Lock of Robert Stephenson's hair
Lock of hair, reputed to be of Robert Stephenson. Accompanied by a piece of paper inscribed, in manuscript, in ink "Hair of the great Rbt Stephenson, 1859, 12 of October, died"
This lock of hair is reputed to be that of Robert Stephenson, railway and civil engineer born on 16 October 1803 at Willington Quay, near Newcastle upon Tyne, the only son of George Stephenson (1781–1848).
Locks of hair were historically given as a token of affection, in particular before times of separation or after bereavements. Typically kept in lockets or jewellery, in the Victorian period the practice of keeping locks of hair became particularly popular. Robert Stephenson died relatively young, in 1859 at the age of 55, and the whole country responded with great sadness. As a decorated and respected citizen it is possible this lock of hair was a token or memorial for Robert, but as locks of hair were often given to loved ones it could have had more personal associations.