Mourning dress probably worn by Amelia Hackney

Contributed by: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Front bodice Pleating and repair detail at center-front waist Braiding on sleeves Inside neck Portrait of Amelia Elizabeth Wong nee Hackney(left) and man thought to be one of her brothers Family portrait of Thomas Hackney Wong and Amelia Eliabeth Wong nee Hackney (left) with a young woman holding an infant. Amelia Elizabeth Wong nee Hackney (left) and female members of her family, Bolong district, 1907. Hem and lining detail Underarm staining Pocket detail
  • Australian dress register ID:

    363
  • Owner:

    Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Owner registration number:

    A8754
  • Date range:

    1852 - 1862
  • Place of origin:

    Burraga, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Female
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Object information

Significance statement

This dress is significant because of its connection to the Hackney family, who became important members of the rural communities in the area south of Bathurst through their operation of general stores.

General stores were an important economic and cultural resource for rural communities, providing not only goods, but also a link to metropolitan centres and the large department stores, as well as overseas trade. The Wongs also offered interest-free credit and free delivery.

This dress is also significant because it shows that the strict mourning etiquette of the Victorian period was being followed in Australia.

Amelia Hackney is a significant historical figure in that she married a Chinese man when "intermarriage" between Europeans and Chinese immigrants was a less than usual practice.

Author: Melissa Tito, 11/05/2012.

Description

Black satin mourning dress.

The bodice is fitted, with a high, rounded neckline and the waist forming a 'v' shape at center-front. There are four pleats on either side of the center-front, starting at shoulder seams and finishing at the waist. Pleats are folded towards center-front and top stitched from the bust line to the waist. The bodice is boned at center-front and side seams with boning missing from the wearer's left side seam. The bodice is fully lined, possibly with calico.

The sleeves are long, flaring over wrist. The hem of sleeves decorated with 3 rows of braid.

The skirt is full length, and consists of eight panels with cartridge pleating around waist. The skirt is fully lined with a pocket at wearer's right side seam.

The dress has center-back opening with 13 metal hook and 12 eyes (1 eye missing). At waist the dress fastens with a larger metal hook and eye, and fastens at the neckline with a metal hook and thread eye.

Link to further information about this object

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Somewhere between 1857 and 1864 Amelia met Wong Ah Sat, a Chinese migrant who arrived in Australia in 1857.

Although there is no record of their meeting, family legend states that when the couple married in Goulburn on the 19th of March, 1864, they did so with Amelia's brothers in hot pursuit of the couple.

Shortly after they were married, Amelia and Wong Sat settled in the gold mining town of Tuena, where they conducted butchery and general business selling Chinese and European goods to the locals.

In 1875 the Wongs moved south to the Fullerton/Bolong. Wong Sat was naturalised in 1879, which allowed him to purchase several hundred acres in the area were the Wongs raised sheep and built a store to serve the local community.

The store was closed in 1916 after Wong Sat died. Amelia passed away in 1925.

Their children:

William Hackney Wong - b. 22 April 1864, d. 28 August 1954.

Alice Maude Hackney Wong - b. 9 December 1865, d. 21 September 1951.

Thomas Hackney Wong - b. 14 July 1867, d. 21 September 1969.

Amelia Eve Hackney Wong - b. 7 March 1869, d. 15 June, 1959.

Frances Hackney Wong - b. 1 January, 1872, d. 8 May, 1966.

Benjamin Hackney Wong - b. 24 Feburary, 1874, d. 24 April, 1875.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

The Hackney family, consisting of Thomas Hackney, his wife Amelia (nee Kenyon), sons George Washington, Henry Hunt and Thomas Paine, and daughter Amelia (aged 13), arrived in Australia in 1853 on the ship "Frederick".

The prosperous and well-educated family from Manchester, England, leased "Walmer", a property near Bathurst New South Wales.

Mrs. Hackney died at "Walmer" in 1857, and in the following year the family moved to Burraga and settled on the land adjoining Mrs. Hackney's brother Robert Kenyon's property "Jeremy".

In 1863, Thomas Hackney and his sons purchased "Buckburraga" where Thomas later opened a store.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

This garment is a very good example of dress style from the 1850s.

The long sleeves and high neckline reflect the social expectation of respectable women to dress modestly. The simple cut and lack of adornment also show that the British mourning etiquette was closely followed in Australia.

Mourning in the Victorian period was a very formal affair, and as men generally wore black anyway, the majority of the burden fell on the women and children.

The rules concerning which fabric, and which colour, was to be worn, and for how long, were strict and constantly repeated in publications for women (e.g. Harper's Bazaar).

The mourning etiquette of the Victorian period dictated that a woman mourned the death of her husband for eighteen months to two years; the death of a parent, grandparent or child for one year; and the death of a sibling for six months. Women also had to mourn the death her husband's relatives.

Mourning in each case meant wearing black clothing, and shunning public places and social functions.

Women were also responsible for making or buying mourning clothes upon the death of a relative, because it was considered bad luck to keep old mourning clothes in the house.

Although not as strictly enforced in Australia as in Britain, it is likely that Amelia worn this dress quite often in the months following her mother's death, this is supported by the wear on the skirt hem, the various holes in the bodice and skirt, some of which have been repaired, and the underarm perspiration marks, both internal and external.

Where did this information come from?

Information was obtained from curatorial research and "The Annals of Burraga" by Kevin Tools for the Burraga Public Schools Centenary, Bathurst Cemetery Inscriptions Index.

This garment has been exhibited

Yes, this garment has been displayed at the Mint in Sydney.

The Australian Museum (2003) Death-the Last Taboo exhibition.

The Powerhouse Museum (2005) Inspired: Design across time exhibition.

  1. Place of origin:

    Burraga, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    Amelia Elizabeth Hackney.

  3. Worn by:

    Amelia Elizabeth Hackney.

  4. Occasion(s):

    Most likely worn by Amelia Elizabeth Hackney while she was mourning the death of her mother, Amelia Hackney.

  5. Place:

    Burraga/Bathurst

  6. Designed by:

    Unknown

  7. Made by:

    Unknown

Trimmings / Decoration

Four vertical knife pleats each side of center-front bodice. Pleats extend from the shoulder seam to the waist seam; they fold towards center of the bodice and are top stitched from under the bust to the waist.

Cartridge pleating at top of skirt at waist seam.

Braiding

Three rows of black braided trim hand sewn to lower edge of sleeve

Fibre / Weave

The dress is made from black silk satin. The bodice is lined with cream coloured cotton fabric, possibly calico. The skirt is lined with a brown coloured woven fabric that has a slight sheen.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

Entire garment and lining has been hand stitched.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

The bodice has boning at center-front from the bust line to the lower waist and at side seams (boning at wearer's left is missing).

Bodice is lined with woven fabric, possibly calico.

Skirt is lined with a different woven material.

Measurements

dress
Girth
Chest 935 mm
Waist 700 mm
Cuff 460 mm
Hem circumference 3750 mm
Vertical
Front neck to hem 1347 mm
Front waist to hem 1040 mm
Back neck to hem 1450 mm
Back waist to hem 1055 mm
Sleeve length 530 mm
Horizontal
Neck to sleeve head 165 mm
Cross back 378 mm
Underarm to underarm 430 mm
Convert to inches

Sleeve length measurement is taken from outer shoulder to back of hand.

Underarm to inside wrist measurement is 398mm.

Additional material

Other related objects

Three black satin gloves.

Artefacts in the Wong Sat Collection.

Link to collection online

Condition

General wear and fading to braiding on sleeves.

Some perspiration stains under the arms, on lining and external fabric.

Some evidence of wear and staining at upper center-back lining.

Some evidence of wear at hemline.

All hook and eye closures show signs of corrosion.

The decorative braid on the sleeves has slightly unravelled.

The stitching has faded.

A number of small holes in the satin on the skirt and bodice.

Evidence of repairs

Patches under both armpits external only.

Repairs to stitching at internal center-front lining to hold in boning hand stitched.

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

Damage

  1. Crease
  2. Discolouration
  3. Holes
  4. Worn

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