Shelley was named after his paternal grandfather, Percy Bysshe, who soon dropped the Percy and referred to himself as Bysshe. Shelley, likewise, was always known in the family as Bysshe, and his baby-rattle was therefore engraved ‘B*S’. The coral is designed to help with teething, and attached to the elaborately chased gold are eight bells and a whistle.
Shelley may have been the wayward son, but his rattle was carefully preserved by the family. It passed first to his younger brother John, and then to John’s son and daughter-in-law on the birth of their eldest child. They were told ‘to treasure it as having belonged to the Poet Shelley’.
John Shelley; (bequest, 1866) his widow, Elizabeth Shelley; (gift, 1870) Charles (later Sir Charles) Shelley and Lady Mary Shelley; (bequest, 1902) Lady Mary Shelley; (gift, 1914) Bodleian.