Mary Appleton, Ackworth School, Yorkshire, England, circa 1826
Mary Appleton, Ackworth School,
Yorkshire, England, circa 1826
The Ackworth School, in Yorkshire, England was founded as a boarding school in 1779 with the purpose of providing an education for Quaker children; both male and female students received a strong academic education. In addition, the girls learned needlework, both plain sewing and finer needlework, and many of the Ackworth School sampler patterns became hallmarks of excellent samplermaking throughout England and the United States. Samplers made by Ackworth students are beautifully stitched and the compositions and aesthetics of their work echo the Quaker sensibility of appealing simplicity.
We are delighted to offer this stellar example made by Mary Appleton who was ten years old in 1824 when she became a student at Ackworth. Mary was the daughter of Jonathan and Sarah (Gray) Appleton, of Stepney-Causeway, a neighborhood in London, and was born on the 19th day of the 9th month of 1814, as recorded in the minutes of the London and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting minutes. The family’s monthly meeting was Ratcliffe and Barking. Archives from the Ackworth School, fine handwritten records, indicate that young Mary was admitted to the school on the 14th day of the 5th month in 1824 and remained there until 16th day of the 4th month of 1828; her older brother Robert had attended Ackworth before her. The Appleton family also resided for a time in Tottenham, north of London, where Jonathan was a farmer and gardener.
This excellent sampler, steeped in the Ackworth tradition, features an extract verse that begins with the word, “Blessing.” The oval format was used by Ackworth girls and similar samplers were made from the 1790s through the 1830s. Carol Humphey’s fine book, Quaker School Girl Samplers from Ackworth (Needleprint, 2008), documents some of these. Mary’s sampler was most likely not the first one she made there, as indicated by the letter-perfect precision of her stitching.
The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is on excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a fine maple and mahogany frame that was made for it based on the frame of another Ackworth oval extract sampler, shown on page 113 of the Humphrey book.