Woman finds 281-year-old ring traced back to family of Marblehead man

MARBLEHEAD, MASS. (WHDH) - Every family heirloom has a story to tell, but the ring returned to Dan Dixey has more than a few.

“To have a piece of not only Marblehead history that’s 281 years old, but tied to a blood relative, is just…it still hasn’t just completely sunk in,” he said. “It’s just an unbelievable story.”

The story starts with Gayle Giffiths Fraser’s father. John Griffiths found a ring while working in his backyard in Marblehead in 1949.

“There was a Dixey ring my dad told me about,” Gayle said. “But I had no idea where it is, what he did with it, or anything.”

The ring had the inscription “J-D” as well as the number 85 and the date — August 1737.

Local historians told Griffiths it was a mourning ring, memorializing a Marblehead man named John Dixey who died in 1737 at the age of 85.

The Dixey family goes back many generations in the town, and Gayle knew one of them personally — a local historian named Dan Dixey.

“I saw him not too long ago and he asked me, ‘Did you ever find the ring?’ and I said, ‘nope,’ she said.

But a few weeks ago, Gayle was cleaning out a box of her father’s old belongings when she found a newspaper clipping about the ring — and one more thing.

“There was this little box, little plastic box,” she said, “and I looked in it and I opened it up and I said, ‘oh my God, it’s the ring!'”

She emailed Dixey the next day and arranged to give him the ring.

“He is excited that he has the ring,” she said. “I tell ya, I’m more excited that I gave it to him.”

Dixey confirmed that the ring had been made to honor his eighth-great-grand uncle, John.

And with that, a case of lost-and-found more than 280 years old came to an end.

“I have 35 years worth of research and Marblehead memorabilia, photos, negatives that I’d trade for this ring,” Dan said. “So it’s very meaningful.”

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