Ann Grimshaw, Creator of Cross Stitch

Sampler at Ackworth School in 1818

Miniature view of Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler, described below

Ann Grimshaw was born in Calverley, Yorkshire and attended Ackworth School from 1816 to 1818, during which time (in 1818) she created a “sampler” of cross stitching. She was about 13 years old at the time. Her work is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has become a popular item among cross stitch enthusiasts. The pattern is sold under a royalty arrangement with the Philadelphia Art Museum by the firm, The Scarlet Letter.

Ann, the daughter of John and Mary (Wilson) Grimshaw, was born on April 28, 1804. Her lineage to the earliest Grimshaw family in Yorkshire (described on a companion webpage) has been identified – she was a 5th generation descendant. She married James Thompson on January 12, 1825.


Webpage Credits

Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler

Biographical Information on Ann Grimshaw

Additional Images from the Cross-Stitch Kit

Philadelphia Museum of Art Website Information

Ann Grimshaw Ancestry

Records from FamilySearch and WorldConnect

Ackworth School

Ackworth School Location

Additional Information Provided by Richard Walker


Webpage Credits

Thanks go to The Scarlet Letter for providing background information on Ann Grimshaw in the cross-stitching kit they sell under a royalty arrangement. Thanks also to Richard Walker for providing additional information on Ann Grimshaw’s work and the picture of Agnes Grimshaw of Ackworth School. Click here for the webpage on Richard’s Grimshaw family line.

Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler

Ann’s sampler is sold by the vendor, The Scarlet Letter, as a kit consisting of the cross-stitch pattern in full size contained within a folder that provides explanatory information. An image of Ann’s sampler is shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 provides an image of the explanatory information on the folder. The text of the explanation is shown below Figure 2.

Figure 1. Image of Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler

Figure 2. Image of front of folder in the cross-stitch kit, showing background information on Ann’s Sampler

Ann Grimshaw 1818

Ackworth Quaker School Sampler

Samplermaking styles (encompassing motifs, color palette, organization of design) usually evolved from cultural, nationalistic roots. Quaker samplers are unique in that the motifs and designs used on them are entirely of the Friends’ own making. The style spread from Europe to America, and remained distinctive even in these widely separated environments. The Quaker designs are reflective of the Quaker theology, extolling the virtues of plainness, of standing apart from the sphere of influence of the outside world, and of peace and serenity (as symbolized by the popular sampler motifs of floating swans, wreaths, floral sprigs and paired doves). At the Ackworth School in North Yorkshire, in England, which was founded in 1779, some effort was made to standardize the Quaker samplermaking style. Emphasis was placed on instruction in practical embroidery, as well as fine penmanship (evident in the distinctive, clear, Roman style lettering on the samplers), geography, and French language. The origin of the geometric medallions used on this, and many other Quaker samplers, has not yet been discovered, but it might possibly have something to do with providing a hands-on, practical lesson in applied geometry, as these motifs arc very carefully calculated amalgams of isosceles triangles, parallelograms, and other precisely fitted geometric shapes. There is also some speculation that the medallion shapes might have been influenced by the designs on some eighteenth century Dutch samplers. Another mystery is why the Quaker schools clung so fiercely to these same designs, for over forty years. Ann Grimshaw stitched this sampler on a plain weave woolen ground, using only black silk floss, in cross and eyelet stitches. The sampler, reproduced with the permission of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (for which they receive royalty payments from THE SCARLET LETTER) is accession no. 1990-83-6, purchased with the bequest of Isabel Zucker. On 40-count linen. the finished reproduction sampler will measure approximately 16-1/2″ x 21-1/2″ on 35-count linen, 18-3/4″ x 24-1/2″. The project is recommended for any level of skill.

Biographical Information on Ann Grimshaw

The cross-stitch folder contains a small note on Ann’s background on the inside (Figure 3). This note provides enough information to locate Ann in the Grimshaw line of Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw, as described below.

Figure 3. Image of Ann Grimshaw’s biographical information from the cross stitch kit sold by The Scarlet Letter

Additional Images from the Cross-Stitch Kit

Two additional images from the kit are shown in Figures 4 and 5 below.

Figure 4. Portion of the cross-stitch pattern included in the kit.

Figure 5. Cross-stitch pattern for labeling Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler

Philadelphia Museum of Art Website Information

Ann’s sampler is described on the website (address shown below) as shown in Figure 6. It appears that the original is not on active display at this time.

Figure 6. Image and descriptive information on Ann Grimshaw’s Sampler as provided on the website of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Costume and Textiles

Ann Grimshaw was from Rawdon, Yorkshire, and attended the Friends’ boarding school in Ackworth, Yorkshire from 1816 to 1818.

Made in Ackworth, Yorkshire, England 1818

Made by Ann Grimshaw, English

Wool plain weave with silk embroidery in cross stitch

16 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches (41.9 x 32.4 cm)

Bequest of Isabel Zucker, 1990

Currently not on view


Ann Grimshaw Ancestry

Based on biographical notes provided in the cross-stitch kit (as described above), Ann can be placed in  Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw’s descendants as shown in Figure 7. Ann was a fifth-generation descendant of Edward and Dorothy.

Figure 7. Abbreviated descendant of Edward and Dorothy (Raner) Grimshaw, showing location of Ann Grimshaw as a fifth-generation descendant.

Edward Grimshaw (About 1559 – 22 Jun 1635) & Dorotye Raner

|–Abraham Grimshaw (1603 – 1670) & Sarah ( – 21 Sep 1695)

|–|–John Grimshaw* (23 Nov 1664 – 20 Jun 1749) & Grace Ibbotson (15 Nov 1671 – 29 Nov 1700)

|–|–|–Hannah Grimshaw (9 Jan 1697/1698 – ) & John Lister

|–|–|–John Grimshaw (26 Nov 1700 – 28 Nov 1700)

|–|–John Grimshaw* (23 Nov 1664 – 20 Jun 1749) & Phoebe Cockshaw (About 1678 – 21 Feb 1747/1748)

|–|–|–John Grimshaw (26 Apr 1703 – ) & Sarah Cooper

|–|–|–Rebeccah Grimshaw (23 Sep 1705 – )

|–|–|–Jonathan Grimshaw (28 Jul 1708 – 8 Jul 1763) & Ellen Dale (1723 – 8 Mar 1798)

|–|–|–|–Jonathan Grimshaw (17 May 1748 – 18 Mar 1818) & Dorothy (1755 – 27 Nov 1829)

|–|–|–|–Elizabeth Grimshaw (23 Jan 1749/1750 – 20 Jun 1751)

|–|–|–|–Phebe Grimshaw (6 Apr 1752 – 5 Mar 1815)

|–|–|–|–Eliza Grimshaw (21 May 1754 – 9 Jul 1770)

|–|–|–|–John Grimshaw (5 Sep 1760 – 27 Oct 1814) & Mary Wilson (21 Oct 1774 – 21 May 1851)

|–|–|–|–|–Richard Grimshaw (9 Jun 1796 – )

|–|–|–|–|–Benjamin Grimshaw (6 Oct 1797 – 25 Apr 1800)

|–|–|–|–|–Edmund Grimshaw (21 Feb 1799 – 17 Mar 1823)

|–|–|–|–|–Sarah Grimshaw (1 Jan 1802 – 1874)

|–|–|–|–|–Ann Grimshaw (28 Apr 1804 – ) & James Thompson

|–|–|–|–|–Maria Grimshaw (5 May 1809 – ) & Joseph Yewdall

|–|–|–|–Peter Grimshaw (10 Apr 1763 – Between 1841/1851) & Elizabeth (1781 – )

Records from FamilySearch and WorldConnect

Ann Grimshaw’s marriage record can be found on FamilySearch (the LDS family history website) at the following address; the record is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Ann Grimshaw marriage record from FamilySearch

IGI Individual Record 
 FamilySearch International Genealogical Index v5.0   British Isles
Ann Grimshaw 

Event(s): Birth: 

28 APR 1804  Calverley,
Calverley, Yorkshire, England

Christening:  Death:  Burial: 

Marriages:   Spouse:  James Thompson   Marriage: 

12 JAN 1825  Rawden,
Guiseley, Yorkshire, England


Record submitted after 1991 by a member of the LDS Church. No additional information is available. Ancestral File may list the same family and the submitter.

Another record from WorldConnect with source information is shown in Figure 9; the website address is as follows:

Figure 9. Ann Grimshaw information from WorldConnect website

Hustler/Thomasson families

Entries: 930    Updated:
Thu Mar 18 08:33:01 2004    Contact: Ruth Edney

ID: I535


Sex: F 1

Birth: 1804, 4m, 28 in Calverley, (Yorkshire),
England 2

Change Date: 9 JAN 2001

Father: John GRIMSHAW
Mother: Mary

Marriage 1 James THOMPSON b: 1797, 1m, 5 in Rawden, (Yorkshire), England

Married: 1825, 1m, 12 in Rawden, (Yorkshire),
England 1


  • Type: Vital Record
    Date: 1653-1837
    Media: microfilm 588424
    Location: FHC
  • Type: Vital Record
    Title: Knaresborough MM Co. of York
    Date: Marriages, 1669-1834, Births 1666-1827, Deaths 1658-1790
    Media: Microfilm 588423
    Location: FHC

Ackworth School Information

Ackworth School, where Ann Grimshaw was a pupil when she created the Sampler, is still operating and is described as follows on the school website (address shown below);

Ackworth School was founded as a boarding school for Quaker boys and girls in 1779. Today it has 550 boys and girls of many different faiths aged 4-18. It has a truly international feel, as 90 of the pupils are boarders coming from a dozen or so countries

The Quaker ethos of looking for the good in people, encouraging the individual and making time each day for periods of quiet reflection still lies very much at the heart of the School. At the same time, Ackworth is academically very successful and has a multitude of extra-curricular activities..

Ackworth School was founded in 1779 by John Fothergill on behalf of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the School Committee (or Board of Governors) is still accountable to this body. The School was established for Quaker boys and girls and the Quaker Christian ethos, with its emphasis on quiet reflection and the search for God within oneself and within others, lies at the heart of the School.

Periods of reflective silence form part of each day, during Morning Meeting and before meals for example, and each Thursday there is a short silent Meeting for Worship for the whole School. On Sunday morning boarders attend Quaker Meeting for Worship unless they wish to attend another place of worship. The importance of respect for others and honesty at all times emphasised by the Quaker faith helps to produce a calm, friendly atmosphere which is supportive and reassuring for young people.

The majority of pupils are from non-Quaker families and about 10% come from other countries. Indeed, the international nature of the School, especially in the Sixth Form, is one of its distinctive features. As in any such community there has to be a clear disciplinary framework and our expectations are high. Ackworth pupils respond well to this and to the opportunities provided for assuming responsibilities, for example within the boarding houses and on the School Council.

The significant events in the history of Ackworth School is described as shown below with the website address:

Ackworth Quaker School Timeline

1757 Seaton’s farm purchased

1759-62 Centre block constructed

1763 West wing built. Turret clock on East wing

1765 Colonnades added (single storey)

1773 Foundling hospital closed

1778 Buildings bought by Society of Friends


1786 Shed Court formed by the building of stone shed

1793 Construction of flagged path from centre library to great garden

1796 School library in present Centre Library

1803 Outbreak of malignant (scarlet fever, 200 pupils affected 7 deaths, 44 children removed School fumigated and repainted

1806 13 children atAckworth inoculated with Jenner’s vaccine

1810 School rooms first heated by steam pipes

1812 Principle of fulling mill adopted for school laundry

1819 Construction of ‘light and airy’ rooms (cells for recalcitrant scholars, abolished 1848)

1820 Leather breeches abolished as school uniform, replaced by corduroys

1821 Water supply improved by deepening well in Bell Close

1823 School visited by Duke of Gloucester

1828 Further outbreak of fever

1830 Wooden trenchers abolished

1831 Use of climbing boys to clean chimneys forbidden at A ckworth school (National Act 1875)

1831-2 ‘Malignant’ fever, 203 pupils affected, 3 deaths

1835 Table beer abolished in school dining rooms (allowance had been girls 3/4 pint, boys 1 pint)

1841-2 Improvements in west (girls’) wing New dining room, dormitory lecture hall washroom (lecture hall in present W Wing dining room)

1845 Written examinations introduced

1847 Meeting house built Level of East Wing roof raised 4~5 feet School terrace houses, vestibule, shoemakers’ and tailors’ shops constructed (Tailor’s passage)

Annual holiday introduced

1851 Extension to girls’ wing, West Wing roof raised to level of East Wing

1854-6 Warm baths constructed for pupils

1856 Second storey to colonnades

1859 New swimming bath constructed

1861 Present cupola clock installed

1863 Improvements to new water works

1864 Double beds abolished on boys’ side

1870-1 Non Friend children admitted as pupils

1876 Boys’ wash rooms over tailor’s shop Christmas holiday introduced as a trial measure, made permanent after 7878

1877 Frederick Andrews appointed

1879 Centenary

1881 First science laboratory in East Wing

1882 Old Scholars’ Association formed

1882-3 Introduction of Wednesday half holiday

1883 Music included in curriculum

1884 A E Binyon scored first century for Ackworth in outside cricket match

1894 New boys’ workshop constructed on site of garden plots

1896 ‘Non Sibi Sed Omnibus’ adopted as school motto. Badsworth run inaugurated

1898 Swimming bath roofed, relined, reheated

1899 Electric light installed. Fothergill Hall built

1902 Institution of entrance examination. Nursery built

1903 General Meeting adopts three term system. School went on holiday at Easter for the first time in 1904

1906 Sixth form started on boys’ side. Old art studio built

1907 Ackworth pupils take matriculation exam

1911 New science block and gymnasium

1920 Frederick Andrews retired (died 1922)

1923 First wireless receiving set at Ackworth

1928 Concert broadcast from Fothergill Hall

1930 Armitage gates presented

1931 ‘Area’ opened up

1936 Library built to replace Centre Library

1937 Beginning or annual Quaker pilgrimage Co-educational junior form established on experimental basis

1946 Co-education established throughout the school

1955 Andrew’s Wing built (large classroom block)

1966 Great garden landscaped (previously fruit and vegetable garden)

1968 Coram Junior boys’ house opened

1975 New science wing. Complete reconstruction of swimming bath

1976 Bottom storey of east wing converted to art/craft centre. Shed court adapted to enclose rooms for technical drawing and societv work (Design Centre Award)

1977 Upper storey of East Wing converted to library Former library refitted to form Upper VI studies

1978 (New Years Day) Hall and staircase of Ackworth House gutted by fire Sept, Ackworth House restored and reoccupied

Ackworth School Location

Ackworth School is located approximately 30 km southeast of Leeds as shown in Figure 10.

Figure 10. Location of Ackworth on maps at four successively larger scales.

Additional Information Provided by Richard Walker

Richard Walker provided the following excellent information on Ann Grimshaw’s sampler via email in November 2009.

…last Easter I was … at the Ackworth Old Scholars week-end and bought a book titled “Quaker School Girls Samplers from Ackworth1 by Carol Humphrey. IBSN 1:0-9552086-1-0″– Carol being the Keeper of textiles at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and a “world leading authority on textiles & samplers”.

Page 91-92 show Ann’s sampler with text. I think that Carol’s text which I will copy should really go with your photo to further explain what the reader is looking at.

“Ann Grimshaw made a combined medallion and marking sampler, far removed from the traditional format of Martha Pollard and her predecessors. This exercise of 1818 has a neat, half-medallion border framing not only three rows of wreaths, octagons and detached motifs, but also the seven alphabets, four sets of numerals and some ligatures, the whole making a well balanced composition. It has none of the feelings of experimentation that creeps into something of the monochrome work, rather the words “meticulous” and “ordered” spring to mind. Ann Grimshaw was at Ackworth for only two years, 1816-18 . She was obviously a talented young needlewoman who felt able to unify two traditional formats and create something , which so far is unique. Another exceptional feature is the use of black treat as opposed to the somber greens and browns. Ann must have decided that black for both marking and medallions would produce a more pleasing whole, or it could be, there were no colored silks available to her”.

The cover and relevant pages of the book referenced by Richard are shown below.

Richard also provided a photo and associated information on Agnes Grimshaw of the Ackworth School: “Boys’ Matron, 1851-1853”:

I usually go through a batch of Ackworth Archive material on each occasion looking for … well one never knows. This time I came across a faded photo taken at Ackworth School about the year 1853 of an Agnes Grimshaw, Boy’s Matron, 1851-1853. I should think photos of this date are uncommon and someone within your “Family” would be pleased to have it and work-out just who it is. Ackworth has no further information, even in the “Superintendents, Teachers and Principle Officers list 1779 – 1894.” Use it by all means, but for Ackworth’s Archives any answers would be useful.

After the above photo was received from Richard, the following record of Agnes Grimshaw’s assignment as a “Boys’ Matron” was found in an 1895 reference by Hodgson2 (p. 86):


1Humphrey, Carol, 2006, Quaker School Girl Samplers from Ackworth: Great Britain, Needleprint, 232 p.

2Hodgson, Joseph Spence, 1895, Superintendents, Teachers, and Principal Officers of Ackworth School, From 1779 to 1894 – a List Compiled from Official Documents, with historical Notes and Short Biographies: Great Britain, Ackworth Old Scholars’ Association (published by the Orphan’s Printing Press, Leominster)

Webpage History

Webpage posted June 2006. Updated November 2009 with addition of information from Richard Walker on Ann Grimshaw’s sampler and on Agnes Grimshaw.