Gold, glass, hair, seed pearls
Overall: 7/16 x 15/16 x 5/8 in. (1.1 x 2.4 x 1.6 cm)
Gold brooch with hair encased in glass and decorated with seed pearls.
Gift of Ann K. Saxton
Engraved, "B. McEvers/Died July 15/1851./Aged 53 years"
This brooch was initially owned by Jane Erin Emmet McEvers (1802-90), the daughter of Irish patriot and immigrant Thomas Addis Emmet (1764-1827), who was living in the United States by 1804. Jane E. Emmet probably immigrated to the United States with her father in 1804, and in 1825 married Bache McEvers (1798-1851), a New York City merchant and president of the New York Insurance Co. Although there is no surviving family documentation related to the purchase or receipt of the brooch, the engraved inscription suggests that it was acquired and worn by Jane McEvers following the death of her husband in Paris in 1851. In keeping with nineteenth-century mourning ritual, it is probable that the encased hair belonged to Bache McEvers. Jane McEvers' father, Thomas Addis Emmet became a prominent New Yorker soon after his arrival in the United States. According to an 1827 obituary, Emmet was originally trained as a physician but became a lawyer in Ireland prior to involvement in a 1798 Irish uprising. Upon arrival in New York, Emmet became an influential lawyer within the state, served as a state Attorney General in 1812, and was associated with figures such as DeWitt Clinton and Cadwalader Colden.
This brooch was donated to the Historical Society by a great-granddaughter of Jane Erin and Bache McEvers, and descended, with the exception of the last generation, nearly directly from its original owner. From Jane E. McEvers, it initially passed to her daughter, Jeanette Emmet McEvers Whitlock (1826-84), through to her daughter, Jeanette Emmet Whitlock Renshaw (1891-1985), to Jeanette Whitlock Renshaw (1920-2006), a second cousin of the donor. It is uncertain if the donor was given the piece prior to the latter Renshaw's death, but reseach indicates that she left no direct heirs.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.