Collar of ss
Collar of SS
Collar of SS. Collars studded with the letter S, or consisting of many of that latter linked together, either alone or alternately with other figures, have been at times much worn by persons holding great offices in the State, as well as by the gentry of various ranks from esquires upwards. They were worn by the Lords Chief Justices, the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, the Lord Mayor of London, the Kings of Arms, and Heralds, and the Serjeants at Arms, though frequently they are little more than ordinary chain collar with the links twisted so as to resemble the letter S.
The signification of the letter S in connection with the collar has been variously explained. Perhaps the best conjectures are, either that the device was invented to represent the word Souerayne, the favourite motto of Henry IV., which he bore when Earl of Derby, and retained when he succeeded to the throne; or else that that word was suggested by an after-thought of some courtier, or perhaps of the royal jeweller himself, as explanatory of the form which the workman had adopted, and which was so suitable to chain-work.
There is ample evidence that the collar of SS was originally a badge of the house of Lancaster, and that Henry IV. was the first sovereign who granted to the nobility as a mark of royal favour a licence to wear it; and, according to an old chronicle, Henry V., on the 25th day of October, 1415, gave to such of his followers as were not already noble permission to war "un collier semé de letters S de son ordre."
The right of knights to wear such a collar of gold was recognised by Act of Parliament, 24 Hen. VIII., but restricted to persons who were not below that grade.
The collar of SS begins to appear upon monuments at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and upon distinguished persons of both sexes. It is represented as if worn by Sir Thomas Burton, in 1381, on the brass at Little Casterton Church(though the brass was not executed till circa 1410). It is also represented as worn by Sir Robert de Hattfield, who is attired as a civilian, and by his wife, on the brass in Oulton Church, Yorkshire, which is dated 1409. On a brass in Hereford Cathedral it is represented as worn by Lady Delamere(1435), but not by her husband. The monumental effigy in Little Dunmow Church, Essex, to Matilda, Countess of Huntingdon, who lived temp. King John, is of no value as evidence, as the effigy is of the fifteenth century. The example here given is from the brass of Sir John DRAYTON, 1411, which exists in Dorchester Church, Oxon.
The Collar of Suns and Roses also should be mentioned here, being one of the badges of Henry IV. It occurs on several brasses, and the right to bear this mark of favour was no doubt acquired direct from the sovereign. This collar was not so common as that of the SS. According to Haines, it occurs on brasses at Rougham, Norfolk, c. 1470; at Lillingston Lovell, Oxon, 1471; at Broxbourne, Herts, 1473; at Sardley, Derbyshire, 1478; at St.Albans, 1480; and at Little Easton, Essex, 1483.
Some kings of arms and heralds have also encircled their arms with the collars pertaining to their degrees.