Sampler by Louisa Adam, 1854 [?].

Linen fabric, wool threads, 415mm x 430mm.

This sampler was worked at Bolton School in East Lothian, Scotland. Characteristically for a Scot, the sewer has worked in the initials of her parents and siblings but the most interesting feature of this sampler is the elaborate centrepiece. Though sadly faded, this depicts the famous Crystal Palace in London. Opened in 1851 as a major exhibition of the might and productive capacity of the British Empire, this had been redeveloped as a theme park at Sydenham in 1854. The sampler seems to commemorate this notable current event.

Louisa Adam was born at Bolton, near Haddington in East Lothian circa 1842. Her father William was a coachman for General Stuart of ‘Eaglescarnie’. He was closely associated with the Disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843. This historic event had seen the established Presbyterian body in Scotland split asunder. A breakaway group – comprising nearly a third of the church’s ministers and congregations – left to form a new “Free Church” organisation. It was this Presbyterian group who sponsored the Otago settlement scheme. Louisa came to Otago with her father and four siblings on the Nourmahal in 1858. Three older children had already emigrated. William established an accommodation house at Otokia. Louisa was married from there in 1870 to John Fleming, a widower from Kaihiku with four children. She had previously been working as a domestic servant for the Rees family at Wakatipu, a job that she hadn’t enjoyed. Now, aged just 18, she stepped into the role of stepmother of four. With further children of her own she developed into a matriarchal figure on the 400-acre Kaihiku sheep farm where she lived until her death in 1938, aged 95.
Lousia Adam
Production Date
Circa 1853
Sampler 435x440mm
Drawer 515x515mm