Mary Bishop's Sampler

There is a wide floral crossband at the center of the sampler, worked with crinkled silk thread in long, couched stitches. At the bottom of the sampler are three large and two small floral motifs, and among them these initials: “WB SB CB JB.” All four edges are finished with wide green silk ribbon. Mary Bishop included an inscription and the names Joseph Bishop, Mary Bishop, and Sarah Bishop.
Inscription: "In the sightless are I dwell / On the sloping sunbeams pley / Delve the cavern’s inmost cell / Where never yet did daylight stray / Joseph Bishop / Mary Bishop / Sarah Bishop."
Mary’s inscription is from a poem entitled “Song of a Spirit” by Ann Ward Radcliffe (1764-1823). Mrs. Radcliffe was a popular English writer in her day and this poem is from her 1791 historical Gothic romance novel The Romance of the Forest. The sampler is stitched with silk embroidery thread on a linen ground with a thread count of warp 28, weft 30/in. The stitches used are cross, satin, eyelet, rice, stem, outline, and crosslet.
Despite including the names of possibly her mother and father, nothing could be found about the life of Mary Bishop.
Currently not on view
Object Name
embroidery, sampler
date made
Bishop, Mary
Physical Description
linen (ground material)
silk (embroidery thread material)
overall: 15 1/2 in x 12 1/8 in; 39.37 cm x 30.7975 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. Marjorie Fristoe

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