Maria Harrisson, Stansted, Quaker School

Maria Harrisson, Stansted, Quaker School

 London, England, 1816

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sampler size: 11½” x 13½” • framed size: 13½” x 15½” • price: sold

Quaker school samplers, made in both England and the United States, share the most appealing characteristics. These can include strong, classic block-style lettering forming verse and alphabets and ligatures often surrounded by a leafy oval all accomplished with excellent, precise needlework. This style was initiated at the Ackworth School in Yorkshire, England in the late 18th century which over decades spread to other English and American schools. Schoolgirls at Quaker schools on both sides of the pond produced many of these wonderful samplers and often named their school directly on their needlework; scholars and collectors know of many of the schools.

We were pleased to have recently acquired this excellent Quaker sampler which is the only sampler known to have been made at Stansted, a Quaker Meeting north of London. It was established in 1703 with a meetinghouse surrounded by a burial ground, built in 1704. Closely affiliated with the Thaxted Monthly Meeting, it must have had a school, at least briefly, in the early 19th century. The Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain by David Butler (Friends Historical Society, 1999) provides information about the history as well as drawings of the original plans for the building.

Maria was born May 9, 1806, the daughter of John Harrisson (1769-1861) and Mary (Wallis 1774-1820) Harrisson, who were married in 1795 at Essex Quarterly Meeting. Some of the records of this family are at the Thaxted Meeting as well. The surname is spelled both Harrison and Harrisson in the records.

The verse that Maria stitched was an extract from Alexander Pope’s “Essay on Man,” and the very tightly worked Greek key band just below the verse is unusual and particularly handsome. The sampler was worked in silk on wool and the needlework is in very good condition with several areas of secured darning to the wool. It has been conservation mounted and is in an early 19th century beveled frame.


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