Martha Coggeshall (nicknamed Patty) was the third of five daughters born to William (1719–1796) and Margaret Munro (1744–1809) Coggeshall of Bristol. Both Patty and her sister Polly are thought to have attended a school run by Anne Bowman Usher (1723–1793), which was in existence from about 1774 to 1793. Highly respected, the school attracted day students from prosperous Bristol families, as well as children of the wealthiest Providence families, who were sent to board with the Ushers. Samplers made at Mrs. Usher's school can be identified by distinctive black background stitching, the figure of a musician playing a flute, and a long-tailed bird in flight.