Civil War Period Mourning Brooch Worn By Mrs. John A. Meredith with CDV
Civil War Period Mourning Brooch Worn By Mrs. John A. Meredith with CDV – This beautiful, large mourning brooch was obtained by Perry Adams Antiques directly from the lineal descendants of the Cocke and Meredith families. Both the Cockes, owners of “Derwent”, the Powhatan County, Virginia home where Robert E. Lee stayed during the summer of 1865, to recuperate after the Civil War ended, and the Merediths (the family of Judge John A. Meredith, prominent Richmond attorney and one of three Richmond leaders who handed the city over to Union General Weitzel in early April of 1865), had townhouses, on Franklin Street, in Richmond, just a couple of blocks west of the state capitol. The Merediths lived at 310 Franklin Street, and were friends of Gen. R.E. Lee and family, who also maintained a war-time townhouse in the same block of Franklin St. The son of Judge Meredith, William Bernard Meredith, a Lieutenant in the Virginia Ashland Light Artillery, was hospitalized on 7/15/1862, in Richmond, VA, with phthisis pulmonaris; he was furloughed on 8/15/1862 and died of typhoid fever, at home, on 8/22/1862, in Richmond. Given the close proximity of the Robertson Hospital to the Meredith home on Franklin Street, it is highly conceivable that Lt. Meredith was initially hospitalized there, then moved to his parents’ home, where he would die shortly thereafter.
Judge John Alexander Meredith (1814-1882) was a lawyer and delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1850-51, commonwealth’s attorney from Hanover County, and judge of the Circuit Court of Richmond from 1852-1869. He along with Richmond mayor Joseph Mayo and Judge William Henry Lyons surrendered the city to Union forces on April 3, 1865. Judge Meredith was also counsel for mayor-elect Henry K. Ellyson in the Richmond Mayoralty Case of 1870 and witnessed the “Capitol Disaster,” the collapse of the galleries in the capitol.
Mrs. Meredith, as depicted in a C.R. Rees CDV, probably taken just after the war, is wearing this exact brooch. We do not know for whom she mourns, as her son, Lt. Meredith died in 1862, and one of her daughters, Mary Ella Meredith, died in Richmond, in 1864; in consideration that the Victorian mourning rituals and process dictated a lengthy grieving period, it cannot be determined precisely for whom the brooch was dedicated. The brooch is Victorian rose gold, with an oval of black onyx encircling the artfully coiled, blond hair beneath the glass dome in the center of the pin. A chased gold rim encircles the interior, black onyx oval, surrounded by a second, narrower oval of black onyx, which, in turn, is encircled by an outer beaded rim of gold. The attachment device is a typical T-pin, often found on Civil War era jewelry. All elements of the grouping of many other important items in the Cocke-Meredith collection, obtained by Perry Adams Antiques, have their provenance labeled, as this pin does, on period paper and in period ink. This brooch is an important piece of Southern mourning jewelry. The brooch measures as follows: Length – 1.75″; width - 1.5″