Somersworth, Strafford County,
New Hampshire, 1801
Samplers worked on green linsey-woolsey fabric are a wonderful rarity and offer a very appealing aesthetic. Many of these samplers were made in or nearby coastal towns of New England and a particularly good, small group was made in Dover, New Hampshire. Ruth Roberts lived in Somersworth, about 5 miles from Dover, and her praiseworthy sampler shows the influence of that group. She may have attended school in Dover, or her teacher was from there.
Ruth began her sampler with classic alphabets, using a form of the uppercase A and alphabets without the letter J, both of these characteristics are carry-overs from the 18th century. The verse, “O God, how swift my moments fly / how great the thought that I must die / how short a day a month a year / how fast my moments disappear,” is not one that we have seen previously, although the sentiment is one that we find on many early samplers. The pictorial area at the bottom of the sampler shows the strong influence of Dover samplers, specifically the central element rising from a vertical black rod.
As she stitched on her sampler, Ruth was born on September 13, 1787; her parents were James Roberts (1737-1833) and Martha (Goodwin 1761-1844) Roberts. The 1790 and 1810 census records show James Roberts in Somersworth. Ruth married Benjamin Hawkes (1772-1859) and they lived in Windham, Maine where they had at least five children.
The sampler was worked in silk on linsey-woolsey and it is in excellent condition. It has been conservation mounted and is in a fine figured maple frame.