Sidney Jefferis,

Sidney Jefferis,

East Bradford, Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1804

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sampler size: 16” x 13” • framed size: 17½” x 14½” • sold

The finest samplers of Chester County, Pennsylvania display excellence in their skillfully executed, delicate needlework and pleasing composition, similar to those worked nearby Philadelphia in the 18th century. This is not surprising, as the residents of this prosperous area paralleled those of the larger city, with Quaker merchants, farmers and craftspeople. Outstanding samplers were made by the daughters of Chester County families and these have been the subject of study for many decades. Writing in Girlhood Embroidery: American Samplers & Pictorial Needlework 1650 – 1850 (Knopf, 1993), Betty Ring states, “Perhaps the earliest distinctive Chester County form was begun by a woman whose initials were E.W., and they appear on three similar samplers of 1804. This schoolmistress probably taught in East Bradford Township, where the sampler makers lived … The delicacy of her designs, a balanced format, and almost flawless execution reveal that she was teaching in the best English tradition … and her students were Quaker girls.”

Sidney Jefferis’ praiseworthy sampler is one of the three samplers mentioned by Mrs. Ring; another is that by Sidney’s cousin, Lydia Jefferis, also made in 1804 and owned by the Chester County Historical Society, illustrated as figure 436 in Betty Ring’s book. These samplers each show individual variations but share the two-handled urn, pine trees, planter formed of three linked hearts, queen’s-stitched strawberries, cartouche enclosure, and a variety of verses.

Sidney, as she states on her sampler, was the daughter of Emmor and Rachel (Grubb) Jefferis. The Jefferis family in Pennsylvania began with Robert Jefferis (1670-1739) who was born in Wiltshire, England and was in Pennsylvania by 1685; a history of the family is published in History of Chester County, Pennsylvania with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches by J.S. Futhey and Gilbert Cope (Philadelphia, 1881).

Sidney’s parents were married in 1780. They lived in East Bradford Township and belonged to the Kennett Monthly Friends Meeting, where Sidney’s birth, on 6 day of the 4 month, 1790, was recorded. In 1809, Sidney married a farmer, John R. Way and they remained in the area, members of the New Garden Meeting. They became the parents of three children and Sidney died in 1882. For many years her sampler was in the collection of Mary Jaene Edmonds, and published in her book, Samplers & Samplermakers: An American Schoolgirl Art 1700-1850 (Rizzoli, 1991), as figure 41. Along with the genealogical and research file, a copy of this book accompanies the sampler.

The sampler was worked in silk on extremely fine linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in its outstanding, original inlaid frame.


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