skip to content

Sampler with framing border, 1762. Inscribed ‘Mary Davis’. Wool, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, tent and eyelet stitch. 30 x 38.8 cm.
Given by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum (T.1-2011)


Almost identical use of patterns, motifs and coloured silks, the mention of a dame and the inscribed importance of learning found on several seventeenth-century samplers imply the existence of groups of girls being educated together. The sixteen samplers associated with Judeth Hayle and her daughter Rebecca Thomson, of which the museum has five, are the earliest known examples where the pupils and teachers can be firmly identified. All were living and learning in Ipswich and its surrounding villages, with Judeth and Rebecca probably running a school patronised by the daughters of the comfortably prosperous ‘middling sort’. Although not identical the samplers have many elements in common and several are inscribed with the ‘Learning’ verse which was to remain popular for many subsequent decades.

No teacher is identified on three later samplers but the visual link, particularly of the pictorial bands, is obvious, implying that a person, or a school, established a distinctive sampler format. The samplers are worked with a similar palette of colours, using an unusual type of shading, with many similar motifs and the same careful style of lettering found on all three.


Band sampler, 1693. Inscribed ‘Sarah Bantoft’. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, hem, double running, Algerian eye, satin, chain, whipped stem and trellis stitch. 17 x 53 cm.
Purchased with the University Purchase Fund (T.1-1995)



Band sampler, 1700. Inscribed ‘Prisca Philips’. Linen, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, eyelet, double running, rococo, satin and stem stitch. 14.25 x 36.25 cm.
Lady St John Hope Bequest (T.7-1952)


Sampler with framing border, 1766–67. Inscribed ‘Ann Smith’. Wool, embroidered with polychrome silks in cross, Montenegrin cross, tent, eyelet and stem stitch. 31.5 x 43.25 cm.
Mrs H.A. Longman Bequest (T.37-1938)