Mary Roe, Branchville, Sussex County, New Jersey, 1834


Mary Roe, Branchville,

Sussex County, New Jersey, 1834

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sampler size: 17¾” x 17¼” • framed size: 21” x 21½” • price: $14,000

Mary Roe’s sampler is outstanding from a technical standpoint and is a visual delight. The entire center section – the basket of flowers and the scalloped green base that it sits on – were beautifully worked in the queen’s-stitch. This stitch was used far more in the 18th century than the 19th and requires great skill, time and an abundance of silk floss to accomplish. Other small diamond elements and strawberries were also worked in the queen’s-stitch. The overall composition and execution are further indications of Mary’s talent as the fine borders, the extract verse and various floating embellishments share space on the sampler in a very appealing way. The inscription indicates that the sampler was made by Mary Roe of Branchville in 1834. Branchville is a town in Sussex County, northernmost New Jersey and there must have been a teacher of extraordinary talent working there.

Mary was born on September 24, 1821, the first of eleven children of Dr. Jonas and Matilda (Hopkins) Roe. The Roe family in America began with David Roe who was born in 1642 in England and emigrated to America circa 1664; the family is well documented in various publications. David Roe was an early settler and prominent citizen of Flushing, Long Island, New York and the great-great-grandfather of our samplermaker, Mary.

Mary married George Fencil (1807-1881), son of a merchant, flour miller and the postmaster of York Haven, Pennsylvania. They became the parents of ten children. Mary died on December 8, 1894 and they are buried in the Baldwin Cemetery in Dauphin County.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a beveled cherry frame. 

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