Jenny Roxborogh

Gardens and Creations


Martha's Quilt

My great grandmother, Martha Alicia Brett brought this broderie perse quilt to New Zealand  when she emigrated from Belfast , Ireland in 1881. It was a wedding present given to her grandmother, Martha Alicia Black of Armagh, who married Charles Brett in November 1795.  It has been passed down through the family for more than 200 years. 

I first became aware of the quilt in 1972 after it was inherited by my mother. Her handwriting on a family tree, presumably with information from my grandmother, names the makers of the quilt as Maria and Elizabeth Black sisters of Martha. Some years later, my mother saw a newspaper advertisement. A quilt historian, Pamela Fitz Gerald, was looking for people with old family quilts. She visited our home in Orewa, north of Auckland, took lots of photographs and introduced us to broderie perse quilting. Unfortunately her book* was not published until 2003, 10 years after my mother’s death. 

When I became interested in family history, telling the story of the quilt seemed a perfect match with my needlework hobbies.  My husband’s study leave in the UK in 2006, provided an opportunity for research. Visits to museums in Oxford, London and Armagh and later to the Musee de I’Impression sur Étoffes in Mulhouse deepened an obsession with early printed fabrics. Our wider family had no knowledge of the quilt  and I wanted to share this treasure with them. 

Read more about the quilt’s passage through the family and a full description in Martha’s Quilt . My older sister who has the quilt now lives in Vancouver.


Quilt Mania

The November / December 2013 issue of Quiltmania had a three-page article on Martha's Quilt.