Inside the Collection

A sampler from the Australian Gold Rush

Detail: Sampler, cross stitch embrodiery on linen
Detail: Sampler, cross stitch embrodiery on linen, `The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer’, linen / cotton, Maria Tilley, England, 1854. A11064 cross stitch sampler

The detail above is from a cross stitch sampler in our collection titled ‘’The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer’. Stitched along the top of the piece in very faded red thread (which does not really show in the image below) are the words “This work presented by Maria Tilley to her son John in Australia July 28th 1854″

The date is significant because the 1850s were the time of the great gold rushes in eastern Australia. Rich gold finds near Bathurst in New South Wales and then Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria led to Australia’s population trebling to more than one million people within ten years of the Bathurst discovery. Gold was one of the few ways that an ordinary man could make a better life for himself and his family. Literally hundreds of thousands of men took the long hazardous journey by sea in the hope of ‘striking it rich’ on the gold fields of Australia.

This fragile sampler worked with texts from bible contains much of the emotion of the time. A mother (possibly in Ireland) prepares a gift for her son, knowing she may never see him again. The passages selected wish her son well for the many hazards to come while urging him not to forget those left behind.

Her hopes for success on the goldfields are alluded to in the second last passage which states:

‘If clothed and fed and sheltered there
We rich abundance find,
Oh, let, not withhold a share
from those we leave behind’

A11064 Sampler, cross stitch embrodiery on linen
A11064 Sampler, cross stitch embrodiery on linen, `The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer’, linen / cotton, Maria Tilley, England, 1854.

The full transcript of the sampler is as follows:

The Emigrants farewell and the Emigrants prayer

This work presented by Maria Tilley to her son John in Australia July 28th 1854 (in faded red thread)

Fare the well dear Isle of Ocean,
All ye weeping friends farewell;
oh, who can the wild emotion,
Of our parting sorrow tell?
Yet One above will safely gude,
Our passage through that swelling tide
Psm 46.2.3

Tho’ we’re called from home to sever,
And to tread a foreign land;
Tho’, dear Father, we for ever
Lose thy kind and guiding hand –
Parent and Guardian, staff and stay,
The Lord shall guard and guide our way.
Psm 23

And dear Mother broken hearted,
When thy sheltering arms we leave;
if, when far from thee departed,
Even thou should’st cease to grieve –
still, there is one who never yet
Absent , or distant, can forget.
Is 49.16

Fare ye well, sweet Sisters, nearest,
Hath in kindred and in soul
Fare ye well, kind Brother dearest,
Though the sea between us roll
Yet One there is at our side,
Closer than Brother will abide
Prov 12-24

May God save thee, Isle of Ocean!
Country of our birth, farewell!
Although waves in wild commotion
High around our vessel swell
The Lord shall keep his little band,
safe in the Hollow of His hand
Psm 93.3.4

O Jesu Saviour! when we part
Obedient to thy will,
From friends and home with sinking heart
Do thou be near us still!
Ex 37.14.75

Go with us Lord our vessel guide
Across the pathless sea,
And grant, whatever we leave beside
We never part with thee.
Rome 3839

Oh go with us!
appoint our lot,
And lead us on our way
Companion in the loneliest spot,
Light in the darkest day.
Isaiah 43.2

Go with us Lord, our labour bless
Our basket and our store,
And o’er the distant wilderness
The streams of mercy pour.
[Illeg]

If clothed and fed and sheltered there
We rich abundance find,
Oh, let, not withhold a share
from those we leave behind
John s.17

And grant whene’ar our wanderings cease
Where’er our home we raise
That home may be a home of peace
A home of prayer and praise
Gen 28.20.22

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Technologies

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