Among some old family deeds in my possession is a quitclaim by Robert Fitz Meldred to Henry Spring of four marks of silver being the annual rent of the town of ‘Hoctun’, probably Houghton le Spring in the bishopric of Durham. The date is about 1230. Attached to the deed is the seal in white wax of Robert Fitz Meldred (fig. 1). The seal is circular, and when perfect was about 2½ in. in diameter ; it bears a saltire which it will be noticed is very narrow, and the legend, now partly broken away, that originally read
The exact date of the matrix of a seal such as this cannot, of course, be given with certainty, but I venture to think it may be placed before the year 1200. Although Sir William St. John Hope in his paper on the Seals of English Bishops gives useful approximate dates for the various kinds of lettering, his remarks relate to episcopal seals only, and he guards himself against necessarily applying them to other classes. The lettering of the seal now under discussion is rough and of an earlier type than the ordinary Lombardic which is met with in the thirteenth century; we may perhaps place it between the Roman capitals which ceased about the last quarter of the twelfth century and the Lombardic capitals.