Maria Coveney

English Samplers

Maria Coveney


Colchester, Essex


Sometimes a sampler comes along that stands out and almost seems to jump out of the frame. Maria has stitched just such a sampler. Her Adam & Eve is exquisitely stitched in fantastic detail and is still amazingly colourful. The first thing that pops when you look at this sampler is the snake, coiled around the tree, it's mouth open dropping the apple into Eve's hand. Maria's Adam & Eve are very proportionally detailed figures, a feat in itself as it is very unusual to be able to create such realistic, anatomical figures in sampler embroidery. The tree holding the snake is equally beautiful. It is an interesting design choice that she used yellow apples instead of red that allows the snake and Adam & Eve to be even more prominent. While her genealogy is not very detailed it appears that Maria might have been around 15 when she made this sampler, her age and obvious maturity would explain her skill.

Of the two verses, the source of the verse on the left is unknown. While we continue to search for the author, we have seen this verse on another sampler, with the following modifications:

Adam and Eve while innocent
In Paradise were Placed
But soon the serpent by his wiles
The happy pair disgraced

The verse on the right is from Sir Isaac Watts, the last stanza of hymn #11.150. The hymn is an interesting choice for a young girl and quite mature in content.

Underneath the tree Maria has put her signature and date. Beneath this is her lawn. It is easy to appreciate the long and short section as well as the cross stitch hilly sections at the ends. She has stitched a special hillock each for Adam and Eve. The rest of the sampler is much more traditional, with a complete alphabet and numerals 1-13 along the top. Numerous spot motifs in a mirror image style fill the remaining spaces, and include trumpeting angels, flowering plants, birds, deer and dogs. An undulating strawberry border surrounds the sampler. It would be easy to wax poetic about Maria's skill, but looking at the photographs please enjoy for yourself.

Size (W x H): 12 1/2 x 13 1/8 inches

Stitches: Cross, cross-over-one, long-short, satin, outline, back, eyelet, chain

Media: Silk on wool


Maria Coveney, aged 19, married William Groves in Colchester, Essex 22 October 1805. Her death is recorded in 1838, also in Colchester. The couple registered the births of eight children: Maria (1808), James (1810), Mary (1812), Zephaniah (1815), Susannah (1818), Thomas (1820), Emma (1824) and Charles (1826).


Left side:
Adam and Eve wile
Innocence in Paradise
Ware Placd but Soon
The Serpent by her whils
The Happy Pair Disgrace

Right side:
So on the tree divinely fair
Grew the forbiddent food
Our mother the poison there
And tainted all her blood

Maria Coveney
September the 20

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(This sampler was added to the site on September 15, 2017)

Additional Information

The first stanzas of Watt's hymn #11.150:

Sin has a thousand treach'rous arts
To practise on the mind;
With flatt'ring looks she tempts our hearts,
But leaves a sting behind.

With names of virtue she deceives
The aged and the young;
And while the heedless wretch believes,
She makes his fetters strong.

She pleads for all the joys she brings,
And gives a fair pretence;
But cheats the soul of heav'nly things,
And chains it down to sense.