Stitching Together the Story

From Yorkshire to Holbrook

While Elizabeth Broadhead (1822–1894) was stitching this sampler, little could she imagine that she and her sampler would soon emigrate to New South Wales. Elizabeth was born in Barnside, Yorkshire to David (1799–1872) and Ann (nee March) (1802–1875) and the family emigrated in 1842 aboard the William Sharples. The family settled at ’Inverary Parke’ near Bungonia and in 1845 Elizabeth married William Wyatt (1811–1857).

Samplers were practice pieces to develop needlework skills deemed important for the future management of a household. Lettering provided practice for the marking of linen while border patterns and motifs were used to decorate clothes and domestic furnishings. Elizabeth’s sampler includes examples of both with the Lutheran text and stitching style suggesting that it was completed as a schoolroom exercise.

Immigration records show that Elizabeth could read and write when she emigrated, which is surprising at a time when 60% of women in England were illiterate. It is possible that Elizabeth attended the Ackworth School in Yorkshire as some motifs on Elizabeth’s sampler resemble those on Ackworth samplers.

The sampler has passed down through the maternal line from Elizabeth, to her daughter Lydia (1852–1925) and then to her daughter Annie Matilda (1877–1963). Annie exhibited the sampler, ‘a treasured possession,’ at the Jerilderie Flower Show in 1948 and at Goulburn’s Industries Fair in 1952. Elizabeth’s sampler finished its travels at the Woolpack Inn Museum, Holbrook through Edith (1912–1973) the daughter of Annie and Henry Whatman (1867-1949).

Elizabeth’s understandable pride in her work is demonstrated in her carrying this sampler with her to NSW, and the reverence with which her family has handled and cared for this most personal heirloom accounts for its survival for 190 years.