Levinia Denison,

Levinia Denison,

Kentville, Kings County,
Nova Scotia, Canada, 1796

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sampler size: 15¾” x 12” • frame size: 18” x 14¼” • sold

A wonderful rarity, this is a beautifully made 18th century sampler with a family ancestry steeped in early Connecticut and Nova Scotia history. It is inscribed, “Levinia Denison Her Sampler Worked in The Year 1796” and is accompanied by the original backboard that provides further information and specifics about Levinia. The composition and format are similar to 18th century band samplers made by American schoolgirls and we can assume that schoolteachers in Canadian towns were teaching in the same fashion. Alphabets, family initials, a queen’s-stitched geometric pattern fill the top third of the sampler. Interestingly, the splendid, highly stylized flower elements share commonality with sampler motifs that were used specifically by Connecticut schoolgirls in the mid-18th century. A sawtooth inner border provides a graphic framework and the rhythmic outer border features stylized carnations and strawberries on leafy vines.

The Denison family in America began with Captain George Denison (1620-1694) who was born in Hertfordshire, England and who removed to Massachusetts as a young man and settled in New London, Connecticut by 1640. He served in various prominent leadership positions and was a captain in King Philip’s War, 1676. The Denison Genealogy: Ancestors and Descendants of Captain George Denison by E. Glenn Denison (Pequot Press, Stonington, Connecticut, 1963) traces this family and provides a great deal of information. Subsequent family members removed to Kings County, Nova Scotia and The History of Kings County Nova Scotia Heart of the Acadian Land Giving a Sketch of the French and Their Expulsion and a History of the New England Planters Who Came in Their Stead by Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton (Salem Press Company, Salem, Massachusetts, 1910) states that the Denison family was among the most important of the Kings County grantees.

Levinia was born on December 3, 1774 to David Sherman Denison (1734-1796) and Sarah (Fox) Denison, who were married in Connecticut circa 1752.  David and Sarah were each born in Montville, Connecticut and by 1790 removed to Horton in Kings County. Levinia was their 10th and youngest child. She married a cousin, James Denison, a lawyer in Nova Scotia and they had four children. Lavinia died in 1847 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Kentville. Her sampler remained in the family several generations.

We have owned two other Denison family samplers; both of these were made in Connecticut. One, worked by Content Denison in 1764, is now in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society.

This sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition with slight loss to the linen at the very top edge and very slight loss to a few of the letters. It has been conservation mounted and is in black molded and painted frame.

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