Our Emma Scrapbook

Lady Hamilton’s Seal

This amazing – and very fragile – relic is in the possession of EHS member Steve Bray, who says of it:


    “I am  fortunate enough to have had Lady Hamiltons Seal since I was 12!  I am attaching a copy of the seal and the box.  I have still not found out who got hold of it but I am now pretty sure it was the Dathan family or the Bawden family. 

     “It was given to my Grandad by Miss Daisie May Bawden who lived at 14 Rossitter Road Lancing next door to them.  She was the last in her line and had to go in a Nursing Home.

     “Recently I tried to piece together a couple of family trees. The most interesting character was the Dathan who had to fight the French face to face with cutlasses and swing across on ropes to board the French frigates around 1780 ish!”

Steve continues:


    “The seal is in an old pill box used for dispensing tablets (above right).  I had to magnify the image. The seal is about an inch wide.  It says "Lord Nelson" God Bless Him Amen Amen Amen” and at the top you can see the Sun and rays shining down. The original letter had no envelope so it was folded and sealed.  There were not many letters written to Nelson that survived as he destroyed them all as far as we know.  She did write to Davison and other people when she was renovating Merton.  


    “The seal dates from around 1805 and the original Signet ring or stamp that made that impression has never surfaced! It was obviously acquired through the family lines of Bawden and Dathan who from father to son all entered the Royal Navy at 14.  We think Nelson saw a copy of this seal as he mentions something in a letter dated 27 May 1804 (right).

Summary of a New Graphological Analysis of Emma Hamilton’s Handwriting

Martin Hastings of the British Academy of Graphology (and EHS member) has carried out detailed analyses of both Emma and Nelson’s handwriting from different periods in their lives.


Martin says:

“Emma Hamilton to me seems a highly complex personality.   What struck me first of all was the blur of movement that seems to overwhelm the page.  To use a car-driving analogy, she is driving without brakes, rushing headlong forward.  It is a highly ‘masculine’ writing, not the subservient type that (I imagine) society expected of her!

“Another striking feature is that Emma’s script does not conform to the school model of writing that was taught at the time.  Emma makes scant attempt to present an image of order, grace and refinement.  This is highly surprising considering the rigid social conventions of the time, and considering the importance people placed at the time on the quality of one’s handwriting.


“So, in my view, it is a highly modern writing for the above reasons.  The ‘kamikaze’ movement of the writing to me speaks of a need to express the emotions, instincts and feelings that she struggles to contain.  She is a passionate, impulsive and lively personality.  Life would never be dull with her around!


“One can see the great skill she uses in connecting letters and simplifying the shape of letters.  She seemed to have a very agile and sharp mind, and a desire to throw herself into projects.   However, the structure of the writing is fragile, and there is not enough solidity in the Form.  The writing seems to be running away from itself.


“From my analysis, I believe Emma had huge insecurities that undermined her self-esteem.  As a result, I believe that she wanted to be highly involved with the outside world, as a way of escaping her own fragile sense of worth.  'Acting', performance, excitement and public admiration were a way of avoiding depression that I think she may have been at risk from, along with many actors & performers.


“I hope to expand upon these themes and explain her personality in more detail at a presentation at some point in the future.  I hope this has whetted your appetite!”


You can also see a summary of Martin’s analysis of Nelson’s handwriting here.


The graphology assessment process 

It is important for me to explain how I arrived at these findings.  After all, cynics might say the personality can be guessed at by anyone doing some historical research.  In order to avoid this, I will explain the graphology process.


Initially, the graphologist needs to identify what is going on in the writing with regards to Form, Space, Movement and Stroke, as well as Tension, Structure, Openness and Axis.


For example, how does a writing move across the page (e.g. with ease, with impatience, with discipline)?  Graphology terms for 'type of Movement' include 'Obstructed', 'Propulsive' and 'Static', all of which are clearly defined and have specific meanings.


There are more than 150 technical graphology terms that are used in describing a handwriting e.g. 'Large', 'Prolonged Up and Down' or 'Flowing', and these must be sifted through, and carefully chosen in order to describe the handwriting properly.


Each of these graphology terms has a meaning that is described in classic graphology textbooks, used by the British Academy of Graphology (such as 'The International Manual of Graphology' by Herbert, Keefe, Riley & Stirling).  


The graphologist needs to collate the meanings for these graphology terms and synthesise them into a personality profile, which explains how the personality functions in terms of Thinking, Activity, Emotions and Adaptability.


It is a complicated process, and a handwriting analysis normally takes a minimum of 3 hours from start to finish.



Respectable graphologists have qualifications.  I have a Diploma from the British Academy of Graphology that took 3 years of part-time study, and also an Advanced Diploma that took 1 year of part-time study.


It is a shame that not all so-called graphologists have qualifications.  Some advertise their 'expertise' after reading one graphology book, and this has the unfortunate result of demeaning and trivialising graphology.


The standing of Graphology 

As to the accuracy of graphology, supporters say it is 80% accurate, and graphology is used extensively in France.  Personality questionnaires or tests, graphology included, cannot be scientifically validated or proven, because personality cannot be objectively measured.


My clients say that I am 90% accurate in my assessments, which is gratifying.  However, I know that I can never be 100% accurate.  After all, none of us knows our own personality that well!  I am also aware that Graphology cannot hope to see everything in a personality, and that other factors can have an influence on someone’s handwriting on any given day e.g. a cold, changes in mood.  That is why a graphologist must look at numerous handwriting samples from the same writer.


For these reasons, I believe that Graphology is a tool that should be used in a supportive capacity, for example in conjunction with other research.  It is particularly useful to gain an insight into someone’s personality for purposes of job recruitment, team dynamics, family relationships and of course historical research.


You can find out more about Graphology at

If you have any questions, feel free to email Martin at


Martin Hastings

Locket Thought To Contain Emma and Nelson’s Hair

This locket commemorating the Battle of  the Nile (c. 1798 - 1800) is thought to contain locks of  both Emma and Nelson’s hair.  It was donated to Norwich Museums in 1962.  Norwich Museum says of it:


Gold with carved shell background and gold decorations possibly depicting Britannia.  Blue enamel oval with the date of the battle and an anchor with seed pearls , two locks of hair arranged in a scrolled design.


This beautifully made locket has mysterious origins.  It was donated to Norwich Museums in 1962, and the only note accompanying it stated ‘probably made in Naples’.  The craftsmanship is exquisite, especially the tiny rope, the palms symbolising military victory, the hand holding a trident and an anchor studded with minute seed pearls.  It is the inclusion of the locks of hair, an intimate and personal touch, that poses the question of whether this could be the hair of Nelson and Emma.  Although the hair has faded due to light exposure, under UV photography the two locks of hair are clearly from two different people.  Nelson and Emma Hamilton’s relationship began in Naples  and very recently another locket of the same size and almost certainly from the same maker, featuring the same decorative motifs such as the rope and anchor, was sold at auction as a possible love token, given from one lover to another.