Agnes Fairbairn

Scottish Samplers

Agnes Fairbairn

1816

Edinburgh

Description:

This is a very complex and detailed piece, typical of samplers done in a large city. Colinton parish would have been just on the outskirts of Edinburgh at the time, so it is quite logical Agnes received her schooling in the city. Her remarkable ability shows in the level of detail within the motifs and how she is able to keep them looking proportional as well as beautiful.

The bottom of of her sampler has the traditional Scottish house with a fenced lawn and trees arching over the house on either side. Next are two very well stitched and whimsical vignettes; on the left a young girl kneels before a woman who is about to put flowers in her hair and on the right shows a couple (husband and wife?) pointing at a house. A cartouche with her name and her parents initial lies between the two vignettes. John Jamieson’s name is there as well.  We believe the letters following his name refer to Doctor of Divinity and degrees relating to his other studies as Dr. Jamieson was a well respected lexicographer, philologist and antiquarian. Above this is a band of trees and floral arrangements with a lovely rose in the center. The top is comprised of a single alphabet, the date and her verse. There is a beautiful thistle to the right of her verse. Familial initials are scattered throughout the entire sampler (JF, JF, SF [black], SF [black], WF, MF, MF, MF, eF, JF, JOHN JAMIeSON DD F A SS.)

Size (W x H): 13 x 17 1/4 inches

Stitches: Cross, satin, outline, straight, herringbone, alternating half cross, cross-over-one, French knot, buttonhole, double running, long/short, chain

Media: Silk on linen

Genealogy:

William Fairbairn of Colinton married Margaret Flint 26 September 1791. The records indicate they were married by an Edinburgh minister but no name is listed. Their third daughter, Agnes, was born 11 April 1800. Siblings, all girls, included Janet (1792), Mary (1798), Cecilia (1802) and Jean (1805). 

Agnes married Archibald King, a mill wright, 20 July 1821; the ceremony was performed by Rev'd J. Jamieson, "an antiburgher minister, Edinburgh." The couple had nine children but we can only find official registration for the first, Janet, in 1822. The 1841 Scotland census lists the family as living on Fountain Bridge: Archibald King (45, mill wright), Agnes (40), William (15, mill wright apprentice), Janet (15), Margaret (15), Thomas (14), Agnes (10), Isabella (7), Archibald (5), Mary (2), James (4 months) and Mary Fairbairn (30, female servant). While the age is a bit off, we are sure this is Agnes' older sister.

Husband Archibald died in an accident 1 May 1842; death was recorded at St. Cuthbert's. The 1851 census lists the family still in St. Cuthbert's on Abbey Hill; Agnes is keeping a lodging house and her children Agnes, Isabella, Archibald, James still live with her. The 1861 census is quite similar; Agnes is keeping the lodging house, daughter Agnes is a seamstress and son James is an unmarried engine fitter, with widowed sister Jean/Joan also living with them.

Agnes died in September 1884 of old age.

Verse:

JULY 22 1816

BeAUTeOUS NATURe SMILING ROUND US
LeADS US TO THE GOD WE LOVe
He WHOSe GRACIOUS PITY FOUND US
LIFTS OUR HeARTS TO THINGS ABOVe
THeRe IN NeVeR FADING BeAUTY
HOLY SOULS SHALL eVeR SING
LOVe Be ALL THeIR HAPPY DUTY
WINTeRe eNDeD EvEr SPRING

AGNeS FAIRBAIRN

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(This sampler was added to the site on November 12, 2015)

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