From the Drayton Hall Collections: Elizabeth Bull Drayton’s Mourning Pendant

by Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist & Curator of Collections

The Drayton Hall collections span centuries and generations of Drayton family members. This month we are highlighting an object that is related to the John Drayton (1715-1779) family through marriage. Pictured below is the front (left) and reverse (right) of a mourning pendant honoring Elizabeth Bull Drayton (c.1716-1751).

morning pendant duo black

Elizabeth was married to John’s older brother Thomas Drayton (c. 1708-1760). Thomas and Elizabeth were married at St. Andrews Parish on December 30th, 1730 and during the course of their 21 years of marriage had ten children, only three of whom appear to have survived to adulthood. One of their children, William Drayton (1733-1790) became a chief justice and corresponded with both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. There is yet another interesting connection between the Drayton and Bull families in that Elizabeth Bull Drayton’s younger sister, Charlotta Bull (1719-1743) became John Drayton’s second wife; a connection most likely made through Thomas and Elizabeth. John and Charlotta were married on November 14, 1741 following the death of his first wife, Sarah Cattell Drayton, who was buried at St. Andrews Parish on December 24, 1740.

This mourning pendant most likely belonged to Thomas and Elizabeth’s daughter Mary Drayton Fenwick (1734-1806), who was 17 at the time of her mother’s death. Mourning jewelry such as pendants and brooches were most often worn by women upon the death of a loved one. The front of this pendant is a black stone, possibly obsidian, painted with gold leaf the inscription: ELIZ:, DRAYTON, OB 6, NOV. 1751, AET:35, meaning Elizabeth Drayton, Died November 6, 1751 at the age of 35. According to the records of St. Andrews Parish, November 6, 1751 was the date of Elizabeth’s burial at the church. The reverse of the pendant contains a beveled piece of leaded glass covering a plait of finely woven blonde hair belonging to Elizabeth Bull Drayton. It is clear from the wear pattern of the loop at the top of the pendant that this object was well worn. Many thanks to Grahame Long, Chief Curator at the Charleston Museum, for his knowledge pertaining to mourning jewelry and assistance regarding this object.

Drayton Hall Museum Collection, NT 85.1, Measures: 7/8”x1/2”. Gift of Mr. Peter Barratt.

3 thoughts on “From the Drayton Hall Collections: Elizabeth Bull Drayton’s Mourning Pendant

  1. I have been told that our Drayton relatives from Barbados are related to the Drayton’s of Drayton Hall but not sure what the connection is.
    We had Mercy Keturah Jane Drayton who married Samuel Lewis Mayers on July 3, 1858 in St. Thomas Parish, Barbados.
    She was the daughter of Robert Drayton and Mercy Drayton.
    She was born Feb 23, 1836 in “Mullineax”, St Thomas Parish, Barbados which was a plantation.
    She received the “Rock Dunda” Plantation In Bridgeton, St Michael Parish,Barbados as her dowry.
    She died Aug 15, 1907 in “Ceres”, St Michael Barbados

    Would anyone associated with Drayton Hall be able to establish a connection for us.

    Thanks for any assistance you can provide.
    Carol Bayersdorfer

  2. Ms. Bayersdorfer, thank you for your interest in Drayton Hall and for your very interesting query. We’ve forwarded it to our Lead Interpreter who will be pleased to look into it and get back to you at her earliest opportunity. All the best from the Drayton Hall Diaries!

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