Kerr family wedding dress circa 1885

Contributed by: Manning Valley Historical Society

Mrs Kerr Wedding Dress front view Mrs Kerr Wedding Dress back view Sleeve detail Bodice and Jabot
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Manning Valley Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

This dress is an important symbol of wedding ceremonies in the Manning Valley in the latter part of the 19th century. The quality of the dress is indicative of the importance placed on the ceremony and the social status of the families concerned.


One piece, ivory lawn dress with satin and lace trim. The dress also has a detachable collar. The dress has six ruffles on the skirt with the first and last trimmed with lace. Two bands of satin and two of lace are attached at waist and hip. Satin bows are located on the left hip, below each elbow and also on the left shoulder. 13 buttons run from the left shoulder to the lower waist. Four similar buttons ornament each sleeve cuff. The dress has long sleeves with two rows of lace at the cuff. The back has a central panel of draped lawn. This panel is integrated into the bodice and then opens up to drape over the lower hip, extending to the base of the dress. The separate collar of lace and satin, creates a jabot at the front. It attaches to the dress with hooks and eyes. The dress has an underskirt of heavy satin. The bodice is very fitted, with darts. These have been let out at some time.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Marriage of Mary Jane Riley to Robert Kerr.

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

Mrs Mary Jane Kerr was born on 4/11/1864 at Redbank, the daughter of William Riley, born 1842 Lower Portland Head, Hawkesbury River and Matilda Searle, born 8/8/1845 at Bootoowa.

Her husband, Robert Kerr was born on 14/6/1850 at Dungog. His parents were Thomas Kerr born 1809 at Roxburgh Scotland and Sarah Raynor born 1814 at Newcastle. Thomas Kerr arrived in Australia in 1829. Robert and Mary Jane had 8 children, Mildred, Victor, Hilda, Robert, Amy, Clarence, George and Matilda.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Both Robert and Mary Jane are descendants of early pioneer families in the Manning Valley.

  1. Place of origin:


  2. Cost:


  3. Owned by:

    Mrs. Mary Jane Kerr nee Riley

  4. Worn by:

    Mrs. Mary Jane Kerr nee Riley

  5. Occasion(s):

    Her wedding

  6. Designed by:


  7. Made by:


  8. Made for:

    Miss Mary Jane Riley

Trimmings / Decoration


Satin ribbon bows


Lace ruffles on sleeves and skirt

Fibre / Weave

Ivory lawn gown with lace and satin trim

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye



The dress has been let out at some time

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

None apparent


Neck 370 mm
Waist 620 mm
Hip 820 mm
Hem circumference 520 mm
Front neck to hem 1200 mm
Front waist to hem 640 mm
Sleeve length 470 mm
Convert to inches

Shoulder to waist 340mm


Brittle under arms.

A little discolouration.

Evidence of repairs

Dress bodice has been let out.

Insect damage

A number of moth holes.


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


  1. Frayed
  2. Stained
  3. Worn
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