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Cobham mourning ring (17th century)

This gold mourning ring was discovered with the aid of a metal detector in the winter of 2008 in Downside, Cobham, when it was reported under the Treasure Act.

The thin flat band weighs 3.4 grams, has a skull on the exterior, and is inscribed on interior 'Prepare to follow FV. Ob: 16 May 70'. The makers mark is serifed ‘T.S’ in a rectangle. It was possibly purchased by Matthew Carleton or his wife in mourning for his cousin Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon who died on 16th May 1670.

The Stoke D'Abernon parish registers record the following: ‘Sr Francis Vincent Kt & Baronett, & patron of this Church, dyed May 16, 1670, between 7 & eight of ye clocke in ye morning, and was buried on Friday night following, being ye 20th day of ye same month’. In his will of 1669, Sir Francis made the following bequests:

‘To my loving sister Mrs Katherine Vane the sum of Ten Pounds wherewith to buy her a Ring. To my said cousin Matthew Carleton three pounds & to his wife forty shillings to buy them rings. To my loving brother and friends Sir Walter Vane, Sir William Harward & Arthur Onslow the sum of Ten pounds a peece to buy them rings’.

Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon was the second husband of Mary Bigley (nee Archer). Mary was the granddaughter of George Bigley who had married Elizabeth the widow of Richard Sutton. The Suttons had been bailiffs of the manor of Cobham for Chertsey Abbey, and after the dissolution in 1537 they purchased the manor from the Crown.

The manor of Cobham was ultimately owned by Dorothy Bigley, who married Robert Gavell . After he died in 1595, he was succeeded by his son Francis who married Mary Archer. It was their son (also called Francis), who married Margaret, eldest daughter of Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon in 1619. Sir Francis died in 1633 leaving his fifteen year old son Vincent Gavell as his heir. The boy was placed in the charge of his relative Sir Francis Vincent of Stoke D'Abernon. In 1638 this Sir Francis was reproved by the Courts of Wards and Liveries for helping himself to Master Gavell's fish and timber.

Matthew Carleton, who received £3 for a ring, was also related by marriage to the Suttons and the Bigleys; Mary, the daughter of George Bigley having married Edward Carleton. Although the Vincents primarily owned the manor of Stoke D'Abernon, they also owned land in Cobham, some of which now forms part of Cobham Park estate. In particular, Francis Vincent owned a property called ‘Fragges’ which appears to have been somewhere in the vicinity of ‘Down Place’ (now ‘Down Farm’). Another property owned by Vincent was ‘Bottells’ which appears to have been on the site of the present ‘Cobham Lodge’.

It is probable that the ring is one of those purchased directly as a result of the bequests in the Will of Sir Francis. It is unlikely to have been that of his ‘loving sister’ Katherine, Sir Walter Vane, Sir William Harward, or Arthur Onslow as they were left ten pounds for their rings and presumably would have purchased something far more elaborate than that purchased for three pounds or less.

It is therefore more or less certain that the ring was the property of Matthew Carleton or his wife, especially because the Carletons and other members of their family both owned and lived on lands in Cobham.

Both the finder and landowner were generous in donating part of their reward, with Elmbridge Museum gaining external funding together with other kind benefactors to purchase the ring.

Browse through more photographs of this ring below.

Cobham mourning ring

Type: mourning ring


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