Virgins Pattern, by John Batchiler (c. 1615-1674)

Cover of the book A Virgins Pattern, by John Batchiler. Cover of the book A Virgins Pattern, by John Batchiler.

The Virgins Pattern: in the exemplary life, and lamented death of Mrs. Susanna Perwich .... is a mid-seventeenth century printed eulogy about the life and death of Susanna Perwich (1636-1661), a Quaker from London. She was the daughter of Robert Perwich of Aldermanbury, London.

Although described as Mrs. Perwich on the title page to the eulogy, it is clearly stated that she “dyed a rarely accomplished Virgin, at one of the clock in the afternoon, on Wednesday, the 3 of July 1661, in the 25 year of her Age.”

Susanna Perwich, 1636-1661, by Thomas Cross. NPG D29201.It appears that she was regarded by some members of her family as a paragon of female virtues and skills. A pamphlet and poem were written about her by John Batchiler (c. 1615-1674; not Bathchiler or Bachelar as is sometimes written), who described himself as a “neer Relative that occasionally hath had an intimate converse in the family with her, more or less, the greatest part of her life.” It is likely that he was Susanna Perwich’s brother-in-law.

John Batchiler was a writer who wrote various book on the Quakers, of which he and his family were members. The pamphlet is dedicated to various girls' schools in the London region and it is likely that this eulogy was also used to celebrate his own girls' school and to advance the notion of education for girls.

On page 7 of the pamphlet he summarises her needlework skills: “All other parts of excellent breeding she likewise had; Whatever curious works at the needle, or otherwise can be named, which Females are want to be conversant in, whether by silver, silks, straws, glass, wax or gums or any other of the like kinde, she was perfectly skilled in…”

Later in the pamphlet there is a long poem listing all her virtues, from gardening, languages, music to needlework. In the section on needlework (pp. 54-55; part XIV) it is stated:

Susanna Perwich, 1636-1661, by Thomas Cross. NPG D29201 (before 1682).


Perfectly curious; every work
In which a cunning skill did lurk,
She had it at her fingers end,
And lov’d therein fit time to spend.
In black-works, white-works, colours all.
That can be found on earths round ball,
She did excell, Wax, Straws and Gum,
Silks, Gems, and Gold, the total sum
Of rich materials she dispos’d
In dainty order, and compos’d,
Pictures of men, birds, beasts and flow’rs
When leisure serve’d at idle hours.
All this so rarely to the Life
As if there were a new kind of strife
`Twixt Art and Nature:

The poem then goes on to discuss her skills for growing food and flowers for the kitchen and table, including a wide range of fruits she managed to grow in the winter time. These skills are classed under her proficiencies as a housewife and cook (p. 7), and not, as sometimes surmised, her abilities as a needlewoman.

Digital source (retrieved 19 March 2016).

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 14 June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 12:52