Baby Spotswood

Scottish Samplers

Baby Spotswood

1769

Coldstream, Berwickshire

Description:

This is a wonderful example of what we think of as the "transition" style samplers - moving away from the traditional full bands of alphabets and into the pastoral and pictorial style. That being said, we'll still present the composition by layer.

The top band of spot motifs is quite uniquely separated with what can only be described as columns. At center is a young girl in a very blue dress, flanked by trees and birds. A double-crossed style carnation lattice follows. The verse is an interesting adaptation from a common schoolbook of the time by Thomas Dilworth entitled A New Guide to the English Tongue. The bottom section is essentially a double band, and contains, among other things, a man and a woman in period clothes, two blackamoors, oversized birds, floral motifs, swans, her signature, family initials (GS, MS), and teacher's name (Mrs. Potts).  It is lovely that she put Baby for her name - we presume that was her nickname.

While not in the best condition due to damaged edges, this sampler has great color and Baby’s stitching is tight and well done.

Size (W x H): 8 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches

Stitches: Cross, cross-over-one, satin

Media: Silk on wool

Genealogy:

Margaret Spence, born November 1720 in Coldstream, Berwickshire, married George Spotswood, a wheelwright also of Coldstream, 19 November 1752. Their first child, Barbara, was born 7 October 1753, followed by Margaret (1756), James (1758), George (1760) and Agnes (1762). 

We can find no further records of Baby. Her sister, Margaret/Peggy, was married in 1780 to Alexander Trotter.

In regards to the search for Mrs. Potts, we can confirm she was not a family member. We presume, therefore, she was the local teacher. We have found several records of "irregular" marriages to various men with the last name of Potts in Coldstream. Coldstream, being a sizeable town on the Border with England, was as popular a location to elope as was the more famous Gretna Green. 

Verse:

YOU WhO BE FOND WISHED DO TO hEAVEN ASPIR
WhO MAKE ThOSE BLEST ERODE YOUR SOULS DES
(I)F YOU ARE WISE WhO hOPE ThAT BLIS TO GAIN
(U)SE WEL YOUR TIME LEVEL NOT hOUR IN VAIN
(L)ET NOT ThE MOROW YOWR VAIN ThOWGhtS EVIL
(B)uT ThINK THIS DAY ThE LAST YOU SHAL ENJOY

BABY SPOTSWOOD 1769

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(This sampler was added to the site on November 17, 2014)

Additional Information

Under early modern Scots law, there were three forms of "irregular marriage" - it could result from simple mutual agreement, by a public promise as witnessed by any citizen followed by consummation or by simple cohabitation with repute (meaning you had to prove you lived together). Marriage laws in Scotland encouraged eloping from England to Scotland in blatant disregard for the Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act, which had declared the age of consent was 21. Until 1856 you did not need even need to be a resident of Scotland, boys could marry at 14 and girls at 12 without parental consent.

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