several able papers in the ' Gentleman's Magazine,' and
also in the interesting pages of 'Notes and Queries,'
has treated the subject in a manner which causes great
regret at his non-performance of a promise he long ago
made, of an extended work on the whole question.
The letters SS are stated by Nicholas Harpsfield, in
his 'Ecclesiastical History' (1622), to be the initials of
St. Simplicius, a just and pious Roman senator, who
suffered martyrdom under Diocletian late in the third century. But this far-fetched theory, being founded on
the presumption that the use of the collar was confined
to sacred or judicial personages, is deprived of all its
weight by the fact that the distinction was principally
worn in the earliest times by persons totally unconnected
with either religion or law.
Another theorist makes the letter the initial of the
Countess of Salisbury, thus connecting it with the Order
of the Garter; a third says that it means " Soissons,"
and was given by Henry V. in honour of St. Crespin and
St. Crespinian, the martyrs of that place, on whose anniversary
the battle of Agincourt was fought. But the
former event occurred some years before, and the latter
some years after, the use of the collar was introduced."
Signum," in its simple meaning of a badge of honour,
is another interpretation: and Mr. "Willement, in
his ' Royal Heraldry' (1812), refers it to " Soverayne,"
the motto of Henry IV. Mr. John Gough Nichols's
answer to this is quite conclusive,—that it is not likely
that Richard II. would have worn it (as he is stated to
have done) had the letter borne that signification.
We have been told also that the letters mean the
"Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus," of the Salisbury Liturgy
and Ritual;1 but we have no other instance of the devices
of livery collars in England partaking of religious
1 'Notes and Queries,'
First Series, vol. ii. p. 280.