Louisa’s sampler was previously in the collection of a great collector of antiques Ellery Yale Wood, an American who moved to the UK in the 1950s, and her partner Eric Golding, a renowned London book dealer. Following Ellery’s death the sampler was purchased at auction and is now in the private collection of Nicola Parkman.
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 Louisa’s story with you.
Louisa was born on July 4 1861 in Weymouth Dorset, the daughter of William Coulimore, a shoe maker, and Louisa Beard. Her mother died in May 1867 of typhoid fever which was rife, particularly in Victorian industrial cities, due to infected water.
Louisa, one of her two brothers and two younger sisters, Alice and Matilda, were given into the care of their Aunt Jane Chivers, a laundress living in Melksham, Wiltshire. Her father moved to Brackley in Northamptonshire, presumably to find work.
William did not re-marry and died in July 1874 and only 11 days later the children’s grandfather wrote to the Müller Orphanage asking for four of the children to be admitted. Matilda the youngest child was not mentioned and remained in her Aunt’s care.
A letter of reference describes Louisa as “a thoroughly honest, good girl, her Aunt, with whom she has been living has been careful to teach her rightly, she is tractable and willing and was kept at school until she was twelve.“
Only Louisa and Alice were granted places and they were admitted to Number One house on August 21 1874. Orphan No’s: 4313 and 4314.
Louisa remained at the orphanage until she was 16 and in 1877 on August 6 she was returned to her Aunt’s care as “ ….she could not be recommended for a situation ….. her health being very poor and her weakness such that she gets faint and exhausted to work”.
In 1886 in Eastbourne, Sussex Louisa married William Humphress. The census records show that through the following decades Louisa was a self-employed dressmaker. She put to good use the skills learnt at the orphanage, stitching: rows of alphabets, border patterns, numerals and small pictorial motifs including a bible on a small piece of cotton ground.
Louisa and William had 2 children who died in early infancy. Despite her ill health as a young girl, she lived to 79 years dying in 1940.
The chart includes five pages of historical information on Louisa and the Müller Orphanage, illustrated with photographs and orphange records.
With our grateful thanks to Jacqueline Morris for stitching the model.
Louisa’s sampler is suitable for all levels. The model was stitched entirely in cross stitch over 2 threads with 2 skeins of Glorianna silk in Schoolhouse Red on 40ct Lakeside Linen vintage sand dune. Stitch count – 246(w) x 280(h).