Elizabeth Prynn

Miscellaneous Samplers

Elizabeth Prynn, age 12


Salem, South Africa


This nice example of a schoolroom sampler is fascinating because of where it was done. The Prynn family were part of the Sephton-Gush Party that sailed to South Africa as part of the settlement scheme started in 1819. They sailed from Gravesend on the ship Aurora 15 February and arrived in Algoa Bay on 15 May 1820. Their final destination and settlement was named Salem, and is located about 12 miles south of Grahamstown. There is much more to the story, and we encourage you to research more on this fascinating aspect in history.

As documented by several sources, girls in Africa were taught sewing and samplers as part of the curriculum at Missionary run schools throughout the continent. However, very few survive to this day. We will never know if this piece was taught at home or was the result of an organized educational endeavor.

Elizabeth stitched quite a variety of dividing band patterns including the Greek key, waves, florals, zig-zags, vines which all complement the typical Dutch floral motifs. While tone on tone and difficult to distinguish, there is an upper case alphabet and numerals 1-10 between the patterns along the top of the sampler, in addition to the lower case letters flanking the central floral urn. Two verses, as well as a formal signature cartouche, comprise the lower half of the sampler. The ampersand in the bottom left corner is an interesting feature that appears to have no explanation.

Size (W x H): 12 1/4 x 17 1/2 inches

Stitches: Cross, cross-over-one, running back

Media: Silk on linen


Elizabeth was born 23 August 1813 and christened in the Wesleyan faith at St. Clements, Middlesex, the daughter of William Prynn and Jane Clarke. Siblings included Sarah Clarke (1809), William Edward (1811), Mary Ann (1815), Jane Mary (1817), John Henry (1819) and Thomas Clarke (1821).

In 1836, Elizabeth married James Pickton Marsh, the son of Thomas Marsh and Martha Wadmore. The Marsh family were also part of the Gush settlement party, arriving on the ship Brilliant in 1820. It does not appear that the Elizabeth and James ever had children, and she died at the age of 34 in 1847. James married at least once more, to Ann Johanna Thompson, before he died in 1874 at the age of 67; he is buried in the Grahamstown Cemetery in South Africa.


Tell me ye knowing and deserving few
Where I may find A Friend both firm and tru
Who dares stand by me When in Deep destress
And then His love and Friendship most express

And there is
A friend that
Sticketh clos
er then A bro
ther. PROV
CP 18 VR 24

Elizabeth Prynn, Aged 12

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(This sampler was added to the site on September 26, 2018)