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Archiver > BUCKS > 2003-04 > 1050531658

From: Eve McLaughlin <>
Subject: Re: [BKM] Funeral rings
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:20:58 +0100
In-Reply-To: <NGBBJPMHMBBHJCBPECBKAEACDIAA.morganhold@ntlworld.com>

In message <>, Celia
Renshaw <> writes
>I wish I knew the answer to your questions Terry - but you've given me
>another one to ask the list.
>My ancestor George NELSON, banker of Buckingham, bequeathed mourning rings
>to his friends and family when he died in 1836. One of the rings has come
>down the generations to my mother, so in this case, one at least was
>definitely purchased (from Godwins of Holborn as it happens). However, in
>about two dozen other English wills I've now read, mourning rings are not
>bequeathed - and no-one else I know researching English families has
>mentioned them, in fact I've been asked several times what a mourning ring
>is. So, is it perhaps a Scottish tradition?? I'm keen to know the answer
>because I'm investigating the possibility that my NELSONs (banker George's
>father or grandfather) were originally from Wigtown.

It was quite normal in English families, though the custom was dying out
by 1836 and being replaced by gifts of chunks of the deceased's hair or
tiny photos/paintings in a locket.
A mourning ring was a tangible reminder of the testator, but could
also be used as currency if times became hard -easier to sell than an
oil painting or suit of clothes.

>1600's Wills often leave money to buy rings for relatives and friends.
>While the idea of a permanent object as a reminder of the deceased is clear,
>rings were given so often that members of large well-to-do families would
>have had more rings than fingers before they reached middle age!
so you can wear two or three per finger, since you will not have to do
any manual work with them.

Eve McLaughlin

Author of the McLaughlin Guides for family historians
Secretary Bucks Genealogical Society

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