Elizabeth Parker’s Text Sampler

Text sampler of Elizabeth Parker, c. 1830. Text sampler of Elizabeth Parker, c. 1830. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. T.6-1956.

Elizabeth Parker (1813-1889) lived in Ashburnham, Sussex (England). She was the daughter of a local labourer. Elizabeth Parker produced a unique text sampler, which contains a long lament about a teenager’s life in the first half of the nineteenth century. She became a teacher at the Ashburnham Charity School and raised her sister’s daughter. She died in the Ashburnham Almshouses in 1889, aged 76.

Her sampler was worked in red silk cross stitches on a linen ground. It was made in c. 1830 when she was about seventeen years old. It is 85.8 x 74.4 cm in size. The text is a very long lament about her sinful nature and thoughts of suicide, and how she was saved. The text starts with: "As I cannot write I put this down simply and freely as I might speak to a person to whose intimacy and tenderness I can fully entrust myself and who I know will bear with all my weaknesses."

It is clear that she could write, but what was meant was that she could not write with style and grace, and as such she was making an apology for her ‘working class’ English. The sampler is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (acc. no. T.6-1956).


  • ANTIQUES, Witney (2000). Paradise Revisited: British Samplers, Hisroric Embroideries 1590-1880.
  • GOGGIN, Maureen Daly, (2002). 'One English woman’s story in silken ink: Filling in the missing strands in Elizabeth Parker’s circa 1839 sampler,' Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly, 8.4, pp. 8-49.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 6 July 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 15:01
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