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Sean Pryor

Joined: 11 May 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2018 3:55 pm    Post subject: Gifted a Signet Ring         Reply with quote

Hello! First time here!

I was gifted a ring by my grandmother this weekend. The ring is gold (says 14k on the inside band). The stone seems to be red garnet maybe? The ring is engraved/carved with our family crest. I was shown the crest when I was young once, but I don't know much about it yet. I asked her to send me the large copy of the crest she has for me to see. I know it has 3 birds, 3 stars, and a bit of latin below the shield. Above the shield is a hand holding a quill I believe.

I was told the king of England gave this ring to my family, specifically to a writer. I do not really know if this is true, or exaggerated.

How would I go about proving the validity of this story, or finding the original owner? Once I have the crest I think I can get more done, but wondering what leads the ring may provide!
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Sean Pryor

Joined: 11 May 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri 11 May, 2018 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Took a photo!

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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2018 2:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The story sounds like the sort that are often made up by individuals to give a little extra prestige to the family in the form of "fame-by-association". Of course, it's certainly possible that the story is true, it's just the nature of the story is the sort that people frequently fabricate. You would have more credibility if you could identify the name of the king, who the relative was, and why the king would award the relative the ring. Presumably, from the story, the award was for a piece of writing, but what piece of writing? Why would the king have seen it?

Having these details would give the story more credibility. It does not ensure the story is true- it could still be made up. In the current form, the story is so vague that it truly seems apocryphal.

I should also mention that the idea of a family crest is a bit misleading. A coat of arms is only granted to a specific individual, and is then passed down from father to son following direct, patrilineal descent. Unless you can trace an ancestor back in this direct fashion, it means the coat of arms is not actually yours. The whole family crest thing is a bit of a fraud, as it implies the coat-of-arms belongs to a family, when the actual possession and ownership is much narrower than this.

For example, there are Peters' family coats of arms from England and Germany (my family originating from the latter country) but that does not mean they are "my family's coat of arms". Rather, all that can be said is that the German arms belonged to the direct, paternal line of one family named "Peters", whom I may or may not be distantly related to.

Sorry if all of this is a bit of a "downer", but it is honest. For what it's worth, the ring is interesting in its own right, regardless of the story.
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Hadrian Coffin
Industry Professional

Location: Oxford, England
Joined: 03 Apr 2008

Posts: 404

PostPosted: Sat 12 May, 2018 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry to say, but I must agree with Craig Peters above. The story sounds entirely fictitious.

Further, there is something else significant, that makes the story even less believable. Signet rings made and worn in the UK do not generally display a coat of arms, which this one does, as they only display a crest. The coat of arms is the full armorial bearings, in this case what you have is a moto beneath a shield with a crest. The crest is simply the part that is shown above the helm (in this case, the arm holding a quill). Here is an example, that is more typical, note how it is just the crest (what is above the helm, above the shield). A stone may or may not be present in a ring, that does not particularly matter, and it is more frequent to have the moto engraved on the inside of the band.

14K is also fairly low for something 'gifted by the king of England'. This also is not typically how British gold is hallmarked, unless it is very modern, and emulating a more American/International style mark. Here we typically use symbols, often in conjunction with numeric marks, but rarely just a standard (i.e. 14k, 18k, etc). See:

That being said, if you can get the latin motto, we can check it against something like Fairbairn's Crest's and see what family it is intending to be tied to!

My guess is that it is an American made ring, by one of the many 'family crest' companies that cropped up in the late 1970s/1980s and offered to make these 'family crest' and 'family history' armorial items (framed documents, mugs, shirts, signet rings, etc). They tend to be mass produced, loosely based on Fairbairn's, and sold to anyone that happened to have a matching surname (which really does not indicate familial affinity). Unfortunately, over time, the stories get more confused as things are passed around family members, and they often wind up associated with stories like this. Very possibly it is true, in some sense, but it is just very very unlikely.


Historia magistra vitae est
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Sean Pryor

Joined: 11 May 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2018 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for the responses! I am already aware that the story is probably made up Happy what I was asking is for how I may be able to figure out the true history behind the ring (or if it were fabricated). Sounds like I won't be able to do much until I get the coat of arms information and the Latin hopefully.

If it makes a difference, the ring originally beloved to my grandfather who passed when I was young. My grandmother has held onto his things. She says he was also a mason and she has those belongings as well. She said she would give them to be bit that I would need to know another mason or something to be inducted. She says she is part of a female version of the masons? Again I do understand this all may not be true. Just mentioning it in case it can help with the ring information.

Also, she didn't say UK or England. I think she just said "a king". But she didn't know either. And to be clear, I'm not trying to tie my family name or prestige or anything like that to the story, I just own the ring now so I would like to be able to know the actual history of it. Even if it is simply a pretty bauble bought from mass production Haha. My grandfather was a sailor, so very likely a tall tale from the seas that he was prone to tell
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Terry Thompson

Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2018 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you have anyone in your family lineage with the name Patterson? It most closely resembles the Scottish or Irish coat of arms for Patterson. because of the:
-Embattled chief w/ 3 mullets (stars)
-3 pelicans

The "Birds" appear to have long craned necks where the head is touching the breast which is usually a pelican.

Depending on the site you visit, the pelicans are shown overt (at rest -wings in, feet flat) or in piety (which is what your ring appears to show) and either a crest with a hand holding a quill or branch (holly?). Sites seem to attribute the variations to either Scottish or Irish with no consistentcy.

I'm assuming the picture hasn't been reversed. but the birds appear to be backwards (in retreat). Which indicates the ring was intended to imprint. (Press into ink or wax to create a positive) That also means that the motto is most likely backwards. I tried blowing it up, but couldn't make any of the letters out.
It might actually help if you melt some wax and do an impression. Sometimes the details are crisper on the imprint.

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Terry Thompson

Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
Joined: 17 Sep 2010

Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2018 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After flipping the image and zooming in further, it looks like the second word is ORIER. And a quick google search came up with HINC ORIER (latin "Hence I Rise"). Which also appears to be a motto associated with the Patersons of Bannockburn.

I also found a corroboration in the book Scottish Surnames: A contribution to Genealogy by James Paterson. Relevant portion below. Appears to be viewible in google books. The blazonry is identical to your ring including the description of the crest. I should point out that the blazon describes the field as white, and the pelicans (vulned/wounded/in their piety) as RED and the embattled chief (bar at the top of the shield) is blue.

I agree that the ring looks similar to those crafted at the turn of the 20th century in the US.

You're welcome. You can expect my bill in the mail in the next 2 weeks

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