Garter mourning ring
A most rare mourning to commemorate a deceased Garter Knight. The ring is for George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough [1739 -1817], styled Marquess of Blandford until 1758. Spencer was a courtier and politician who served as both Lord Chamberlain and Lord Privy Seal. He was the great-great-great grandfather of Winston Churchill. The ring is in the form of a garter. Spencer was made a Knight of the Garter in 1768. The Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in 1348, is the oldest order of chivalry in Europe. The most popular account of the order’s origin involves the Countess of Salisbury whose garter chanced to slip from her leg while she was dancing at a court ball. As courtiers looked on disapprovingly the King gallantly retrieved the garter and returned it to the Countess, with the words : Honi soit qui mal y pense : shame be to him who thinks ill of it. This phrase became the motto of the Order of the Garter. The garter hoop of this ring is inscribed in gold letters on a black enamel ground with the garter motto : Honi soit qui mal y pense. The head of the ring is in the form of a Ducal coronet, enamelled in red and set with diamonds. The inscription within commemorates the life and death of the Duke: His Grace George Spencer, Duke of Marlborough, Prince of Mindelheim, K.G. & c. Nat. 26th Jan 1738 -9, Obt. 30th Jan 1817. The ring is size N [US 6 and 1/2] and the hoops is 1/4 of an inch wide. Superb quality, such a rare ring.
The legend of the foundation of the Order of the Garter
The Duke of Marlborough and his family by Reynolds