Sunday, February 18, 2018

Historical Series (#9) Mourning Brooch, Samuel & Lydia Cutler- drowned in shipwreck June 28 1832

I'm back after a bit of a hiatus. I'm still collecting vintage and antique items. I have so many stories I want to share about some of the objects I've collected. Today is an antique mourning brooch.

I've wanted to own a piece of Victorian mourning jewelry ever since I discovered they existed. I used to check out the 'Art of Mourningwebsite, admiring the jewelry and the stories behind them. Mourning and hairwork jewelry goes back to middle ages, though during the 19th century it seemed to flourish. (source) Most mourning pieces use a lock of the deceased's hair in the jewelry. Some pieces are very elaborate while others are more simple, using a braided lock of hair. 

When I saw this mourning brooch, I didn't want to pass it up once I saw the back was engraved with initials and a date of death! I did a little digging on Ancestry and Google and came up with quite a bit of information. The backstory to this mourning brooch is absolutely fascinating, yet tragic. 

Samuel Cutler (79) and his wife Lydia (63) were on board the 'Rob Roy' schooner, June 28th of 1832 (source). They were headed to Portland Maine from Newburyport in Massachusetts where they lived. A storm squall came up, capsizing the ship. (sourceFive passengers were trapped in the cabin and drowned. Samuel & his wife Lydia were among the victims, the bodies were recovered and laid to rest. I imagine one of their family members had this mourning brooch made after theirs deaths to remember them by. (Some documents on Ancestry mention they had 7 children. Lydia was Samuels 2nd wife). 

It appears there's two different colors of hair braided in the middle of the brooch, so I'm assuming it is from locks of both Samuel and Lydia's hair. The brooch is incredibly tiny, it was probably worn at the throat pinned to a dress. There are jet beads, though one is missing and a few have cracks, and tiny seed pearls, though some are discolored with age.


My favorite part of this brooch is the engraving on the back: 'S & LC of June 28 1832'
The braid of hair in the center of the brooch,
The grave of Samuel & Lydia Cutler. (source)
This document was found on Ancestry. It mentions both Samuel and Lydia. (source)
An obituary for Samuel & Lydia's daughter. They are both mentioned in the notice. (source)
Samuel Cutler was a clerk and merchant during his life. There is a book that comes up on Google with a journal he kept on board a prison ship. (source)
I hope you found the story of this mourning brooch as interesting as I have. 
Historical Series:

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