One of the aspects of Thomas Bowrey’s life that surprised me was how often finger rings feature. He used them to repatriate his wealth, packed them in his trunk when he went to Bath to take the waters and bequeathed them in his will. His estranged friend, Robert Masfen, used a mourning ring as a peace offering following his wife’s death.
Thomas repatriated his wealth over a number of years on many different ships to spread the risk of lost. Over that time the following were despatched: unspecified jewellery in two escritoires, twenty-two diamond ring, a single diamond ring and a single loose diamond. At the time a mourning ring was valued at £1 (equivalent to about £150 today). A one carat diamond could be purchased in India for £1/5/- and a four carat one for £14 although diamonds were also obtained from Borneo.
It was common to bequeath mourning rings to friends and relatives and, in his will, Thomas left eight valued at £1 each to his cousins, his mother-in-law and a number of friends. When he and Mary went to Bath, they packed a diamond buckle, a pair of diamond earrings, a gold ring and a ring set wound with diamonds (presumably similar to a full eternity ring today). When the Worcester was seized by the Scots, one of Thomas’ concerns was for two diamond rings in the captain’s chest.
The rings in my collection are not the intrinsically valuable rings that Thomas owned but were the prized possessions of less wealthy folk however I thought that you may see like to see my examples of finger rings of the same period.
The first is the bronze posy (or poesy) ring discovered at Wapping I mentioned yesterday. Next is a silver mani-in-fede ring with frilled cuffs:
Bronze signet rings like t next example were common unlike the enamelled one like the final example that has white and red flowers on a green enamelled bronze background.