Mary Shelley left her daughter-in-law a wooden dressing case. Its original fittings of glass bottles and boxes have silver lids with the initials ‘M S’ and London hallmarks of 1837-8. It has remained in the family’s possession, and still contains in its various compartments and pockets a number of relics, including a folding knife-and-fork set (in an original box marked ‘M.W.S.’); a bracelet and a fob chain formed from Mary Shelley’s hair, gathered at her death; a similar bracelet formed from the hair of Lady Shelley’s first husband, Charles Robert St John, gathered when he was six years old; and locks of hair belonging to Shelley and William Shelley, contained in small packets of folded paper inscribed with lines from Petrarch by Mary Shelley. There is also an amethyst mourning ring commemorating Mary Wollstonecraft’s grandfather, Edward, that had passed down to Mary Shelley and Lady Shelley. ‘Her invariable jewels were Mary Wollstonecraft’s amethyst ring and a diamond keeper’, remembered Lady Shelley’s granddaughter, ‘and on her little finger a cameo ring that had belonged to the poet Shelley, which she valued more than all her possessions.’
Mary Shelley; (bequest, 1851) Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1899) her adopted daughter, Mrs Bessie Scarlett; by descent through the family to the current owner.