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Not currently on display at the V&A

Ring

ca. 1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The ‘Old Pretender’ or ‘Old Chevalier’, James Francis Stuart (1688-1766) whose portrait is set in this ring, was the son of King James II of England. James supported the Catholic faith rather than the Protestantism of the Church of England and was therefore exiled in favour of his eldest daughter Mary II and her husband William of Orange by the Revolution of 1688 . Queen Mary of Modena and the young prince James went into exile in France soon after his birth and remained there until the death of King James II in 1701. Although he was attainted for treason and stripped of his titles in 1702, Prince James was recognised as James III by the Catholic powers of Europe and made several attempts to regain the English throne.The Old Pretender, King James VIII of Scotland and III of England to his loyal Jacobite supporters, died in Rome on New Year’s day 1766. He was buried in the crypt at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Rings set with his image and those of his Stuart ancestors were worn by his supporters and those of his son Charles, popularly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.

Edmund Waterton used the fortune which was made by his family’s involvement in the British Guiana sugar plantations to put his collection together. His grandfather owned a plantation known as Walton Hall and his father, Charles Waterton, went to Guiana as a young man to help run La Jalousie and Fellowship, plantations which belonged to his uncles. When slavery was abolished in the British territories, Charles Waterton claimed £16283 6s 7d in government compensation and was recorded as having 300 slaves on the Walton Hall estate.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gold set with a table-cut crystal enclosing a portrait on ivory
Brief Description
Gold ring, the octagonal bezel set with a table-cut crystal enclosing a portrait of the Old Pretender on ivory, possibly England, about 1740
Physical Description
Gold ring, the octagonal bezel set with a table-cut crystal enclosing a portrait of the Old Pretender on ivory
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.2cm
  • Width: 2.2cm
  • Depth: 1cm
Object history
ex Waterton Collection

Several rings with images of the Old Pretender are in the British Museum (Dalton, O.M., Catalogue of the Finger Rings, Early Christian, Byzantine, Teutonic, Medieval and Later in the British Museum, London, 1912, cat. 1373 to 1375).
Subjects depicted
Summary
The ‘Old Pretender’ or ‘Old Chevalier’, James Francis Stuart (1688-1766) whose portrait is set in this ring, was the son of King James II of England. James supported the Catholic faith rather than the Protestantism of the Church of England and was therefore exiled in favour of his eldest daughter Mary II and her husband William of Orange by the Revolution of 1688 . Queen Mary of Modena and the young prince James went into exile in France soon after his birth and remained there until the death of King James II in 1701. Although he was attainted for treason and stripped of his titles in 1702, Prince James was recognised as James III by the Catholic powers of Europe and made several attempts to regain the English throne.The Old Pretender, King James VIII of Scotland and III of England to his loyal Jacobite supporters, died in Rome on New Year’s day 1766. He was buried in the crypt at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Rings set with his image and those of his Stuart ancestors were worn by his supporters and those of his son Charles, popularly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.



This ring forms part of a collection of 760 rings and engraved gems from the collection of Edmund Waterton (1830-87). Waterton was one of the foremost ring collectors of the nineteenth century and was the author of several articles on rings, a book on English devotion to the Virgin Mary and an unfinished catalogue of his collection (the manuscript is now the National Art Library). Waterton was noted for his extravagance and financial troubles caused him to place his collection in pawn with the London jeweller Robert Phillips. When he was unable to repay the loan, Phillips offered to sell the collection to the Museum and it was acquired in 1871. A small group of rings which Waterton had held back were acquired in 1899.



Edmund Waterton used the fortune which was made by his family’s involvement in the British Guiana sugar plantations to put his collection together. His grandfather owned a plantation known as Walton Hall and his father, Charles Waterton, went to Guiana as a young man to help run La Jalousie and Fellowship, plantations which belonged to his uncles. When slavery was abolished in the British territories, Charles Waterton claimed £16283 6s 7d in government compensation and was recorded as having 300 slaves on the Walton Hall estate.

Bibliographic References
  • Oman, Charles, Catalogue of rings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1930, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, p. 119, cat. 790
  • Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), 34/E/15
  • Oman, Charles, British Rings:800-1914, London, 1974, p. 122, cat. 83A
  • 'British Guiana 2426 (Walton Hall)', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, http://wwwdepts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/claim/view/7157 [accessed 28th May 2019].
Collection
Accession Number
926-1871

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record createdJuly 14, 2006
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