The Wishbone Ring – Elisabeth Freeman

A facet line of Elisabeth’s–and each freelance activist wants a second gig–was promoting antiques. When she was on the street, she carried some watches to promote. One specialty was severely previous pocket watches (the scale of a baseball), and in addition creating rings out of the ornate watch cocks from fancy watches. Elisabeth had a retailer* on Business St. in Provincetown for a lot of summers within the 30’s and he or she clearly had a expertise for displaying her wares to keen vacationers and when pressed, making a provenance for an merchandise.

One merchandise that positively had an interesting provenance and was one thing of a legacy in my household was the “Wishbone Ring” My mom wore the unique gold ring given to her by EF, her favourite aunt, till it was paper skinny and broke. My aunt Elizabeth, named for her aunt, had a silver model that she was given. My cousin, Jane Vandebogart, designed her wedding ceremony ring primarily based on the design. And I’ve worn one of many silver iterations for many years.

The story that Elisabeth advised goes like this: She and a younger lady named Sophia offered suffrage papers in Trafalgar Sq.  for a very long time and have become shut. The lady was of royal blood in India the place she was born of an aristocratic British mom and father who was a Prince. When Elisabeth determined to depart for America, her good friend needed to provide her a memento and Elisabeth requested for a duplicate of an uncommon ring that Sophia wore on her index finger. It was an indication of eligibility for marriage, and apparently the fabric that it was constituted of indicated your caste, gold being the very best and wire would possibly signify the bottom caste. (Castes, which have been speculated to be job associated, have been abolished after India turned unbiased although prejudice endured.) Elisabeth had the rings copied in gold and silver, and subsequently gave them to her nieces.

In a letter to her niece Elizabeth Freeman or “Betty II” as she referred to her, EF set out the story of the Wishbone Ring (see unique):

This ring is worn by the ladies of India till they marry. It’s worn on the thumb or first finger of the left hand. The caste or class of the wearer may be graded by the fabric the ring is product of. The higher caste or Brahmin have chaced gold with their birthstone set within the decrease level. Then comes silver, in the identical order, brass, copper, glass, and the very low courses twist a little bit of wire in form. My ring was given to me by the Princess Sophie Dulop-Singh (sic). Her mom was the primary English lady to marry a Hindu. The household of youngsters all favored the daddy.** Sophie and I used to promote “Votes for Girls” one afternoon every week in Trafalgar Sq.. This was the journal of the Militant Suffrage Motion in England. Sophie and I turned good associates and he or she needed to provide me a memento after I left London in 1911 and I requested for a duplicate of her ring. Thus the Freeman emblem. –Betty

Effectively, this story surfaced once more. A number of years in the past I corresponded with Anita Anand, a British TV journalist who was researching a relative Sophia Duleep Singh, who was certainly a Sikh princess, raised in courtroom in England. She was a goddaughter of Queen Victoria and her father, a Majarajah whose kingdom was plundered by British colonials, created a Moghul property in England with roaming tigers and birds native to his homeland. Sophia turned a revolutionary, championing independence for India and particularly, for girls’s suffrage. Anand chronicled the story in a ebook, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary. Elisabeth seems on p. 254, not about rings or promoting newspapers, however in a testimonial a few violent encounter with the police throughout one of many many deputations of ladies making an attempt to take their case to the federal government.  On at the present time, the suffragettes braved the assaults for six hours. Sophia screamed at a policeman to make him cease assaulting a fellow protester and made a grievance in opposition to him. Elisabeth tried to intervene between a policeman and Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson, who was getting overwhelmed. She testified, “(He) addressed his consideration to me, giving my arm and hand a sudden twist and turning his personal arm down, in order that I discovered myself on my knees and was kicked within the stomach, and in addition within the again…” Comrades in Arms, certainly!

The ring!

The rationale this story comes again to me, is that, sadly, I misplaced the ring just lately, the one piece of jewellery I wore and a hyperlink to our household historical past. So, invoking St. Anthony and all that, I hope to see it once more, however not less than this historical past is mine to maintain.

*Her antiques retailer was referred to as Ye Olde Pilgrim Shoppe and is now Kitchen Necessities in Provincetown.

**Be aware the ingrained racism of colonial British. To our eye, Sophia seems to be the image of an English Rose however at the moment they have been conscious of each nuance of pores and skin tone, to not point out class.

Anita Anand, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary,  Bloomsbury Paperback 2015



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