Elizabeth Ham Walsh,

Elizabeth Ham Walsh,

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 1822

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sampler size: 14” x 12¼” • frame size: 16” x 14¼” • sold

With its striking similarities to other Portsmouth, New Hampshire samplers, this one made by Elizabeth Ham Walsh in 1822 is an interesting discovery. A study of the samplers illustrated in the book In Female Worth and Elegance: Samplers and Needlework Students and Teachers in Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1741-1840, by John F. LaBranche and Rita F. Conant (The Portsmouth Marine Society, 1996), as well as information published earlier by Betty Ring, indicates that instructresses in Portsmouth in the 1820s taught their students to feature many of the salient characteristics that appear on our Walsh sampler: the pair of small houses, large baskets piled with round fruit, geometric trees and use of the first stanza of poem entitled “The Grave”, written in 1804 by James Montgomery (1771–1854). It seems likely that Elizabeth was a student of Miss Ann L.C. Jones as was Ann Elizabeth Ham, whose 1826 sampler made at Miss Jones’ school is published on page 59 of the LaBranche and Conant book.  

Elizabeth Ham Walsh was born on January 24, 1814 and would have been only eight years old when she made this sampler – a wonderful accomplishment for such a young girl. Her proficiency in this field is apparent with closer study of this sampler, as she included two of the fine eyelet stitched flowers (in the upper corners of her border) found on other Portsmouth samplers.

On August 24, 1842, Elizabeth married George Whitehouse (1818-1871), a master brick mason, and they had at least three children. Elizabeth died in 1878 and is buried along with family members in the Pine Hill Cemetery in Portsmouth.

The sampler was worked in silk on linen and is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a molded frame painted black.

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