Lot 1783: Post Medieval Gold 'Middleton Family' Heraldic Signet Ring
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: Late 16th-early 17th century AD. A gold ring with tapering shank, widening at the shoulders to a round flat bezel engraved with the coat of arms of depicting a shield containing an engrailed saltire and a rose in the upper centre; above the shield a knight's helmet with closed grill, on which rests a torpe; above the helmet a vested forearm and hand clutching a engrailed saltire. 10 grams, 22.25mm overall, 19.29mm internal diameter (approximate size British S 1/2, USA 9 1/4, Europe 20.63, Japan 20) (1"). Found Tarvin, Cheshire, 2014; handed in to the British museum as treasure under the Treasure Act 1996, and recorded as 2014T217, subsequently disclaimed. Accompanied by a file of documentation, letters and correspondence from, to and by the British Museum and finder. Accompanied by a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate. Based upon the style the ring would appear to have been made during the English Civil War, and its find spot close to the city of Chester would indicate that it may have been lost during the siege of Chester and the Battle of Rowton Heath between February 1645 and January 1646. The crest could be that of the Clan Colquhoun, who were based at their Stirling estates in the 17th century, and staunch loyalists during the Civil War. Other candidates with a similar crest include the distinguished Middleton family who have their roots in Sussex, as well as counties bordering Cheshire and North Wales. Based on the find spot, and the close connections to Cheshire that the Middleton family had, it is reasonable to suggest that this ring belonged to a member of the family. The city of Chester was an important stronghold in the English border country, commanding an important crossing of the River Dee and thus the approach to North Wales. With strong city walls, dating originally from Roman times, Chester was a Royalist stronghold from the beginning of the civil war. Early in the war, between 1642 and 1643, its walls were strengthened and a new ring of earthwork defences was added outside them. After Lord Byron was defeated at the Battle of Nantwich in January 1644, he marched his remaining forces to Chester, making it his base for resistance to the Parliamentarian forces in Cheshire under Sir William Brereton. During the first half of 1645, Brereton was able to gain control of most of Cheshire, but the King's men in Chester commanded the river crossing into North Wales, still held by the King, protecting it from a Parliamentary invasion. In February 1645 Brereton mounted a determined assault on Chester, in the course of which a force of his men tried unsuccessfully to scale the walls near the Northgate. Defeated, he began to besiege the city. Chester was besieged for approximately a year, with the city being defended by a small force of soldiers, and armed civilians. Early on 20 September 1645, just before daylight, a New Model Army force of more than seven hundred infantry and an equal number of cavalry, led by Colonel Michael Jones, began a fresh assault on Chester. The attack broke through the outer Royalist earthworks around the eastern suburbs. After Jones had ordered the burning down of the urban areas in front of the east gate, he moved artillery up to St John the Baptist's Church to bombard the city wall. By 22 September, the King arrived at Chirk, but Jones's guns had already created a breach in the walls. The King made for Chester with all possible speed. Word that he was coming was passed on to the garrison commander, Lord Byron. The King reached Chester on 23 September with an advance party consisting of his lifeguards, Gerard's brigade of some six hundred horse, and a small number of foot soldiers. This force was able to enter the city from the western bank of the River Dee because it was still under Royalist control. Meanwhile, in the hope of trapping the besieging forces between the king's main army and an enlarged garrison within the city, Sir Marmaduke Langdale took more than three thousand of the King's cavalry northwards towards Chester, crossing the Dee over Farndon Bridge, Holt, at dawn on 24 September. Moving north-east, Langdale received reports near the village of Rowton that Poyntz's Roundhead cavalry was approaching Chester from Whitchurch, Shropshire. Poyntz, who had ridden through the night to meet the royal army, met Langdale at Rowton Moor. All morning, both forces held their ground, but Jones sent part of his siege forces to join those of Poyntz. Charles is said to have watched the ensuing defeat of his forces at the Battle of Rowton Heath from the Phoenix Tower on Chester's city walls, when Parliamentary forces routed the remaining Royalist cavalry. The dead included the King's cousin Lord Bernard Stewart. On 25 September, leaving Byron in charge of the garrison, the King retreated from Chester to Denbigh in North Wales with only five hundred mounted men. As Byron refused to surrender, the Roundheads extended their siege works around the city and continued their bombardment. For more than four months, the Royalist garrison resisted all Parliamentarian attempts to enter the city and even mounted counter-attacks. But as autumn became winter, many inhabitants died of starvation. In January 1646, William Ince, as Mayor of Chester, persuaded Byron to surrender the city. On 3 February, the forces of Brereton occupied Chester.
Condition Report: Very fine condition, hoop restored. A large wearable size.