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.