Sampler by Ellen Airey, 1834.
Conservation funded by the Otago Porcelain Dollmakers' Guild Inc in 2005 and 2006.

Wool fabric, silk threads, 425mm x 320mm.

This is an excellent effort by an 8-year-old child. It is headed by a panel featuring a variety of motifs, including trees, flowers, birds, butterflies and dogs. The central panel contains a verse making a link between the embroiderer’s work and her faith in Jesus. This is a popular verse, various versions of which have been found on samplers dating back to the 1640s. Bird and plant motifs are worked either side of the verse while below is the embroiderer’s signature and age in a red silk bordered panel. The lower section is decorated with motifs arranged in a formal garden scene. A scrolling border edges the sampler.

It does not appear that Ellen Airey ever came to New Zealand. She was the mother of Arthur Fleet, a Londoner who settled in Dunedin in the late nineteenth century. Arthur was a clerk and later an accountant for Stones’ directory company. He must have brought his mother’s sampler with him as a keepsake of home. He married Laura Harrison at St Peter’s church, Caversham, in 1890, recording his birth details in the marriage register. From these we can identify Ellen as his mother and know that she had married a stationer, Vincent Smith Fleet, and given birth to Arthur in London circa 1862. Her sampler passed down through the family and was given to the Museum by her great granddaughter Miss Margaret Fleet in 1972.
Ellen Airey
Production Date
425mm (H) x 318mm (W) measured by Tracey Wedge, Textile Conservator, Auckland, 29 September 2005.