards, in 1473, the church of Mus- 
thiola, where it effected these wonders, becoming ruinous, the 
ring was deposited with a religious community of the Francis- 
cans at Clusium. One of the brethren of the order, named 
Wintherus, a crafty German, and very wicked, having obtained 
from the magistrates an appointment to show the ring, on a 
certain occasion, after exhibiting it at the end of his sermon, 
stooped down, as if he were putting it into the place provided 
for it, but instead of doing so he slipped it up his sleeve, and 
privily conveyed himself and the ring from the city across the 
water. All was well so far, but when he got into a neighbouring 
field it suddenly became dark, so that, not knowing which way 
to go, but well knowing what was the matter, he hung the ring 
on a tree, and, falling on the ground, penitently confessed his 
sin to it, and promised to return to Clusium if it would dispel 
the darkness. On taking it down it emitted a great light, which 
he took advantage of to travel to Perusia, where he sojourned 
with the Augustin friars, till he determined on making another 
effort to carry it into Germany. He was again hindered by the 
darkness returning. It infested him and the whole city for 
twenty days. Still he resolved not to return to Clusium, but 
tell his story in great confidence to his landlord, one Lucas 
Jordanus, who with great cunning represented to him his danger 
from the Clusians, and the benefits he would receive from the 
Perusians if he bestowed the ring on that city. Wintherus 
followed his advice. As soon as the ring was shown to the 
people the darkness disappeared, and Wintherus was well pro- 
vided for in the house of the magistrate. Meanwhile the Bishop 
of Clusium, coming to Perusia, endeavoured in vain to obtain 
the relic. The city of Sena sent an ambassador to resist the 
claims of the Clusians ; he was entertained by the Perusians 
with great respect, but they informed him that, having used no 
sacrilegious arts to obtain the Blessed Virgin's ring, they re- 
spected her too much to restore it to the owners ; that they 


received it within their walls with as much respect as they would 
do the Ark of the Covenant, and would defend their holy prize 
by force of arms. The bereaved Clusians laid the case before 
Pope Sixtus IV., and the Perusians did the same. Wintherus 
was ordered by the Pope, on the importunity of the Clusians, 
into closer confinement ; but, as the heat abated, he passed a 
merry life in Perusia, and at his death the Franciscans and the 
canons of St. Lawrence disputed for the possession of his body. 
This honour was, in the end, obtained by the latter, in whose 
chapel he was buried before an altar dedicated to St. Joseph 
and the Virgin, and a monument was erected by the Perusians 
to the ring- stealer's memory, with an inscription which ac- 
knowledged that the receivers were as much indebted to him 
for it as if it had been his own property, and he had offered it 
of his own accord. 

In the pontificate of Innocent VIII., a.d. i486, the arbitration 
of the dispute was left to Cardinal Piccolominasus, who adjudged 
the relic to Perusia. The important decision was celebrated 
in that city by every imaginable expression of joy, and for the 
greatest honour of the sacred ring, a chapel was built for it in 
the church of St. Lawrence, with an inscription, informing the 
reader that there the untouched mother, the Queen of Heaven, 
and her spouse, were worshipped ; that there in the sanctuary 
of her wedding-ring she lent a gracious ear to all prayers ; and 
that he who gave the ring (Wintherus) defended it by his pro- 
tection. The pencil was called in to grace the more substantial 
labours of the architect. A curious picture represented the 
High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, taking Joseph and 
Mary by their hands to espouse them with the venerated ring ; 
one side of the solemnity was graced by a band of virgins, the 
companions of Mary during her education ; the other side was 
occupied by a company of young men, Joseph's kinsmen of the 
house of David, holding their withered rods. The imagination 
of the artist employed one of these in breaking his own rod 
across his knee, as envious of Joseph's, which, by its miraculous 
budding, had ended the hopes of all who, by the proclamation, 
had become candidates for her hand. In addition to this, an 
altar was raised and dedicated to St. Joseph ; his statue was 
placed at its side ; his birthday was kept with great pomp ; 
a society of seculars, called his Fraternity, was instituted to 


serve in the chapel jointly with the clergy of St. Lawrence ; 
and on the joint festival of Mary and her spouse the splendid 
solemnity was heightened by the solemn exhibition of the ring, 
and by a picture of their miraculous nuptials being uncovered 
to the eager gaze of the adoring multitude.' 

The ring is said by some to have been made of one whole 
stone, green jasper or a plasma, hollowed out, and itself forming 
both hoop and bezel, unalloyed with any metal. 

In Raffaelle's beautiful picture, Le Sposalizio, Mary and 
Joseph stand opposite to each other in the centre ; the high- 
priest, between them, is bringing their right hands towards 
each other ; Joseph, with his right hand (guided by the priest), 
is placing the ring on the third finger of the right hand of the 
Virgin ; beside Mary is a group of the virgins of the Temple ; 
near Joseph are the suitors, who break their barren wands — 
that which Joseph holds in his hand has blossomed into a lily, 
which, according to the legend, was the sign that he was the 
chosen one. 

The Rev. C. W. King, in his ' Handbook of Engraved 
Gems,' observes : ' The highest glory ever attained by a work 
of the engraver was that of the cameo of the Abbey of St. 
Germain des Pres, which enjoyed for an entire millennium the 
transcendent (though baseless) fame of adorning the espousal- 
ring of the Virgin Mary, and of preserving the portraits after 
the Hfe of herself and Joseph. But, alas ! antiquaries have now 
remorselessly restored the ownership of gem and portraits to 
the two nobodies (probably liberti, judging from their names), 
whose votive legend, " Alpheus with Aretho," is but too plainly 
legible in our Greek-reading times.' 

When the Abbey was destroyed by fire in 1795, this ring, 
with other valuables, disappeared ; it subsequently came into 
the hands of General Hydrow, and from him passed into the 
Imperial Russian Cabinet. 

Ring of Gyges. P. 96. 

Nizami, the famous Persian poet, who died in 1209, has a 
story of a ring which is a very close version of the ring of Gyges. 
A hot vapour once rent the ground, and brought to light in the 
chasm a hollow horse of tin and copper with a large fissure in 


its side. A shepherd saw it, and discovered in the body an old 
man asleep, with a gold ring on his finger. He took it off, and 
went next morning to his master to learn the value of his booty ; 
but during his visit he discovered, to his astonishment, that 
when he turned the seal towards his palm he became invisible. 
He determined to make use of this power, and he proceeded to 
the palace, and secretly entered the council-chamber, where he 
remained unseen. When the nobles had left it, he revealed 
himself to the king by this miracle as a prophet. The king at 
once took him as his minister, and eventually the shepherd 
succeeded him on the throne. 

In Reginald Scot's 'Discovery of Witchcraft,' 1665, is given 
a charm whereby ' to go invisible by these three sisters of the 
fairies,' Milita, Achilia, and Sibylia. You are ' first to go to a 
fair parlour, or chamber, and on even ground, and in no loft, 
and from people nine dayes, for it is better ; and let all thy 
cloathing be clean and sweet. Then make a candle of virgin 
wax and light it, and make a fair fire of charcoles in a fair place 
in the middle of the parlour or chamber ; then take fair clean 
water that runneth against the East, and set it upon the fire, 
and if thou warm thyself say these words, going about the fire 
three times holding the candle in thy right hand.' The incan- 
tation is too profane to be repeated. The following is the effect 
produced : ' and if they come not the first night, then do the 
same the second night, and so the third night, until they do 
come,y^r dojibtless they will so come 5 and lie thou in thy bed 
in the same parlour or chamber, and lay thy right hand out of 
the bed, and look thou have a fair silken kerchief bound about 
thy head, and be not afraid, they will do thee no harm ; for 
there will come before thee three fair women, and all in white 
cloathing, and one of them will put a ring upon thyjinger where- 
with thou shall go invisible. Then with speed bind her 
with the bond aforesaid. When thou hast this ring on thy 
finger, look in a glass and thou shalt not see thyself. And 
when thou wilt go invisible, put it on thy finger, the same finger 
that they did put it on, and every new moon renew it again,' 


The Cruel Knight and the Fortunate Farmer's 
Daughter. P. 99. 

' The Fish and the Ring, or the Cruel Knight, and the 
Fortunate Farmer's Daughter ' (a reprint for WiUiam Robinson, 
Esq., 1843). 

In famous York city a farmer did dwell, 

Who was belov'd by his neighbours well : 

He had a wife that was virtuous and fair, 

And by her he had a young child every year. 

In seven years six children he had, 

Which made their parents' hearts full glad ; 

But in a short time, as we did hear say, 

The farmer in wealth and stock did decay. 

Though once he had riches in store. 

In a little time he grew very poor ; 

He strove all he could, but, alas ! could not thrive, 

He hardly could keep his children alive. 

The children came faster than silver or gold, 

For his wife conceiv'd again, we are told, 

And when the time came in labour she fell ; 

But if you would mind an odd story I'll tell : 

A noble rich Knight by chance did ride by. 
And hearing this woman did shriek and cry. 
He being well learned in the planets and signs, 
Did look in the book which puzzled his mind. 
The more he did look the more he did read. 
And found that the fate of the child had decreed. 
Who was bom in that house the same tide. 
He found it was she who must be his bride ; 
But judge how the Knight was disturb'd in mind. 
When he in that book his fortune did find. 

He quickly rode home and was sorely oppressed, 
From that sad moment he could take no rest ; 
At night he did toss and tumble in his bed 
And very strange projects came into his head. 
Then he resolv'd and soon try'd indeed. 
To alter the fortune he found was decreed. 
With a vexing heart next morning he rose, 
And to the house of the farmer he goes. 
And asked the man with a heart full of spite. 
If the child was alive that was born last night .? 


' Worthy sir, ' said the farmer, ' although I am poor, 
I had one bom last night, and six bom before ; 
Four sons and three daughters I now have alive, 
They are in good health and likely to thrive.' 
The Knight he reply'd, ' If that seven you have. 
Let me have the youngest, I'll keep it most brave. 
For you very well one daughter may spare, 
And when I die I'll make her my heir ; 
For I am a Knight of noble degree, 
And if you will part with your child unto me 
Full three thousand pounds I'll unto thee give 
When I from your hands your daughter receive. 

The father and mother with tears in their eyes, 

Did hear this kind oifer and were in surprize ; 

And seeing the Knight was so noble and gay, 

Presented the infant unto him that day. 

But they spoke to him with words most mild, 

'We beseech thee, good sir, be kind to our child.' 

' You need not mind, ' the Knight he did say, 

' I will maintain her both gallant and gay. ' 

So with this sweet babe away he did ride. 

Until he came to a broad river's side. 

Being cruelly bent he resolv'd indeed 

To drown the young infant that day with speed. 

Saying, ' If you live you must be my wife. 

So I am resolved to bereave you of life ; 

For till you are dead I no comfort can have, 

Wherefore you shall lie in a watery grave.' 

In saying of this, that moment, they say. 

He flung the babe into the river straightway ; 

And being well pleased when this he had done, 

He leaped on his horse, and straight he rode home. 

But mind how kind fortune for her did provide, 

She was drove right on her back by the tide. 

Where a man was a fishing, as fortune would have, 

When she was floating along with the wave. 

He took her up, but was in amaze ; 

He kissed her and on her did gaze. 

And he having ne'er a child in his life, 

He straightway did carry her home to his wife. 

His wife was pleased the child to see. 

And said, ' My dearest husband, be mled by me. 

Since we have no children, if you'll let me alone, 

We will keep this and call it our own.' 

The good man consented, as we have been told, 

And spared for neither silver nor gold. 


Until she was over eleven full year, 
And then her beauty began to appear. 

The fisherman was one day at an inn, 
And several gentlemen drinking with him : 
His wife sent this girl to call her husband home. 
But when she did into the drinking room come. 
The gentlemen they were amazed to see 
The fisherman's daughter so full of beauty. 
They ask'd him if she was his own, 
And he told them the story before he went home 
' As I was fishing within my bound, 
One Monday morning this sweet babe I found ; 
Or else she had lain within a watery grave ; ' 
And this was the same which now he gave. 
The cruel Knight was in the company. 
And hearing the fisherman tell his story. 
He was vexed at the heart to see her alive. 
And how to destroy her again did contrive, 
Then spake the Knight, and unto him said, 
. ' If you will but part with this sweet maid 
I'll give you whatever your heart can devise, 
For she in time to great riches may rise.' 
The fisherman answered, with a modest grace, 
' I cannot unless my dear wife were in the place. 
Get first her consent, you shall have mine of me, 
And then to go with you, sir, she is free.' 
The wife she did also as freely consent, 
But httle they thought of his cruel intent ; 
He kept her a month very bravely they say, 
And then he contrived to send them away. 

He had a great brother in fair Lancashire, 
A noble rich man worth ten thousand a year, 
And he sent this girl unto him with speed 
In hopes he would act a most desperate deed. 
He sent a man with her likewise they say. 
And as they did lodge at an inn on the way, 
A thief in the house with an evil intent 
For to rob the portmanteau immediately went. 
But the thief was amazed, when he could not find 
Either silver or gold, or aught to his mind. 
But only a letter the which he did read 
And soon put an end to this tragical deed : 
The Knight had wrote to his brother that day. 
To take this poor innocent damsel away, 


With sword or with poison that very same night, 

And not let her Hve till morning light. 

The thief read the letter, and had so much grace 

To tear it, and write in the same place, 
' Dear brother, receive this maiden from me. 

And bring her up well as a maiden should be ; 

Let her be esteem'd, dear brother, I pray. 

Let serv^ants attend her by night and by day. 

For she is a lady of noble worth, 

A nobler lady ne'er lived in the north ; 

Let her have good learning, dear brother, I pray, 

And for the same I will sufficiently pay ; 

And so, loving brother, this letter I send. 

Subscribing myself your dear brother and friend.' 

The servant and maid were still innocent, 

And onward their journey next day they went. 

Before sunset to the Knight's house they came 

Where the servant left her, and came home again. 

The girl was attended most nobly indeed. 

With the servants to attend to her with speed ; 

Where she did continue a twelvemonth's space. 

Till this cruel Knight came to this place. 

As he and his brother together did talk. 

He spy'd the young maiden in the garden to walk. 

She look'd most beautiful, pleasant, and gay. 

Like to sweet Aurora, or the goddess of May. 

He was in a passion when he did her spy. 

And instantly unto his brother did cry, 
' WHiy did you not do as in the letter I writ ? ' 

His brother replied, ' It is done every bit. ' 
' No, no,' said the Knight, 'it is not so I see. 

Therefore she shall back again go with me ; ' 

But his brother showed him the letter that day, 

Then he was amazed, but nothing did say. 

Soon after the Knight took this maiden away, 

And with her did ride till he came to the sea. 

Then looking upon her with anger and spite. 

He spoke to the maiden and bade her alight. 

The maid from the horse immediately went 

And trembled to think what was his intent. 
' Ne'er tremble," said he, ' for this hours your last ; 

So pull off your clothes, I command you, in haste.' 

This virgin, with tears, on her knees did reply, 
' Oh ! what have I done, sir, that now I must die? 

Oh ! let me but l^now how I offend 

I'll study each hour ray life to amend, 
L L 


Oh ! spare my life and I'll wander till death, 
And never come near you while I have breath.' 
He hearing the pitiful moan she did make 
Straight from his finger a ring did take, 
He then to the maiden these words did say, 
' This ring in the water I'll now throw away ; 
Pray look on it well, for the posy is plain. 
That you when you see it may know it again. 
I charge you for life never come in my sight. 
For if you do I shall owe you a spite, 
Unless you do bring the same unto me : ' 
With that he let the ring drop in the sea, 
Which when he had done away he did go. 
And left her to wander in sorrow and woe. 
She rambled all night, and at length did espy 
A homely poor cottage, and to it did hie. 
Being hungry with cold, and a heart full of grief, 
She went to this cottage to seek for relief ; 
The people reliev'd her, and the next day 
They got her to service, as I did hear say, 
At a nobleman's house, not far from this place 
Where she did behave with a modest grace. 
She was a cookmaid and forgot the time past, 
But observe the wonder that comes at last. 

As she for dinner was dressing one day. 

And opened the head of a cod, they say, 

She found such a ring, and was in amaze 

And she, in great wonder, upon it did gaze 

And viewing it well she found it to be 

The very same the Knight dropped in the sea, 

She smil'd when she saw it, and bless'd her kind fate. 

But did to no creature the secret relate. 

This maid, in her place, did all maidens excel. 
That the lady took notice, and lik'd her well ; 
Saying, she was born of some noble degree, 
And took her as a companion to be. 
The Knight when he came to the house did behold 
This beautiful lady with trappings of gold. 
When he ask'd the lady to grant him a boon. 
And said it was to walk with that virgin alone. 
The lady consented, telling the young maid 
By him she need not fear to be betrayed. 
When he first met her, ' Thou strumpet," said he, 
' Did I not charge thee never more to see me ? 


This hour's thy last, to the world bid good night, 
For being so bold to appear in my sight.' 
Said she, Mn the sea you flung your ring, 
And bid me not see you unless I did bring 
The same unto you. Now I have it,' cries she, 
' Behold, 'tis the same that you flung into the sea.' 
When the Knight saw it, he flew to her arms, 
And said, 'Lovely maid, thou hast millions of charms.' 
Said he, ' Charming creature, pray pardon me, 
Who often contrived the ruin of thee : 
'Tis in vain to alter what heaven doth decree, 
For i. find you are bom my wife to be.' 
Then wedded they were, as I did hear say. 
And now she's a lady both gallant and gay, 
They quickly unto her parents did haste. 
When the Knight told the story of what had passed. 
But asked their pardon upon his bare knee. 
Who gave it, and rejoiced their daughter to see. 
Then they for the fisherman and his wife sent, 
And for their past troubles did them content. 
And so there was joy for all them that did see 
The farmer's young daughter a lady to be. 

The Rev. C. W. King, in his ' Handbook of Engraved 
Gems/ gives the following fish-and-ring story. Pietrus Dami- 
anus, a very unlikely personage to have ever read of Polycrates, 
relates in his Fifth Epistle a story worth translating literally, as 
a specimen of the style of thought of his age: — ' This Arnulphus 
was the father of King Pepin and grandfather of Charlemagne, 
and when, inflamed with the fervour of the Holy Ghost he 
sacrificed the love of wife and children, and exchanged the 
glory and pomps of this world for the glorious poverty of Christ, 
it chanced, as he was hastening into the wilderness, that in his 
way he had to cross a river, which is called the Moselle ; but 
when he reached the middle of the bridge, thrown over it 
where the river's stream ran deepest, he tossed in there his own 
ring with this protestation, " When I shall receive back," said 
he, " this ring from the foaming waves of this river, then will 
I trust confidently that I am loosed from the bonds of all my 
sins." Thereupon he made for the wilderness, where he lived 
no little space dead unto himself and the world. Meanwhile, 
the then Bishop of Metz having died. Divine Providence raised 
Arnulphus to the charge of that see. Continuing in his new office 


to abstain from eating flesh, according to the rule observed by 
him in the wilderness, once upon a time a fish was brought him 
for a present. The cook, in gutting the same, found in its 
entrails a ring, and ran full of joy to present it to his master ; 
which ring the blessed Bishop no sooner cast eyes upon than 
he knew it again for his own, and wondered not so much at the 
strange mine that had brought forth the metal, as that, by the 
Divine propitiation, he had obtained the forgiveness of his sins.' 
The same distinguished writer, in the work before mentioned, 
relates the story told by St. Augustine, bishop of the city where 
it happened, ^ and who has deemed it worthy of insertion in his 
great work, " De Civitate Dei " (xxii. 8) : — " There lived an old 
man, a fellow-townsman of ours at Hippo, Florentius by name, 
by trade a tailor, a religious poor person. He had lost his 
cloak and had not wherewith to buy another. Certain ribald 
youths who happened to be present overheard him, and followed 
him as he went down, mocking at him as though he had de- 
manded of the martyrs the sum of fifty folks {\2\ denarii) to 
clothe himself withal. But Florentius walking on without 
replying to them, espied a big fish thrown up by the sea, and 
struggling upon the beach, and he secured it through the good- 
natured assistance of the same youths, and sold it for 2>'->ofolles 
(75 denarii) to a certain cook, by name Carthosus, a good Chris- 
tian, for pickling, telling him at the same time all that had 
taken place — intending to buy wool with the money, so that his 
wife might make therewith, as well as she could, something 
to clothe him. But the cook in cutting up the fish found in 
its belly a gold ring, and forthwith, being moved with com- 
passion, as well as influenced by rehgious scruples, restored 
it to Florentius, saying, ' Behold how the Twenty Martyrs 
have clothed thee."" 

Ki?tg Edward's Ring. P. 119. 

In the ' Life of Edward the Confessor' (forming one of the 
series of the chronicles and memorials of Great Britain and 
Ireland, during the Middle Ages, published by the authority 
of H.M. Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the 
Rolls), Mr. Luard, the editor, has given the translation of a 
manuscript in the public library of the University of Cambridge, 


to which the date of 1245 is ascribed, and written in Norman- 
French. The legend of the Confessor's ring is thus intro- 
duced : — 

The King was at the service 

Where was dedicated the church 

Of Saint John, who to God was dear, 

And whom the King could so much love : 

No saint had he so dear except Saint Peter. 

Lo, a poor man who was there, 

A stranger and unknown, 

When he saw King Edward, 

For the love of Saint John prays him 

That of his possession he would give him a part. 

The King who hears his prayer, 

Puts his hand to his alms-chest. 

But neither gold nor silver does he there find. 

He bids his almoner to be summoned, 

But he was not found for the crowd. 

The poor man ceases not to beg 

And the King is in distress 

Because neither gold nor silver he finds at hand. 

And he reflects, remains silent. 

Looks at his hand and remembers 

That on his finger he had a cherished ring 

Which was large, royal, and beautiful ; 

To the poor man he gives it for the love 

Of Saint John, his dear lord ; 

And he takes it with joy, 

And gently gives him thanks ; 

And when he was possessed of it, 

He departed and vanished. 

But to this no one paid attention. 

Soon after it chanced that 

Two palmers of English birth, 

Who go to seek the Holy Sepulchre 

By a path where no one guides them 

In the land of Syria, 

Go astray, far out by the way. 

See neither man nor house : 

Now they have arrived in the wilderness. 

The night comes on, the sun sets ; 

Nor do they know which way to turn, 

Nor where they can lodge for the night. 

They fear robbers, they fear wild beasts, 

They fear monsters and dreadful tempests. 


And many an adventure of the desert. 
The dark night surprises them. 

Now behold a band of youths 
In a circle which was very large and beautiful, 
By whom the whole road and air 
Were lightened as if by lightning, 
And an old man white and hoary, 
Brighter than the sun at mid- day. 
Before whom are carried two tapers, 
Which lighten the path ; 
He, when he comes close to the palmers 
Salutes them ; says, ' Dear friends 
Whence come you ? Of what creed 
Are you, and of what birth ? 

What kingdom and King ? What seek you here? 
And one of them answered him, 
' We are Christians, and desire 
Have we to expiate our sins ; 
We are both from England ; 
We have come to seek the Holy Sepulchre, 
And the holy places of this country, 
Where Jesus died and lived. 
And our King is named Edward, 
The good prince, whom may God preserve to us, 
He has not such a saint from here to France. 
But it has befallen us by mishap 
We have lost to-day the company 
Which comforts and which guides us. 
Nor know we what has become of us.' 

And the old man answered there, 
Joyously like a clerk, 
' Come after me, I go before ; 
Follow me, I will conduct you 
Where you will find a good hostelry. 
For love of King Edward 
You shall have lodging and good care. 
Your leader I will myself be. 
And your host.' He leads them on ; 
They enter a city, 
They have found a good hostelry. 
The table prepared, and good treatment. 
Linen and bed, and other preparatives ; 
The tired ones, who had great need, 
Repose themselves after supper. 


In the morning, when they depart, 
They find their host and leader, 
Who, when they have issued from the gate, 
Gently thus comforts them. 
' Be not troubled nor sad, 
I am John the Evangelist ; 
For love of Edward the King, ^ 
I neither will nor ought to fail you ; 
For he is my especial 
Friend and loyal King. 
With me he has joined company. 
Since he has chosen to lead a chaste life. 
We shall be peers in paradise. 
And I tell you, dear good friends, 
You shall arrive, be assured, 

In your country safe and sound. 
You shall go to King Edward, 

Salute him from me. 

And that you attempt not a falsehood 

To say, you shall carry proofs— . , - 

A ring, which he will know. 

Which he gave to me, John, 

When he was at the service 

Where my church was dedicated ; 

There I besought him, for the love 

Of John ; it was I in poor array. 

And let King Edward know well, 

To me he shall come before six months (are over). 

And since he resembles me. 

In paradise shall we be together 

And that of this he may be confidently assured 

You shall tell him all that whatever I tell you.' 

They, who well understand his words, 

Give him thanks for all his benefits. 

And when they are possessed of the ring 

The saint departed and vanished ; 

And the pilgrims depart. 

Who now are on the certain path 

Without ill, and without trouble ; 

The saint leads and conducts them ; 

They hasten to go to King Edward, 

That they have not arrived seems tardy to them. 

And they relate their adventure. 

Show the ring at once, 

Wliatever they relate he believes true. 


When he sees the proofs ; 

Of this witness bears the whole 

Company, large in numbers. 

Demons imprisoned in Rings. P. 1 32. 

There was a strong belief that familiar spirits could be 
carried about in rings and trinkets. Le Loyer, in his curious 
work ' Des Spectres,' writes : ' With regard to the demons whom 
they imprisoned in rings or charms, the magicians of the school 
of Salamanca and Toledo, and their master Picatrix, together 
with those in Italy who made traffic of this kind of ware, knew 
better than to say whether or not they had appeared to those 
who had them in possession or bought them. And truly I can- 
not speak without horror of those who pretend to such vulgar 
familiarity with them, even to speaking of the nature of each 
particular demon shut up in a ring ; whether he be a Mercurial, 
Jovial, Saturnine, Martial, or Aphrodisiac spirit ; in what form 
he is wont to appear when required ; how many times in the 
night he awakes his possessor ; whether benign or cruel in dis- 
position ; whether he can be transferred to another ; and if, 
once possessed, he can alter the natural temperament, so as to 
render men of Saturnine complexion Jovial, or the Jovials 
Saturnines, and so on. There is no end of the stories which 
might be collected under this head, to which, if I gave faith, as 
some of the learned of our time have done, it would be filling 
my paper to little purpose. I will not speak, therefore, of the 
crystal ring mentioned by Joaliun of Cambray, in which a 
young child could see all that they demanded of him, and which 
eventually was broken by the possessor, as the occasion by 
which the devil too much tormented him. Still less will I stay 
my pen to tell of the sorcerer of Courtray, whose ring had a 
demon enclosed in it, to whom it behoved him to speak every 
five days.' By this famihar (remarks Heywood, in his ' Hier- 
archie of the Blessed Angels ') ' he was not onely acquainted 
with all newes, as well forrein as domesticke, but learned the 
cure and remedie for all griefs and diseases ; insomuch that he 
had the reputation of a learned and excellent physition. At 
length, being accused of sortilege, or enchantment, at Arnham, 
in Guelderland, he was proscribed, and in the year 1548, the 
Chancellor caused his ring, in the public market, to be layd on 


an anvil and with an iron hammer to be beaten in pieces. 
Mengius reporteth from the relation of a deare friend of his (a 
man of approved fame and honestie) this history. In a certain 
town under the jurisdiction of the Venetians, one of their praes- 
tigious artists (whom some call Pythonickes), having one of 
these rings in which he had two familiar spirits exorcised and 
bound, came to a predicant or preaching friar, a man of sincere 
life and conversation ; and confessed unto him that hee was 
possessed of such an enchanted ring, with such spirits charmed, 
with whom he had conference at his pleasure. But since he 
considered with himselfe that it was a thing dangerous to his 
soule, and abhominable both to God and man, he desired to be 
cleanely acquit thereof, and to that purpose hee came to receive 
of him some godly counsell. But by no persuasion would the 
rehgious man be induced to have any speech at all with these 
evil spirits (to which motion the other had before earnestly 
solicited him), but admonished him to cause the magicke ring 
to be broken, and that to be done with all speed possible. At 
which words the familiars were heard (as it were) to mourne 
and lament in the ring, and to desire that no such violence 
might be offered to them ; but rather than so, that it would please 
him to accept of the ring, and keepe it, promising to do him all 
service and vassallage ; of which, if he pleased to accept, they 
would in a short time make him to be the most famous, and 
admired predicant in all Italy. But he perceiving the divels 
cunning, under this colour of courtesie, made absolute refusall 
of their offer ; and withall conjured them to know the reason 
why they would so willingly submit themselves to his patronage "i 
After many evasive lies and deceptions answers, they plainly 
confessed unto him that they had of purpose persuaded the 
magition to heare him preach ; that by that sermon, his con- 
science being pricked and galled, he might be weary of the ring, 
and being refused of the one, be accepted of the other ; by which 
they hoped in short time so to have puft him up with pride and 
heresie, to have precipitated his soule into certaine and never- 
ending destruction. At which the churchman being zealously 
inraged, with a great hammer broke the ring almost to dust, 
and in the name of God sent them thence to their own habita- 
tion of darknesse, or whither it pleased the highest powers to 
dispose them. 


' Of this kind doubtless was the ring of Gyges — such hkewise 
had the Phocensian tyrant, who, as Clemens Stromasus 
speaketh, by a sound which came of itselfe, was warned of all 
times, seasonable and unseasonable in which to mannage his 
affaires ; who, notwithstanding, could not be forewarned of his 
pretended death, but his familiar left him in the end, suffering 
him to be slain by the conspirators. Such a ring, likewise, had 
one Hieronimus, Chancellor of Mediolanum, which after proved 
to be his untimely ruine.' [' Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels,'] 

A learned German physician has given an instance in which 
the devil, of his own accord, enclosed himself in a ring as a 
familiar, thereby proving how dangerous it is to trifle with him. 

Cra7np-Rings. P. 164. 

The precise date when the Kings of England commenced 
to bless rings, regarded as preservatives against the cramp 
or against epilepsy, the morbus Sa7icti Johannis, is uncertain. 
The earliest mention of the practice, which Mr. Edmund 
Waterton has found, occurs in the reign of Edward II. : 'The 
prayer used in the blessing of the ring implores — ' ut omnes 
qui eos gestabunt, nee eos infestet vel nervorum contractio, vel 
comitialis morbi periculum.' And the King, to impart this 
salutary virtue, rubbed the rings between his hands, with this 
invocation : ' Manuum nostrarum confricatione quas olei sacri 
infusione externa sanctificare dignatus es pro ministerii nostri 
modo consecra,' &c. Hitherto these rings are simply described 
as annuli. But in the 44th of Edward III., in the account- 
book of John of Ipres, or Ypres, they are termed medicinales. 

In the last chapter of the ' Constitutions of the Household,' 
settled in the reign of Edward II., the following entry 
appears : 'Item, le Roi doit offrer de certein le jour de grant 
vendredi a crouce v. s. queux il est accustumez receivre devers 
lui a la mene le chapelein afair eut anulx a donner ptir inedicine 
az divers gentz.' 

In the Eleemosyna Roll of 9th Edward III. the following 
entry occurs : ' In oblacione domini Regis ad crucem de 
Gneythe die parasceves in capella sua infra mannerium suum 
de Clipstone, in precium duorum florencium de Florencia xiiij. 
die Aprilis vi. s. viij. d.^ et in denariis quos posuit pro dictis 


florenciis reassumptis pro annulis medicinalibus hide faciendis, 
eodem die vi. s. ; summa xii. s. viii. d. 

In the Eleemosyna Roll of loth Edward III. we have the 
following entry : ' In oblacione domini Regis ad crucem de 
Gneyth in die parasceves apud Eltham, xxix. die Marcii v. s.^ 
et pro iisdem denariis reassumptis pro annulis inde faciendis 
per manus Domini Johannis de Crokeford eodem die v. j.' 
And in the following year : ' In oblacione domini Regis ad 
crucem de Gneyth in capella sua in pcho de Wyndesore die 
parasceves v, j., et pro totidem denariis reassumptis pro annuli 
inde faciendis v. j.' 

In the accounts of John de Ypres, 44th Edward III., the 
following entries are found : ' In oblacionibus Regis factis 
adorando crucem in capella sua infra castrum suum de 
Wyndesore, die parasceves in pretio trium nobilium auri et 
quinque solidorum sterling, xxv. s. In denariis solutis pro 
iisdem oblacionibus reassumptis pro annulis medicinalibus inde 
faciendis, ibidem, eodem die xxv. j.' 

The same entries occur in the 7th and 8th Henry IV. 

In the 8th Edward IV. mention occurs that these cramp- 
rings were made of silver and of gold, as appears by the fol- 
lowing entry : ' Pro eleemosyna in die parasceves c. marc, et 
pro annulis de auro et argento pro eleemosyna Regis eodem 
die,' &c. And a Privy Seal of the next year, amongst other 
particulars relates : ' Item paid for the King's Good Fryday 
rings of gold and silver xxxiii. /. vi. s. viii. </.' 

Mention of these rings is also found in the Comptroller's 
accountsin the 20th Henry VII. 

A MS. copy of the Orders of the King of England's House- 
hold, 13th Henry VIII., 1 52 i-t 522, preserved in the National 
Library at Paris (No. 9,986), contains ' the order of the Kinge's 
of England, touching his coming to service, hallowing y 
crampe rings, and offering and creeping to the crosse.' * First, 
the King to tome to the closett or to the chappell with the 
lords and noblemen wayting on him, without any sworde to 
bee borne before him on that day, and there to tarry in his 
travers till the bishop and deane have brought forth the crucifix 
out of the vestry (the almoner reading the service of the cramp- 
rings), layd upon a cushion before the high altar, and then the 
^uishers shall lay a carpet before y' for the King to creepe to 


the crosse upon : and y* done, there shall be a fourme set upon 
the carpet before the crucifix, and a cushion layd before it for 
the King to kneele on ; and the Master of the Jewell house 
shal be ther ready with the crampe-rings in a basin or basins 
of silver ; the King shall kneele upon the sayd cushion before 
the fourme, and then must the clerke of the closett bee ready 
with the booke conteyninge y' service of the hallowing of the 
said rings, and the almoner must kneel upon the right hand 
of the King, holding of the sayd booke ; and when y* is done 
the King shall rise and go to the high altar, where an huisher 
must be ready with a cushion to lay for his grace to kneele 
upon, and the greatest Lord or Lords being then present shall 
take the basin or basins with the rings, and bear them after 
the King, and then deliver them to the King to offer ; and 
this done, the Queen shall come down out of the closett or 
travers into the chappell with ladies and gentlewomen wayters 
on her, and creepe to the crosse ; and that done, she shall 
returne againe into her closett or travers, and then the ladies 
shall come downe and creepe to the crosse, and when they 
have done, the lords and noblemen shall in likewise.' 

A letter from Dr. Thomas Magnus, Warden of Sibthorpe 
College, Nottinghamshire, to Cardinal Wolsey, written in 1526, 
contains the following curious passage : ' Pleas it your Grace 
to wete that M. Wiat of his goodness sent unto me for a present 
certaine crampe ringges, which I distributed and gave to 
sondery myne acquaintaunce at Edinburghe, amongse other to 
M. Adame Otterbourne, who, with one of thayme, releved a 
mann lying in the falling sekenes in the sight of myche people ; 
sethenne whiche tyme many requestes have been made unto me 
for crampe ringges at my departing there, and also sethenne 
my comyng from thennes. May it pleas your Grace therefore 
to shew your gracious pleasure to the said M. Wyat, that some 
ringges may be kept and sent into Scottelande, whiche, after 
my poore oppynnyon shulde be a good dede, remembering 
the power and operacyon of thame is knowne and proved in 
Edinburghe, and that they be gretly required for the same cause 
both by grete personnages and other.' 

Mr. Edmund Waterton thinks that the illuminated manual 
which Queen Mary used at the blessing of the cramp-rings, 
and which I have mentioned was in the possession of the late 


Cardinal Wiseman, was the same from which Bishop Burnet 
printed the formula. Mr. Waterton states that on the second 
leaf of the MS. the service for the blessing of the rings begins 
with this rubric : ' Certeyne Prayers to be used by the Quene's 
Heighnes in the Consecration of the Cramperings.' 

The next rubric is as follows : ' The Ryngs lyeing in one 
basin or moo, this Prayer shall be said over them,' &c. This 
is followed by the Benedictio Anmilortun, consisting of several 
short formulae or sentences. Then another rubric sets forth : 
* These prayers beinge saide, the Queene's Heighnes rubbeth 
the rings betwene her hands, sayinge Sanctifica Domine 
Aftmilos,' &c. 

' Thenne must holly water be caste on the rings, sayeing, 
Ift nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sanctis Amen. Followed 
by two other prayers.' 

Miss Strickland claims the blessing of the cramp-rings as 
the peculiar privilege of the Queens of England. But her 
argument falls to the ground when tested by collateral and 
official documents. 

Mr. Waterton concludes his most interesting article on 
Royal Cramp-rings (' Archaeological Journal,' vol. xxi. pp. 103- 
113) by stating that he has been unable to accompany the essay 
by the representation of any example, ' but I have never met 
with a specimen that could with any certainty be pronounced 
a royal cramp-ring, neither have I found any description of the 
rings made, as the entries state, from the gold and silver coins 
offered by the King on Good Friday, and then redeemed by 
an equivalent sum. Probably they were plain hoop-rings. In 
the will of John Baret, of Bury St, Edmunds, 1463, a bequest 
is made to "my Lady Walgrave" of a "rowund ryng of the 
Kynge's silvir." In another part of his will he bequeaths to 
" Thomais Brews, esquiyer, my crampe ryng with blak innamel, 
and a part silvir and gilt." And, in 1535, Edmund Lee bequeaths 
to " my nece Thwarton my gold ryng w' a turkes, and a crampe 
ryng of gold w* all." 

* But there is no evidence to show that the second ring 
mentioned by John Baret was a royal cramp-ring; whereas it 
appears to me that the one bequeathed by Edmund Lee may- 
have been one of the royal cramp-rings, for otherwise a more 
particular description would have been given.' 


An interesting account of 'the ceremonies of blessing 
cramp-rings on Good Friday, used by the CathoHc Kings of 
England/ will be found in Pegge's ' Curialia Miscellanea' 
(Appendix No. 3, p. 164). 

It is curious that in Somersetshire the ring-finger is thought 
to have the power of curing any sore or wound that is rubbed 
with it. 



I SHOULD not omit to mention the famous sermon of good 
Jeremy Taylor on ' a wedding-ring for the finger/ which is 
worthy the perusal not only of those who have entered the 
matrimonial life, but of others who contemplate an entrance 
into the same. The text is (Genesis ii. 18), 'And the Lord 
God said. It is not good that the man should be alone ; I will 
make him an help-meet for him.' Although no allusion is made 
to the substantial character of the nuptial circle, yet the deduc- 
tions made from the text are the sweetest and the holiest that 
could be imagined, and the brightest jewels of the mineral 
world could not exceed in beauty the language of the grand old 
divine. ' When thou layest out for such a good upon earth, 
look up to the God of heaven. Let Him make his choice for 
thee, who hath made this choice of thee. Look above you 
before you look about you.' ' Give God the tribute of your 
gratulation for your good companion. Take heed of paying 
your rent to a wrong landlord. When you taste of the stream, 
reflect on the spring that feeds it. Now thou hast four eyes for 
thy speculation, four hands for thy operation, four feet for thy 
ambulation, and four shoulders for thy sustentation. What the 
sin against the Holy Ghost is in point of divinity, that is 
unthankfulness in point of morality ; an offence unpardonable. 
Pity it is but that moon should ever be in an eclipse, that will 
not acknozv ledge her beafns to be borrowed froni the sun. He 
that praises not the giver, prizes not the gift.' ' // is between 
a 7nan and his wife in the house, as it is between the sun and 



the moon in the heave Jts ; when the greater light goes down, the 
lesser light gets up ; when the one ends in setting , the other 
begins in shining. 

' Husband and wife should be as the milch-kine, which 
were coupled together to carry the ark of God ; or as the two 
Cherubims, that looked one upon another, and both upon the 
mercy-seat ; or as the two tables of stone, on each of which 
were engraven the laws of God. In some families married 
persons are like Jeremiah's two baskets of figs, the one very 
good, the other very evil ; or like fire and water, whilst the one 
is flaming in devotion, the other is freezing in corruption. 
There is a two-fold hindrance in holiness : first, on the right 
side ; secondly, on the left. On the right side, when the wife 
would run in God's way, the husband will not let her go ; when 
the fore-horse in a team will not draw, he wrongeth all the rest ; 
when the general of an army forbids a march, all the soldiers 
stand still.' ' Man is an affectionate creature. Now the woman's 
behaviour should be such towards the man, as to require his 
affection by increasing his delectation ; that the new-born love 
may not be blasted as soon as it is blossomed, that it may not be 
ruined before it be rooted.^ '■ Husband and wife should be like 
two candles burning together, which make the house more 
lightsome ; or like two fragrant flowers bound up in one 
nosegay, that augment its sweetness ; or like two well-tuned 
instruments, which, sounding together, make the more melodious 
music' 'A spouse should be more careful of her children's 
breeding than she should be fearful of her children's bearing. 
Take heed lest these flowers grow in the deviVs garden.^ ' Good 
education is the best livery you can give them living ; and 
it is the best legacy you can leave them when dying.' 'Let 
these small pieces of timber be hewed and squared for the 
celestial building ; by putting a sceptre of grace into their hands, 
you will set a crown of glory n^on their heads.' 'Marriages 
are styled fnatches, yet amongst those many that are married, 
how few are there that are matched / Husbands and wives 
are like locks and keys, that rather break than open, except the 
wards be answerable.' 




The Essex Ring. P. 336. 

The story of the ring given by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl 
of Essex is of such romantic interest that it is sad to destroy 
the charm by casting doubts on its authenticity ; but, at the 
present day especially, a crucial test is applied to numbers of 
similar instances, and * historic doubts ' crop up incessantly, 
with which heretofore no profane hand was expected to meddle. 
The story of the Essex ring-token has been investigated with 
great care by a writer in the ' Edinburgh Review ' (No. 200), 
who says : * Whatever might be the supposed indignation of 
Elizabeth against her dying cousin, Lady Nottingham, it is 
clear that as the real offender was Lord Nottingham, he would 
naturally have more shared in her displeasure ; and it is very 
improbable that a fortnight after the Queen had shaken the 
helpless v/ife on her death-bed, the husband, by whose authority 
the offence was committed, should have continued in un- 
diminished favour. The existence of the ring would do but 
little to establish the truth of the story, even if but one had 
been preserved and cherished as the identical ring ; but as 
there are two, if not three, which lay claim to that distinction,- 
they invalidate each other's claims. One is preserved at 
Hawnes, in Bedfordshire, the seat of the Rev. Lord John 
Thynne ; another is the property of C. W. Warren, Esq. ; 
and we believe the third is deposited for safety at Messrs. 
Drummond's bank. 

' The ring at Hawnes is said to have descended in unbroken 
succession from Lady Frances Devereux (afterwards Duchess 
of Somerset) to the present owner. The stone in this ring is 
a sardonyx, in which is cut m relief a head of Elizabeth, the 
execution of which is of a high order. That the ring has de- 
scended from Lady Frances Devereux, affords the strgngest 
presumptive evidence that it was not the ring. According to 
the tradition, it had passed from her father into Lady Notting- 
ham's hands. According to Lady Elizabeth Spelman, Lord 
Nottingham insisted upon her keeping it. 

In her interview with the Queen, the Countess might be 


supposed to have presented to her the token she had so fatally 
withheld ; or it might have remained in her family, or have 
been destroyed ; but the most improbable circumstance would 
have been its restoration to the widow or daughter of the much- 
injured Essex by the offending Earl of Nottingham. The 
Duchess of Somerset left a long, curious, and minute will, and 
in it there is no mention of any such ring. If there is good 
evidence for believing that the curious ring at Hawnes was ever 
in the possession of the Earl of Essex, one might be tempted 
to suppose that it was the likeness of the Queen, to which he 
alludes in his letters as his " fair angel," written from Portland 
Road, and the time of his disgrace after the proceedings in the 
Star Chamber, and when still under restraint at Essex House. 
Had Essex at this time possessed any ring, a token, by pre- 
senting which he would have been entitled to favour, it seems 
most improbable that he should have kept it back, and yet 
regarded this likeness of the Queen, whose gracious eyes en- 
couraged him to be a petitioner for himself. The whole tone 
of this letter is in fact almost conclusive against the possibility 
of his having in his possession any gift of hers endowed with 
such rights as that of the ring which the Countess of Nottingham 
is supposed to have withheld.' 



Wedding of the Adriatic. P. 419. 

In Richard Lassel's 'Voyage of Italy' is an account of the 
performance of this ceremony at Venice, about the year 1650. 
* I happened to be at Venice thrice at the great sea Triumph, 
or feast of the Ascension, which was performed thus : About 
our eight in the morning the Senators, in their scarlet robes, 
meet at the Doge's Pallace, and there, taking him up, they 
walk with him processionally unto the shoar, where the 
Bucentoro lyes waiting them ; the Pope's Nuncio being on 
his right hand, and the Patriarch of Venice on his left hand. 
M M 


Then, ascending into the Bucentoro by a handsome bridge 
thrown out to the shoar, the Doge takes his place, and the 
Senators sit round about the galley as they can, to the number 
of two or three hundred. The Senate being placed, the anchor 
is weighed, and the slaves being warned by the Captain's 
whistle, and the sound of trumpets, begin to strike all at once 
with their oars, and to make the Bucentoro march as gravely 
upon the water as if she also went upon cioppini (high shoes 
then worn by the Venetian ladies). Thus they steer for two 
miles upon the Laguna, while the music plays and sings 
Epithalamiums all the way long, and makes Neptune jealous 
to hear Hymen called upon in his Dominions, Round about 
the Bucentoro flock a world of Piottas and Gondolas, richly . 
covered overhead with sumptuous Canopies of silks and rich 
stuffs, and rowed by watermen in rich liveries as well as the 
Trumpeters. Thus forrain Embassadors, divers noblemen of 
the country and strangers of condition, wait upon thei Doge's 
gaily, all the way long both coming and going. At last the 
Doge, being arrived at the appointed place, throws a Ring into 
the sea, without any other ceremony than by saying, Despon- 
samus te, Mare; in signicm perpetid dominii. We espouse thee, 
O Sea, in Testimony of o?tr perpetual dominion over thee ; and 
so returns to the Church of St. Nicolas, in Lio (an Island hard 
by), where he assists at High Mass with the Senate. This 
done, he returns home again in the same state, and invites 
those that accompanied him in his gaily to dinner in his 
Pallace, the preparations of which dinner we saw before the 
Doge was got home.' 

By the kindness of Mr. Octavius Morgan, F.R.S., Vice- 
President of the Antiquarian Society, &c., I am enabled to 
reproduce in the present work a privately-printed tract by that 
eminent antiquarian, which will be found of great utility to 
ring-collectors generally. 

Classification for the Arrangement of a Collec- 
tion OF Finger-Rings. 

The Rings are divided into Two Grand Chronological 



Class I. Antique, comprising all European Rings prior to 
the year A.D. 800, when the Empire of Charlemagne was 
established in Europe, and England was united under one 
Sceptre, and all Oriental Rings prior to the Hedjira, a.d. 622, 
or prior to the Mussulman Conquest of the various countries. 

Class II. Medieval and Modern, comprising all Rings 
subsequent to those dates. 

Each Ring in the Collection should have a small label or 
ticket, of card or parchment, attached to it, bearing on one 
side the special letters belonging to the group, and on the 
other its number in the group ; thus any Ring removed from 
the Collection, when once so arranged, can be easily restored 
to its proper group and place. 

The letters O and Y (Nos. 15 and 25) are left vacant in 
case any collector should desire to make or add any other 


Arranged according to the various nations in the order of 
their antiquity or pre-eminence. 


































Prankish {Merovin- 










Ancient British. 



Early Christian. 



Ancient Scotch. 






Ancient Irish. 






Anglo-Saxon {Early). 











Unascertained and 





M M 2 





27 % Rings of Popes, or with Papal insignia. 

28 38 Rings of Cardinals, or with Cardinals' insignia. 

29 C Rings of Archbishops or Bishops, or with Episcopal 


30 J9 Rings of Abbots and Priors, or Abbesses or Prioresses. 

31 ^ Rings of other Ecclesiastical Dignitaries. 


32 JT Rings bearing the insignia of Sovereigns, not being 

Signet Rings. 

33 % Rings of Investiture. 

34 1^ Credential Rings. 

35 S Presentation Rings {Sergeants). 

36 %, Masonic Rings. 


37 % Rings worn by Knights of various orders. 

Knights of Malta. 
„ Templars. 

„ St. John of Jerusalem. 


Signet Rings. 

Heraldic, with Coats of Arms or Badges. 

Merchants' Marks. 

Crowned Letters or Devices. 

Letters without Crowns. 

Other Devices. 

Persian, Cufic, and Arabic, with names. 

Antique Intagli in Medieval settings. 
















Love, Betrothal, and Marriage. 

Tokens of Love. 
Posy Rings. 
Betrothal Rings. 
Gimmal Rings. 
Marriage Rings. 
Jewish Nuptial Rings. 

Mourning and Memorial Rings. 

Rings with Hair. 

Rings with Portraits. 

Rings with Memorial Devices and Inscriptions. 

Rings with Emblems of Death. 

Historical Rings. 

Rings used by, or belonging to, Historical Persons. 
Rings commemorating Historical Events. 
Rings emblematical of particular Persons, Events, or 


Devotional [Decade). 

Rings bearing Religious Devices or Inscriptions. 
Rings bearing Figures or Emblems of Saints. 
Pilgrims' Rings {Jerusalem, Mount Serrat, ^-'c). 
Rings for containing Reliques. 

Charm, Magic, and Medicinal. 

Cramp Rings. 

Rings with Toadstones or other substances believed to 
possess medicinal virtues. 

Astrological and Cabalistic Rings. 

Talismanic, with Cufic, Arabic, and Gnostic Inscrip- 

68 e c Poison Rings. 

Ornamental Rings. 

69 f f Rings with Precious Stones, according to their kind. 











































c c 




70 g 3 Rings set with enamels, paste, or other ornaments, 

having no special meaning, 

71 \^\) Peasants' Rings. 

72 1 1 Asiatic, including Modern Persian, Hindoo, and 


73 felt African. 

74 11 Miscellaneous Rings, which group will contain all 

such as cannot be brought under the other heads of 
classification, such as whistle-rings, puzzle-rings, 
squirt-rings, jointed rings to form devices, rings with 
watches, dials, compasses, &c. 

75 m m Rings made of strange and unusual materials, not being 


76 n n Unascertained. 

Additional Note. 

In the chapter on 'Memorial and Mortuary Rings' (page 378), I 
have related the circumstance of an Arabian princess in Yemen, who 
had been buried with her rings and other jewels ; a tablet recording 
that she had vainly endeavoured to exchange them for flour during the 
great famine mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. 

A singular incident of this character is stated in Forbes's ' India ' 
(vol. ii. p. 18) : 'The present finest mausoleum in Cambaya was erected 
to the memory of a Mogul of great rank, who, during a famine which 
almost depopulated that part of the country, offered a 77teasiire of pearls 
for an equal quantity of grain ; but not being able to pi^ocure food at 
any price, he died of hunger, and this history is related on his monu- 


A BBOTS invested with the ring, 



'Abraxas,' definition of, 139 
Adriatic, marriage of the Doge of 

Venice with the, 419, 529 
' Agla,' the mystic word inscribed on 

rings, 137 ' 
Agnes, legend of the saint and the 

ring, 239 
Alcock, Bishop, on consecration of 

nuns, 233 
Alexandrinus, Clemens, advice on 

rings, 39 
' Alhstan ' ring, the, 62 
Amelia, memorial ring of the Prin- 
cess, 375 
American ring, gigantic, 488 
Amulet-rings, 103, 126, 138, 166, 

140, 141. 147 
Ancient custom of Archbishops of 

Rouen, 211 
Anecdote of a mourning-ring used 

at a wedding, 449 
Angelo, ring of Michael, 470 
Anglo-Saxons, betrothal rings of 

the, 306 
Anne, mourning ring of Queen, 373 
'Annuli Ecclesiae,' Bishops' rings 

so called, 212 
Antique intaglio rings with mottoes, 

Antoinette, ring of Queen Marie, 

Apollo and Mars3'as, ring of, 470 
Archery, rings prizes for, 444 
Armenians, betrothal rings among 

the, 312 
Amulphus, ring of Bishop, 228 


Arundel Collection of gem rings, 

Ashantee, rings from, 455 
Astrological rings, 108 

BAILEWSKI Collection, Jewish 
betrothal ring in the, 300 
Bards rewarded with rings, 192 
Bavarian peasant's ring, 84 
Becket, ring from the shrine of 

Thomas a, 247 
' Beef Steak' Club, ring of the, 193 
Bequests of rings, 355 
Berquem, rings engraved by Louis 

de, 450 
Berry, Lady, the fish and the ring, 

Bessborough Collection of gem- 
rings, 462 

religious ring in the, 258 

Betrothal and wedding rings, 275,526 

of the Jews, 298, 299 

Romans, 303 

Anglo-Saxons, 306 

Germans, 310 

Italians, 310 

Middle Ages, 307 

Armenians, 312 

in the North, 305 

of Sir Thomas 

Gresham, 318 

Martin Luther, 


— rings divided, 309, 316 
Bishops buried with rings, 203 

— rings used to sejil baptismal 
fonts, 212 




Bishops' rings, manner of benedic- 
tion, 219 

of investiture, 209, 213 

engravings on, 212 

used as signets, 213 

importance attached to, 213 

how worn, 218 

— resignation of, by the ring, 211 

— rings taken from degraded, 218 
Bitton, ring of Bishop de, 228 
Blaize, rings on the fingers of St., 

Blessing of coronation-rings, 179 

cramp-rings, 163, 522 

Boccaccio's fable of the three rings, 

Bonomi, M., on Pharaoh's ring, i 
Borgias, poison rings of the, 434 
Bowet, ring of Archbishop, 225 
Braybrooke Collection, Jewish mar- 
riage rings in the, 299 
Gemmel ring in the, 321 

— — rings with death's-heads in 
the, 372 

ring of Pope Boniface in the, 


pilgrims' rings in the, 265 

Roman and Romano-British 

rings in the, 41 
Royalist mourning ring in the, 

mourning rings of Mary and 

William III. in the, 374 

mortuary ring in the, 383 

ring of Tippoo Saib in the, 490 

nun's ring in the, 240 

thumb-r^ in the, 89 

Bribe rings, i^ 

Bride-cake, rings placed in, 171 

British Museum, gem-rings in the, 


Brooches and rings, 74 

Bunyan, ring of John, 495 

Burnet, bequest of ring by Bishop, 

Bursting of rings a bad omen, 168 

' Bury ' wills, bequests of rings in 
the, 356 

Byron, lines by, on the wedding- 
ring, 277 

pABALISTIC ring, 139 
v.^ Cantelupe, ring of Bishop de, 


Carbuncle rings, 159 
Cardinals buried with rings, 203 

— invested with rings, 215 

— rings laid aside on Good Friday, 

Castellani Collection, rings in the, 

Catherine, legend of the spousal 

rmg of St., 238 
Chaplet, origin of the, 252 
Chariclea, famous ring of, 463 
Charles I., signet ring of, 461 

memorial rings of, 366 

Charles II., rings stolen from, 452 

signet-ring of, 461 

mourning-ring of, 371 

Charlemagne charmed by a ring, 

Charm rings of the Greeks and 

Romans, 103 

Benvenuto Cellini on, 105 

of the Oxford Conjurer, 132 

Clharms, Sigil, 113 

Charters confirmed by rings, 184 

Chichester, rings belonging to the 

Dean and Chapter of, 225 
Childeric, ring of King, 386 
Christ, espousals to, 233 
Christian rings, representations on, 

38, 258 
Claddugh wedding-rings, 320 
Clerical fondness for rings, 220 
Clovis, ring-token of King, 323 
Cockatrice, mystic properties of the, 

Cologne, legend of the Three Kings 

of, 143 
Colour, change of, in jewels evil 

portents, 160 
Commonwealth, rings during the, 

Cork, ring-token to the Earl of, 351 
Cornwall, ancient signet-ring found 

in, 266 
Coronation rings, 177 

— ring of Queen Elizabeth, 165 

James II., 177 

Coronets on rings, 475 

Cotterell, curious ring bequeathed 

by Sir Charles, 361 
Cramp-rings, 162, 522 
Cranmer, ring of Archbishop, 217 
Cromwell crest, ring on the, 4^1 
Cross, the true, wood of in rings, 






Crystallomancy, loo 

Cuerdale, Saxon rings found at, 63 

Curious advertisements of rings in 

cakes, 173 
Custom, curious Russian ring, 447 

divination, in 
Dancas, a thank-offering ring, 247 
Darnley ring, the, 460 
Days, rings worn on particular, 165 
Decade rings, 248 
Deae Matres, worship of the, 107 
Devereux ring, the, 338 
Device rings illustrative of death, 

Devonshire gems, the, 458 
Diamond-pointed rings, 76 
Diplomacy, rings given in, 184, 422 
Divinating power in a ring, 450 
Divination by prayer-book and ring, 


sounds, 113 

rings in wedding-cakes, 170 

Doctors' rings, 191 

Doctors' Commons, rings mentioned 

in wills at, 356 

EARLIEST materials of rings, 3 
Early Christian rings, 258, 
259, 268 
Ecclesiastical mortuary, or 'corse- 
present,' 221 

— usages, rings in connection with, 

Edgcumbe, Lady, and the ring, 429 
Edward L , token-ring of, 324 
Edward the Confessor, ' pilgrim ' 

ring of, 116, 516 
Egyptian rings, 5 

exhibited at the South Ken- 
sington Museum, 12 

at the Louvre, 13 

representations on, 11 

— glass rings, 13 

— ring with double keeper, 17 
Egyptians, their fondness for rings, 


— modem rings of the, 16 
Eldon, memorial ring of, 375 
Elfric's^canon against clerical rings, 

Elizabeth, token-ring of Queen, 343 

Eloy, rings of St., 232 

Enchanted rings of the Greeks, 113 

Engagement-ring of the Prince Re- 
gent, 284 

Epilepsy, rings to cure, 153 

Episcopal rings, 209, 225, 230, 239 

engravings on, 212 

fashion of, 216 

formula of investiture with, 


— — usually set with sapphires, 

— ring of St. Loup, 217 
Episode in ring history, 453 
Escutcheon ring, French, 81 
Espousals to Christ, 233, 259 
Essex ring, the, 336, 528 
Ethelswith, Queen of Mercia, ring 

of, 55 
Ethelwulf, ring of King, 54 
Etruscan rings, 18 
in the Biblioth^que Nationale 

at Paris, 20 

British Museum, 15 

Waterton Collection, 15 

' Evil eye, ' rings to preserve from 

the, 151 
Evil portents connected with rings, 


FISH and the ring, legends of 
the, 98, 510 
Fishes, rings found in the bodies of, 

Fisherman's ring, the, 198 
Fleet marriages, 282^ 
Forensic order of knighthood, 191 
Formula for blessing cramp-rings, 

investing bishops with rings, 

215 . 
Fotheringay, ring-relic of, 475 
French ' escutcheon ' ring, 81 

— Regard, Souvenir, and Amitid 
rings, 414 

— rings, 79, 81 

— episcopal rings, 228 
Funerals, rings given to attendants 

at, 364 

GARDINER, ring of Bishop, 

Garter rings, 193 



Gems mounted in Roman rings, 30, 

Gemmel rings, 313, 318 
Gentlemen formerly distinguished by 

rings, 446 
George III., ring-token to, 352 
German ' liberation ' rings, 448 
Germans, interchange of rings 

among the, 310 
' Gesta-Romanorum,' ring stories in 

the, 124 
' Giardinetti ' rings, 79 
Gift-rings of the Romans, 46 
Glasgow, ring in the arms, of the 

city of, 98 
Gnostic rings, 107 
Gold ring at Irish weddings, 173 
Gray the poet, bequest of rings by, 

Greece, interchange of rings in mo- 
dern, 311 
Greek Church, rings how worn in 

the, 293 
Grseco-Egyptian gold rings, 7 
Greek ring in form of a crescent, 26 
— and Roman rings, 18, 50 

charm rings, 103, 113 

Gresham, wedding-ring of Sir Tho- 
mas, 319 
Gretna Green marriages, 283 
Grey, linked rings of Lady, 317 
Gundulf, ring of Bishop, 213 
Gyges, ring of, 96, 508 

TTATTON, charm ring of Lord 

-^ -*- Chancellor, 161 

Hebrew betrothal and nKirriage- 

rings, 298 
Henrietta Maria, ring of Queen, 

Henry VII., charm ring of, 133 
Henry of Worcester, ring of, 230 
Henry IV. of Germany, ring-token 

sent by, 326 
Heraldic ring, 481 
Hereford Cathedral, rings found in, 

Herrick on the wedding-ring, 276 
'Heth.'the sacred name inscribed 

on rings, 140 
Hilary, ring of Bishop, 225 
Hoof-rings, charmed, 153 



-*- rings, 426 

Incidents and customs in connection 

with rings, 419 
Indian rings, 78, 84 
Inscription rings, 390, 417 
Inscriptions on glass with diamond 

rings, 77 
Interchange of rings among the 

Germans, 310 
Investiture of Abbots with rings, 


Bishops with rings, 215 

Cardinals with rings, 215 

Novices with rings, 232 

— secular, by the ring, 177 
Ipomydon, ring-token given to, 327 
Irish Academy, episcopal ring in 

' the Royal, 230 
Irish, early, rings, 61, 65 

— weddings, gold rings at, 173 
Iron rings of the Romans, 25, 303 

French lines on, 303 

Ishtar, legend of, 7 

Italian rings, 76, 3/0 
Ivory Egyptian rings, 8 

— Trinity rings, 487 

JAMES of Scotland, ring-token 
sent by King, 327 
Jasper amulet-rings, ^.48 
Jeffreys, token-ring given to Judge, 

Jet, talismanic virtues of, 106 
Jews, betrothal and marriage-rings 
of the, 298 

— covenant-rings of the, 297 

— ring worn by the High Priest of 
the, 91 

John, token-rings sent to, 325 

— ring of the Order of St., 193 
Johnson, wedding-ring of Dr., 279 
Josephus, account of charm-rings 

by, 92 

— on the rings of the Israelites, 3 
Jupiter, the planet, propitious for 

weddings, 94 

KENIL WORTH Castle, ring 
found at, 473 
Kensington Museum, memorial 

rings in the, 388 
Kentigern, legend of St., 98 





Key-rings, Roman, 45, 51, 293 
Keys delivered at weddings, 294 
Kilsyth, loss of a ring by Lady, 167 
Kings buried with their rings, 385 
Kirchmann on episcopal rings, 210 
Knight Hospitaller, ring of a, 196 
Knight, legend of the cruel, 99 
Knighthood, rings of, 181 

Lawsuits, rings an authority 
in, 184 
Legacy of rings to shrines, 244 
Legend of St. Agnes and the ring, 

Catherine and the ring, 


the fish and the ring, 98, 510 

' Royal of France ' jewel, 


Marianson and the rings, 354 

St. Mark's ring, 119 

a ring derived from the North, 


the ' Pilgrim ' ring, 117, 516 

Three Kings of Cologne, 


Lady of Toggenburg, 354 

a ring of espousals received 

from Our Saviour, 237 
on the statue of Venus, 

Lines on wedding-rings, 276 
Lion, King-at-Arms, ring given to, 

Loadstone set in wedding-rings, 304 
Londesborough Collection, charm- 
ring against the ' Evil Eye ' in 

the, 153 
decade ring of Delhi work in 

the, 253 

early Christian ring in the, 47 

episcopal ring in the, 230 

gemmel rings in the, 319 

Jewish marriage-rings in the, 

jointed betrothal ring in the, 


Irish rings in the, 61 

Italian rings in the, 76 

later period rings in the, 75 

love gift ring, 47 

' Lucretia ' ring in the, 318 

magical thumb-ring in the, 89 

Londesborough Collection, mecha- 
nical mystic ring in the, 147 

memorial and mortuary rings 

in the, 373 

Moorish rings in the, 83 

mortuary rings in the, 383 

motto ring in the, 416 

Papal ring in the, 208 

'religious' ring in the, 251 

ring of Bishop Thierry in the, 


toadstone rings in the, 157 

Lost rings, singular recovery of, 436 
Louis XII., rings of, 461, 469 
Love-knots, rings with, 414 
Love-pledges, rings as, 283 
Lucretia, rings with representations 

of, 318 
Luther, betrothal and marriage- 
rings of Martin, 481 
Lynnoch, Turlough, signet-ring of, 

A/TAGI, rings of the, 143 
-'■'-^ Magical thumb-rings, 8g 
Maintenon, ring of Madame de, 469 
Man, ring-custom in the Isle of, 

Mantle and ring, vows taken with, 

Mark, ring of St., 119 
Marlborough gem-rings, 461 
Marriage-ring of the Doge of Venice, 

99, 419, 529 
Marriages, fleet, 282 

— Gretna Green, 283 

Marriage- ring of Joseph and the 
Virgin Mary, 93, 505 

— of prelates, 234 

Archbishop Rich to the Virgin, 

Martin, rings of St. , 285 
Martyrs and saints, relics of, in 

rings, 142 
Mary, Queen of Scots, investiture 

rings of, 182 

signet-ring of, 459, 478 

Massinissa and Sophonisba, figures 

of, on a ring, 38 
Materials of wedding-rings, 285. 

377 „ , 

Mayhew, ring of Bishop, 227 
Mecca, rings of, 17 
Mechanical mystic ring, 147 




Medical amulet-rings, 147, 161 
Medici, rings of the, 471 . 
Mediaeval romances, "charmed rings 

in, 121 
' Memento mori ' rings, 372 
Memorial and mortuary rings, 355, 


— ring of the Princess Amelia, 375 

— rings, Charles I., 366 
Charles II., 371 

Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, 


Countess of Hartford, 366 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 365 

Royalist, 371 

Merchant's ' mark ' rings, 84 
Meridian rings, 451 
Merovingian rings, 69 
Modern French, 83 
Montfaucon's theory of the zodiac, 

' Month ' rings of the Poles, 115 
Morgan, Papal ring in the collection 

of Mr. Octavius, 207 
Moore's poem on the ' Ring,' 129 

— allusion to his mother's wedding- 
ring, 281 

Moorish rings, 83 
Motto-rings, 390 
- Mourning rings, 360 
Mourning ring of Queen Anne, 374 

Lord Eldon, 375 

Queen Mary and William 

III., 374 

Lord Nelson, 375 

the Emperor Nicholas of 

Russia, 384 
Mummy, rings on the fingers of a, 

Museum, Egyptian rings in the 

South Kensington, 12 
British, 5 

— Etruscan ring with chimerae in 
the British, 15 

— Prince of Canino's ring in the 
British, 14 

— ring of Queen Sebek-nefru, 7 
Sennacherib in the British, 


— Egyptian rings in the Louvre, 13 

NAMES on rings, 416 
Necromantic rings, 146 
Nelson, memorial rings of Lord, 375 


New Year's Gift rings, 421 
Nobility, rings badges of, 195 
Northmen, wedding-keys of the old, 

Novices 'invested with the ring, 232 
Nuns ^rbidden to wear rings, 240 
Nuptfal ring of the Virgin Mary, 93 

OMENS, blood-dropping from 
the ring-finger, 168 

— breaking of rings, 168 

— bursting of rings, 168 

— fall of rings, 167 

— loss of rings, 167 

— taking off rings, 171 
Oriental rings, 90, 491 

Origin of merchant's ' mark ' rings, 

Orpine plant, rings with devices of 

the, 169 
Oswald, token-ring of, 325 

PAGAN graves, rings found in, 

Paradise rings, 257 

Parthenon, rings in the treasury of 
the, 43 

Pedlar's rings, 73 

Pendrell, token-ring given to, 350 

Pepys, bequest of rings by, 363 

Perceval of Galles, bequest of rings 
by, 328 

Perrot, bequest of rings by, 344 

Persian rings, 17 

Perugia, nuptial ring of the Virgin 
at, 93 

Perugino's picture of the marriage 
of the Virgin, 94 

' Pilgrim ' ring of Edward the Con- 
fessor, 116, 516 

Pilgrim rings, 264 

Planetary rings, virtues ascribed to, 

Poets Laureate, rings given to, 191 

Poison-rings, 432 

Poles, 'month ' rings of the, 115 

Polycrates, ring of, 96 

Pontifical rings, 205, 207 

Pope, bequest of rings by, 374 

Pope Boniface, ring of, 207 

— Pius II., ring of, 207 

IX., ring of, 201 

Popes buried with their rings, 202 





Popes, their sanctity disregarded, 202 

Porcelain rings, Egyptian, 8 

Portrait-rings, 496 

Posy-rings, 390 

Power of the royal ring, 182 

' Poynings, ' the charter of, con- 
firmed by a ring, 186 

Precious stones, episcopal rings en- 
riched with, 216 

Prometheus, the ring of, 95 

Property conveyed by a ring, 185 

Puzzle-rings, 322 

RING, Alhstan, the, 62 
— of Angelo, Michael, 470 

Bitton, Bishop, 228 

Pope Boniface, 207 

Bowett, Archbishop, 225 

John Bunyan, 495 

Cantelup^, Bishop, 229 

Chariclea, 463 

Charles I. and Charles II., 


Childeric, 386 

Cranmer, Archbishop, 217 

— found in the grave of St. Cuth- 
bert, 227 

— the Damley, 460 

— of Eloy, St. , 232 

Ethelswith, Queen of Mercia, 


Ethelwulf, King, 54 

Gardiner, Bishop, 226 

Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, 


Gyges, 96, 508 

Queen Henrietta Maria, 493 

Henry of Worcester, 230 

Hilary, Bishop, 225 

Lion King-at-Arms, 194 

Louis XII., 461, 469 

Loup, St., 217 

Turlough Lynnoch, 194 

Madame de Maintenon, 469 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 459, 


Mayhew, Bishop, 227 

the Great Mogul, 491 

Lorenzo de Medici, 471 

Pius II., 207 

Pius IX., 201 

Polycrales, 96 

Sir Walter Raleigh, 486 

Cola di Rienzi, 465 

Ring of Seffrid, Bishop, 225 

— the Seymour, 479 
Shakspeare, 484 

— of Solomon, 91, 503 

Roger, King of Sicily, 465 

the Stuarts, 492 

Thierry, Bishop of Verdun, 


Tippoo Saib, 490 

William of Wyckham, 226 

— the Worsley seal, 467 

— American gigantic, 488 

— amulet, of Prince Charles Ed- 
ward, 166 

found at Eltham Palace, 126 

— authority of the, in law suits, 184 

— of the • Beef Steak ' Club, 193 

— Byzantine betrothal, 304 

— charm of the ' Oxford Conjurer,' 

— charters confirmed by the, 184 

— Claddugh wedding, 320 

— found in Cornwall, 266 

— Queen Elizabeth's coronation, 165 

— given to the ' Admirable ' Crich- 
ton, 194 

— on the Cromwell crest, 421 

— devices of the Medici, 473 

— diplomas sanctioned by the, 184 

— divination, 100, 172 

— of Edward the Confessor, 116,516 

— escutcheon, French, 81 

— superstition of Henry VIIL, 133 

— history, episode in, 453 

— the ' Fisherman's,' 198 

— relic of Flodden Field, 478 
of Fotheringay, 475 

— heraldic, 481 

— diamond-pointed Italian, 76 

— of the Grand Master of the Order 
of St. John, 193 

— found at Kenilworth Castle, 473 

— of knighthood, 181 

— legend, 130 

— of Martin Luther, 481 

— legends of the Fish and the Ring, 
98. 510 

— of St. Mark, 119 

— mourning, of Charles II., 371 
Royalist, 371 

of the Princess Amelia, 375 

Queen Anne, 373 

Lord Eldon, 375 

Marie Antoinette, 374 

Mary and William III., 374 





Ring, mourning, of Lord Nelson, 


the Emperor Nicholas of 

Russia, 384 

— memorial, of the Countess of 
Hertford, 366 

— of a nun, 240 

— kissing the Pope's, 201 

— Russian customs of the wedding, 


— secular investiture by the, 177 

— small wedding, 287 

— tragical incident of a, 449 

— marriage, of the Doge of Venice, 
89 ^ 

— legend of a, on the statue of 
Venus, 128 

Rings, Abbots invested with, 231 

— the mystic word ' Agla ' on, 137 

— amulet, 148 

— Anglo-Saxon betrothal, 306 

— prizes for archery, 444 

— Arundel and Bessborough Collec- 
tion of gem, 462 

— from Ashantee, 455 

— astrological, 108 

— Bavarian, 84 

— bequests of, 355 

, — engraved by Berquem, 450 

— betrothal and wedding, 275, 526 

— dividing betrothal, 316 

— bursting on the fingers, 168 

— importance of Bishops', 213 

— taken from degraded Bishops, 

— on the fingers of the arm of St. 
Blaize, 221 

— Boccaccio's fable of the three, 


— offered as bribes, 444 

— of British, Saxon, and mediaeval 
times, 53 

— British Museum collection of 
gem, 459 

— Byzantine, 48 

— carbuncle, 159 

— stolen from Charles II., 454 

— charm, 105, 115, 121 

— of espousals to Christ, 233, 241 

— early Christian, 258, 268 

— clerical extravagance in, 220 

— coronation, 177 

— claimed as ' corse ' present, 221 

— during the Commonwealth, 288 
-^ coronets on, 475 

Rings, cramp, 162, .522 

— customs and incidents in connec- 
tion with, 419 

— with wood of the true cross, 141 

— with devices of death, 372 

— decade, 248 

— buried with the dead, 377 

— Devonshire gem, 458 

— given in diplomacy, 422 

— divination, powers of, 450 

— doctors', 191 

— taken from the finger, an ill 
omen, 171 

— in connection with ecclesiastical 
usages, 198 

— engravings on Bishops', 212 

— to cure epilepsy, 153 

— attached to episcopal charters, 

— episcopal investiture with, 215 
how worn, 218 

French, 228 

— found in the bodies of fishes, 439 

— French, 82, 415 

— garter, 193 

— gemmel, 313, 318 

— German ' liberation, ' 448 

— in the ' Gesta Romanorum,' 124 

— Gnostic, 107 

— gold wedding, 84 

— at marriages of modern Greeks, 


— harlequin, 414 

— discovered at Herculaneum and 
Pompeii, 49 

— charmed ' hoof,' 153 

— identification by means of, 426 

— incidents in connection with, 419 

— inscription, 390 

— antique intagli motto, 417 

— in the Royal Irish Academy, 65 

— at Italian marriages, 310 

— talismanic virtues of jet, 107 

— Jewish betrothal and marriage, 

— used in Jevdsh covenants, 297 
synagogues, 302 

— given in lieu of dowry by the 
Jews, 298 

— key, 294 

— love ' pledge,' 283 

— loss of, an ill omen, 167 

— love-knot, 414 

— denoting love's telegraph, 293 

— linked, 317, 322 




Rings, life saved by, 427 

— with representations of Lucretia, 

— of the Magi, 143 

— Marlborough gem, 461 
St, Martin, 285 

— materials of wedding, 286 

— medicinal, 161 

— ' Memento mori,' 372 

— memorial and mortuary, 355 
of Charles I., 366 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 365 

— merchant's ' mark, ' 84 

— meridian, 451 

— Merovingian, 69 

— month, of the Poles, 115 

— Moorish, 83 

— motto, 390 

— mourning, 360 

given at funerals, 364 

— necromantic, 146 

— New Year gift, 421 

— an ancient mark of nobility, 195 

— of the old Northmen, 305 

— novices invested with, 232 

— Oriental, 90 

— origin of ' merchant's marks, ' 

— with device of the orpine plant, 

— in Pagan graves, 68 

— Paradise, 257 

— of a later period, 75 

— pilgrim, 264 

— planetary virtues of, 108, 112 

— poison, 432 

— conferred on Poets Laureate, 191 

— pontifical, 205, 207, 209 

— lauried with popes, 202 

— portrait, 496 

— posy, 390 

— profusely worn, 72 

— property conveyed by, 185 

— recovery of lost, 436 

— ' Regard,' 414 

— religious, 133, 138, 248, 254 

— reliquary, 142, 257 

— remarkable, 457 

— ' Reynard the Fox ' on magical, 


— Roman amber and glass, 48 
in the Bibliothfeque Nationale 

at Paris, 32 

in the Castellani Collection, 



Rings, Roman devices and inscrip- 
tions on, 41 

— of a Roman lady, 33, 43 

— gems mounted in Roman, 30, 40 

— Roman gift, 46 

— gold, when first worn in Rome, 

— Roman and Greek huge, 28 
iron, 25 

key, 45, 51 

legionary, 47 

— in the treasury of the Parthenon, 


— profusion of, worn by the an- 
cients, 28, 30 

— Roman rock-crystal, 31 

' season,' 28, 30 

signs engraved on, 33 

thumb, 29 

used for various purposes, 42 

votive, 44 

and Greek, in the Waterton 

Collection, 50 

— Runic characters on, 148, 150 

— rush, 284 

— at Russian marriages, 311 

— Russian customs with, 447 

— Saxon wire, 59 

found at Cuerdale, 63 

— mode of securing, 449 

— Serjeants', 186 

— at shrines, 259 

— sigil charm, 113 

— signet, 25 

— at Spanish marriages, 312 

— gold, to cure sties, 174 

— suf>erstitions in connection with, 


— magical 'suspended, 112 

— talismanic, 91, 134, 140, 147, 151, 

— mystic 'Tau,' 155 

— toadstone, 155 

— given at tournaments, 197 

— discovered on the (presumed) site 
of Troy, 32 

— thumb, 87, 89, 139, 501 

— thank-offering, 247 

— the Three, 352 

— token, 323 

— tooth, 495 

— Trinity, 248, 254 

— given on St. Valentine's Day, 

— at Venetian marriages, 31 x 





Rings, 'Vertuosus,' 162, 355 

— offered to the Virgin, 130 

— watch, 494 

— in wedding cakes, 170 
possets, 173 

— given at wrestling-matches, 195 

— wedding, how worn, 291, 293 

— blessing wedding, 288 

— of espousals to the Virgin, 237 

— mentioned in wardrobe books, 

— thumb wedding, 289 

— of the Virgin in Raphael's Spon- 
zalizio, 291 

— ancient origin of wedding, 297 

— whistle, 494 

— worn on particular days, 165 

— zodiacal, no 

SANCTITY of the Popes disre- 
garded, 202 
Sapphires, episcopal rings set with, 

Saxon rings found at Cuerdale, 63 
Scarabaeus on rings, 5 
Schliemann's, Dr., discoveries at 

Troy (?), 32 
Scots, wedding-ring of Mary, Queen 

of, 280 
Scott, Sir Walter, on superstitious 

charms, 132 
Season-rings of the Romans, 28, 30 
Sebek-nefru, signet-ring of, 7 
Secular investiture by the ring, 177 
Seffrid, ring of Bishop, 225 
Serjeants' rings, 186 
Seymour ring, the, 480 
Shakspeare, rings bequeathed by, 

— the ring (presumed) of, 484 
Shrine of Thomas k Becket, ring 

from the, 247 

the Magi, 144 

Shrines, legacies of rings to, 244, 

Sicily, supposed ring of Roger, King 

of, 465 
Sidney, rings bequeathed by Sir 

Philip, 358 
Sigebert, supposed ring of King, 70 
Sigil charms, 113 
Signet-ring of Sennacherib, 9 
Singer, collection of posy-rings by 

Mr. J, W., 394 

Singular mode of securing rings, 

Soden Smith, rings in the collection 

of Mr. R. H., 230, 502 
Solomon's ring, 91, 503 
Southey on zodiacal signs, 109 
Spain, ring-customs in, 312 
Spanish rings, 79 
Squirt rings, 493 
Stone and silver rings of the Romans, 


Stuart rings, the, 492 

Suckling, lines on a wedding-ring, 

by Sir John, 287 
Superstitions connected with the 

carbuncle, 159 
change of colours in jewels, 


gold rings, 175 

rings generally, 91 

toadstone, 156 

turquoise, 159 

HTALISMANIC ring, remarkable 
J- gold, 95 

Tau-rings, mystic character of, 155 
Thierry, ring of Bishop, 204 
Thumb-rings, allusions to, 88 

magical, 89 

of the Romans, 29 

worn in token of widowhood, 

Tippoo Saib, rings of, 490 
Toadstone rings, virtues of, 157 
Token-rings, Charles II., 350 

Earl of Derby, 348 

Duke of Dorset, 347 

Edward I., 324 

Queen Elizabeth, 340 

Earl of Essex, 336, 528 

George III., 352 

Queen Henrietta Maria, 349 

Henry VIII., 334, 335 

Henry IV. of Germany, 326 

James of Scotland, 327 

King John, 325, 332 

Margaret of Scotland, 333 

Queen Mary, 335 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 340 

Viscount Melgum, 350 

King Oswald, 324 

Sir John Perrot, 344 

Earl of Toulouse, 327 

Tooth rings, 495 




Tournaments, rings given at, 197 
Trinity rings, 248, 254 

— ivory rings, 487 

Troy, discoveries on the (presumed) 

site of, 32 
Turquoise rings, the gage d'amour 

of the Germans, 159 
their magical virtues, 158 

^"ALEN TINE'S DAY, rings 
^ given on St., 422 
Venetian rings, 76 

— weddings, rings at, 311 

— rehquary ring, 143 

Venice, marriage-ring of the Doge 
of, 99, 419, 529 

— saved by St. Mark's ring, 119 
' Vertuosus ' rings, 162, 355 
Virgin, gifts of rings to the, 130 
Virtues of a loadstone ring, 156 

turquoise ring, 158 

the ring-finger, 155 

Votive rings of the Romans, 44 
Vow of chastity with mantle and 

ring, 241 

WALES, the Prince of, invested 
with a ring, 183 
Walton, rings bequeathed by Izaak, 

Wardrobe books, rings mentioned 

in the, 228 
Warwick, ring-token sent by Guy, 

Earl of, 331 
Washington, bequest of rings by, 

Watch set in a ring, 494 
Waterton Collection, curious South 

Saxon ring in the, 60 
ecclesiastical ring with figure 

of Christ, in the, 264 

Egyptian rings in the, 13 

episcopal ring in the, 230 

Etruscan ring in the, 15 

Gnostic rings in the, 107 

Greek and Roman rings in 

the, 50 

Papal rings in the, 207 

ring on the forefinger of a 

statue in the, 291 
Wedding-rings, ancient origin of, 

mentioned in ancient rituals, 



Wedding-ring, blessing the, 288 
of the ' Claddughs,' 320 

— — during the Commonwealth, 
288, 290 

given by the Prince Regent, 


Princess Royal, 296 

Queen Victoria, 296 

plain gold, 295 

how worn, 291 

several, worn at marriages, 


worn on the thumb, 289 

one of the smallest, 287 

of the German Jews, 302 

in cakes, 170 

— ring of the Rev. George Bull, 

James II., 281 

Mrs. Johnson, 279 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 280 

Mrs. Moore, 280 

Baron Rosen, 281 

lines by Suckling on a, 287 

Woodward on a, 277 

Customs of the Russians, 174 

Wells, rings belonging to the Dean 

and Chapter of, 231 
Whistle rings, 494 
William of Wyckham, ring of, 226 
Winchester Cathedral, rings belong- 
ing to the Dean and Chapter of, 

— — ring found in the tomb of 
William Rufus in, 385 

Wire-rings of the Saxons, 58 
Worcester Cathedral, Pontifical 

rings found in, 209 
' Worsley ' seal-ring, the, 467 
Wotton, rings bequeathed by Sir 

Henry, 359 
Wrestling, prize-rings for, 195 

XERXES, a great gem-fancier, 

ZODIAC, astrological definition 
of the, 109 
— Montfaucon's singular theory of 

the, 109 
Zodiacal signs, Southey on, 109 

N N 





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CYCLOPEDIA OF COSTUME ; or, A Dictionaryof Dress— Regal, 
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reign of George the Tliird. Including Notices of Contemporaneous Fashions on 
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The remaining Parts will be occupied by the GENERAL HISTORY OF 
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GREAT WEST. Being a Description of the Plains, Game, and Indians of the 
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DUNRAVEN'S (Earl of) THE GREAT DIVIDE : A Narrative 
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ARLY ENGLISH POETS. Edited, with Introductions and 
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1 . Fletcher's (Giles, B. D. ) Com- 

plete Poems, Christ's Victorie in 
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only has Emerson been a great reader, but he has, so to speak, got at the very 
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ENGLISHMAN'S HOUSE (The) : A Practical Guide to all in- 
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I AIKHOLT.— TOBACCO : Its History and Associations ; in- 
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FIGUIER'S PRIMITIVE MAN : A Popular Manual of the pre- 
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FINGER-RING LORE: Historical, Legendary, and Anecdotal. 

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GEMS OF ART : A Collection of 36 Engravings, after Paintings by 
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GILBERT (W.S.), ORIGINAL PLAYS by : "A Wicked World," 

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GILLRAY'S CARICATURES. Printed from the Original Plates, 
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GOSSE (Edmund W.)— KING ERIK: A Tragedy. With a 

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GOSSE (Edmund W.)— ON VIOL AND FLUTE. Second 
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GREENWOOD'S (James) LpW-LIFE DEEPS : An Account of 
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lAKE'S (T. Gordon) NEW SYMBOLS: Poems. By the 
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With a Memoir by his Son, Frederic Wordsworth Haydon. Comprising a 
large number of hitherto Unpublished Letters from Keats, Wilkie, Southey, 
Wordsworth, Kirkup, Leigh Hunt, Landseek, Horace Smith, Sir G. 
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deserves." — Nonconformist. 

THE EIGHTH. A Series of 84 exquisitely beautiful Tinted Plates, engraved 
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POLE : A Noah's Arkseological Narrative. By Tom Hood. With 25 Illustra- 
tions by W. Brunton and E. C. Barnes. Square crown 8vo, in a handsome and 
specially-designed binding, gilt edges, 6s. 

*• Poor Tom Hood ! It is very sad to turn over the droll pages of ' From Nowhere 
to the North Pole,' and to think that he will never make the young people, for 
whom, like his famous father, he ever had such a kind, sympathetic heart, laugh of 
cry any more. This is a birthday story, and no part of it is better than the first 
chapter, concerning birthdays in general, and Frank's birthday in particular. The 
amusing letterpress is profusely interspersed with the jingling rhymes which children 
love and learn so easily. Messrs. Brunton and Barnes do full justice to the writer's 
meaning, and a pleasanter result of the harmonious co-operation of author and artist 
could not be desired ." — Times. 


HOOD'S (Tom) HUMOROUS WORKS. Edited, with a Memoir, 
by his Sister, Frances Freeling Broderip. Crown 8vo, cloth extra, with 
numerous Illustrations, 6j. [/« tJie press. 

HOOD'S (Thomas) CHOICB WORKS, in Prose and Verse. 

Including the Cream of the Comic Annuals. With Life of the Author, Portrait, 

and over Two Hundred original Illustrations. Crown 8vo, cloth extra, gilt, 7^. td. 

" Not only does the volume include the better-known poems by the author, but 
also what is happily described as * the cream of the Comic Annuals.' Such delicious 
things as ' Don't you smell Fire ? ' ' The Parish Revolution,' and ' Huggins and 
Duggins,' will never want readers." — Graphic. 

' ' The vohime, which contains nearly 800 pages, is liberally illustrated with facsimile 
cuts of Hood's own grotesque sketches, many of them pictorial puns, which always 
possess a freshness, and never fail to raise a genuine laugh. We have here some of 
Hood's earlier attempts, and his share of the ' Odes and Addresses to Great People.' 
Then we have the two series of ' Whims and Oddities,' which ought to be prescribed 
for nervous and hypochondriacal people : for surely more mirth was never packed into 
the same compass before, more of the rollicking abandonment of a rich, joyous 
humour, or more of the true geniality of nature which makes fun so delightful and 
leaves no after-taste of unkindness in the mouth. ' The Plea of the Midsummer 
Fairies ' will be found here in unabridged form, together with 'Hero and Leander,* 
a number of Minor Poems, among which we meet with some very pretty fancies — 
the well-known ' Retrospective Review,' and ' I Remember, I Remember'— 
Hood's contributions to the 6^^;«, including 'The Dream of Eugene Aram,' 'The 
Cream of the Comic Annuals ' — in itself a fund of merriment large enough to dispel 
the gloom of many a winter's evening — and the 'National Tales.' This is a fair 
representative selection of Hood's works, many of which have been hitherto 
inaccessible except at high prices. Most of the best known of his comic effusions — 
those punning ballads in which he has never been approached — are to be found in 
the liberal collection Messrs. Chatto & Windus have given to the public." — Bir- 
mingkam Daily Mail. 

HONE'S SCRAP-BOOKS : The Miscellaneous Collections of 
William Hone, Author of " The Table-Book," " Every-Day Book," and " Year- 
Book " : being a Supplement to those works. With Notes, Portraits, and nume- 
rous Illustrations of curious and eccentric objects. Crown 8vo. \In preparation, 
*' He has deserved well of the naturalist, the antiquarian, and the poet."— 

Christopher North. 


incluuuig his Ludicrous Adventures, Bons-mots, Puns, and Hoaxes. With a new 

Life of tne Author, Portraits, Facsimiles, and Illustrations. Crown 8vo, cloth extra, 

gilt, 75. td. 

" His name will be preserved. His political songs z.-aAje7ix d' esprit, when the 
hour comes for collecting them, will form a volume of sterling and lasting attrac- 
tion ; and after many clever romances of this age shall have sufficiently occupied 
public attention and sunk, like hundreds of former generations, into utter oblivion, 
there are tales in his collection which will be read with even a greater interest 
than they commanded in their novelty." — J. G. Lockhart. 

upwards of 320 Outline Engravings, containing Representations of Egyptian, 

Greek, and Roman Habits and Dresses. A New Edition. Two Vols, royal 8vo, 

with Coloured Frontispieces, cloth extra, £2 $s. 

"The substance of many expensive works, containing all that may be necessary 
to give to artists, and even to dramatic performers and to others engaged in classical 
representations,^ an idea of ancient costumes sufficiently ample to prevent their 
off'ending in their performances by gross and obvious blunders." 
HORNE.— ORION : An Epic Poem, in Three Books. By Richard 

Hbngist Horne. With Photographic Portrait. Tenth Edition. Crown 8vo, 

cloth extra, 'js. 

" Orion will be admitted, by every man of genius, to be one of the noblest, if not 
the very noblest poetical work of the age. Its defects are trivial and conventional, 
jj^s beauties intrinsic and supreme. "—Edgar Allan Poe. 


Facsimiles of Original Drawings. With Critical and Descriptive Notes, 
Biographical and Artistic, by J. Comyns Carr. Atlas folio, half-morocco 
gilt. \_Nearly ready. 


Rites and Mysteries. With Chapters on the Ancient Fire and Serpent 
Worshippers, and Explanations of Mystic Symbols in Monuments and 
Talismans of Primeval Philosophers. Cr. 8vo, 300 Illustrations, \os. 6d. 

JOSEPHUS (The Works of). Translated by Whiston. Con- 
taining both the "Antiquities of the Jews " and the "Wars of the Jews." Two 
Vols. 8vo, with 52 Illustrations and Maps, cloth extra, gilt, 145. 
"This admirable translation far exceeds all preceding ones, and has never been 

equalled by any subsequent attempt of the kind."— Lowndes. 


Stories. By Bridget and Julia Kavanagh. With Thirty Illustrations 
by J. MovR Smith. A handsome Gift Book. Small 8vo, cloth, full gilt, 
gilt edges, 6s. [In the press. 


crown Svo, -zis. 

[AMB'S (Charles) COMPLETE WORKS, in Prose and 
Verse, reprinted from the Original Editions, with many pieces now first 
included in any Edition, and Notes and Introduction by R. H. Shepherd. 
With Two Portraits and Facsimile of a page of the " Essay on Roast Pig." 
Crown Svo, cloth extra, gilt, ^s. 6d. 

"The genius of Mr. Lamb, as developed in his various writings, takes rank with 
the most original of the age. As a critic he %\.zxi6.% facile priticeps in the subject he 
handled. Search English literature through, from its first beginnings until now, and 
you will find none like him. There is not a criticism he ever wrote that does not 
directly tell you a number of things you had no previous notion of. In criticism he 
was indeed, in all senses of the word, adiscoverer— Hke Vasco Nunez or Magellan. In 
that very domain of literature with which you fancied yourself most variously and 
closely acquainted, he would show you ' fresh fields and pastures new, 'and these the 
most fruitful and delightful. For the riches he discovered were richer that they had 
lain so deep — the more valuable were they, when found, that they had eluded the 
search of ordinary men. As an essayist, Charles Lamb will be remembered in years 
to come with Rabelais and Montaigne, with Sir Thomas Browne, with Steele and 
with Addison. He unites many of the finest characteristics of these several writers. 
He has wisdom and wit of the highest order, exquisite humour, a genuine and cordial 
vein of pleasantry, and the most heart-touching pathos. In the largest acceptation 
of the word, he is a humanist." — John Forster. 

LAMB (Mary and Charles) : THEIR POEMS, LETTERS, and 

REMAINS. With Reminiscences and Notes by W. Carew Hazlitt. With 
Hancock's Portrait of the Essayist, Facsimiles of the Title-pages of the rare First 
Editions of Lamb's and Coleridge's Works, and numerous Illustrations. Crown 
Svo, cloth extra, xos. td. 

" Must be consulted by all future biographers of the "Lzxs^s."— Daily News. 
"Very many passages will delight those fond of literary trifles ; hardly any 
portion will fail in interest for lovers of Charles Lamb and his sister." — Standard 


ANIMALS. Comprising 38 subjects, chiefly Early Works, etched by his Brother 
Thomas or his Father, with Letterpress Descriptions. Roy^' <t ■ 1 -vr, . , 


of Five Voyages of Sport and Discovery in the Neighbourhood of Spitzbergen 
and Novaya Zemlya. By James Lamont, F.G.S., F.R.G.S. Author of "Seasons 
with the Sea-Horses." Edited, with numerous full-page Illustrations, by 
William Livesav, M.D. Demy 8vo, cloth extra, with Maps and numerous 
Illustrations, i8j. 

"After wading through numberless volumes of icy fiction, concocted narrative, 
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genuine volume. . . . He shows much tact in recounting his adventures, and 
they are so interspersed with anecdotes and information as to make them anything 
but wearisome. . . . The book, as a whole, is the most important addition made 
to our Arctic literature for a long tim^."— A thenaifm. 
" Full of entertainment and information." — Nattire. 

" Mr. Lamont has taken a share distinctively his own in the work of Arctic dis- 
covery, and the value of his labours as an ' amateur explorer ' is to be attributed to 
the .systematic manner in which he pursued his investigations, no less than to his 
scientific qualifications for the task. . . . The handsome volume is full of valuable 
and interesting information to the sportsrran and naturalist — it would be difficult to 
say which of the two will enjoy it most.'" — Scotsvian. 

LEE (General Robert) : HIS LIFE AND CAMPAIGNS. By 

his Nephew, Edward Lee Childe. With Steel-plate Portrait by Jeens, and 

a Map. Post 8vo, gs. 

"A valuable and well-written contribution to the history of the Civil War in the 
United States." — Saturday Review. 

"Asa clear and compendious survey of a life of the true heroic type, Mr.Childe's 
volume may well be commended to the English reader." — Graphic. 

LIFE IN LONDON; or, The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry 
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Illustrations, in Colours, after the Originals. Crown Svo, cloth extra, gilt, 
•js. 6d. 

LINTON'S (Mrs.) JOSHUA DAVIDSON, Christian and Com- 
munist. Sixth Edition, with a New Preface. Small cr. Svo, cloth extra, 4s. 6d. 
"In a short and vigorous preface, Mrs. Linton defends her notion of the logical 
outcome of Christianity as embodied in this attempt to conceive how Christ would 
have acted, with whom He would have fraternised, and who would have declined to 
receive Him, had He appeared in the present generation." — Examiner. 
Appeal to Authors, Poets, Clergymen, and Public Speakers. By Charles 
Mackav, LL.D. Crown Svo, cloth extra, 6s. 6d. 


■ Graphic and Historical Illustrations of the most Interesting and Curious Archi- 
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mostly destroyed). Two Vols, imperial 4to, containing 207 Copperplate En- 
gravings, with historical and descriptive Letterpress, half-bound morocco, top 
edges gilt, £s 5-f- 

*»• An enumeration of a few of the Plates will give some idea of the scope of 
the Work: — St. Bartholomew's Church, Cloisters, and Priory, in 1393 ; St. Michael's, 
Cornhill, in 1421 ; St. Paul's Cathedral and Cross, in 1616 and 1656; St. John's of 
Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, 1660; Bunyan's Meeting House, in 1687; Guildhall, in 
1517 ; Cheapside and its Cross, in 1547, 1585, and 1641 ; Cornhill, in 1599 ; Merchant 
Taylors' Hall, in 1599; Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, in 1612 and 1647; Alleyne's 
Bear Garden, in 1614 and 1647 ; Drury Lane, in 1792 and 1814 ; Covent Garden, in 
1732, 1794, and 1809 ; Whitehall, in 1638 and 1697 ; York House, with Inigo Jones's 
Water Gate, circa 1626 ; Somerset House, previous to its alteration by Inigo Jones, 
circa 1600 : St James's Palace, 1660 ; Montagu House (now the British Museum) 
before 1685, and in 1804. 

LONGFELLOW'S PROSE WORKS, Complete. Including 
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800 pages, crown Svo, cloth gilt, ^s. 6d. 



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"Longfellow, in the 'Golden Legend,' has entered more closely into the temper 
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though they may have given their hfe's labour to the analysis." — Ruskin. 

" His are laurels honourably gained and gently worn. Without comparing him 
with others, it is enough if we declare our conviction that he has composed poems 
which will live as long as the language in which they are written." — James 
Russell Lowell. 

*' Mr. Longfellow has for many years been the best known and the most read of 
American poets ; and his popularity is of the right kind, and rightly and fairly won. 
He has not stooped to catch attention by artifice, nor striven to force it by violence. 
His works have faced the test of parody and burlesque (which in these days Ls 
almost the common lot of writings of any mark), and have come off unharmed." — 
Saturday Review, 


Ml B CHARACTERS. (The famous Fkaser Portraits.) With Notes by 
j ggi^.B I the late William Maginn, LL.D. Edited, with copious Additional 
' ' Notes, by William Bates, B.A. The volume contains 83 Charac- 
teristic Portraits, now first issued in a complete form. Demy 410, cloth gilt 
and gilt edges, 31^. 6d. 

"One of the most interesting volumes of this year's literature." — Times. 

' ' Deserves a place on every drawing-room table, and may not unfitly be removed 
from the drawing-room to the library." — Spectator. 

By Luke Limner. With 32 Illustrations by the Author. Fourth Edition, 

revised and enlarged. Crown Svo, cloth, extra gilt, 2s. 6d. 

" Agreeably written and amusingly illustrated. Common sense and erudition are 
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MAGNA CHARTA. An exact Facsimile of the Original Docu- 
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2 feet wide, with the Arms and Seals of the Barons emblazoned in Gold and 

Colours. Price '^s. A full Translation, with Notes, on a large sheet, 6d. 
MARK TWAIN'S CHOICE WORKS. Revised and Corrected 

throughout by the Author. With Life, Portrait, and numerous Illustrations. 

700 pages, cloth extra, gilt, 7^. 6d. 

TOM SAWYER. By Mark Twain. Small Svo, cloth extra, 7*. 6d. 

" From a novel so replete with good things, and one so full of significance, as it 
brings before us what we can feel is the real spirit of home life in the Far West, 
there is no possibility of obtaining extracts which will convey to the reader any 
idea of the purport of the book. . , . The book will no doubt be a great favourite 
with boys, lor whom it must in good part have been intended ; but next to boys, we 
should say that it might be most prized by philosophers and poets." — Examine) . 

" Will delight all the lads who may get hold of it. We have made ttie experi- 
ment upon a youngster, and f^nd that the reading of the book brought on constant 
peals of laughter,"— .Sc^/jwaw. 

"The book, which is a very amusing one, is designed primarily for boys, but 
older people also will find it worth looking through." — Academy. 

" Tne earlier part of the book is to our thinking the most amusing thing Mark 
Twain has written. The humour is not always uproarious, but it is always genuine, 
and sometimes almost pathetic." — AthetKenm. 

" A capital boy's book." — Standard. 

"A bright, readable, and informing book, which we can most cordially recom- 
mend to the ever-growing class who are on the outlook for such books."— A Vw- 
castle Chronicle. 

" A book to be read. There is a certain freshness and novelty about it, a practically 
romantic character, so to speak, which will make it very ^xxx^cds^."— Spectator. 


of EUROPE. Post 8vo, illustrated boards, is. 


WORKS. Collected Library Edition, in Two Vols, crown 8vo, i8j. 

" • The Patrician's Daughter ' is an oasis in the desert of modern dramatic litera- 
ture, a real emanation of mind. We do not recollect any modern work in which 
states of thought are so freely developed, except the 'Torquato Tasso' of Goethe. 
The play is a work of art in the same sense that a play of Sophocles is a work of art ; 
it is one simple idea in a state of gradual development. . . . The ' Favourite of 
Fortune ' is one of the most important additions to the stock of English prose comedy 
that has been made during the present century."— r/;«^j. 

MARSTON'S (Philip Bourke) SONa TIDE, and other Poems. 

Second Edition. Crown Bvo, cloth extra, Si. 

" This is a first work of extraordinary performance and of still more extraordinary 
promise. The youngest school of English poetry has received an important acces- 
sion to its ranks in Philip Bourke ^2iXsxox\."— Examiner. 

MARSTON'S (P. B.) ALL IN ALL : Poems and Sonnets. Crown 

8vo, cloth extra, %s. 

" Many of these poems are leavened with the leaven of genuine poetical sentiment, 
and expressed with grace and beauty of language. A tender melancholy, as well as 
a penetrating pathos, gives character to much of their sentiment, and lends it an 
irresistible interest to all who can feel." — Standard. 

ARMS AND ARMOUR : A Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour as it existed 
in Europe, but particularly in England, from the Norman Conquest to the Reign of 
Charles II. ; with a Glossary, by Sir S. R. Mevrick. New and greatly improved 
Edition, corrected throughout by the Author, with the assistance of Albert Way 
and others. Illustrated by more than loo Plates, splendidly Illuminated in gold 
and silver ; also an additional Plate of the Tournament of Locks and Keys. Three 
Vols, imperial 4to, half-morocco extra, gilt edges, ;^io lo^. 

"While the splendour of the decorations of this work is well calculated to excite 
curiosity, the novel character of its contents, the very curious extracts from the rare 
MSS. in which it abounds, and the pleasing manner in which the author's anti- 
quarian researches are prosecuted, will tempt many who take up the book in idleness, 
to peruse it with care. No previous work can be compared, in point of extent, 
arrangement, science, or utility, with the one now in question, ist. It for the first 
time supplies, to our schools of art, correct and ascertained data for costume, in its 
noblest and most important branch — historical painting. 2nd. It affords a simple, 
clear, and most conclusive elucidation of a great number of passages in our great 
dramatic poets — ay, and in the works of those of Greece and Rome — against which 
commentators and scholiasts have been trying their wits for centuries. 3rd. It 
throws a flood of light upon the manners, usages, and sports of our ancestors, from 
the time of the Anglo-Saxons down to the reign of Charles the Second. And lastly, 
it at once removes a vast number of idle traditions and ingenious fables, which one 
compiler of history, copying from another, has succeeded in transmitting through 
the lapse of four or five hundred years. 


ARMS AND ARMOUR. 154 highly finished Etchings of the Collection at 
Goodrich Court, Herefordshire, engraved by Joseph Skelton, with Historical 
and Critical Disquisitions by Sir S. R. Mevrick. Two Vols, imperial 4to, with 
Portrait, half-morocco extra, gilt edges, £,i, 14J. td. 

*'Wc should imagine that the possessors of Dr. Meyrick's former great work 
would eagerly add Mr. Skelton's as a suitable illustration. In the first they have 
the history of Arms and Armour ; in the second work, beautiful engravings of all 
the details, made out with sufficient minuteness to serve hereafter as patterns for 
artists or •woTkmtn."—Gentlema7i's Masazine. 


MUSES OF MAYFAIR : Vers de Societe of the Nineteenth Cen- 
tury. Including Selections from Tennyson, Browning, Swinburne, Rossetti^ 
Jean Ingelow, Locker, Ingoldsby, Hood, Lvtton, C.S.C;, Landor, Austin. 
DoBSON, Henry Leigh, &c. &c. Edited by H. Cholmondeley-Pennell. 
Crown 8vo, cloth extra, gilt, gilt edges, ^s. td. 

LD DRAMATISTS. Crown 8vo, cloth extra, with Vignette 
Portraits, price ds. per vol. 

Ben Jonson's Works. ' Vol, in. tlie Translations of the Iliad 

With Notes, Critical and Explana- | and Odyssey. 

^IurMG,?S!'S.dl7LLu.': Marlowe's, works Including 

Col. F.Cunningham. Three Vols. I his Translations. Edited with Notes 
^, , irH \ « -, 1. \ and Introduction, by Col. Cunning- 

Chapman's (George) Complete ! ham. One Vol. 

Works. Now first Collected. Three ! ,, . , ^, .^ , 

Vols. Vol I. contains the Plays I Massinger s Plays. From the 

Text of William Gifford. With 
the addition of the Tragedy of " Be- 
lieve as You List." Edited by CoL 
Cunningham. One Vol. 

complete, including the doubtful ones ; 

Vol. II. the Poems and Minor Trans- 
lations, with an Introductory Essay by 

Algernon Charles Swinburne ; 

other Poems. Second Edition. Fcap. 8vo, cloth extra, ts. 

"Lays of Marie.") Second Edition. Crown 8vo, cloth extra, \os. dd. 

and Songs, Fcap, 8vo, cloth extra, 7^, dd. 

" It is difficult to say which is more exquisite, the technical perfection of structur* 
and melody, or the delicate pathos of thought, Mr. O'Shaughnessy will enrich ou2 
literature with some of the very best songs written in our generation," — Academy. 

LUTARCH'S LIVES, Complete. Translated by the Lang- 
HORNES. New Edition, with Medallion Portraits. In Two Vols. 8vo, 
cloth extra, \os. 6d. 

" When I write, I care not to have books about me ; but I can hardly be without 
a ' Plutarch.' " — Montaigne. 

WORKS. With Baudelaire's " Essay." 750 pages, crown Svo, Portrait and 

Illustrations, cloth extra, ts. 6d. 

" Poe's great power lay in writing tales, which rank in a class by themselves, and 
have their characteristics strongly defined," — Fraser's Magazine. 

" Poe stands as much alone among verse- writers as Salvator Rosa among painters," 
— Spectator. 

PROUT. Collected and edited, from MSS. supplied by the family of the Rev. 

Francis Mahony, by Blanchard Jerrold. Crown Svo, cloth extra, with 

Portrait and Facsimiles, 125. 6d. 

" We heartily commend this handsome volume to all lovers of sound wit, genuine 
humour, and manly sense." — Spectator. 

"Sparkles all over, and is full of interest, Mahony, like Sydney Smith, could 
write on no subject without being brilliant and witty." — British Quarterly Revieiv. 

"A delightful collection of humour, scholarship, and vigorous political writing. It 
brings before us many of the ' Eraser ' set — Maginn, Dickens, Jerrold, and Thackeray. 
Maginn described himself better than any critic could do, when he wrote of himself 
as ' an Irish potato seasoned with Attic salt.' " — Edinburgh Daily Review. 

" It is well that the present long-delayed volume should remind a younger genera- 
tion of his fame, . . . The charming letters from Paris, Florence, and Rome 
. . . are the most perfect specimens of what a foreign correspondence ought to be..'*' 
— Academy. 


IICOADILLY NOVELS (The) : Popular Stories by the Best 

Authors. Crown 8vo, carefully printed on creamy paper, and tastefully 
bound in cloth for the Library, price dr. each. 



Illustrated by Sir J. Gilbert and 
F. A, Fraser. 

ANTONINA. Illustrated by vSir 
J. Gilbert and Alfred Concanen. 

BASIL. Illustrated by Sir John 
Gilbert and J. Mahoney. 

lustrated by Sir John Gilbert and 


lustrated by Sir J. Gilbert and A. 

trated by G. Du Maurier and F. A. 

trated by Sir John Gilbert and J. 

by William Small. 
trated by G. Du Maurier and Ed- 
ward Hughes. 
MISS OR MRS. ? Illustrated 
by S. L. Fildes and Henry Woods. 
Illustrated by Du Maurier and 
C. S. R. 
trated by Du Maurier and J. Ma- 
Steel Portrait, and Illustrations by 
A. Concanen. 
Illustrated by S. L. Fildes and S. 

" Like all the author's works, full of a certain power and ingenuity. ... It 
is upon such suggestions of crime that the fascination of the story depends. . . . 
The reader feels it his duty to serve to the end upon the inquest on which he has 
teen called by the author." — Times, in review of " The Law and the Lady." 
" The greatest master the sensational novel has ever known." — World. 




PATRICIA KEMBALL. With Frontispiece by Du Maurier. 

"A very clever and well-constructed story, original and striking, and interesting 
all through. A novel abounding in thought and power and interest." — Times. 

" Displays genuine humour, as well as keen social observation. Enough graphic 
portraiture and witty observation to furnish materials for half-a-dozen novels of the 
ordinary kind." — Saturday Review, 



Thomas R. Macquoid and Percy Macquoid. 

"For Morman country life what the 'Johnny Ludlow' stories are for English 
Tural delineation, that is, cameos delicately, if not very minutely or vividly wrought, 
and quite finished enough to give a pleasurable sense of artistic ease and faculty. 
A word of commendation is merited by the 'i\\\xstr2i\.ions."— Academy. 



•'A brisk and clear north wind of sentiment— sentiment that braces instead of 
enervating— blows through all his works, and makes all their readers at once healthier 
-and more glad." — Spectator. 


OPEN ! SESAME ! Illustrated by F. A. Fraser. 
" A story which arouses and sustains the reader's interest to a higher degree than, 
perhaps, any of its author's former works. . . . A very excellent story ."—(Pra/A/t:; 


Piccadilly Novels, continued. 

WHITELADIES. With Illustrations by A. Hopkins & H. Woods. 

" Is really a pleasant and readable book, written with practical ease and grace." 
— Times. 

JAMES PAYN, Author of " Lost Sir Massingberd." 
Illustrated by J. Moyr Smith. | trat^d by J. Moyr Smith. 

HALVES, and other Stories. 

" His novels are always commendable in the sense of art. They also possess 
another distinct claim to our liking : the girls in them are remarkably charming and 
true to nature, as most people, we believe, have the good fortune to observe nature 
represented by %\r\%."— Spectator. 


THE WAY WE LIVE NOW. With Illustrations. 
" Mr. TroUope has a true artist's idea of tone, of colour, of harmony ; his pictures 
are one, and seldom out of drawing j he never strains after effect, is fidelity itself in, 
expressing English life, is never guilty of caricature." — Fortnightly Review. 


DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND ; and other Stories. 

*' The indefinable charm of Tuscan and Venetian life breathes in his pages."— 

" Full of life, of interest, of close observation, and sympathy. . . . Whea 
Mr. Trollope paints a scene, it is sure to be a scene worth painting."—Saturday 

JOHN SAUNDERS, Author of "Abel Drake's Wife." 
GUY WATERMAN. I WORLD ; or, Reuben's War. 

Authors of " Gideon's Rock" and "Abel Drake's Wife." 
THE LION IN THE PATH: An Historical Romance. 
•'A carefully written and beautiful story — a story of goodness and truth, which is 
yet as interesting as though it dealt with the opposite qualities. . . The author of 
this really clever story has been at great pains to work out all its details with elabo- 
rate conscientiousness, and the result is a very vivid picture of the ways of life and 
habits of thought of a hundred and fifty years ago. . . . Certainly a very in- 
teresting book." — Times. 


Uni/ortn Edition, crown ?>vo, red cloth extra, 5s. each. 

IDALIA : A Romance. j PUCK : His Vicissitudes, Adven- 

CHANDOS : A Novel. tures, &c. 






Now ready, the New Volume of the Collected Uniform Edition of Ouida's 
Novels, price ^s. 
" Keen poetic insight, an intense love of nature, a deep admiration of the beauti* 
ful in form and colour, are the gifts of 0\x\A-».."— Morning Post. 



MR, WILKIE COLLINS'S NEW NOVEL— Two Vols, crown 8 vo, 215. 
THE TWO DESTINIES : A Romance. By WiLKiE Collins, 

Author of " The Woman in White." 

MRS. LINTON'S NEW NOVEL.— Three Vols, crown 8vo, 31J. 6rf. 


Linton, Author of " Patricia Kemball," &c. 

"Far above the average of the novels of the present season. Indeed, it may be 
asserted— and of how few fictions can this be said ? — no one who peruses it will think 
he has altogether wasted his iime."—Aihenie7ini. 

" In her narrowness and her depth, in her boundless loyalty, her self- forgetting 
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