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Home > Auctions > 23rd May 2023 > 'The Roxwell' Medieval Gold Signet Ring of 'King's Serjeant William Skrene'

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LOT 0392

GBP (£) 8,000 - 10,000
EUR (€) 9,220 - 11,520
USD ($) 9,910 - 12,380

Sold for (Inc. bp): £23,400


1 in. (8.01 grams, 25.00 mm overall, 20.49 mm internal diameter (approximate size British V 1/2, USA 10 3/4, Europe 24.4, Japan 23)).

Gold hoop and discoid bezel with incuse ropework border; incuse image of a bird of prey perching with wings spread and head turned; blackletter incuse and reversed inscription in an arc above the bird's head and pinions '·al : for : ye : best ·' (all for the best); repair to hoop.

Found while searching with a metal detector near Roxwell, Essex, UK, by Albert Robert Taylor on 4th September 2021.

Accompanied by a copy of the British Museum's Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) report no.ESS-CD68AE.
Accompanied by a copy of the report for H M Coroner on find of potential treasure with reference no.2022 T920.
Accompanied by a copy of a letter from the British Museum disclaiming the Crown's interest in the find.
Accompanied by a copy of the Treasure Act receipt.
Accompanied by copies of the relevant pages on an article about finding this ring in Treasure Hunting Magazine, August 2022, p.13.

'Gold Armorial Sheriff's Ring', Treasure Hunting Magazine, August 2022, p.13.

Cf. Ward, A. et al., The Ring from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century, Thames and Hudson, London, 1981, types 164, 165.

The ring's find location is close to an estate which was owned in the 14th century by the Skrene family and which included among their number a senior barrister and sergeant-at-law named William Skrene who was an Irish-born barrister and judge. The family name lives on to the present day at Roxwell with Skreens Park and for local road names nearby. Wiiliam spent his professional life in England, being appointed King's Serjeant and a judge of assize, as well as Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer in 1395-7. In addition to the estate at Roxwell, he acquired various lands in Essex, including at Writtle, Great Finborough and Stanford Rivers. William died in 1419-20 and left sons and a daughter; his heir, also called William, married Alice Tyrrell, widow of Hamo Strange, and daughter of John Tyrrell, who was Speaker of the House of Commons of England for three terms.

The exact combination of motto and crest or badge has eluded researches thus far. However, the ring was found near Roxwell, Essex, and evidently belonged to a person of some wealth and status given the quantity of gold used in its manufacture and the quality of the workmanship. The style of the ring is close in appearance to a number of early 15th century examples, which began to appear with the badge and motto rather than the full armorial bearings, so it is very possible that this is the personal signet ring of William Skrene, or possibly of his sons, William or Thomas.