Loyalist of the Day – Sarah Tuck

As the Loyalist Legacy exhibition comes to its conclusion on Sunday, we now look at the legacy section of the story.  This entry is a modified re-post of a story from earlier in 2011 – the Sarah Tuck sampler.

By the 1820s and 1830s the older generation of Loyalists had passed from the scene.  Those who had arrived as children or young adults were now in middle age with children and grandchildren unfamiliar with the war, the migration, the struggle for survival and the creation of a new life.  The subsequent generations enjoyed the fruits of the labours of their ancestors.  Communities, churches and schools appeared where field and forest had been in 1783, and frame houses replaced log cabins.   Some Loyalists enjoyed prosperity unknown prior to coming to New Brunswick with large and extended families and the ability to purchase finery and home decorations.

sampler, 9 March 1842 by Sarah E. Tuck, gift of Gracie Webb Mealey, 1990

sampler, 9 March 1842 by Sarah E. Tuck, gift of Gracie Webb Mealey, 1990

This sampler was made by Sarah E. Tuck (28 February 1832-30 December 1906), a second cousin of Samuel Leonard Tilley, and is dated 9 March 1842.  Sarah was the youngest daughter of Levi Tuck (27 October 1795 – 25 July 1878), a local carpenter and Elizabeth Tilley (27 December 1799 – 6 March 1875), Gagetown.  On 18 January 1855, Sarah married David Berry (10 October 1809-3 January 1865) of Greenwich, Kings County and had seven children, including two by a second marriage on 17 October 1866, to her first husband’s youngest brother, Michael Berry (16 April 1824-31 May 1904).  Sarah’s Loyalist grandfather, Jacob Tilley (1775-1862) and Samuel Leonard Tilley’s Loyalist grandfather, James Tilley (1773-1850), were brothers, both sons of Loyalists Samuel Tilley (c. 1740-1814) and Elizabeth Morgan (c. 1751-1835).

Samplers were usually made by 9 or 10 year old girls to show their developing needlework skills.  The standard design is well illustrated in this work consisting of letters, upper and lower case, sometimes numbers (missing in this case), little poems or limericks and all done with a variety of plain and fancy stitches.  The works were always signed and dated:  on the right is Sarah’s name, age (10 years), Gage Town, and the date March 9th 1842.  How many ten year olds do you know who can do this type of work?

document box, gift of Gracie Webb Mealey, 1990

document box, gift of Gracie Webb Mealey, 1990

As with any object of this age, condition is always a concern.  This piece is very good with some minor loss in stitching around the perimeter and some fading of the brightly coloured threads for the letters. Losses often occur around the name and date; we are fortunate this is not the case here with Sarah’s name and date in near perfect condition.  Over time, movement and handling, folding and unfolding, light damage and so on can destroy many of these types of textiles making them relatively rare objects.  The preservation of this work is thanks to Sarah Tuck Berry’s great-granddaughter, the donor, Gracie Webb Mealey.  Mrs. Mealey also donated a small document box that possibly belonged to Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth Tilley Tuck, and a Berry Family record.  The sampler has been reproduced (a slightly smaller scale) for sale in our museum shop and has attracted lots of interest.

marriage certificate, Nathaniel Vail and Mary Ann Tuck, 1837

marriage certificate, Nathaniel Vail and Mary Ann Tuck, 1837

Queens County Heritage also possesses the marriage certificate of Sarah’s sister, Mary Ann Tuck (born 1822) who married Nathaniel Vail, 19 October 1837.

For more information about this sampler or to see it in person, visit the Loyalist Legacy exhibition on now at the Court House until 18 September.  And a wee note . . .  little Miss Tuck may be making an appearance at the Ghost Walk on 1 October . . .

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One Response to Loyalist of the Day – Sarah Tuck

  1. Carol says:

    Too bad that teaching needlework skills to the young went by the wayside. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they were reintroduced?? What would be produced I wonder?

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