Mourning bracelet clasp for John and Lydia Hancock

about 1793

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Overall: 4.8 x 2.7cm (1 7/8 x 1 1/16in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gold; watercolor on ivory, hair

Not On View


Americas, Jewelry


Bracelets and armlets

Two women are flanking an ivory obelisk upon which is written IN / DEATH / LAMENT / ED AS IN/ LIFE / BELOVED. An angel flies above with a trumpet. The ground is composed of chopped hair. There are several seed pearl accents with some loose. The scene is framed by two narrow bands of blue and white enamel. Two conforming gold pieces on each side are pierced with eight holes to allow attachment to multi-strand bracelet. On the reverse is an inscription surrounding a glass compartment containing woven brown hair.

This clasp memorialized the deaths of John Hancock, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his aunt, a mother figure for John, who was orphaned at a young age.


Rev: HIS EXELy. I. HANCOCK ESQr: OBt: 8 OCTr. 1793 AEt. 57. / MADm. L. HANCOCK OB. 25 APRIL 1776 AEt: 61


About 1793, family of John and Lydia Hancock; by 1945, in the collection of William B Wood (1879- 1945/8) of Jamaica Plain, Mass; 1945, bequeathed to Charles H Wood (1913-1993); 1985, gift of Charles H. Wood of Duxbury, Mass. to the MFA (Accession date: December 11, 1985).

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. Charles H. Wood