Lilly McKenzie

Scottish Samplers

Lilly McKenzie


Hilton, Easter Ross


Finding samplers from the far northern areas of Scotland has always been a challenge, so finding Lilly's sampler from Ross and Cromarty (north of Inverness) makes it a bit more of a treasure. Lilly starts at the top with an undulating band with two colors of flowers. The flowers are simpler in design then the most seen on 18th century samplers. A  simplistic cartouche containing her verse, which appears in several early publications, but with no source.

The next section of this sampler is anchored with a deer reclining on a lovely variegated patch of lawn.  Surrounding the deer is the Mckenzie clan motto: luceo non uro (I shine not burn). Around this are numerous spot motifs including peacocks, birds, flowers, grapes and baskets of fruit. The bottom section of the sampler has an interesting rendition of a castle done in an outline style with two towers flanking a central gate and an ell (wing) on either side of the towers. There are two flowering plants and assorted family initials: DMK, AMK, JMK, MMK, DMK, LML. Her signature is at the very bottom.

She calls her sampler 'her book cloth' an old term used to refer to a sampler. There is one other sampler in the collection by Jesse MackRobbie where she refers to her piece as a BookCloth, but it is later, done in 1846. Lilly finishes the outside of her sampler with a narrow undulating flower border. The style of the flowers and grapes beside the deer, the undulating band at the top as well as the use of the McKenzie motto are elements found on late 18th century sampler, so it is quite unusual to find them on a sampler done a quarter of a century later. The colors of the silk have held up nicely even though there are some condition issues in the corners.

Size (W x H): 13 x 17 1/8 inches

Stitches: Cross, eyelet, satin, long-armed cross

Media: Silk on linen


Lilly was the daughter of fisherman Donald McKenzie and Ann(a) Tarrel of Hilton, Ross and Cromarty. She was born in 1808. Her ten siblings were: Lillias (1795), John (1797-1868), William (1799), Ann (1800), Alexander and Donald (1805), Andrew (1810), Margaret (1813), Janet (1816) and George (1819-1879).

Lilly married Andrew MacLeod in 1854 at the age of 46. She died 31 January 1883, aged 75, in Bainabruach, Nigg, Scotland (about 6.5 miles from Hilton.)


If God you own in all your ways
Your guide he-el ever prove
Peace shall attend you all your days
And bliss in realms above

Lilly Mc Kenzie her book cloth the year 1821

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Additional Information

Hilton (of Cadboll), Balintore and Shandwick are known collectively as the Seaboard Villages on this northern stretch of the Moray Firth coastline - The local employment has long been based on fishing, but this is now only a small part of the local economy.

Hilton is famous for the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, one of the most magnificent of all Pictish cross-slabs discovered on the Tarbat Peninsula in Easter Ross. Like other similar stones, it can be dated between the 6th to 9th centuries. The stone was formerly on in the vicinity of a chapel just north of the village. It was removed to Invergordon Castle in the 19th century, before being donated to the British Museum. The latter move was not popular with the Scottish public, and so it was moved once more, to the Museum of Scotland, where it remains today. A replica designed and carved by Barry Grove was recently erected on the site. In 2001 the missing lower portion of the cross-slab, along with several thousand carved fragments, was recovered by Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) during an excavation funded by Historic Scotland. Following some controversy around where this section of the monument should be curated it was finally put on display at the Hilton of Cadboll village hall rather than joining the upper portion at the Museum of Scotland.

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