History the Essex ring

History the Essex ring

THE story of the ring given by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Essex is of such romantic interest that it is sad to destroy the charm by casting doubts on its authenticity ; but, at the present day especially, a crucial test is applied to numbers of similar instances, and 'historic doubts' crop up incessantly, with which heretofore no profane hand was expected to meddle.

The story of the Essex ring-token has been investigated with great care by a writer in the ' Edinburgh Review ' (No. 200), who says : ' Whatever might be the supposed indignation of Elizabeth against her dying cousin, Lady Nottingham, it is clear that as the real offender was Lord Nottingham, he would naturally have more shared in her displeasure ; and it is very improbable that a fortnight after the Queen had shaken the helpless wife on her death-bed, the husband, by whose authority the offence was committed, should have continued in un- diminished favour. The existence of the ring would do but little to establish the truth of the story, even if but one had been preserved and cherished as the identical ring ; but as there are two, if not three, which lay claim to that distinction, they invalidate each other's claims. One is preserved at Hawnes, in Bedfordshire, the seat of the Rev. Lord John Thynne ; another is the property of C. W. Warren, Esq. ; and we believe the third is deposited for safety at Messrs. Drummond's bank. '

The ring at Hawnes is said to have descended in unbroken succession from Lady Frances Devereux (afterwards Duchess of Somerset) to the present owner. The stone in this ring is a sardonyx, in which is cut in relief a head of Elizabeth, the execution of which is of a high order. That the ring has descended from Lady Frances Devereux, affords the strongest presumptive evidence that it was not the ring. According to the tradition, it had passed from her father into Lady Nottingham's hands. According to Lady Elizabeth Spelman, Lord Nottingham insisted upon her keeping it.

See also:

‘True love waits’ rings

Bible verses about love