The Rolleston Pewter Tankard

Further Information

Amongst the items belonging to Holy Trinity,is a pewter tankard which we know has been in the possession of the church since at least in 1764. It is mentioned in a terrier dated 2nd May 1764. A copy of this terrier can be found on the web site

It states:

 Furniture of the Church. Four Bells, a Clock, a Font, a Poors Box, a Chest, a Communion Table with a Green Cloth upon it, a Linen Table-Cloth Napkin used at the Communion, a large pewter Tankard and Plate, a Silver Cup, a Silver Salver with this Inscription "Ex dono Hanh the Relct of the Rev. Mr. Ben. Cooper, & Daughter of the Rev. Mr. John Twentyman once Vicar of this Church," a Surplice, Pulpit Cloth, & Cushion, a Table of the Prohibited Degrees of Marriage, a Folio Bible, two Folio Common Prayer Books, & a Book of Homilies.

The tankard is decorated extensively with what is known as wriggled work and tankards of this type are referred to by Collectors as “Wriggled Worked Flat Lidded Tankards”, the style of which also appears in Silver. They were typically made around the last quarter of the 17th Century, in both plain and wriggled worked form. Wriggled Worked decoration is created by using a small chisel like tool which is “rocked” on the surface of the metal to create the decoration. Whilst the depiction would normally fall into the category of “Royal Portrait” Tankards, the figures depicted are full length whereas they are normally “Portrait Busts”. Indeed, all known examples are depicted as such and show “James the Second”, “William & Mary” and later, “William the Third” on his own.

The Rolleston Tankard depicts a “Crowned Male” and a “Female” either side of the “Royal Arms” and on the handle sides of the Tankard, a Lion and a Unicorn. On the handle is depicted a Tulip and the lid bears the same female figure, this time depicted as a Shepherdess. We are assured that the “Royal Arms” depicted are those in use during the time of Charles the Second and James the Second; when William of Orange came to the throne with Mary, the same arms were used but and escutcheon appears in the centre of the shield showing William’s association with the House of Nassau.

Consequently, if the “Royal Arms” are technically depicted correctly they cannot represent “William & Mary” but must be either Charles 1st or James 2nd. Again, if depicted correctly, it cannot be Charles 1st as Catherine of Braganza was crowned as Queen as indeed was James 2nd wife. However, his first wife was a commoner and was never crowned. Obviously, it is supposition but is probably as near as I can get at present. It is the reason for asking whether Rolleston Church was known to have Catholic sympathies at this period, as James 2nd certainly did.

Dr Angela McShane, of the Victoria and Albert Museum, who has been making a special study of depictions of Stuart kings and queens quickly concluded that the woman is Charles II's wife Catherine of Braganza for four reasons:

1.  The woman is depicted without a crown.  It was originally suggested it was James II's first wife Ann Hyde as she was never crowned, but Catherine was never crowned either because she was a Catholic.  

2.  The buildings visible in the background on the lid show Moorish influence.  Catherine not only came from Portugal but brought Tangier (and Bombay) as part of her dowry.

3.  Catherine has been depicted elsewhere as a shepherdess, for example in a painting in the Queen's collection.  For example there are two depictions of her with sheep online – see,-Jacob/Portrait-of-Queen-Catherine-of-Braganza-as-Saint-Catherine and )

4.  Although not popular initially, that changed as time went on, and Charles made specific efforts to support and promote her.  Thus it would not be surprising to find commemorative wares depicting Charles and Catherine long after their marriage in 1661/2.

It is believed that it is likely that the Tankard was given to the Church at a date later than its manufacture because it would be unusual for a Church to order a piece with such decoration. Not only is the tankard shown in the  1764 Terrier but  there is also a record in Churchwardens Accounts showing “ a shilling paid for repair to a Tankard”; this may or may not, of course, be the same tankard.

However, we still don't know who commissioned it and how it came to be in Rolleston Church.

The Maker of the Tankard has been identified as John Parkinson of London. He was originally apprenticed to Robert Marten, known as a Flagon Maker, in July 1670 and was “turned over” to another Master, John Emes in August 1675. John Emes was also a well known Flagon Maker. In December 1677, John Parkinson gained his Freedom of The Worshipful Company of Pewterers and was further given leave to open a shop in April 1683. It is recorded that he was dead by 1698 / 1699.

The details above have a bearing upon who is depicted on the Tankard, to which I will return later.

Rolleston Church was known to have Catholic sympathies at this period, as James 2nd certainly did.

It appears more likely that the Tankard was given to the Church at a date later than its manufacture; it would be unusual for a Church to order a piece with such decoration. A search through Church Records and reveals entries showing the existence of the Tankard as recorded in Terrier’s but not back to the 17th century. There is also a record in Churchwardens Accounts showing “a shilling paid for repair to a Tankard”; this may or may not be the same tankard.

The Pewter Society’s record of the items held by the church is as follows:-

The fine early Stuart flat lidded tankard with wrigglework Royal Standard covering, with additional floral décor, virtually the whole of the body.  It has a twin Love Birds thumb piece which was found on such tankards during the period 1675 – 1695.   It has a three element hinge on a strap handle, with plain terminal, which appears to have been re-soldered to the body on the R.H. side at least some time ago.   The lid is slightly domed with an incised ring around the top but has a plain front rim with no denticulations.   There appears to be a wriggled inscription around the bottom which it has not been possible to read.

The makers touch mark inside the base is “I.P.” in a circle of dots with two large dots beneath and what appears to be a small rodent on the right and a further detrited area on the left and is unrecorded.  The whole is in a dark oxidised state.

The Paten is double rimmed and is contemporary with the flat lid and bears the touch of Garrad (Gerard) Ford I of Wigan, Lancashire who was active from 1655 – 1702.  He was a Warden of the Wigan Company of Pewterers in 1666.   It is noted that he contributed one shilling for a present for HM Charles II on 8th November, 1661.   He was Master 1674, was searched by the Company in 1676, listed as a Baylife Peer (sic) in 1683 and again Master in 1688 in which year he was also named as a witness in a sacrament certificate.

His touch mark is also found in conjunction with Ralph Baldwin and Thomas Leatherbarrow, two well known Wigan pewterers with whom he had a business relationship.   He was a brother of Gilbert Ford II, the father of William Ford V and a grandparent of Gerard Ford II, all pewterers.    

The touch mark “IP” on the flat lid has now been traced as those of John Parkinson of London who was active from 1677 -1698.  He was born in Worcestershire, the son of John Parkinson, yeoman of Littleton, Worcs. which has not been identified.   He was apprenticed to Robert Marten in London from 8th July, 1670 to 1674 when he was turned over to John Eames I on August 1675 after Marten’s death.    He continued with Eames from 12th August 1675 until 13th December, 1677 which day he was Free of the Company.  He set up shop on 4th April 1683, striking his touch on the London Touch Plate [No 384] that day.  He died in 1698.

He took as an apprentice John Spicer in November 1692 who was turned over to John Thomas in March 1698 on Parkinson’s death.

His touch is a circle of dots with the initials “IP” at the top with a heart and a pear below and “83” underneath.    Some of these can be made out on the touch on the flat lid but it has been over stamped with what we believe to be the touch of another contemporary pewterer, Robert Hanns of London.    This pewterer is also known to have made flat lids and one is owned by one of the members of the team of researchers who have come up with these results.    The dots which also make up the border of Hann’s touch can just be made out at 7 to 8 am on the original touch together with his initials “RH”.

Our researcher’s flat lid has two distinctive features - a V – shaped top handle attachment that extends a long way down the body and a very small foot rim which both appear to be present in the Rolleston flat lid but there are other differences.   This suggests that Hanns made the Church’s flat lid rather than Parkinson who might have retailed it.   

We are indebted to Steve & Penny Custons and Malcolm and Trish Hayward of the Pewter Society for their research into this item

Following up about catholic sympathies, the following has been found:-


“Margaret, Wife to the Right Honoble Robert Lord Lexinton dyed at London April 17. Aged 31 years, & was buryed in the Chancell here She was of the Family of the Hungerford’s of Farley Castle in Som[m] ersetshire. The sole Heiress of St Giles Hungerford of Colston in the County of Wilts.” (1703)

Ref: Extracts from the old Parish Registers Holy Trinity, Rolleston, Nottinghamshire

We do not know why she was buried at Rolleston when the Lexington family came from the next parish, Averham.

His details are:-

Robert Sutton, 2nd Baron Lexinton PC (6 January 1662 – 19 September 1723) was an English diplomat. He was the son of Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton and his third wife Mary St. Leger.

On 14 September 1691, he married Margaret Hungerford (d. April 1703), by whom he had two children: William George Sutton (1697 – October 1713), died in Madrid while his father was ambassador there, and Bridget Sutton (d. 1734), who married John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland. He served as a captain of a troop of horse in 1685, and was a gentleman of horse to Princess Anne 1685–1689. Lord Lexington supported in the House of Lords the elevation of William of Orange to the throne, and was employed by that king at court and on diplomatic business, being sent as envoy extraordinary to the Elector of Brandenburg in 1689.

He was appointed a Privy Counsellor on 17 March 1692, and was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King William from 1692 until 1702. Lexington was again sent abroad in 1694 as envoy extraordinary to the Court in Vienna, and served until the Treaty of Ryswick was concluded in 1697. He was a Lord of Trade from 1699 to 1702, and ambassador to the Court of Madrid from 1712 until 1713, during negotiations for the Treaty of Utrecht.

However the link with Catholicism comes through his father who King Charles 1 made a Baron in 1645 his details are:

Robert Sutton, 1st Baron Lexinton (21 December 1594 – 13 October 1668) was a member of parliament for his native county in 1625 and again in 1640. He was the son of Sir William Sutton of Averham, Nottinghamshire, Lord Lexinton was thrice married. On 14 April 1616, he married Elizabeth Manners, the sister of John Manners, 8th Earl of Rutland, who died without issue.

His second wife was Anne Palmes, widow of Sir Thomas Browne, 2nd Baronet, who also died without issue. On 21 February 1660, he married Mary St. Leger, by whom he had one son: Robert (1662–1723)

Robert served Charles I of England during the English Civil War, making great monetary sacrifices for the royal cause, and in 1645 the king created him Baron Lexinton, this being a variant of the name of the Nottinghamshire village of Laxton. His estate suffered during the time of the Commonwealth, but some money was returned to him by Charles II of England.


Further evidence, ideally a will, could confirm whether this is the source of the Flat-lid. Searching for the will is proving a bit difficult so any suggestions would be most welcome.

The tankard is on display at the National Civil War Museum in Newark.