From medieval times until the early twentieth century, it was customary to remember a deceased friend or relative by wearing a ring as a token. Wills from the sixteenth century onwards would often leave money to buy rings for mourners or to be distributed at the funeral. Mass production of mourning rings began in the early nineteenth century. Rings with standard inscriptions such as 'In memory', were often kept in stock by jewellers and personalised through the addition of inscriptions on the inside of the hoop. The custom of giving and wearing mourning rings gradually declined in the early twentieth century.
This ring was made to commemorate James Selby Pennington, who died in 1831. Rings such as this could be bought from jewellery retailers and the inscription added to personalise them. The York hallmarks show that it was actually made in 1824-5 for the jewellery firm of Barber, Cattle & North. It must have been in a jeweller's stock for six years before James Pennington's death.
Robert Cattle was originally in partnership with George Cattle, John Hampston and John Prince. He took James Barber into partnership in 1808 and the partnership was dissolved in 1814.