Chosen by Kirsty, a Museum volunteer
About the object
This tiny ring incorporates many symbols of love: the heart-shaped stone is flanked by a golden key on one side and padlock on the other. On the inner band, the inscription ‘qui me neglige me perd’ warns ‘he who neglects me loses me’. Records show the ring was left with a note that included the 23rd Psalm, and was enclosed in a ribbon rose (now lost). The note describes the stones of the ring as ruby and diamond. Research has identified it as the token for Child number 1,036, Harriet Littleton, renamed Harriott Woodhall. Harriott survived into adulthood and may have ended up working at the Hospital.
On admission a ‘billet’ or form was completed, recording the sex, clothing and appearance of the baby, and their Hospital number. These were folded into an envelope, and sealed with the token inside. In the nineteenth century, the billets were opened and bound into books, and some of the object tokens were removed and put on display. These tokens can now only rarely be matched to an individual child’s record. In this case the mother’s note served to make the connection.
Left at the Foundling Hospital with a child at admission, 1752. Purchased for the Foundling Museum by William and Helena Korner, 2005.
Token: Child’s ring, mid-eighteenth century
Creative responses & inspirations
Here is an image of the billet book, in the Foundling Hospital Archive, that inspired Kirsty's object choice.
Billet Book, mid-eighteenth century, © Coram