Gold ring linked to Sheriff of Nottingham due up for auction
A gold signet ring linked to the Sheriff of Nottingham is going under the hammer, with an estimate topping £8,000.
The 350-year-old high-carat ring bears the coat of arms of the Jenison family, one of whom held the title in the 1680s – a little too late to have tangled with the legendary Robin Hood.
Auctioneers at Hansons are offering the item for sale on Thursday after it was found by chance by a metal detectorist on farmland in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, in July 2020.
It has now been offered for auction after it was examined by experts from the British Museum and returned to the finder for sale.
Hansons’ consultant valuer Adam Staples said: “The ring has survived in near perfect condition and the front face bears a detailed engraving of the Jenison family arms, two swans separated by a diagonal bend.
“This would have been pressed into melted wax in order to seal the family crest on important letters and documents.”
Originally from County Durham, the Nottinghamshire branch of the Jenison family first appeared as aldermen of Newark in 1580.
Sir Matthew Jenison, born in 1654, after the end of the English Civil War, was “quite the character,” the auctioneers’ said.
Having been knighted in 1683 during Charles II’s reign, he then served as High Sheriff of Nottingham until 1684, with one of his roles inspecting decaying trees in Sherwood Forest.
Sir Matthew’s advance through the corridors of power continued when he was elected MP for Newark in 1701, but he became saddled with costly debts, linked to his estates.
He fell foul of the law after falling to clear his debts and died in Fleet Prison in 1734.
Mr Sadler said the family had been “apothecaries” but that legend had it the Jenisons “gleaned great wealth from valuables left in their safekeeping during the Civil War which were never reclaimed”.
The valuer added a buried hoard of Civil War-era silver coins, known as siege money, found in the same field in which the ring was discovered seemed to add weight to that legend.
Turning to the auction lot, he added: “The ring we are selling is related to a later Sheriff as tales of Robin Hood emerged in English folklore as early as the 13th and 14th centuries.
“Nevertheless, this find still evokes those memories and gives us a glimpse back into Nottinghamshire life during the turbulent times of the 17th century.”
The signet ring goes under the hammer at Hansons Deryshire sale rooms in Etwall.
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