Set of jewelry

Collection Type

  • Jewelry


ca. 1796




Jewelry set consisting of a pair of bracelets, earrings and brooch all featuring miniatures paintings on ivory set in gold and surrounded by a row of diamonds. One bracelet clasp miniature depicts Joseph Barrell and his wife Sarah and daughter Hannah standing under the word "Enjoyment," the other depicts Joseph Barrell standing next to an urn under the words "I seek the end." One earring depicts Charles, Henry and George Barrell under the word "Expectation," and on the other depicts Samuel, John and Sarah Barrell under the word "Innocence." The brooch depicts a dying woman and man trying to fend off Death surrounded by the words "We must submit / it's hard to part."


Descriptive Terms

diamond (mineral)
freshwater pearl
gold (metal)
ivory (tooth component)
silver (metal)
commemorative jewelry
Set, Jewelry


For his daughter Hannah's wedding in 1797, Boston merchant Joseph Barrell commissioned a set of special adornments to celebrate family both living and dead. Hannah's mother, for whom she was named, was Joseph's second wife. She died when her daughter was three years old. While the imagery might be an unusual choice for bridal jewelry today, death was an intimate part of life in early New England.
Barrell must have instructed London jeweler Stephen Twycross to take a ring commissioned when Hannah's mother died and refashion it into a brooch. The elder Hannah's 1777 death date and her initials are inscribed on the back.
"Cherished Possessions": London jeweler Stephen Twycross made this set of jewelry for Bostonian Joseph Barrell to give to his daughter Hannah, perhaps on the occasion of her marriage in 1797. Barrell was one of Boston's wealthiest residents, described by contemporaries as “a man of uncommon taste.” The brooch is a memorial to Hannah's mother, who died twenty years earlier. The earrings show her six stepbrothers. One of the bracelet clasps shows Hannah with her father and stepmother. The other shows Barrell leaning on a funerary urn with the words “I seek the end.” Although he was to live another eight years, Barrell was apparently already thinking about his mortality.


Brooch Front: "WE MUST SUBMIT" Brooch Reverse: engraved "Barrell / ob 20 Feb. / 1777 / At 24"; painted on reverse of ivory "HB" Bracelet Clasp: "ENJOYMENT" Bracelet Clasp: "I SEEK THE END" Earring: "INNOCENCE" Earring; "EXPECTATION" (Painted and engraved)

Additional Identification Number



Twycross, Stephen, ca. 1754-ca. 1822 (Goldsmith)

Location of Origin

London, England


3/4 x 1/2 x 1/2 (HxWxD) (inches)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Francis Gray

Accession Number


Exhibition Notes

"Hidden Treasures from Elegant Eras," Historic Jewelry from the Collections of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities presented by Shreve, Crump & Low, September 15 - November 30, 1995. "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, July 2003 to October 2005. "Jewelry at Historic New England," Online exhibit presented by Historic New England launched September 30, 2007 at

Reference Notes

Pictured in Brierley, Sarah, "With this Ring I Thee Wed," Historic New England, Fall (2007): 16. The best sources of information about this set are by Carlisle, Nancy, "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," (2003); and by Fales, Martha Gandy, "Federal Bostonians and their London Jeweler, Stephen Twycross," Antiques, 131, no. 3 (March 1987): 642-649; "Stephen Twycross, London Jeweller, and His American Patrons," Jewellery Studies, no. 6 (1993): 37-41; and "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900," (1995): 86-92. On Joseph Barrell, see Fales, Dean A., "Joseph Barrell's Pleasant Hill," Transactions of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (1956-1963) 43 (1966): 373-390. For an overview of miniature paintings in New England, see Shusan, Elle, "Tokens of Sorrow: New England Portrait Miniatures and Mourning Jewelry," in The Art of Family: Genealogical Artifacts in New England, ed. D. Brenton Simons and Peter Benes (2002): 127-143; and Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900," (1995): 83-97.


London (Greater London, England, United Kingdom)

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