Polly Cole,

Polly Cole,

Hopkinton, Washington County, Rhode Island, 1808

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sampler size: 13½” x 14¼” • framed size: 17½” x 16½” • sold

A fine sampler with a delightful, folky nature, this is signed, “Polly Coles sampler made in the year 1808 and in the 11 year of her age.” Polly lived in the town of Hopkinton in southwestern Rhode Island about seven miles north of Westerly in what is locally referred to as “South County.” Her sampler includes some of the same distinctive floral motifs as other samplers stitched by girls living in the Hopkinton area. Particularly noteworthy are her two stepped, arcaded bands enclosing baskets and sprays of flowers at the top and unusually awkward plants with oversized, queen stitched, multi-colored fruit at the bottom.

Polly included two couplets on her sampler. The first, “Oh may I always ready stand / With my lamp burning in my hand,” is drawn from a fourteen-stanza hymn entitled “Glory to Thee, My God, This Night” by the Anglican bishop and hymn writer Thomas Ken (1637-1711). The hymn was added to the seventh edition of his Manual of Prayers (1674) in 1700. Although not well known outside of his native England, Thomas Ken was the author of the famous doxology sung around the world, beginning “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” which is the final stanza of this same hymn. Polly’s second couplet, “This I did to let you see / What care my parents took of me,” is a classic sampler verse honoring the sampler maker’s parents, appearing on American samplers as early as 1752.

The Cole family in America is well-documented in New England Families Genealogical and Memorial by William Richard Cutter (New York, 1915) and photocopies of pertinent pages are included in the file that accompanies the sampler. The emigrant ancestor for this branch of the family was Isaac Cole who settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts having traveled from England in March of 1634 on the ship “Hercules” with his wife Joan and two children. Polly, a common nickname for Mary in the period, was born on December 9, 1798, to Stephen and Susannah (Browning) Cole who were married in New London, Connecticut on November 21, 1794. Polly was the second of her parents’ ten children, all born in Hopkinton. Polly remained single and died just a few weeks short of her 39th birthday on November 16, 1837. She is buried in the Oak Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and some of her siblings.  

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a figured maple frame.



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