Grace Stevens,

Grace Stevens,

Concord, New Hampshire, 1793

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sampler size: 21¾" x 12½" • framed size: 26" x 16½" • sold

Signed, “Grace Stevens Concord County Rockingham 1793,” this particularly refined sampler is distinguished in many ways. Grace worked in an early band format used by samplermakers throughout the 18th century and her two excellent pictorial bands made use of various techniques, including the eyelet stitch, with outstanding results. Her alphabets, numbers and appealing moralistic verse were accomplished with letter-perfect precision and the border included hearts as cornerblocks. Much information has been published about the family, and quite notably, the sampler was included in a photograph taken of a descendant in a wonderful home setting filled with heirlooms. Notable is the fact that, when the sampler was made, Concord was in Rockingham County, as Grace stitched on the sampler. It later became part of Merrimack County.

Grace Stevens was born on July 25, 1778 in Concord, New Hampshire. She was the second eldest in her family with one older sister and four younger brothers. Her father John Stevens, Esq. (1746-1792) graduated from Harvard College in 1766 and married Sarah Wood (1749-1804) in 1769, both from Boston. They removed to Concord, New Hampshire where, according to a full account published in  Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College in the classes 1764-1767 (Massachusetts Historical Society, 1972), they bought the “finest house in town” as well as the local store. Considered a loyalist during the Revolution, he was boycotted and eventually jailed. Tides turned and he was released from jail, and later appointed Justice of the Peace for Rockingham County in June 1789.

Family tradition states that Grace’s ancestor Erasmus Stevens emigrated from Cornwall, England to Boston, Massachusetts in 1674. The family remained in Boston until Grace’s father removed to New Hampshire and then Maine. (Erasmus Stevens, Boston Mass. 1674-1690 and His Descendants, by Eugene R. Stevens).

Grace went on to marry John Bradley (1779 -1856) in 1807 and, around that date, the couple commissioned noted artist William Jennys to make silhouettes of themselves, which are now in the collection of the New Hampshire Historical Society. John worked as a merchant in Fryeberg, Maine for many years and the couple had two sons, John and Thomas. Grace’s sampler descended in the family of her husband’s sister, Anna Ayer (Bradley) Barrows in Fryeburg, Maine until 1997. A complete file with copies from these sources, including The History of Concord … (Benning W. Sanborn, 1856) accompanies the sampler.

The sampler remained unframed until just recently. It was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition with a very few stitches missing and conservation mounted into a tiger maple and mahogany frame.

This sampler is pictured unframed and in the center of this vintage family photo.


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