Elizabeth Langley,

Elizabeth Langley,

Berkshire, England, 1767

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sampler size: 12¼" x 9¾" • framed size: 15" x 12¼" • sold

We are fans of early samplers that are packed with outstanding needlework and also come with fascinating family histories; Elizabeth Langley’s sampler is our current favorite. The backboard of Elizabeth’s sampler (see photo below) provides wonderful family notations that have been confirmed by research. Of additional interest is that the sampler was in a highly regarded collection and published accordingly. Micheal & Elizabeth Feller The Needlework Collection: 2, by Elizabeth Feller (Needleprint, 2012) includes Elizabeth’s sampler as figure F88 in her chapter entitled, “Wise & Wonderful.”

Alphabets, verse and bands of design are worked in tiny stitches and the pictorial register includes motifs as varied as a little red cow and a large crown worked in the eyelet stitch. An stylized broder surrounds it all, providing an excellent visual framework.

Elizabeth Langley was the daughter of Joseph and Mary Langley of Faringdon, Berkshire, baptized on February 23, 1757. It seems likely that Elizabeth didn’t marry and her sampler was later owned by her sister, Mary, who was about two years younger. In 1781, Mary married St. Albyn Gravenor and they had a son, Langley Gravenor, born 1785 in Bristol. The story becomes interesting – when Langley became of age in 1806, and in compliance with the will of his late great uncle, Rev. Lancelot St. Albyn, he succeeded to the estates and assumed, by royal license, the surname and arms of St. Albyn. The estate, in Somerset, was called Alfoxton and had been in the family since the 15th century. The St. Albyn family of Normandy arrived in England with William the Conqueror. Burke’s Peerage – History of The Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland by John Burke (London, 1838), delineates this history.

The sampler was worked in silk on wool and is in very good condition with some minor areas of early darning to the wool. It has been conservation mounted and is in an 18th century molded and black painted frame.

Label from the back of sampler with family notations.

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