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The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century samplers made at the best-known Quaker schools such as Ackworth and Sidcot in England or Westtown in America are easily identifiable and, thanks to the exceptional records kept by such institutions, make a valuable contribution to genealogical research. Only relatively recently have seventeenth-century samplers been attributed to Quaker families living in the City of London. With their distinctive pattern and lettering bands, bright polychrome and white work embroidery, it has been possible to identify seven examples in the museum’s collection with similar characteristics to the Jennings’ samplers at Montacute House, Somerset and Hannah Cullcup’s in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All, apart from one very damaged example, are inscribed and dated. Research has established that the girls were Quakers, mostly from prosperous City families. The records of the Society of Friends, the City Livery Companies and various other archival sources, give further information about the families, their occupations, their marriages and the emigration of those who sailed for a new life in America. These samplers are the ‘stitched documents’ that have opened the doors into the lives of seventeenth-century Quaker families in the restricted area that was, and is, the City of London. Much more remains to be discovered.

 

Map sampler, 1790. Inscribed ‘Ann Seaton’. Wool, embroidered with polychrome wool threads in cross, double back and satin stitch. 47.75 x 52 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.166-1928)
 

  

Band sampler, 1667. Inscribed ‘Mary Willmer’. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, double running, satin and eyelet stitch; linen threads worked in counted satin stitch, with drawn work, needle weaving, cut work and needle lace. 21.6 x 77.5 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.35-1928)

 

 

Medallion sampler, 1787. Initialled ‘D J’; attributed to Ann Jones. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross stitch. 32 x 20.5 cm.
Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum (T.1-2014)
 
 

Band sampler, 1686. Inscribed ‘Elizabeth Creasey’. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks and a small amount of silver metal thread, in cross, Montenegrin cross, double running, satin, chain, crosslet, eyelet and trellis stitch with metal thread bosses; linen threads worked in hem, counted satin, double running, eyelet, buttonhole, dot and stem stitch, cut and drawn work with needle weaving and needle lace. 20 x 81 cm.
Dr J.W. L. Glaisher Bequest (T.75-1928)