Made by girls and occasionally boys, usually as part of their education, samplers are small, pieces of needlework containing information about a person’s education, family, religion and interests. This collection of 70 samplers is a touching personal record of children’s lives, made by hand in their formative years and recording the things most dear to them.
Scottish samplers are unique in that they often include the initials of extended family members and details of the place where the person lived. This has allowed collector Leslie Durst to identify the makers through genealogical research, often revealing surprising personal histories.
Through the stories, they tell and the research behind them, this collection of samplers charts changes in morality, education and the industrialisation of Scottish society while also providing a fascinating insight into women’s history.
Generously on loan from the Leslie B. Durst Collection.
Maern Kedglie, from Inveresk, represented the neighbouring town of Musselburgh in her sampler, using the town’s coat of arms of three anchors and three mussels. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
This alphabet sampler has been left unfinished. It is one of a collection of samplers created by the Swan and Ballingal families © Leslie B. Durst Collection
May Robert has incorporated biblical scenes from the story of Elijah into her sampler. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
Isabella Cook’s sampler is one of a pair both depicting a zebra. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
It is possible A McGilliy embroidered a shortened version of her surname, which may have been McGillivray. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
Catherine Monro’s multiplication sampler reflects the type of schooling she received. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
Agnes Henry's sampler is unusual in that it is stitched on paper and made with coloured beads rather than conventional embroidery thread. © Leslie B. Durst Collection
Margaret Alexander’s sampler, made during the Napoleonic Wars, includes portraits of three British army regiments. © Leslie B. Durst Collection