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pendant earrings

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Elizabeth Macquarie: Earrings

Date: c1820-1840.

Description: gold pendant earrings, inset with citrine stones.

Size: 5.7 cm long (approx. length).

The gold for the earrings was allegedly given by Elizabeth Macquarie (1778-1835) to her niece Mary Gregorson née Maclaine (1798-1880) of Lochbuy. It is unknown at what date the gift was made, or when or where the earrings were actually made. The earliest date would be c.1820, to coincide with Mary's marriage to John Gregorson (1775-1846) of Ardtornish in September 1820. Alternatively it may have been after Elizabeth's return from Australia to Scotland in 1823/1824.

Mary and her husband John, who became Sheriff-Substitute of the Mull district, produced at least seven (7) children, though not all of these reached adulthood: Jean Elizabeth (1822-1828); Elizabeth (1824-1918); Margaret (1826-1908); Angus (1835-1872); Jane ['Jeanny'] (c1830-1868); and stillborn twins.

After the death of Mary in 1880 the earrings passed to her daughter Margaret, wife of Hume Greenfield (d.1864), then to her eldest daughter, Mary Greenfield (18**-c1938?).

In a letter to the Oban Times on 2 December 1917 Mary Hume Greenfield (nee Gregorson) stated that:

"I have in my possession several relics of Mrs. MacQuarrie, among them a pair of long gold ear-rings; set with transparent green stones. The tradition is that they are made of Australian gold, and were presented to her in Sydney. This must have been many years before the great rush to the gold fields; but doubtless gold may have been found in small quantities in very early days..."

The earrings finally passed to Edward Manley Hopkins (1892-1982), son of Caroline Greenfield (1862-1921), wife of Lieut. Colonel Manley Ogden Hopkins (1853-1918), Royal Artillery. He had emigrated to the USA, and eventually he presented them to the National Library of Australia in 1968. His sister, Elizabeth Margaret (1894-1991), emigrated to Canada from England in 1954 and, late in her life, became a noted local artist and childrens' book author in British Columbia, Canada. She died in April 1991, aged 97.

Edward Hopkins was a resident of Park View Avenue, Bronxville, New York. Sir Reginald Sholl, Australian Consul-General received the earrings in New York. At the same time Hopkins also presented four (4) letters in Elizabeth Macquarie's handwriting. [see: NLA Manuscript Collection MS2262/1-4: 7 April 1817, 28 January 1819, (with Addenda on 18 March 1819) and November 1828].

The oral tradition within the Gregorson/Greenfield/Hopkins families has consistently maintained that the earrings were made from the first gold discovered in New South Wales. A note that accompanied the earrings to the National Library of Australia stated:

"Earrings made of the first gold mined in New South Wales, Mrs Macquarie sent the gold home to her niece Mrs. Gregorson of Ardtornish, who had the earrings made."

Acquisition (1968)

Clarke, Patricia. "Mrs Macquarie's Earrings." National Library of Australia News Vol. X Number 10 July 2000 pp.3-6.
Currie, J. Mull: the island and its people. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2001.
[see: Table 6. Gregorsons of Ardtornish p.425].

Personal Communications:
James Greenfield, Hereford, UK (2009); Martin Hopkins, USA (2009); Pauline Conolly, Blackheath, NSW (2007-2009); and Gary Tipping, Beecroft, NSW (1998-2009).

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