Item 105043 - Signet ring, Richmond Island, ca. 1580

Item 105043 - Signet ring, Richmond Island, ca. 1580
Contributed by Maine Historical Society
Item 105043
Signet ring, Richmond Island, ca. 1580
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*Credit line must read: Collections of Maine Historical Society
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This signet ring was found on Richmond Island as part of a trove of gold and silver. Walter Bagnall was the first European settler on Richmond Island, near Cape Elizabeth, in 1628. He became wealthy by cheating the Wabanaki, specifically the female leader Warrabitta’s family, at his trading post.

According to Massachusetts Governor Winthrop, "Bagnall...was a wicked fellow, and had much wronged the Indians." The ring is marked "GV" in reverse on front, and the inscription inside reads "United/Death only/partes." The ring was used as a seal and likely was acquired by Bagnall in a trade.

Bagnall had violated his social responsibilities, and as a result, Warrabitta’s brother, Skitterygusset, killed Bagnall in 1631 and burned down the trading post. This act was a redistribution of power and asserted Wabanaki jurisdiction of the area. It is thought that Bagnall hoarded and buried money just before his murder. A trove of coins and a signet ring were discovered on the site in 1855. The number of coins and their international span demonstrates the far reaches of the fur trade in Maine.

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