This sampler is almost perfectly preserved, still vibrant and colourful at over 200 years old. It is very well stitched, with a fine eye for design and extremely excellent stitch quality. We surmise that it was not framed and was stored out of the sun, thereby maintaining it's original glory.
While featuring a traditional Scottish pedimented house with four chimneys spewing smoke, the front door is one of the largest we've ever seen and is complete with knocker and handle. The lawn is in satin stitch, rather than the more typical chenille, but Mary has still done an excellent job detailing the perspective in her yard and fencing. The peacock standing guard at the gate is a time-honored tradition and completely in keeping with the time period. The row of trees in front of the fence indicates that this home is not in a city, but is instead more rurally located. This sense of the rural is further emphasized by the apple trees full of fruit. As she was born and lived her entire life in Edinburgh, we are very interested as to where she got inspiration for her sampler. Perhaps her teacher or even on a family visit.
To either side of the lawn are wonderfully complex pyramids of Queen stitched strawberries. Above those are her parents’ initials, AW and MW. The top third of the sampler is as traditional as the house, with her signature centered below the verse in a floral cartouche. Above it all hangs a stunning floral swag, cornered with delicate bows. This swag is an indicator of Edinburgh origins, although there are swags from other areas of Scotland. The rosebuds of the cartouche and accents of the swag are equally as vibrant as the apple trees and provide overall balance to the sampler. All four edges are bordered in a delicate honeysuckle pattern; the red touches in each of the flowers serves as yet another element to balance this wonderful piece.
Size (W x H): 13 1/2 x 17 inches
Stitches: Cross, satin, stem, French knot, chain, fern, long-armed cross, Queen, cross-over-one, double running, back
Media: Silk on wool
Alexander Wishart, a career military man, married Mary MacGregor in South Leith 15 January 1790. Alexander was a Lieutenant in the 42nd Regiment of Foot at the time of his marriage; he went on to serve in the 78th Highlanders, including in Lucknow. The couple had seven children: Alexander (1792), Margaret (1794), Mary (1802), Frances (1804), William (1807), John Wallace (1809), Magdalena Gordon (1811). Family history indicate that father Alexander died in 1810 while serving in Bermuda. However, Magdalena's birth record does not indicate he was already deceased; given distance and delay's in mail delivery they might not have known.
Our samplermaker Mary never married. The 1841 Scotland census indicates Mary is living with her mother and sister Margaret (who also never married) on Rankeillor Street. Mary MacGregor died in 1843. In 1851 Mary and her sister Margaret are still living together, both listed as annuitants. In 1861 she is living with her widowed sister Frances, who had married Reverend Richard Hunter. Mary's death from breast cancer in 1864 is witnessed by her nephew, Richard Hunter. At the age of 18 he was the oldest male in the household.
We have learned much about Mary's other siblings. Alexander also joined the military and had a distinguised career. He died at the age of 31, leaving behind a wife and three sons in Canada. Brother John became a ship's carpenter, married and also emigrated to Canada with his wife and seven children. Brother William became a solicitor in Edinburgh, married at age 39 and we believe had only one child, a son who died at age two. The youngest sibling, Magdalena, died at the age of 21 from a fever.
Jesus permit thy gracious name to stand
As the first effort of an infants hand;
And while her fingers o'er this canvas move
Engage her tender heart to seek thy love;
With thy dear children let her share a part
And write thy name thyself upon her heart.
(This sampler was added to the site on February 15, 2013)