|Source: Victoria and Albert Museum|
"1830 sampler sewn by a young female servant, UK, Elizabeth Parker recounting abuse she suffered as a typically vulnerable young working-class women employed in a household far from family, and the power of needlework as a form of women’s writing"
I was intrigued. This was such a powerful and painstaking way for Elizabeth to tell her story in a somewhat permanent fashion and being curious (as all genealogists are!) decided to track down the rest of her story. What I found was fascinating and troubling.
From the Victoria and Albert Museum we learn "Elizabeth recounts the story of her early life, and draws us in from the start, with the words 'As I cannot write I put this down simply and freely as I might speak to a person to whose intimacy and tenderness I can fully intrust myself.' We read that she was born in 1813 and lived with her parents, a labourer and a charity school teacher, and her ten brothers and sisters until the age of 13"
Elizabeth's painstaking efforts to immortalize her tragic life in servitude ends with this final sentence "what will become of my soul" – followed by blank space. For many years her adult life was not known - did she as she once hinted she would, commit suicide? Or did she live on to old age? Now her story is known and can be read at Victoria and Albert Museum