Jenison family gold ring to shine in sale

A find legendary outlaw Robin Hood would have loved to have made has been unearthed by a metal detectorist – the Sheriff of Nottingham’s gold signet ring.

The 350-year-old high-carat gold ring, which displays the coat of arms of the Jenison family, is expected to reach £6,000-£8,000 when it goes under the hammer in Hansons Auctioneers Historica sale on March 24.

Side view of the ring – Credit Hansons Auctioneers

The chance discovery was uncovered by a lucky metal detectorist in July 2020 on farmland in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire. It was sent to be examined by experts from the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme before being returned to the finder.

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.”

The Jenison Ring – Credit Hansons Auctioneers

Originally from county Durham, the Nottinghamshire branch of the Jenison family first appeared as aldermen of Newark in 1580. Thereafter, each generation served as aldermen, and, after the 1626 charter, as mayors.

Born in 1654, Sir Matthew Jenison was quite the character. Knighted in 1683 and serving as High Sheriff of Nottingham from 1683-1684, he even acted as a commissioner to examine decaying trees in Sherwood Forest. Sir Matthew was elected to parliament as MP for Newark in 1701 but eventually fell foul of the law. He died in Fleet Prison in 1734.

Adam said: “Though the family business had been in apothecaries, local legend has it that the Jenisons gleaned great wealth from valuables left in their safekeeping during the Civil War which were never reclaimed. This theory was seemingly corroborated when a buried hoard of Civil War silver coins was unearthed from the very same field where the ring was found.

Back of the ring – Credit Hansns Auctioneers.

“It’s such a pleasure to be involved with the sale of this ring. As a boy I wandered through Sherwood Forest, daydreaming of Robin Hood and his legendary adversary – the Sheriff of Nottingham.

“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.”