Rare rings pawned by aristocrat’s son returned after 144 years
It is 144 years since aristocrat’s son Edmund Waterton pawned his collection of expensive rings to pay off his debts.
But almost a century-and-a-half later, part of the collection has been returned to the city and is on display at Wakefield Museum.
The exhibition at the museum on Burton Street will run until June, showcasing 40 of the rings, under a deal between Wakefield Council and the London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Edmund was the son of Charles Waterton, the pioneering naturalist who opened the world’s first nature reserve at Walton Hall.
It is said that Edmund did not share his father’s love of nature, and held shooting parties in the grounds to raise cash during his brief stewardship of the hall.
His financial mismanagement led to a petition for bankruptcy in 1870.
A passage in the London Gazette that year said he must present himself at the London Bankruptcy Court “for examination and to produce thereat a statement of his affairs, as required by statute.”
Edmund, who had moved to Ostend in Belgium, was adjudged bankrupt in September 1871 and pawned the rings .
Court records show his bankruptcy was annulled in 1879 after Edmund, who was still in Belgium, made an earlier application to pay “two shillings in the pound in discharge of debts owing to his creditors”.
But that was not before Walton Hall, where 14 generations of Watertons had lived, had been sold in 1877.