Matilda Penrose, Richland, Bucks County,Pennsylvania, 1834


The samplers made in the area known as Upper Bucks County frequently display a wonderful pictorial composition that is greatly appreciated for its fresh, free-form quality. They are often faultlessly rendered and the results are outstanding. Matilda Penrose was sixteen or seventeen years old when she worked one of these samplers and her expertise in the needle arts is evident.

The composition centers on an Extract verse that speaks to the making of the sampler itself (“And persevereance [sic] brought me through”), surrounded by a delicate vine of leaves and buds. Matilda centered her name just inside and the date just outside of this enclosure. Three birds, the largest with fanciful coloration, perched on a flowering plant dominate the pictorial composition, with trees, flower branches and a potted arrangement providing further interest and proof of Matilda’s skill. An undulating vine offers visual strength as the three-sided border that grows from the silvery green lawn supporting a wonderful assortment of flowers, grape bunches and veined leaves.

The Penrose family is a prominent, early Quaker one. Robert Penrose was born in Ireland in 1670 and emigrated to America in 1717 with his family, joining a Quaker monthly meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1721. They settled in Richland, near Quakertown, Bucks County in 1734 on a large tract of land. Early Friends of Upper Bucks with Some Account of Their Descendants (Clarence V. Roberts, Philadelphia, PA, 1925) provides a detailed history of the Penrose family.

Four generations later, on June 15, 1815, Matilda was born to Enoch and Esther (Tomlinson) Penrose, the second of their four children. The family belonged to the Richland Monthly Meeting and Matilda married a farmer, Stephen Foulke (1806-1906), there in 1845. A photocopy of this extensive Quaker marriage certificate is in the research file that accompanies the sampler. They remained in the area and had four children. Matilda died in 1887 and is buried in the Richland Friends Meeting Burial Ground.

The sampler was worked in silk on fine linen gauze and is in excellent condition with one very slight area of loss to the linen. It has been conservation mounted and is in its fine, original mahogany frame. 

Sampler size: 20” square      Framed size: 23½” square