A bedsheet belonging to a victim of the Tower of London was taken to be embroidered with his own strands of hair

Anita Durairaj

James Radclyffe, the 3rd Earl of Derwentwater (1689 -1716) was executed for treason in the Tower of London. He was 26 years old at the time of his execution.

Radclyffe had been involved in the first Jacobite Rebellion and he was on the side of the English Jacobites.

The first Jacobite Rebellion was also called the 1715 uprising. The uprising occurred because King James I, the Catholic king had been deposed. In his place, a Protestant king, William of Orange, successfully invaded England and was allowed to rule with his wife, Queen Mary.

The supporters of James I tried to reclaim his throne in what has effectively known as the first Jacobite uprising. James I and his supporters ended up losing in their attempt to regain the throne.

Radclyffe was suspected by the government of joining the conspiracy against the king. He did join forces with the Jacobites. There was a warrant for his arrest and Radclyffe was arrested once the Jacobite army was defeated by the forces of King George I.

Radclyffe was executed in 1716 on Tower Hill, an execution site of the Tower of London.

His young wife, Anna Maria Radclyffe took possession of his body after the execution. Historians believe she cut locks of his hair

Filled with grief and devotion, she also took the bedsheet from her husband's bed which he had used while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

She used the locks of her husband's hair to embroider the bedsheet with intricate designs - flowers, leaves, and a heart wreath. She signed it with her name and with an inscription,

Historians believe she might have also used her own hair along with her husband's hair to embroider the bedsheet. The embroidery would have taken years to complete.

Recently, the bedsheet with the embroidered human hair went on display at the Museum of London Docklands.

Although it is now 300 years old, it remains a testament to the love, devotion, and suffering of a young widow mourning her deceased husband.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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