Louisa Swaffield

English Samplers

Louisa Swaffield, age 13


Dorset, England


Louisa has stitched a very balanced spot sampler with a central verse. The motifs are reminiscent of Berlin-work wool patterns, and the date of this sampler attests to the connection. Berlin-work gained popularity in the 1830s; the patterns were affordable, and the counted designs were easy for beginning or less skilled stitchers. We firmly believe that Louisa had access to several Berlin patterns and used them when creating her sampler. By organizing her motifs in a square around the verse, Louisa was able to take advantage of the inherent structure of the patterns. She chose cats on cushions, Adam & Eves, swans, ships, cherubs, eagles and floral motifs. Every major motif, with the exception of the eagles, are flipped into mirror images facing towards the center of the sampler. We invite you to find the three stand alone motifs.

The verse is one of the most popular ones for samplers across the globe, but is as of yet unattributed. A stylized curled separating band, more of a motif, with a pair of hearts and birds is centrally placed, with her signature placed within. The entire sampler is framed with an undulating floral border. The border is extremely precise, as attested by the identical corners. If Louisa was a beginning stitcher, she was truly a talented one.

Size (W x H): 16 x 12 inches

Stitches: Cross, satin

Media: Silk on linen


George, a cooper, and Martha (Priest) Swaffield had a daughter Louisa christened 27 December 1822 in St. Mary's, Beaminster, Dorset, England. Siblings were George (1821), Amelia (1825), Eliza (1827), Frederick George (1830). 

Louisa married Edwin Slade in 1845 at Old Church St. Pancras in London. An online family tree lists the children as Laura L (1847), Lavinia Lucretia (1849), Blanche (1852) and Augusta (1854). However the 1851 England census lists only Laura L. (age 4) and Samuel L. (age 2). Edwin's occupation is listed as Solictors General Clerk and Registrar of Births and Deaths. In 1861 Louisa's father has moved in with the family and the only child is Augusta, age 6. By 1871, Edwin is listed as an Estate Steward and Agent and Augusta is age 16. In 1881, Edwin and Louisa are empty nesters, still living at the same address on Hogshill Street. By 1891 their household includes granddaughter Ethel Roper, age 12. Louisa is widowed in 1901, and her daughters Laura L. Roper (widowed) and Augusta Andrews are listed. The 1911 England census is so very crisp and detailed compared to earlier versions, and we clearly see that Louisa is age 88, widowed and living with granddaughter Lilian Genge-Andrews, spinster, age 30. Louisa died in 1920; her probate document lists Augusta Genge-Andrews, widow, and John Farwell Roper, solicitor. A life well lived without a doubt!


Jesus permit they Great name to stand
As the first efforts of an infants hand
And while her fingers on the canvas
Move engage her tender heart to seek
Thy love with thy dear children let her
Have a part and write thy name
Thyself upon her heart

Louisa Swaffield
Aged 13 Years
August 31 1836

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(This sampler was added to the site on February 15, 2013)