The Rajah Quilt is truly part of Australia's heritage
and one of the most important early textiles of this country.
The Rajah was a ship who began her 105 day voyage from England to Hobart Town on 5th April 1841 carrying 179 female convicts. The women were provided with needles, thread and patchwork pieces by the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners, established in 1816 by the Quaker Elizabeth Fry.
The Rajah landed in Hobart on 19th July 1841 and during her voyage, these female convicts, most of whom had never held a needle before, had turned their fabric and thread into this inscribed patchwork, embroidered and applique coverlet. The coverlet was presented to the Governor's wife, Lady Jane Franklin, as evidence of the women's industry. The quilt has 2815 peices and the inscription if finely worked in silk yarn.
The Rajah Quilt is currently held by the National Gallery of Australia and is the only known surviving convict shipboard quilt. It is not on view very often, so when it is, quiltmakers and the general public flock to see it.