Polly Orchard

English Samplers

Polly Orchard


Dorset, England


This colourful finely embroidered sampler worked in bright polychrome silks shows a freestyle embroidery which became popular particulary during the latter half of the eighteenth century. The young Polly has combined the fashionable freely worked floral border with a moral verse. Worked mainly in cross, satin, and stem stitch, and incorporating metallic threads, it makes an interesting comparison with the L. Langrish sampler. Clearly both samplers have been worked under the direction of the same teacher. 

Size (W x H): 12 1/4 x 16 3/4 inches

Stitches: Satin, split, cross-over-one, boullion

Media: Silk and metallic thread on wool


Starting in the Middle Ages, it was common to exchange Ps for Ms in nicknames. Polly is a a nickname for Mary, a variant of Molly.

It was this background information that led us to determine that Polly could have been either Mary Orchard christened 2 October 1763 in Hawkchurch, Dorset or Molly Orchard christened 21 February 1760 in Melcombe Regis, Dorset to John and Elizabeth Orchard. Companion L. Langrish was also christened in Melcombe Regis, in 1771.

Records indicate that spinster Mary Orchard married Richard Pearse 12 January 1786 in Melcombe Regis. 


To the truly Good and Great
They're only Great. whom no base motives rule
Who owe no glory to the Breath of fools
Friends to true merit. to their Country dear
To others kind. but to themselves severe
Quiet in suffering. with their Lot content
And careful to improve the Talents lent
Good without pride. tho' humble. yet not mean
In Danger fearless. and in Death Serene

Polly Orchard
Her work

Click on samplers to view larger.

Additional Information

We found the verse in several common school books of the time, including A Guide to the English Tongue by Thomas Dyche and The English Spelling Book Improved by John Goldby Rusher.

Visit our interactive map of samplers »
Do you have

Other information

related to this sampler? Contact Us ›

(This sampler was added to the site on November 14, 2014)