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Family treasure – Jane Speers, who are you?

As long as I can remember this framed sampler hung on the wall of my Granny’s house in Co Down, N Ireland.

I have always thought it was beautiful, but never knew much about it’s origin.

Now it hangs on my wall, and I still don’t know much about it!

My mum remembers that it came from Jeannie’s house (pronounced Jinny). The lovely piano we have also came form Jeannie’s house. She lived with her brother, and neither of them married. She was related to my grandfather, but not closely.  So far we think they were perhaps 2nd cousins.

The lady who had this in her home had the middle name of Spiers (according to the 1901 census when she was aged just 3). It looks like she and her brother were adopted/raised by someone other than her parents as by 1911 her surname has changed to the name of the family she and her brother are living with.

I am assuming that Jane Speers was perhaps the mother of Jeannie?  As Jeannie was living with another family aged 3, this might have been one of the few things she had from her mother?

Now, opinion please – is this 1837 or 1887?

It appears to be written on the fabric in pen (presumably that is how she followed the pattern), and although most of the rest has all be covered in beautifuly neat cross-stictch, the August and the year have not been sewn over.

It also would appear that the letters “Y” and “Z” were not seen as priorities in the 19th century! Or else someone thought the symmetry was better with only 24 letters!

It really doesn’t matter I suppose the actual date it was completed, or who Jane was. It is a beautiful piece, and part of my family history.

And as someone who has done a few crosss-stiches myself, but NEVER on this scale, I can appreciate the skill and patience it must have taken.

It is also lovely to have the sampler and the piano back under the one roof.

As I have a daughter called Jane, someday it will hang in her home when she is older.  Maybe by then I will know more of the story behind it – I may visit our Public Records Office and do some investigating. In Ireland all public records were destroyed by fire in Dublin in 1922, so there is very litte information available before then …. but this just makes it more of a challenge.

Do you have anything you have inherited, that has a story behind it?

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  1. That’s really interesting JanMary – I’m doing a bit of research at the minute into my family history. I’d say it is definitely 1898 as quite often they are given when a new baby is born and that would make sense if she was 3 in 1901. Perhaps she was to be known as Jane but she ended up being jeannie – what is the first name listed as on the 1901 census? It’s a lovely piece – I do cross stitch too, so also appreciate the time taken.

    I inherited these from my grandmother when my mum died about 3 years ago, they were wrapped up in a pillowcase, probably since she completed them. I had them framed recently………


  2. The top part almost looks closed I know could it be a 9, were you able to google samplers from those time periods? Dont you have a version of the antique road show in Ireland? 🙂 hope you find your answers.


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