Monday, 21 May 2012


I'm not sure if I am using the Friends' phrase correctly but I certainly felt favoured when I found this fine cotton Quaker bonnet at an antiques fair in South Yorkshire on Sunday. The kindly, humble and peaceful beliefs which are the Quaker faith have always attracted and intrigued me, partly because one of my own great grandfathers was a Friend in Norwich, though he was unique in my history - it was not a family faith.

As I went on round the fair, I found another seller with two samplers whose  plain style gave their origin away. (I was thrilled to buy these too.)

Simple Quaker samplers were worked with alphabets, often with Roman lettering and with unusual double letters as in my example above.

Sometimes a simple verse, with good advice, was embroidered in red

or black

or green.

These two samplers, so similar to each other, are almost certain to be from the same South Yorkshire family, the Fitzgeorges from Warmsworth near Doncaster. Mary Fitzgeorge signed and dated one sampler in 1838.
Research was enjoyable and produced some interesting information.
One of Britain's first Friends Meeting Houses was built in Warmsworth, in about 1706, by William, son of Thomas Aldham who was a close friend and supporter of George Fox, one of the founders of the Quaker faith. Proof that there were strong Quaker connections to this small South Yorkshire village.

As for the Fitzgeorge family: Mary was the granddaughter of Edmund Fitzgeorge, born 1758, who had, as a baby, been abandoned at the Foundling Hospital in London. As a young child he was sent to the Foundling Hospital in Ackworth, Yorkshire, which later became a renowned Quaker School. He was later apprenticed to a blacksmith and is buried in Warmsworth churchyard.
Mothers whose babies were abandoned at the Foundling Hospital left a token, so that they might be reunited with the right child if their circumstances improved - sadly, many of these still exist at the Foundling Hospital Museum. Of 16,282 babies left at the London Foundling Hospital between 1741 and 1760 only 152 were reclaimed.

It is known that Edmund's token was a blue ribbon.


  1. Sad but fascinating.

    1. Yes indeed,and made all the more poignant for me as my new granddaughter was born today.

  2. A really interesting post Nilly. I have been intending to visit the London Foundling Hospital for years, but have never made it yet. This has inspired me to make more effort.

  3. Yes - we keep meaning to visit, though I might need to take plenty of tissues. My thoughts about foundlings became even more affecting because our new granddaughter was born this afternoon - she's beautiful!

  4. A lovely, touching post but more importantly today - many congratulations, Nilly - welcome to your new granddaughter. What will she be called? Axxx

  5. Thank you Annie! At the moment she is without a name. Laylah is favoured, but I fear Mr N will launch into an Eric Clapton riff every time we see her if that's chosen (air guitar of course).

  6. What a lovely surprise to see a sampler, made by one of my ancestors, Mary Fitzgeorge, most of the blacksmiths around the area, were Edmunds children and grand-children.
    Mary Fitzgeorge was mr 3rd great aunt

    1. Anonymous21 July, 2018

      Edmund Fitzgeorge was my 3 X great grandfather. I have lots more info if you are interested!

    2. Hi these are my ancesters too on my fathers side

  7. Hi Nilly,
    Just wondered if your Quaker bonnet and sampler done by Mary Fitzgeorge were up for sale?
    It would be so wonderful to own these ,as I do not have anything past down from this side of my family, hope you don't think I am chheky,but just thought I would ask !!
    Carol T