Mary Appleton

 Ackworth School, Yorkshire, England, circa 1827

sampler size: 11½” x 9¾” • frame size: 17” x 15¼” • price: $5300

The Ackworth School, in Yorkshire, England was founded as a boarding school in 1779 with the purpose of providing an education for Quaker children; both male and female students received a strong academic education. In addition, the girls learned needlework, both plain sewing and fine needlework, and many of the Ackworth school sampler patterns became hallmarks of excellent samplermaking throughout England and the United States. Samplers made by Ackworth students are beautifully stitched and the compositions and aesthetics of their work echo the Quaker sensibility of appealing simplicity.

Mary Appleton’s excellent sampler, steeped in the Ackworth tradition, features an extract verse that begins with the word, “Blessed.” The oval format was used by Ackworth girls, and similar samplers were made at the school from the 1790s through the 1830s. Carol Humphey’s excellent book, Quaker School Girl Samplers from Ackworth (Needleprint, 2008), illustrates some of these.The stitching of this sampler is extremely precise, accomplished in the classic and very pleasing Quaker block letter font. 

Mary Appleton was ten years old when she became a student at Ackworth School. She was born on September 19, 1814, to Jonathan and Sarah (Gray) Appleton, of Stepney-Causeway, a neighborhood in London. Archives from the Ackworth School indicate that Mary was admitted to the school on May 14, 1824 and remained there until April 16, 1828. 

In 1836 in London, Mary married John Bocock (1812-1854) and in 1845, they emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York on September 22nd. They settled in New London, Huron County, Ohio where the 1850 census shows the family with three children, the older two born in England and the youngest born in Ohio. The sampler was probably brought with Mary as it has been in the United States for quite some time. 

Worked in silk on wool, it is in excellent condition with a few very tiny areas of weakness to the wool. It has been conservation mounted and is in an outstanding figured maple and mahogany frame that was made for it by our cabinetmaker. The template for this frame is the one on another Ackworth oval extract sampler, shown on page 113 of Carol Humphrey’s book.

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