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Quilt

Artist/Maker:
Taylor, Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller
Place Made:
Savannah Georgia United States of America
Date Made:
1832
Medium:
cotton
Dimensions:
HOA: 99; WOA: 106
Accession Number:
3064.2
Description:
MAKER: This chintz applique tree of life quilt was made by Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller Taylor (1774-1846), who was born in Halifax, North Carolina to Andrew Miller (1734-1784) and Elizabeth Blount (1747-1831). She was born into a world of wealth and privilege, with her mother’s family considered by some to be one of the most influential political families in North Carolina in the 1700’s. Her mother, Elizabeth, was just fifteen years old when she married Scottish immigrant Andrew Miller. A widower with a four-year-old son, the couple lived in Edenton, North Carolina after their marriage in 1763, as Miller continued to build his fortune in shipping. By the time Mary Elizabeth was born they had moved to Halifax, North Carolina and the American Revolution was approaching.

Andrew Miller couldn’t reconcile himself with a break from England and as the American Revolution began chose instead to remove himself and his family to Bermuda in 1776. It was there that Mary Elizabeth spent her early years – from age two until age eight. In 1782 the Millers attempted to return to North Carolina, but were refused. Charleston, South Carolina became their new home and the next two years produced two more children as well as widowhood for Elizabeth. Her desperate situation changed in 1786 when she married her late husband’s business partner, John McNair, and moved to Sumter County, South Carolina. Mr. McNair’s involvement in the manufacture of cotton reclaimed the families status of wealth and affluence.

In Statesburg, South Carolina on May 7, 1799, twenty-five year-old Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller wed William Taylor (1769-1840), an immigrant from Scotland, like her father. It is through her husband’s business interests that they moved to Savannah. William Taylor was a cotton factor, stockowner in a steamboat company, and president of the St. Andrew’s Society in Savannah – an organization that aided Scottish immigrants to America. The Taylor family was prominent and affluent with close connections to the Low famiy. (William Gordon, the father of Girl Scouts founder Julliette Gordon Low, was one of the executors of William Taylor’s will.) Portraits of William and Mary Elizabeth by John Wesley Jervis hang today in the Andrew Low house in Savannah.

William and Mary Elizabeth had two children that survived to adulthood, Alexander Miller Taylor (1800-1829) and Elizabeth Ann Taylor Goodwin (1802-1882). This quilt was made for her grandson, Alexander Clark Taylor and is inscribed “A.C. Taylor from his grandmother 1832”.

DESCRIPTION: Cotton chintz appliqued, pieced, and quilted bedcover with appliqued fruit baskets, birds, and flowers. Appliqued areas applied with reverse buttonhole stitch in silk thread; edges of appliques are not turned under; central panel has double row cross hatch quilted pattern and is 49 7/8 high x 48 1/4 wide; overall quilting is straight parallel with some herringbone quilting. Printed border 7 1/2″ deep and second border has zigzag pattern; no mitred corners; Quilt is signed under middle applique. Ground is small printed flower pattern. Outside border is two different fabrics and is 7 1/4-8″ on three sides; top side is 4 7/8–5 1/8;

This bedcover uses the technique of “strip-quilting”; the white band is 2 1/2″-2 3/4″ wide; the other bands are 3″- 3 1/4″ wide; there are six bands on 3 sides and four bands on the top. Backing is brown all-over print.

RELATED OBJECTS: A total of three known quilts survive that were made by Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller Taylor. Two are in the MESDA Collection. The second example was made for her son, Alexander Miller Taylor, and is inscribed “Alexdr. M. Taylor, July 1803”. A third chintz applique quilt is in the collection of the Telfair Museum in Savannah and is for her grandson. It is inscribed “William Taylor from his Grand Mother 1824”.

For an image of the maker see Worsley, Stephen. Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoelan de Cloriviere: A Portrait Miniaturist Revisited, JESDA Winter 2002, figure 27, page 45.

History:
Quilt made by Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller Taylor (1774-1846), who was born in Halifax, North Carolina to Andrew Miller (1734-1784) and Elizabeth Blount (1747-1831). During the Revolutionary War, Mary Elizabeth’s family fled to Bermuda – they were Loyalists. She married William Taylor (1769-1840) in May of 1799 in Statesburg, South Carolina. Mary Elizabeth died in Savannah in 1846.

For an image of the maker see Worsley, Stephen. Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoelan de Cloriviere: A Portrait Miniaturist Revisited, JESDA Winter 2002, figure 27, page 45.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Scholz, Jr.