Christina Corner wedding gown

Contributed by: National Trust of Australia (NSW)

John Macintosh
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    National Trust of Australia (NSW)
  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Darling Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

This wedding gown sheds light on the lives of two successful colonial families. It is rare to have such a wealth of information and photography relating to a garment and the associated National Trust property, 'Lindesay'.

Successful Sydney families built mansions along the harbour, not only to enjoy the beauty of the harbour, but to keep an eye on key activities relating to shipping and commerce. John Macintosh purchased 'Lindesay' at Darling Point in 1870. It was built in 1834. The Macintosh family life appears to have been happy with recitals of poetry, charades, music, plays and frequent parties. The six Macintosh girls and boys went boating and swam in the harbour. 

In 1839 the penniless orphaned Scottish immigrant, John Macintosh, and his English friend, William Corner, had arrived in the colony on the ship 'Asia'. After finding work in Paterson, John developed a monopoly in iron nails and provided hardware for the building boom that was emerging, including supplying hardware for the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition. The two men became successful entrepreneurs and subsequently proved to be valuable contributors to New South Wales society.

The silk wedding gown is fashionable and of very fine quality and finish, suggesting Christina's perceived social status. It was most likely made by a dressmaker. In the studio image of the bride and her two bridesmaids, sister in law, Jessie and friend Caroline, the outifts appear very similar with frilled necklines, ruched and friiled sleeves and horizontal detail on the skirt. The bride alone wears a long frilled train (these were designed to be removed after the wedding) and her dress detail appears a little more intricate and professional. This was a very fashionable wedding, most probably financed by William Corner, the bride's father. By 1882, when the wedding took place, he had made a considerable fortune through his flour milling and granary in Paterson, New South Wales. Sussex House, the Corner home, where the wedding took place, was a very grand mansion in Paterson. (demolished in 1966). 

The two families were intricately entwined, firstly by the historic friendship of the two fathers and their mutual success, and subsequently by the marriage of two Macintosh siblings, Isabella and James, to two Corner siblings, William and Christina. Christina and James lived in the grounds of harbourside mansion 'Lindesay', at Darling Point. Members of the Macintosh family remained there until 1913.

Author: Lindie Ward, 6th April 2019.


Typical of the 1880s, this silk and cotton garment is fitted, with a corsetted bodice and 3/4 sleeves. It has a narrow stand collar and is cut in princess line to the hips ie no waist seam. It fastens with 16 covered buttons at the centre front. The sleeves are trimmed with machine embroidered net frills at the cuff and rows of frills at the top of the sleeve and elbow. The skirt has many rows of horizontal drapes and ruching from the hip downwards, with two rows of gathered machine lace. The ankle length hem is trimmed with a box pleated silk frill.

The back skirt is composed of a series of looped silk drapes held with fine cords and passementerie. A secret pocket opens low on the right hand side of the bodice. The skirt is held underneath with a complicated arrangement of tapes, elastic and padding to create the required bustle shape. The padding was probably needed when the back of the dress was supporting the long train, since removed.

The garment appears to be professionally made.

History and Provenance

At 17 James' father, John, emigrated with his sister from Nairnshire, Scotland as an orphaned farmhand. He arrived in May 1839 along with his friend William Corner on the 'Asia'. They first went to Paterson where they worked at various jobs and John then worked in a Paterson store for 5 years. Though he had little education, he was a resourceful teetotaller and in 1846 opened a hardware shop in 345 Pitt Street, introducing wire nails into the colony for which he held a monopoly. Though his wife Caroline was blind, she 'was of great use to him' in his business. John became a City Councillor, held many positions in business and government and masterminded an important scheme to divert sewerage from Sydney Harbour to Bondi outfalls.

William Corner also became a successful businessman with mills and a granary in Paterson. He became the Paterson agent for Hunter River Steam Navigation Company. He was elected to the District Council of Paterson in 1854 and became a JP in 1873. His wife, Christina Stewart (1828-1869), had 11 children of whom six survived. 

John purchased 'Lindesay' at Darling Point in 1870. Built in 1834, it was one of a series of early nineteenth century mansions positioned on the harbour, the hub of much important seagoing activity. The Macintosh family life appears to have been happy with recitals of poetry, charades, music, plays and frequent parties. The seven Macintosh girls and boys went boating and swam in the harbour. 

John built a house, 'Braeside' for his daughter Jessie and her husband Charles Sparshott. When his son James married Christina Corner he built another house 'Cintra', as a wedding present, in the grounds. Members of the Macintosh family lived on the Lindesay estate until 1913. 

John and William and their families remained firm friends. The family connections continued when young William Corner married Isabella Macintosh in 1875 in Paddington, and Christina married James in 1882 in her home, Sussex House, in Paterson.


Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

William Corner (1815-1894) married Christina Stewart (1828-1869) They had 11 children of whom 6 survived

John Macintosh (1821-1911) married Caroline Alway (1833-1880) in 1849

Christina Corner (1857-1932) married James Macintosh (1857-1927) in 1882

William Corner (jnr) (1849-1916) married Isabella Macintosh (1852-1918) in 1875

This garment has been exhibited

The garment was on display at Lindesay in Darling Point, Sydney where the Macintosh family had lived.

Family descendents came to view the display on the 1st May 2019.

  1. Place of origin:

    Darling Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    The wedding dress was made for and worn by Christina Corner (1857-91932) for her marriage to James Macintosh (1857-1927)

  3. Worn by:

    Worn by Christina Corner

  4. Occasion(s):

    The wedding took place on the 25th May 1882. James sister, Jessie and Christina's friend, Catherine Barbour, were bridesmaids.

  5. Place:

    The wedding took place at Sussex House, Paterson, New South Wales, where Christina's family lived.

  6. Made by:

    Probably made by a dressmaker

  7. Made for:


Trimmings / Decoration

The skirt is trimmed with horizontal ruching and a box pleated frill in self fabric.

Two lace frills have been removed, thought to be to trim the christening robe.


Trimmed with machine embroidered net and frills of silk and cotton floral machine lace with hand worked gimp.

Fibre / Weave

The garment is made from a fine cream fabric of silk weft and cotton warp which may explain how it has survived so well. The selvedge has 3-4 red threads woven in, visible on inspection inside the neckline. This can indicate the origin of the fabric.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


The fine finish suggests the garment was most probably made by a dressmaker.

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


The princess line bodice to the hips, fitted shoulder, the pleated frills and horizontal draping are typical of the style of the 1880s.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


The bodice fastens with 16 self covered buttons and hand worked buttonholes and a hook at the neck.

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

There is padding in the back skirt to hold its bustle shape 310 mm from the hem.


Bust 810mm, waist 530, shoulder to hem front 1310 - back 1380, sleeve 510, cuff 220, shoulder 150, hem 1610, cuff 220 

Skirt is padded 310mm from hem with drawstring to gather


Evidence of repairs

The lower two lace frills have been removed, it is thought for the christening robe, which used the fabric from the train. 


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


  1. Crease
  2. Parts missing
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