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Dress - Wedding, Grey Silk, circa 1830-1845 Object Reg. No: SH 991000

Summary:
Faded green silk dress with long, tight sleeves, high neckline and Bertha lace collar. Would have been worn with a small bustle over the bottom.

According to the donor, the dress was made and used in Scotland about 1830 for the wedding of Janet Robertson and Robert Fleming. Later that year they sailed to Van Dieman's Land. In 1836 they crossed to Victoria and settled on the banks of the Yarra, later buying land in Collins Street. In 1836, Janet and Robert crossed Bass Strait to Victoria with their two children and two ex-convict servants. They bought land in Collins Street in Melbourne's first land sale on 1 June 1837. Less than one week later, Janet gave birth to another son. She gave birth to six more children, of whom four died before the age of three. She died at the age of 47, in 1856. Robert Fleming grazed sheep on the land that is now Flemington Racecourse.

Although dated to 1830, the dress clearly has the appearance of an early 1840s style - particuarly the long, pointed bodice and tightened sleeves. While the dress may have been altered to update its appearance, it is unlikely that the straight waistline of the 1830s has been replaced by the pointed bodice of the 1840s.
Description:
Faded green silk dress with long, tight sleeves, high neckline and Bertha lace collar. Bodice has a low pointed front, and is cut on the straight (rather than the bias, which uses more fabric but creates a neater fit), and double piping. The skirt is made from seven panels, possibly from a narrow cloth. It measures about 3.5 metres diameter. It is gathered into the waistline. The collar has been added later, and was made for a dress with a wider neckline.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Gerald Brown, 1999
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 1650 cm (Width), 1440 cm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Centre waist to hem 89; shoulder to shoulder 42; waist diam. 32

More information

Tagged with: clothing, marriage customs rites, settlement
Themes this item is part of: Clothing & Textiles Collection, Migration Collection
Primary Classification: CELEBRATIONS & TRADITIONS
Secondary Classification: Weddings
Tertiary Classification: clothing
Place & Date Made: Scotland, Great Britain, circa 1830

Elemts of style suggests it was actually made in the early 1840s.
Place & Date Used: Scotland, Great Britain, 1830

According to donor
Place & Date Used: Victoria, Australia, 1836 or later

According to donor
Past Owner: Robert Fleming
User: Janet Fleming
References: Information on the dress's provenance supplied by the donor.

Comments

Elizabeth Swan Posted on 13 Jan 2010 5:29 PM
My grandmother's maiden name was Bruce and I believe either her grandmother or her mother was one of the Fleming daughters. Bonnie Brown who was my father's (David Swan) first cousin showed me this wedding dress in January 1954 at her home in Traralgon. At the time I was fascinated to see how you could imagine what size Janet Fleming was and I was also fascinated to see that by gently peering between the pleats it appeared the dress was a lovely pale blue. Also at the time I suggested to Bonnie that she donate the dress to the National Trust but it is clear she left it to Gerald and I am absolutely delighted he has donated it to you museum.
Elizabeth Swan Posted on 14 Jan 2010 7:02 PM
Correction to previous comment. My grandmother's maiden name was Breeze and she was the youngest daughter of Mary Fleming whose married surname was Breeze.
Discovery Centre Posted on 16 Jan 2010 12:19 PM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for providing us with this interesting information on your connection with the dress. We've passed on the details to our curators responsible, who will be in touch if they require any further information.
Maria Fleming Posted on 26 Nov 2011 9:34 AM
This dress belonged to my daughters' great great great grandmother! The Fleming family is still going strong in Victoria to this day. Lots of memorabilia scattered amongst the various members. Might be a nice project to bring as much of it and descendants together one day. Maybe to celebrate a Melbourne or Victoria milestone!

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