Something about Mary

I came across the following while researching a line for a client. Although this particular document did not prove relevant to my research, I thought it was worth sharing with my readers.

The document I examined is a typed copy of an original that describes the inter-generational custody, over eight generations, of a family heirloom, handed down through daughters called “Mary.”

   Copy of a paper now in the possession of Mary (Dean)
Lipcamon who resides at Griggsville, Illinois.
"The following Names are those that have been in possess-
ion of a silver Stay hook that is marked with the letter M
and is to be handed down from generation to generation to
the Girls that are called Mary and if the Daughter that is
called Mary has no Daughter then one of her Sisters must
call a girl Mary and then it must be given to her.
       Mary Tilden and she married a Thomas
       Mary Thomas and she married a Langerell
       Mary Langerell and she married a Law
       Mary Law and she married a Doubleday
       Mary Doubleday and she married a Southard
          she had no Daughter and then it
          fell to her niece Mary Dean.
       Mary Dean and she married a Curtis
       Mary Curtis and she married a Jones
          she had no issue, no sisters, and no
          brothers and then it fell to her
          cousin Mary Dean
       Mary Dean and she married a Chitwood
          she had no issue so it fell to her
          niece Mary Dean
       Mary Dean and she married a Lipcamon."
(The Stay Hook mentioned is stuck through the bottom
of one side of the paper.)

See:   Bible records for the Beach, Dean, and Doubleday families, in the R Stanton Avery Special Collections Department, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Mss C 2340.

It sounds like a fun tradition, but perhaps one that worked better when families were larger and a shorter list of common names were used.

But is this story credible?   One thing I wonder is whether silver stay hooks were even around, back in colonial times, for those earliest generations.

Have you seen anything like this before, an heirloom passed down based on who in the family bears a specific given name?

The image of a woman reading  document from a chest was copied from page 84 of an anonymous monograph, “Thro’ the Battle Smoke,” published in London in 1894.

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