Elizabeth Sisson samplers (General)

by amaska @, Sunday, September 01, 2019, 16:49 (345 days ago)

I have three samplers sewn by Elizabeth Sisson aged 10 in 1836 and 12 in 1838. I have inherited them from my maternal grandmother whose mother came from the Forest of Dean. I have looked at the very few records of Sissons in the parish records and not found an Elizabeth Sisson. Can anyone help, please? Thanks for any help you can give.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by MPGriffiths @, Sunday, September 01, 2019, 21:26 (345 days ago) @ amaska

Had a look on Ancestry.


There is a Public Members Tree which has an Elizabeth Sissons 18 February 1826 born in Misson, to John Sissons and Mary (Dobson) with siblings George born 1839 in Misson and Ann born later in Goole, Yorkshire, where Elizabeth died 12 September 1906.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by amaska @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 17:00 (344 days ago) @ MPGriffiths

Thank you very much for alerting me to this possibility - I hadn't seen it. I have tried but I haven't been able to find the family in the 1841 census yet. This might help rule them out if it was a poor household.

I do have a strong doubt this is the right Elizabeth because the two samplers that are signed in embroidery stitches are clearly by Elizabeth Sisson with no s at the end of Sisson.

Even so I am very grateful for your help.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by MPGriffiths @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 16:29 (344 days ago) @ amaska

SISSON appears to be spelt in many way on transcripts including


It may help to have the Surname's in your Forest of Dean connections.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by amaska @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 17:09 (344 days ago) @ MPGriffiths

Thank you again.

I think you are absolutely right that baptism records could be written wrongly. I think though that a family that could afford and encourage embroidery that involves the alphabet and extracts from hymns would be a literate and well-off family, and so would correct their records if spelled wrongly.

I wonder if the samplers could have been a gift to one of my maternal ancestors? I know some of them worked as servants, but it would seem quite an odd gift.

Thanks again.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by Jefff @, West London, Middlesex, Monday, September 02, 2019, 20:17 (344 days ago) @ amaska

Hi Amaska,
I share your doubts regarding the less-obvious variation names such as SYSUM for example. However I'm not so sure about a possible change/typo/error from SISSON to SISSONS, especially in the early 1800s when general literacy standards were still quite poor, even for the educated classes - just look at the errors often made by some Church Ministers in the PRs. Indeed, just because your Elizabeth thought her name should be spelt a particular way, doesn't mean the Minister used the same spelling for her BMD Parish Records; they only wrote what they thought they heard, in the way they thought was correct, and she probably wouldn't have checked or corrected it.

Only last week I was chatting on a FoD history group on social media about a photo of a man surnamed SARGENT from the 1940s. A lady who was clearly literate and educated thought it might be her relative, but initially doubted this as his surname was spelt slightly different than hers was, and how she thought it should be spelt for her extended family. I then went onto find some BMD records for that man and his brothers, the lady's Uncles, including a few PRs from this website as well as the GRO records. Within those records I found the spelling of this one family's surname varied several times in at least 3 different ways, including for the one same person in PRs at the same FoD church albeit some years apart !
In fact, despite typing their surname several times into the various websites, I found myself forgetting how to spell it consistently, using A's and E's all over the place haha.


PS re embroidery, don't forget that in medieval times tapestries were usually made by the very highest classes, who'd had the benefit of an education of sorts, but I wonder how good their spelling was compared to nowadays, or even if it was consider important to be accurate with such things.

PPS I've tried searching Elizabeth using FamilySearch, which is great at offering spelling variants, and so far struggling to find anyone of that name and approximate birthdate within our general part of the country.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by amaska @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 21:25 (344 days ago) @ Jefff

Hi Jeff

Thank you so much for your thoughts and for offering me a different view on spellings. Of course you are right - even if she thought her surname was Sisson that doesn't mean it would have been written that way by everyone else. I'll keep looking at a range of Sisson spelled records and hope to come up with some reason for why the samplers ended up with my mother.

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by MPGriffiths @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 21:06 (344 days ago) @ amaska

Looking at Freebmd : there are 8 Elizabeth SISSON's marriage listed between 1844 and 1851 in various Counties.

What was interesting to see is the marriage of Eizabeth SISSON (age 20) in 1844 Eye Northampton (District, Peterbro') to John HARD

Elizabeth's surname - written in the copy marriage is written as SIFSON (double SS were usually FS) -

Elizabeth signs her name: Elizabeth SIFSON - however, her father, James SIFSON (as written by the Regisrar) occupation, Labourer, he signs his name: James SISSON.

1851 Census Eye Northamptonshire (Ancestry transcribed as SESSON (in brackets SISSON)

Elizabeth Sisson samplers

by amaska @, Monday, September 02, 2019, 21:35 (344 days ago) @ MPGriffiths

Thank you, that is interesting. Looking at the actual signatures is very useful. This makes me question my understanding of what kind of household would encourage embroidery. I have been assuming a labourer in the mid 1800 wouldn't have had the means to do so, and would be unlikely to be able to sign his name. In your example the father could sign despite being a labourer, so maybe he could have afforded to give his daughter linen and threads.

Elizabeth would have needed access to two books because one embroidery seems to be copied from a book called The Child's Monosyllabic Spelling Book and another is from Markham Improved: Being an Introduction to Spelling and Reading English. This does suggest that the household would have had access to such books, and leisure time to spend on them.

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