Sarah Moxey's wedding dress

Contributed by: Raymond Terrace Historical Society

The Moxey wedding dress Close up of the sleeve of the Moxey wedding dress Front bodice opening back of bodice and waistband inside of dress bodice Crude attempts at repairing tears at hem Sarah Moxey Nee Dawson as a young woman & later in life Sarah & William Moxey & family c 1900 Sarah & William & family c 1890 Devon House, Moxey Homestead
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Raymond Terrace Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

The significant of this dress is its simplicity. It is not a grand garment, it is not a lavish design.

It is a dress an 18 year old girl made to marry her future husband. But it is a gown that has been treasured by the person who made it and by her children and for that reason we also treasure it.

Author: Moira Saunderson, 19th July 2010.


Hand made wedding dress made by Sarah Dawson or members of her family for her wedding on 23rd February 1869 to William Moxey of Wlliamtown NSW

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

William Moxey b. 06/10/1845 at Devon d. 03/05/ 1918 m. 1869 Sarah Dawson

Issue: Emily, George, Alice, Edith, Minnie, William, Lydia, Oliver, Alfred, Ada, Agnes, Frank, Oswald

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

Joseph & Martha Dawson arrived in Australia in 1841 with six of their children. Sarah was born in Australia. After tennant farming at Tomago the family moved to Williamtown.

Richard & Mary Moxey arrived in Australia in 1848 and eventually settled at Williamtown.

Their eldesr son, William was married to Sarah Dawson in 1869 and had 13 children, 11 of whom survived to adulthood. Both families were devout church followers, although the Moxey later became strong adherents of the Wesleyan Church.

In the early stages of their marriage a drought and crop failure tested their endurance but eventually they established a successful dairy farm followed later by cattle breeding.

Devon House, the Moxey family home was erected in 1889 and occupied by them up to about 10 years ago when the house was sold.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

It is an important link with our history and heritage. It allows an insight into the working of a normal farming family living in a small community. The family through their own efforts prospered and had a lasting imput to the town of Williamtown.

Where did this information come from?

The material for this project has been supplied through archival collection of the Raymond Terrace Historical Soc. information supplied by Marea Moxey both orally and via her family history publication.

This garment has been exhibited

This garment is considered to be in such a fragile condition as to preclude any thought of exposing it to public exhibition.

  1. Place of origin:

    Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

    not known

  3. Owned by:

    Mrs. Marea Moxey, Author of the Moxey family history, "Kith & Kin". Her late husband, Eric Moxey was a grandson of Sarah & William Moxey, and the dress was given into her care and was donated to our society for safe keeping.

  4. Worn by:

    Sarah Moxey Nee Dawson

  5. Occasion(s):

    the occasion of the marriage of Sarah Dawson to William Moxey on 23 February 1869

  6. Place:

    Williamtown NSW Church of England Church, situated on the Dawson farm. The first marriage celebrated in the newly erected church

  7. Designed by:

    Not known

  8. Made by:

    Sarah Dawson possibly assisted by members of her family

  9. Made for:

    Sarah Dawson

Trimmings / Decoration




coarse grograin type mid blue binding outer hem with lining


Thin cotton piping on middle of outer sleeve from shoulder to wrist - also around armhole, neck and wrist


narrow white cotton, left bodice front opening, and around armholes, neck and wrist


two large unpressed pleats forming bodice gathering to waist



Fibre / Weave

1. Colour: Mid blue with two smaller self stripes in lighter blue or blue/grey.

2. Taffeta or silk taffeta completely lines in cream bleached calico.

3. close weave.

4. In correct storage box wrapped and lined with acid free tissue with tissue inserted between layers of skirt, bodice and sleeves.

Originally a small coatee of white hail muslin was part of the ensomble

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Main seams appear to have been done by machine, although all other joinings including

waist, edges and linings have been done by hand.




Two waist darts have been let out, possibly when Sarah Moxey had her photo taken in the dress

in 1941 to celebrate her 72nd wedding anniversary and her 90th birthday

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


section of the back bodice has been cut on the biaswith a curved insert from sleeve to waist line.

The rest of the dress has been cut on the straight with a gathered skirt.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Hook & eye fasteners have been hand sewn down the front bodice and at the wrist openings

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

This was a simple dress with no padding or whalebones or steel.

The entire gown, including sleeves, has been lined with a type of calico, and hand sewn to the dress at all the seams. As this was made for a February wedding, it would have been a rather hot dress to wear for that time of the year. The other alternative is that no other suitable material was available at the time. The addition of a sheer white coatee enhanced the appearance.


Neck 40 mm
Chest 95 mm
Waist 67 mm
Hip 115 mm
Cuff 17 mm
Hem circumference 342 mm
Front neck to hem 152 mm
Front waist to hem 112 mm
Back neck to hem 154 mm
Back waist to hem 112 mm
Sleeve length 63 mm
Cross back 38 mm
Underarm to underarm 41 mm
Convert to inches

Additional material

Other related objects

The Raymond Terrace Historical Soc. Inc. has also had donated to it the following Moxey articles.

1. History of Moxey family published by Marea Moxey

2. Family photo album

3. Moxey family Spring Cart, used to take produce to Newcastle and Raymond Terrace markets


Evidence of repairs

Several attempts have been made to repair small tears around the hem. They appear to have been done in a hurry as they are crude in operation and not in keeping with the original work on the garment.


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


  1. Fading
  2. Holes
  3. Stained
  4. Torn
  5. Worn
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