Browse by Origin: Scottish Samplers

Scottish samplers are truly distinctive. For a small country with such remote geographical areas, Scotland was amazingly ahead of its time in recognizing and making available education for girls as well as boys; mixed sex schools were actually the norm. Marking samplers were the primary means of teaching girls letters and numbers, and were often worked as practice for initialing household linens.

The common Scottish practice of a woman keeping her birth family name throughout her life, even after marriage, makes genealogy quests somewhat easier. In Changing Styles: The Eighteenth Century, One Hundred Years of Sampler Making, Witney Antiques offers some additional clues to tracing the genealogy of samplers, in particular the naming pattern of children in Scotland in the 18th century: 1st son named after father's father, 2nd son named after mother's father, 3rd son named after father, 1st daughter named after mother's mother, 2nd daughter named after father's mother, 3rd daughter named after mother.

We recently came across the following information, courtesy of Wikipedia, which adds valuable context to our samplers:

The Scottish Enlightenment was a remarkable period in 18th century Scotland characterized by a great outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments rivaling that of any other nation at any time in history. What made it even more remarkable was that it took place in a country which was among the poorest and was thought to be among the most backward in western Europe prior to that time, in addition to having a substantially smaller population base and infrastructure than many other major western European nations. Sharing the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment of the same time period, the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment held to an optimistic belief in the ability of man to effect changes for the better in society and nature, guided only by reason. Among the advances of the period were achievements in philosophy, economics, engineering, architecture, medicine, geology, archeology, law, agriculture, chemistry, and sociology. Among the outstanding Scottish thinkers and scientists of the period were Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, Robert Burns, Adam Ferguson, and James Hutton.