Purse; Sarah Hawkins (1782-1832); c. 1790; XEC.1756



About this object

It is believed that this purse was made by Sarah Hawkins (nee Fidler) in England around 1790 when she was on 8 years old. It was then passed down to her daughter, Blanche Lush (nee Hawkins), and her granddaughter Blannie Lush. In 1892, Blannie gave this purse to her eldest niece Meg Ruddock and wrote an accompanying note which read: “Dear Meg, This is a piece of work done by my great grandmother [sic], 100 years ago.” It is a lovely example of a family heirloom which has been passed down four generations of women from the Hawkins and Lush families.

During the 18th and 19th centuries as well as for much of the 20th century almost all women were experienced in sewing, knitting, embroidery and other textile crafts. Not only was this kind of work an important contribution to the family economy, it also provided house-bound women with opportunities for creative expression. Embroidery was used to beautify a wide range of items, from handkerchiefs to tablecloths and such craftwork often displayed immense artistic skill. (1) Such creative talent can be seen in Sarah Hawkin’s purse which is made from embroidered cream, with gusset sides and pink silk lining. The edges are bound with pink cord which has a loop at the centre of the overlaying flap to secure a cloth covered button on the front. Inside the purse there is an internal divider which is made from paper covered in cream silk. The embroidery on the front and back of the purse features small red flowers on green vines, branches of foliage, heartsease, and strawberries.

Despite being over 200 years old, the purse is in very good condition as it was kept in a dust cover made from fine white cotton. On the flap of the cover are the letters ‘S F 1790” (for Sarah Hawkins, nee Fidler) which have been embroidered in blue cotton cross stitch.

(1) Kerryn Pollock, ‘Sewing, knitting and textile crafts – Home textile crafts,’ Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, www.teara.govt.nz/en/sewing-knitting-and-textile-crafts/page-1.

For more information about the Lush family and Ewelme Cottage, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.


Sarah Hawkins (1782-1832)

Maker Role


Date Made

c. 1790

Place Made


Medium and Materials

Silk and paper


9 x 16.5cm

Subject and Association Keywords


Credit Line

Collection of Ewelme Cottage, Heritage New Zealand Historic Pouhere Taonga

Object Type

Textile craft

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from

Include tags such as place names, people, dates, events and colours. Use commas to separate multiple tags. e.g. Pablo Picasso, Madrid, red, 1930s.