On the 16th of June 1755 Martha Allis, daughter of Quakers John and Anna was born in Shad Thames in the Parish of St. John’s in Southwark. George II sat on the English throne and Samuel Johnson’s first dictionary had just been published. Martha was descended through her maternal line from merchants who had escaped religious persecution in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century, and settled in London.
By the time that Martha was born, Quaker had been able to practice their religion in England openly for almost sixty years and during this time had begun to be recognized for their integrity in social and economic matters. Many Quakers went into manufacturing or commerce, as previously they had not been allowed to earn academic degrees.
At the same time Quakers were also becoming more concerned about social issues and were more active in general society. One such issue was slavery, another issue that became a concern of the Quakers was the treatment of the mentally ill. They also believed in the spiritual equality of women who were allowed to take a far more active role than had ordinarily existed.
We can expect Martha’s family to have been hard working, affluent, religious and charitable. Martha and her mother would have been equals with her father and brother. Martha would have received an education.
In the current century Shad Thames, where Martha was born, is an historic riverside street with Tower Bridge (built in 1886) at its west end and running along the south side of the River Thames in London. At the time of Martha’s birth it was described thusly:
Shad Thames exhibits an uninterrupted series of wharves, warehouses, mills and factories, on both sides of the narrow and crowded roadway. The buildings on the northern side are contiguous to the river, and in the gateways and openings in these we witness the busy scenes and the mazes of the shipping which pertain to such a spot.
This was a major area for brewing beer which could easily be transported across the river into London. Martha’s father, John Allis and his partner Hagger Allis, were brewers at Horslydown Old Stairs and were listed in “The New Complete Guide to All Persons Who Have Any Trade or Concern City of London” issued in 1770, the year that Martha stitched her sampler. It is interesting to note that the famous English brewing company Courage was founded by John Courage in 1787 following his purchase of John and Hagger’s brewery for the sum of (BP) 616.13.11d paid by cheque on 20th December 1787.
On April 18th, 1780 at the rather late age of 25, Martha Allis married Nathaniel Hartland at the Friends Meeting House, Horslydown, London. The Hartland and Allis families were closely interconnected with numerous marriages between cousins in generations before and after the Martha/Nathaniel union and we can presume that they grew up knowing each other. They lived on Church Street in Tewkesbury overlooking the Abbey there.
Martha and Nathaniel had eight children: John, Reeve, Anna, Nathaniel (died), another died unnamed, Nathaniel, Sarah and William. Their last child, William was born 15th September 1797 in Church Street, Tewkesbury. Martha died that day at the age of 42, and baby William died three months later.
The history of Martha Allis can be traced into the current century.
The verse is as follows:
ALMIGHTY Pow’r! amazing are thy Ways;
HYMN, FROM PSALM 8
Where each bright Orb, since Time his Course begun,
Above our Knowledge, and above our Praise!
How all thy Works thy Excellence display!
How fair, how great, how wonderful are they!
Thy Hand yon wide-extended Heav’n uprais’d,
Yon wide-extended Heav’n with Stars emblaz’d,
Has roll’d a mighty World, or shin’d a sun:
Stupendous Thought! how sinks all human Race!
A Point an Atom in the Field of Space!
Yet ev’n to us, O LORD, thy Care extends,
Thy Bounty feeds us, and thy Pow’r defends;
Yet ev’n to us, as Delegates of Thee,
Thou giv’st Dominion over Land and Sea;
Whate’er, or walks on Earth, or flits in Air;
Whate’er of Life the wat’ry Regions bear;
All these are ours, and for th’extensive Claim,
We owe due Homage to thy sacred Name!
Almighty Pow’r! how wond’rous are thy Ways!
The sampler makes use of cross, petit point, counted satin, and French knot stitches. On 35 count linen the finished reproduction will measure approximately 17-1/2″ x 19″. The project is recommended for any skill level.
Silk Floss, Cotton Floss, Graph Only