Jewellery Studies Past Issues - 2018/2

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2018/2. The Surviving Rings of the Serjeants at Law. Mark Emanuel

The origins of the Serjeants at Law stretch back to the Norman Conquest, they were the premier advocates in the English courts and the rank from which the senior judges were appointed until 1875 when the Order fell into abeyance. Upon taking the dignity new Serjeants ‘gave gold’ which from at least 1329 was in the form of finger rings to a list of recipients ranging from the sovereign to the lowliest court clerk. Over the centuries thousands of rings were given but today only 97 are known to survive. This article, based on a lecture given to the Society on 28 February 2012, surveys 500 years of evolution of the Serjeants’ rings and why so few of them survive today.

Mark Emanuel is a barrister in private practice in London.