Mary Parker,

Mary Parker,

Lexington, Massachusetts, 1795

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sampler size: 18¼” x 12” • framed size: 20½” x 14¼” • sold

An important group of 18th and early 19th century Massachusetts samplers has been of interest to scholars and collectors for many decades. The makers of these samplers were from prominent families from the Middlesex County towns of Cambridge, Waltham, Lexington, Concord and Medford.

In vol. I of Girlhood Embroidery Betty Ring states that these are “attractive samplers usually in vertical form with wide, deeply arcaded borders at the top and sides, and with a saw-tooth border which encloses a center section that often includes one alphabet and a verse above a variety of pictorial elements. A house is most common, but there may be figures, trees, flowerpots, or various combinations of motifs.  Nevertheless, they can be easily recognized by their typical borders and similar workmanship.  Many pieces are undated … this style emerged about 1790, was worked steadily until 1805, and occasionally occurred much later.” An excellent sampler from this group, this is signed, “Mary Parker’s work wrought / in the tenth year of her Age AD 1795.” Mary’s skill with needle and thread is impressive, particularly given her young age.

The daughter of John Parker and Hannah (Stearns) Parker of Lexington, Massachusetts, Mary was born on April 11, 1785, the first of their eleven children. This branch of the Parker family began with Deacon Thomas Parker (1609-1683)who sailed to Massachusetts from London in 1635; he was a one of the first settlers of Reading, Massachusetts and served as selectman, and judicial commissioner. Subsequent generations remained in Massachusetts and, notably, Mary’s grandfather, John Parker (1729-1775)was a commander of the Massachusetts Militia during the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. Mary’s youngest brother, Theodore Parker (1810-1860)was a notable reformer and abolitionist, whose influence lasted into the 20th century.

In 1816, Mary married Samuel Green (1786-1818) as his second wife, after the death of her sister, Hannah in 1815. Mary died in 1831. Many published sources including History of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts (Houghton Mifflin, 1913), Genealogy and Biographical Note of John Parker of Lexington …from 1635 to 1893 (Worcester, Mass, 1893), and Genealogy and Memoirs of Charles and Nathaniel Stearns (1901) provide information about the family and photocopies are included in the substantial file that accompanies the sampler.

The sampler is in excellent condition with some very minor weakness to the silk in the border. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded and painted black frame.

 

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