Knowledge Centre > Jewellery History > Design Periods > Post Medieval

Sergeant-at-Law Rings: A Post Medieval Tradition

Powerful protectors of order amongst the masses

Post Medieval Sergeant at Law ring 'Long Live the King and the Law', circa 17th century. Hatton Garden
Post Medieval Sergeant-at-Law ring 'Long Live the King and the Law', circa 17th century
Ref: 26341

Dating back as early as 14th century the term Sergeant-at-Law or simply Sergeant was used to describe lawyers or law makers. Regarded as powerful protectors of order amongst the masses, it is thought that the concept of Sergeants descended from Norman Conteurs which were in place before any laws were officially formed. By the 16th century they were recognised as an exclusive group of lawyers which dealt primarily with cases in the central Common Law Courts. Under the direction of Queen Elizabeth I a new order of law makers was established known as the Queen’s Counsel. This new institution slowly became the standard by which senior members of the legal profession were recognised. Ultimately the Queen’s Counsel made the role of Sergeant obsolete ending the illustrious centuries old tradition.  

During the prominent years of Sergeants, when a new appointment was made to the order, the occasion would be marked with an impressive feast of celebration. Attendees would include other Sergeants, judges, the Lord Chancellor and on occasion the King. The newly appointed Sergeant would present rings to family, friends and other prominent figures. Each ring would bear a motto chosen by the Sergeant engraved to the exterior in Latin. This practice was popular from the 15th century until the abolishment of the order in the 19th century.

Included within our vast collection of ancient, antique and vintage pieces is an extremely rare Sergeant-at-Law ring bearing the motto ‘+VIVAT*REX*ET*LEX' translated from Latin as 'Long live the King and the Law'. This very rare example, along with an array of other long lost treasures can be purchased at Berganza either instore or online. 

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Updated 24/07/2024 at 5:00PM

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