Introduction: This article from the British trade newspaper, The Electrician, describes the British testimonial certificate presented to Cyrus Field and his wife, Mary Bryan Stone, on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, 2nd December 1890. The list of signatories includes many prominent names from the British cable industry, including some from the earliest days of the Atlantic Cable enterprise. The document was featured in a Smithsonian Institution blog post in December 2014.
The Electrician, London, December 5, 1890, p. 131
Mr. Cyrus W. Field
Mr. Cyrus Field, who was one of the most prominent originators of the work of connecting England with the United States by telegraph cable, on the 2nd instant celebrated his “golden wedding.” The occasion was gladly availed of by his friends in this country to present him with an illuminated address to commemorate that event, and recall the part he played, in conjunction with Sir John Pender and others, in connection with the bridging of the Atlantic by the electric wire. The result was the signing of the address given below by a number of distinguished persons not necessarily connected with telegraphy, as well as by those who were associated with the laying of the first ocean cable. The contents of the address and the names of the signatories were appropriately telegraphed over one of the Atlantic cables on Tuesday last, the fiftieth anniversary of Mr. Field’s marriage:—
To Cyrus W. Field, Esq., Gramercy Park, New York.
Dear Sir,—We, the undersigned, who have known you for many years, and some of whom have been long and intimately associated with you, desire to express to you and to your amiable and devoted wife our earnest and heartfelt congratulations on your golden wedding day, the 2nd December, 1890. We earnestly wish you both many years of health and happiness, enjoying the fruits of your useful and well-spent lives, and seeing on every side the wide-spreading development of the Submarine Telegraph enterprise in which you, Mr. Field, have laboured so long, so zealously, and so successfully. This great work, pursued by you with unflagging energy and perseverance for many years through the greatest difficulties and hindrances, has now become a first necessity of national and commercial life, and you have the profound satisfaction of knowing that its objects and its results are and ever have been peaceable and beneficent in their character. We ask you to accept this message of our goodwill and good wishes which will be sent to you both over and under the sea.
Very faithfully yours, Argyll, Frederic W. Farrar, Monck, W.E. Gladstone, W.H. Russell, Douglas Galton, Tweeddale, F.A. Bevan, H.D. Gooch, W. Thomson, G. Shaw-Lefevre, J. Russell Reynolds, John Pender, James Anderson, W. Cunard, William Ford, George Elliot, Geo. Henry Richards, W. Shuter, Henry Clifford, Henry C. Forde, W. Andrews, H. Weaver, G. von Chauvin, J.H. Carson, Samuel Canning, Richard C. Mayne, W.S. Cunard, Julius Reuter, H.A.C. Saunders, G.W. Campbell, H.M. Stanley, of Alderley; Margaret Anderson, John H. Puleston, George Cox Bompas, James Stern, H.L. Bischoffsheim, Louis Floersheim, T.H. Wells, J.H. Tritton, W.H. Preece, C.W. Earle, Catherine Gladstone, J.S. Forbes, Caroline Roberta van Wart, G.W. Smalley, Gerald Harper, William Barber, George Grove, Jane Cobden, Thomas B. Potter, Charles Burt, Robert C. Halpin, Edward Satterthwaite, Frank H. Hill, J.C. Parkinson, Richard Collett, W. Leatham Bright. C.W. Stronge, Latimer Clark, R.T. Brown, William Payton, Henry Dever, Lewis Wells, John G. Griffiths, Robert Dudley, Kenneth L.M. Anderson, Julian Goldsmid, John Chatterton, John Temple, Jane E. Lloyd, Frances Baillie, Montague McMurdo, Willoughby Smith, Philip Rawson.”
The following reply was received from Mr. Field:—
All my friends here were much pleased with the address; please thank for me everyone that signed it. I wish that I could thank them in person. Mrs. Field joins me in all kind wishes.
As a further memento of Mr. Field’s connection with the first cable across the Atlantic, a piece of teak from the “Great Eastern” has been handsomely mounted as a walking-stick for presentation to him. On the top a small sketch of the “Great Eastern” has been engraved, and on a band encircling the stick, “Portion of the ‘Great Eastern,’ broken up 1890. Cyrus W. Field, Esq.”
As well as being transmitted over an Atlantic cable, the British testimonial to the Fields was sent to them in the form of an elaborately decorated and signed certificate. There was also an American testimonial signed by their many American friends and family.
Cyrus Field’s wife, Mary Bryan Stone, died in 1891, and Field himself in 1892. In 1897 the documents and the cane were donated to the Smithsonian Institution by Cyrus Field’s daughter, Isabella Field Judson, and in December 2014 Connie Holland of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History wrote a blog post about the documents entitled “Cyrus W. Field renews his wedding vows and an international love for submarine telegraphy.”
The Smithsonian post also gives some additional background to the British testimonial and reproduces the American certificate commemorating the anniversary. The British testimonial may have been the work of the artist Robert Dudley, long associated with the cable industry and one of the signers of the document.
Images of the testimonials and the Great Eastern cane are reproduced here by kind permission of the Smithsonian Institution Archives Center, Cyrus W. Field Papers.
This is to certify that on the second day of December, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and forty, Cyrus W. Field of New York and Mary Bryan Stone of Guilford, were united in Holy Matrimony by the Rev. David Dudley Field, in Guilford, Connecticut. On this the second day of December, in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and ninety, is celebrated their Golden Wedding Day, representing the fifty years of their happy married life.