Harriett Salt 1866 ~ printed booklet


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The sampler is offered to you in two different formats ~ as a printed booklet and as an instant PDF download. Details of the PDF download can be found HERE.
On Tuesday, January 12th 1864 George Müller received into his care 13-year-old orphan Harriett Salt, together with her two sisters Eliza, aged 12, and Mary Joyce, who was 8. Their father, the stone mason Joseph Langstone Salt, had died the previous September of consumption and their mother, who Harriett had been named after, in the October of endometrial cancer. Within the space of one month the three sisters had lost their family and all they held dear and were separated from their three brothers. Neither their grandparents nor uncles and aunts were in a position to care for them.

Samplers worked within the Müller Orphanage are highly sought after by collectors and it is said that a collection of antique samplers or a stitcher’s sampler wall is not complete without at least one example. The samplers acted as a reference to the girls’ needlework skills in the marking of linen and household items when many of the girls found employment as domestic servants.

Bristol orphanage samplers are particularly important as the orphanage kept meticulous records of each child, casting light onto the poverty and desperate social conditions that existed throughout Britain in the 19th century. Today these records give us the opportunity to share Harriett’s story with you. Please see the separate section for copies of the orphanage’s records.

The sampler is suitable for all levels of ability and can be stitched on linen or aida.

Harriett Stitched Another Sampler ~ Claudia Dutcher Kistler

Every girl who lived at George Müller’s orphanage between the ages of 12 to 15 was required to stitch a red thread sampler. These intricate samplers were their resume with a needle. There were hundreds of these samplers stitched. Not all have survived, but we have enough of those that did survive to know the alphabets, motifs, and other characteristics that define a red Bristol sampler. Harriett’s sampler, presented in this leaflet, was the sampler she had to stitch. Unique also to the Bristol Orphan Homes, and much less familiar, are the multi-coloured samplers stitched there. These samplers are far fewer the 1866 “red” Harriett sampler, it was discovered that a multicoloured sampler was sold at auction in 2015 that was stitched by a Harriett Salt.

There was only one Harriett Salt listed in the orphan records from 1866 -1868. From the auction pictures, the name and information on this sampler reads: Harriett Salt, North Wing, New Orphan House, Ashley Down, Bristol, 1868. If this is Harriett’s second sampler, then we now know a little more about the purpose of the rare multi-coloured orphan samplers, and why there are so few of them seen today. Harriett Salt’s skill with a needle has opened the door to the idea that the multi-coloured Bristol samplers could be second samplers. Most of the Bristol multi-coloured samplers are not signed or dated, which makes sense if the girls were working them for their own pleasure. These samplers also share similar elements just as the redwork pieces do. Here are several reasons why only certain girls would have been have been offered the chance to stitch a second sampler.

First – the multi-coloured samplers were worked in expensive silk thread. A beginner would not have been allowed to stitch with silk.

Second – the girl would have to have been at the orphanage long enough to complete her redwork sampler first and then begin another sampler.

Third – she would have purposed to set aside dedicated stitching time apart from her daily duties at the orphanage, which included taking care of the younger children, laundry, and housekeeping. Therefore, the girl would have enjoyed working with needle and thread and wanted to stitch a second sampler.

Harriett’s 1868 sampler is the earliest dated and signed multi-coloured Bristol sampler that has surfaced so far. Harriett Salt, because of the sampler(s) she stitched, has provided us with an unexpected insight into sampler history.

Claudia Dutcher Kistler is a collector and lecturer on Bristol orphan samplers. If you would like to learn more about Bristol samplers, please visit her website: Bristolsamplers.com

George Müller
During his lifetime George Müller’s cared for 10,024 orphans and established 117 schools which offered a Christian education to over 120,000 children. He did all this by seeking means from God through prayer. On March 10th 1898 Müller, a philanthropist, man of prayer and preacher, passed away. On the day of his funeral the great city of Bristol mourned, firms closed and thousands of people lined the route of the funeral procession to pay their respects. Bristol’s cathedral, its churches and civic buildings flew their flags at half-mast and muffled peals were rung. In all the main streets black shutters were put up or curtains and blinds were drawn. Over 100 carriages followed his hearse and around 7,000 people gathered at the cemetery gates. One newspaper noted that he was “raised up for the purpose of showing that the age of miracles is not past,” another that he had “robbed the cruel streets of thousands of victims, the gaols of thousands of felons, the workhouse of thousands of helpless waifs.”

Stitch Guide

Remember that just like the longest journey begins with a single step, so does each sampler begin with a single stitch. All stitches begin the same way, by pushing the needle through the fabric, first one way, then the other. The only difference between one type of stitch and another is where you put that needle and how you manipulate the thread.

The stitches used are cross stitch over two threads and four sided stitch. The sampler is suitable for all levels of ability and can be stitched on linen or aida.


Cross Stitch ~ When working Cross Stitch the top stitch should always lie in the same direction for a neat and uniform finish. Depending on the count of fabric you are using you may wish to substitute over 1 cross stitch with tent stitch.


Four Sided Stitch ~ forms a square (straight stitch) on the front of the fabric and a cross (diagonal stitch) on the back. Follow the sequence of stitches opposite. Harriett worked her stitches with normal tension but this stitch can be used for other projects with a pulled tension to create a lacy effect.

    Hands Across the Sea Samplers are on hand to help those stitching our charts. If you need assistance or have any questions we can be reached via email, address shown below, or the contact page on our website. Our website has stitching tutorials which can be found in the “sewing basket/tools” section.  

Thread Legend

Harriett’s sampler has been reproduced with Au Ver à Soie 100.3 silk on 56ct linen. We have provided two conversions below.

Au Ver à Soie 100.3 681 x 6 spools based on 1 strand on 56ct linen. ** 681 has now been discontinued. We recommend 664 as a substitute.

Au Ver à Soie d’Alger 2924 x 16 skeins based on 1 strand on 36ct linen.

DMC 321 x 16 skeins based on 2 strands on 36ct linen.

Linen Sizes

The design area is 413 stitches (w) x 414 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing. The original sampler was stitched on linen closest in colour to DMC738.

28ct ~ Design: 29.50" x 29.57" Fabric: 35.50" x 35.57"

32ct ~ Design: 25.81" x 25.88" Fabric: 31.81" x 31.88"

36ct ~ Design: 22.94" x 23.00" Fabric: 28.94" x 29.00"

40ct ~ Design: 20.65" x 20.70" Fabric: 26.65" x 26.70"

46ct ~ Design: 17.96" x 18.00" Fabric: 23.96" x 24.00"

56ct ~ Design: 14.75" x 14.79" Fabric: 20.75" x 20.79"

Orphanage Records for Harriett

Entry into the Admission Register for Harriett, Eliza and Mary Joyce Salt


Discharge Records for Harriett, Eliza and Mary Joyce Salt


Documents relating to the application for places in the orphanage