Sampler by Elizabeth Palmer, 1818.

Wool fabric, silk threads, 335mm x 330mm.

This is a very fine piece of English embroidery from the early nineteenth century. Worked by a 10-year-old, it shows a degree of sophistication that reinforces the view that the standard of embroidery declined in the decades that followed. This is particularly striking when it is compared with the 1878 sampler by this sewer’s granddaughter. The 1818 work is dominated by a reasonably long moral verse with bands of spot motifs above and below. These include some interesting human figures as well as the more common plants, birds and animals. The standard alphabet and number sequences take up the top section and the whole is enclosed within an arcaded floral border pattern.

Elizabeth Palmer was from St Pancras in London, born circa 1815. She married Charles Roebuck there in 1837 and five years later they emigrated with their young family to Nelson on the Bombay. The next year they took the even more adventurous step of coming down to Otago. They lived near Port Chalmers for five years before the Scottish settlement scheme saw large numbers of European settlers begin to arrive. We do not know what happened to Elizabeth after 1854 – the last time she appears in the documentary record – but she is assumed to have died in Otago. Her daughter Mary Ann married John Robert Monson, one of the 1848 pioneers on the John Wickliffe, and their eight children included Alice Monson. Alice’s sampler, worked at Port Chalmers school in 1878, is displayed here alongside her grandmother’s and another from Elizabeth Roebuck. Elizabeth Palmer’s sampler was donated to the Museum in 1993 from the estate of Ian Monson McLean.
Elizabeth Palmer
Production Date
Sampler 335x325mm
Mount 455x350mm