Henry Dove – A Memorial Ring

Mourning ring for Henry Dove. 18ct gold, London, hallmarked for the 1836/1837 period, reappropriated in 1851 and dedicated to Lieutenant Henry Dove RN.

This ring has been in my collection for only a few years. The unique aesthetic character of the ring appealed to me, but it wasn’t until Hayden Peters wrote this analysis of it that I understood what I was responding to. I hope you enjoy Hayden’s article from his Art of Mourning site.

Click here to read about the Henry Dove ring.

From the Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Leslie Stephen and published in 1888 we learn: The Doves are a Surrey family, with generations serving in the Navy. Lieutenant Henry Dove RN was married to Christiana Paterson, who gave birth to their son Patrick Edward Dove (1815 – 1873)a “philosophic writer”of some renown on the 31 July 1815 in Lasswade, near Edinburgh. An ancestor of Henry Dove was William, son of Thomas Dove, bishop of Peterborough. They had been settled in Devonshire since 1716 when Francis Dove, Commodore RNwas appointed Commissioner of the Navy in Plymouth.

Henry Dove retired from active service upon the peace of 1815, and held an appointment at Deal connected with the Cinque Ports. Henry Dove did not allow his son Patrick Edward to “follow his own ardent desire for naval service.” Instead, Patrick Edward went on to be educated in France and England but was expelled from school after leading a “rebellion” against the headmaster. Patrick Edward went on to study farming in Scotland and philosophy! Although there seems to be more information available about his son rather than Henry Dove, it still builds a portrait of a family. Upon Patrick Edward’s death a Professor J. S. Blackie wrote: “he combined in a remarkable degree the manly directness of the man of action with the fine speculation of the man of thought. Altogether, Mr Dove dwells in my mind as one of the most perfect types of the manly thinker whom I have met in the course of a long life.”  And when Patrick Edward died in 1873 he left behind a widow, and 3 of Henry’s grandchildren – a son and two daughters. Fortunately we have an image of a portrait of Henry Dove which appears in Hayden’s article above. However, there is also somewhere out there a portrait of Henry’s son – a “sketch by his friend Mr Seymour Haden”. I presume this is likely to be Francis Seymour Haden, prominent surgeon and etcher, who married the sister of the artist James Whistler. How extraordinarily interesting!

A photo of Seymour Haden from Wikipedia and the public domain.

Beyond Death Do Us Part: A High Victorian Brooch

Here is a re-posting of a short piece I wrote for the fabulous site Art of Mourning. This brooch and accompanying sampler is from the MOLAM collection of yours truly. It embodies the potent sentimentality which inspires me to collect this area of jewellery. Enjoy!

Click here to read the post Beyond Death Do Us Part: A High Victorian Brooch.

Detail of the reverse.

Sleep in Jesus: a dedication to a child, 1876

I am re-blogging this little piece I wrote for the wonderful Art of Mourning site. Looking at my collection I can say it still sits close to my heart as one of the most touching pieces I am lucky enough to have. I hope you enjoy it too.

Sleep in Jesus: a dedication to a child, 1876.

Sleep in Jesus: a dedication to a child, 1876.

Pilgrimage in a Shell: a mourning brooch | Art of Mourning

My latest blog on the fabulous Art of Mourning website. Shell symbolism in the 19th C!


19th C neo-Gothic ‘In Memory Of’ mourning pin with scallop shell motif.

Pilgrimage in a Shell: a mourning brooch | Art of Mourning.

Another blog is born with A Lock Of Hair!

One of the most important skills in life is to listen. But with so many bloggers writing/chatting away, who is left to fulfill the listener’s role? I do not have the answer to that, and so I raise the question and blithely ignore it. However, if there are any listener’s still out there, take heed of this touching prose from Anonymous (a Victorian writer, not the cyber-warfare rebels).

A Lock Of Hair

Few things in this weary world are so delightful as keepsakes. Nor do they ever to my heart at least, nor to my eye, lose their tender, their powerful charm ! How slight, how small, how tiny a memorial saves a beloved one from oblivion ! Worn on the finger, or close to the heart, especially if they be dead. No thought is so insupportable as entire, total, blank forgetfulness,–when the creature that once laughed and sung and wept with us, close to our side, in our arms, is as if her smiles, her voice, her tears, her kisses, had never been. She and they all swallowed up in the nothingness of the dust.

Of all keepsakes, memorials, relics, –most dearly, most devotedly, do I love a little lock of hair; and oh, when the head it beautified has long mouldered in the dust, how spiritual seems the undying glossiness of the sad memento ! All else gone to nothing, save and except that soft, smooth, burnished, and glorious fragment of the apparelling that once hung in clouds and sunshine over an angel’s brow.

Ay, a lock of hair is far better than any picture –it is part of the beloved object herself; it belongs to the tresses that often, long ago, may have been dishevelled, like a shower of sunbeams, over your beating breast. But now, solemn thoughts sadden the beauty once so bright, so refulgent, the longer you gaze on it; the more and more it seems to say, almost upbraidingly, “Weep’st thou no more for me?” and, indeed, a tear, true to the imperishable affections in which all nature seemed to rejoice, bears witness, that the object to which we yearned, is no more forgotten, now that she has been dead for so many long, weary days, months, years, than she was forgotten during an hour of absence, that came like a passing cloud between us and the sunshine of our living in her loving smiles.

This was taken from a publication I was lucky to find entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend’ edited by J. B. Syme published in 1852 (London). Keep in mind that although it was published in this year it may have been written many years before, given that the author is ‘Anonymous’ lends weight to this possibility. It reveals the potency of the hair memento within this culture, and the practice of hair being worn in jewellery.