Sarah Taylor, Mountmelick

Sarah Taylor, Mountmelick

Quaker Boarding School, Ireland, circa 1815

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sampler size: 21” x 12½” • framed size: 23¼” x 14¾” • sold

Quakers first settled in the town of Mountmelick, Ireland, located south and west of Dublin, in 1657. They gained a reputation as reformers in regard to their stand on slavery, prison conditions, warfare and education. In 1786 four of the town’s prominent Quaker gentlemen established the first Friends school in the area following in the tradition of other Quaker schools in England and Ireland, which were well known for the high quality of the education that they provided.

Sarah Taylor stitched this large, fine and impressive sampler while attending Mountmelick Boarding School. During the time of her education at the school boys were taught separately and female students learned samplermaking and a variety of needlework and other domestic capabilities in preparation for their service in the home. Later the school broadened the education of their female students; it remained a Quaker school until 1921 when it was sold to the Catholic Order of Presentation Sisters.

While Miss Taylor did not date her work, we have been informed by the sampler and textile records keeper at the Friends Historical Library in Dublin that it is remarkably similar to other known Mountmelick samplers dating 1808-1815; and with Taylor being a common name, the specific identity of our samplermaker remains a mystery.

This sampler is incredibly neatly stitched, additionally evidenced in the image of the reverse (below). Rows and rows of alphabets and numeric progressions worked with great precision are divided by equally fine decorative delineations. The format is similar to the band samplers of the 18th century. Moving down the composition the alphabets and borders increase in size, bringing focus to these borderlines as they incorporate more contrasting color. Outside of her stitched framework, in each of the four corners, are initials: Sarah’s are likely those in the top two corners and the initials C and N, in the bottom two, we suspect those of her teacher.

Worked in silk on wool, Miss Taylor’s sampler remains in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted into a black painted, molded frame.

 (image of back of sampler)

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