Friday 13 December 2013

Sampler Tribute to Robert Marshman Pastor of Westbury Leigh 1763-1806

It's always rather exciting to come across samplers that relate historic events - particularly on what might be termed the micro scale. From these stitched documents we can see through the eyes of the community those issues that were considered important enough to record - acts of goodwill, acts of corruption or, as in this case, acts of devoted long service. In 1662 a congregation formed in Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire. By 1669 Anabaptists were meeting in the house of Roger Cutter, who was their pastor until his death in 1693. Cutter also represented his congregation at the 1st Baptist Assembly in London in 1689. After 1693 the congregation moved into a barn beloging to Stephen Self, a clothier, on the site of the present Baptist chapel. In 1714 Self converted the barn into a chapel. Robert Marshman, the pastor honoured on this sampler, ministered to the congregation from 1763-1806. Between 1796-7, he was responsible for building a new, larger chapel on the site of the old one. Nearly all the cost of £1,300 was raised by the congregation. There was a Sunday school, built after Marshman's time, where 140 pupils were taught. The chapel is still well used today. Elizabeth Lane was the stitcher of this sampler which she accomplished aged 9. Was she chosen because she was the best stitcher among her peers, because she was a relative of of a church elder? We do not know. However, it is almost certain she did not marry. She appears in the 1851 census as daughter of the household, aged 42. Her sampler is for auction - Lot 742 - with Henry Aldridge and Son on 14 December 2013. Click here for more details.

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