The Old Scot, circa 1740-60


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The Old Scot has been brought to you in collaboration with Sigrid and Torsten Eckel who reproduced the sampler. The model has been lovingly stitched by Sigrid.

Whilst the sampler was acquired by us in England it can be nothing other than a Scottish sampler from the mid 1700’s. This was a fascinating and turbulent time in Scottish history and will, forever, be linked with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the doomed Jacobite Cause.

A stylised thistle border surrounds this beautiful Scottish sampler that was stitched circa 1740-1760 on 36ct linen with fine wool. The un-named sampler features two reversed flower bands and two elaborate upper-case alphabets of solid cross stitched centres surrounded by back stitched curlicues.

Five sets of initials are recorded on the sampler but none feature the same last initial so it is possible that these may not be the initials of family members but of friends.  The three storey building with many windows, three pointed gables and a man with a staff in the doorway is of great interest to us.

Whilst no mention is made of the man’s identity or the building in reference books about Scottish samplers we wonder if he could be James Francis Edward Stuart, The Old Pretender or his son Bonnie Prince Charlie and the building Linlithgow Palace through the eyes of a child. If you would like to read more about our theory please click on the TABS above.

The 20 page chart is in a booklet format and has been printed in full colour throughout. The chart comes with a comprehensive stitching guide and stitch diagrams together with extensive historical information about the period the sampler was stitched in. You may enjoy watching a video about the sampler – see VIDEO tab above.

Who is he?

The theories put forward are just that,  theories, we have nothing concrete to back them up. The identities of the little lass who stitched this sampler, the building and man she stitched have been lost in time. Whilst no mention is made of the man’s identity in reference books about Scottish samplers we wonder if he could be James Francis Edward Stuart, The Old Pretender or his son Bonnie Prince Charlie.  It is possible that the girl’s family were Jacobites and this was her way of showing support for the “Stuart Cause”. To be a Jacobite supporter was a very dangerous game. The stakes were high and if discovered you would be guilty of treason, and prison, transportation or even the death penalty would undoubtedly await you. As a result of the need for absolute secrecy expressing allegiance had to be done covertly so Jacobites established an intricate set of symbols, coded phrases and rituals.  They signalled their support with objects that were either small and easy to conceal, or decorated with intentionally obscure symbolic designs and inscriptions alluding to the cause. The most common was the rose, depicted fully open and often with two closed buds on the stem. The open flower is thought to represent the throne of England, and the two buds the two Stuart sons: Prince Charles Edward Stuart, The Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie; and Prince Henry, the Cardinal Duke of York. Such symbols were used on fans, glassware and snuff boxes, and can also be seen in Jacobite portraiture. Jacobites would drink a toast to the King ‘over the water’ in “Amen” glasses encoded with secret symbols. A glass of wine would be held above a bowl or a glass of water as a toast to the health of the King was offered; thus literally toasting the King over the water. Some believe that the popular Christmas carol “O Come All Ye Faithful” is actually a Jacobite call to arms. The Latin version of the carol, Adeste Fideles, celebrated not the birth of Jesus but the birth of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. It was written by John Francis Wade an English Jacobite who fled the country after the failed 1745 Rebellion. Fideles is Faithful Catholic Jacobites. Bethlehem is a common Jacobite cipher for England, and Regem Angelorum is a well-known pun on Angelorum (angels) and Anglorum (English). So “Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels” really means, “Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English” – Bonnie Prince Charlie. From its religious roots, Jacobite ideology was passed  on  through  committed families and it was not uncommon for household and personal items to have hidden symbols. Whilst the identity of the man in the sampler is only a theory on our part, the sampler was stitched during a time of great upheaval and suppression for the Scottish people. James, The Old Pretender was the son of James II, the last English Catholic King who had been deposed by  his  Protestant  daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. On the death of his father in 1701 The Old Pretender claimed the English, Scottish and Irish Thrones as James III of England, Ireland and James VIII of Scotland.  He was recognised as King by: his cousin Louis XIV of France, The King of Spain, the Papal States and Modena, but not by the English Parliament. This caused huge dissatisfaction especially in Scotland where the Jacobite Cause was created.  The “Jacobite   Rebellions” were   a   series   of   uprisings, rebellions, and wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746.  The aim was to return James II and later his descendants to the throne of Great Britain. The series of conflicts takes its name Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. After the House of Hanover succeeded to the British throne in 1714, the risings continued and intensified until the last Jacobite rebellion of 1745 led by Bonnie Prince Charlie. On a bitterly cold April afternoon in 1746, on moorland just east of the town of Inverness, the power of Scotland’s Highland clans was forever broken. The Prince chose to give battle on the most unsuitable terrain possible for a Highland charge. Hanoverian artillery cut the Jacobite troops to pieces, and Culloden was a slaughter. The Prince fled the field before the battle was over and spent five months in hiding in the Western Highlands and Islands with The Duke of Cumberland’s (the Butcher of Culloden and son of George II) men in relentless pursuit. He eventually escaped to France, with the selfless assistance of the heroic Flora MacDonald. He never returned to Scotland. The Bonnie Prince died in Italy, a sad and embittered old drunkard in 1788. Of the officers and chiefs who escaped the battle, many fled to Europe and served in foreign armies. Some were in due course permitted to return. Many of the Jacobite rank and file fled to the American colonies. The prisoners were tried at Berwick, York and London and around 80 were executed, the last in 1754. The Battle of Culloden Moor was the last battle fought on the British mainland and marked not only the final defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite followers, but the systematic dismantling of the ancient social and military culture of the Highland clans. The brutal battle was followed by a lengthy period of suppression in the Highlands marked by massacre and despoiling. In an effort to prevent further trouble in the Scottish Highlands, the English Parliament outlawed  many  cultural  practices  to  destroy  the clan  system. The Dress Act prohibited the wearing of tartans or kilts, and amongst other things the playing of bagpipes was banned. Prayers for the Hanoverian monarch and his family were imposed before school lessons every day. Fines, imprisonment, and exile awaited those who dared defy the new laws. The history of the exiled Stuart dynasty and their supporters, has held an enduring and romantic fascination for generations. Jacobitism is celebrated in romantic poetry, literature and folk songs.  From the writings of Sir Walter Scott and his first novel Waverley to the current Outlander books and television series. One of the most famous stories concerning the Prince’s five months as a fugitive is his escape by sea, dressed as the maid “Betty Burke”, accompanied by Flora MacDonald. Many of us will know the wistful “Skye Boat Song” and its promise of “the lad that’s born to be king” as he is rowed away to Skye from whence, like King Arthur before him, he “will come again”. The song is a traditional expression of Jacobitism and its story has also entered Scotland as a national legend. Its form is a traditional Gaelic rowing song and the lyrics, establishing the association with Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 rebellion, were actually written by an Englishman named Sir Harold Edwin Boulton in 1884. In 1892, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the post-Culloden adventure, Kidnapped, wrote his own version of the “Skye Boat Song” with the first line “Sing me a song of a lad that is gone”.

Thread Legend

The sampler has been reproduced with Au Ver à Soie d’Alger silks and the skein quantities calculated based on 1 strand on 36ct fabric. We have provided a DMC conversion based on 2 strands on 36ct fabric. The model was stitched on 36ct Lakeside Linen Vintage Meadow Rue. Soie d’Alger / DMC / Gentle Art Simply Wool 4622 x 1 / 223 x 1 / 0340 ~ Shell pink - light 925 x 1 / 349 x 1  / 0390 ~  Coral – dark 4245 x 1 / 420 x 2 / 7088 ~  Hazel nut brown - dark 3833 x 1 / 612 x 1 / 7000~ Drab brown - light 3831 x 1 / 644 x 1 / 7027 ~ Beige grey - medium 943 x 1 / 817 x 1 / 7052 ~ Coral red – very dark 2145 x 2 / 3011 x 2  / 0110 ~ Khaki green - dark 2915 x 1 / 3328 x 1 / 0520 ~ Salmon - dark 4635 x 1 / 3726 x 1 / 7030 ~ Antique mauve - dark 1723 x 1 / 3810 x 1 / 7037 ~ Turquoise - dark 622 x 1 / 3821 x 1 / 0420 ~ Straw The original sampler was stitched with fine wool and we have provided a courtesy conversion for Gentle Art Simply Wool. The range of colours available is not as extensive as AVAS silks and DMC cotton.  7037 is not ideal but was the best option within the range. LINEN SIZES The design area is 240 stitches (w) x 271 stitches (h). Our calculations have included a 3” margin for finishing and framing.   28ct – Design: 17.14" x 19.36" Fabric: 23.14" x 25.36" 32ct – Design: 15" x 16.94" Fabric: 21" x 22.94" 36ct – Design: 13.33" x 15.06" Fabric: 19.33" x 21.06" 40ct – Design: 12" x 13.55" Fabric: 18" x 19.55"  

Stitch Guide

There are a variety of stitches used: cross stitch over 2 threads, back stitch, satin stitch, four sided stitch and 2 different variations of a rice stitch which we have not seen before. The Old Scot has been rated as suitable for an intermediate stitcher but is not beyond a confident beginner wishing to take the next step with counted needlework.   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 below.  The  Old Scot was  worked  with  normal  tension  but  it  can  be  used for other projects with a  pulled tension to create a lacy effect.   The orginal sampler was worked with backstitch, however, double running stitch was substituted on the model. Whilst the two stitches appear identical on the front of your work double running stitch will use less thread and enable you to work a continous line without the need for frequently ending and restarting your thread. We have included a stitch digram and intructions for both stitches.                                                                              Back Stitch – When working from your left to the right. Bring your needle up at 1 and down at 2, then moving to the right bring your needle up  at  3 and go  back down at 1.  Move to the right and bring your needle up at 4 and go back down at 3.   Double  Running Stitch is worked  in two journeys.  On  the outward   journey  you mark out the motif and on the return trip you  fill  in  the  gaps.  It  is  also  called Holbein Stitch. The bands running below both the alphabets are each formed using stitches that we have not seen before. After an extensive search of numerous modern and antique needlework books and resources we have been unable to locate and identify either stitch. It is possible that the young girl simply misunderstood the path her needle should have taken to create the stitch she meant to lay. We have classified the stitches as variations of the rice stitch.   Rice Sitch Variation No: 1  worked with  two strands of silk – lay a diagonal stitch over 4 threads by bringing your  needle  up  at  1  and  down  at  2,  working  in  a clockwise  direction lay  a series of  4 diagonal  stitches  over  2  threads:  3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10. The  stitch  is  now complete. Start the next stitch at 11 and repeat the series.   Rice Stitch Variation  No: 2   worked  with  two  strands of silk – lay a vertical stitch over 4  threads by bringing your  needle  Up  at  1  and  down  at  2,  working  in  a  clockwise  direction lay  a  series of 4 diagonal  stitches over 2 threads: 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10. Finally  lay  a  short horizontal  stitch  over  the vertical  stitch  by  bringing your needle  up  at 11 and down At  12. The stitch is now complete.  Start the next stitch at 13 and repeat the series.     Cross Stitch is made up of 2 stitches  worked over 1 or 2 threads. Make all your stitches cross in the same direction for a neat and uniform finish. Satin Stitch –  run a straight stitch between each thread of the fabric in the direction shown on the chart. Use 1 thread  making  repeated passes until the desired coverage is achieved.

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 the CONTACT page on our website. Our website has stitching tutorials which can be found in the “SEWING BASKET AND TOOLS” section.


The Old Scot - a finish by Mary Ann Zehms stitched with Au Ver a Soie d’Alger

The Old Scot stitched by Terry Gaab Niemczura with AVAS silks

The Old Scot stitched by Robin Laukhuf

The Old Scot stitched by Janet Nicholl


The Old Scot stitched by Petra Gerritsen

The Old Scot stitched by Petra Gerritsen

The Old Scot stitched by Petra Gerritsen

The Old Scot stitched by Rita Barron

Chart Correction

We regret to advise that there was an incorrect shade number shown on Page 6 of the graph. Please note the correction below.