Mary Frances Lady Rich Mourning Brooch
A Georgian mourning brooch for Mary Frances (Lady Rich).
Inscribed for 1833
A navette shape with hair tied in a bow. Under glass in a gold and enamel frame, later engraved on the reverse 'Mary Frances Lady Rich / her Hair / b. 1755. d. 1833', with paper label inscribed: 'My Hair / FMR'.
The brooch has some enamel loss. Tests as 9ct Gold.
3.8 x 2.4cm
This piece was purchased from a Sothebys Sale in 2017 which detailed the provenance of the pieces. See below.
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In 1710, Robert married Elizabeth Griffith (died 1773) daughter of Col. Edward Griffith, one of the Clerks of the Board of Green Cloth and Secretary to Prince George of Denmark, the Prince Consort. Their miniature portraits of were executed by leading artists of the day. The portrait of Sir Robert was executed by the Swedish painter Charles Boit (1662-1727), probably after the Blenheim victory. Boit was a colourful character, travelling between England, Holland, Germany and Austria, whose talents as a painter on enamel brought him the favours of European royal courts - a large enamel plaque showing Queen Anne and Prince George is in the Royal Collection and mentioned by Horace Walpole who remarks that Boit’s prices 'are not to believed' (Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting in England, 1762, p. 634). Christian Frederick Zincke (1683/5-1767), author of the enamel portrait of Lady Rich, was also much admired by his contemporaries. This portrait was probably executed around their wedding date, 1710.
Sir Robert and Lady Elizabeth had three sons and one daughter, also Elizabeth. Their eldest son, Robert Rich, became 5th Baronet (1717- 1785), married Mary Ludlow, and had an only daughter, Mary Frances. Mary Frances Rich married on 4 January 1784, the Reverend Charles Bostock, of Shirley House, Hampshire, who assumed by sign-manual, the arms and surname of Rich, being created a Baronet in 1791. Mary Frances, Lady Rich, inherited all her father’s estate which was then passed onto her son, Sir Charles Henry Rich, 2nd Bt.
The will of Sir Robert, 5th Bt., was signed 31 October 1767 and speedily proved (with two codicils dated 7 December 1767 and 1 February 1768, the date of his death) on 7 February 1768. In the will Sir Robert leaves to his only daughter, Lady Lyttelton, ‘her mother’s Picture, to be taken out of my Snuff Box inlayed with Gold' (PROB 11/936). Elizabeth Rich had married, aged 33, as his second wife Baron Lyttelton of Frankley as his second wife, in 1749. Mrs Piozzi commented’ ‘Her indiscretion made an unhappy household, and she soon separated from her husband’. Lady Lyttelton was a talented pastellist and honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy, also a close friend of the miniature painter Richard Cosway’s wife Maria, another female artist. Given the date of the present gold box (the date letter ran from April 1767 to April 1768), Lady Lyttelton was speedy in ordering her parents’ portraits to be set into a gold box. She herself died in 1795; the box is quite clearly described in her own will (PROB 11/1265 – signed July 1789, proved (with three codicils) 8 September 1795). She gives to her ‘Niece Frances Mary Bostock [her] best Diamond Necklace [&c. &c. and] An Oval Gold Snuff Box chased with Trophies with the pictures of my Father and Mother in Enamel’.
Mary Frances was even more detailed in her testimonary disposition of the box (PROB 11/1819). Her will was written in 1831 and proved on 19 July 1831. She left the box to her son Sir Charles Henry Rich, describing it as ‘my Gold Snuff Box with my Grandfather’s (the Field Marshall’s) Picture on the outside and my Grandmother’s Picture withinside’. The gift is for his life but must then be passed down very specifically to the eldest son in each generation – ‘the said snuff box shall not be sold or parted with in any way but always descend as an heirloom in my family”