Privy Councillor's uniform of Joseph Cook, Prime Minister

Contributed by: Parramatta Heritage Centre

Privy Council Uniform - front of jacket [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - jacket and trousers [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - back of jacket [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - front of trousers [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - back of trousers [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - front of hat [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - sword holster [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - sword and scabbard [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - ceremonial sash [taken 9-11-09] Privy Council Uniform - ceremonial half sash (possibly for use with missing cloak)  [taken 9-11-09] Holes and wear on back of right hand trouser leg [taken 9-11-09] Water damage to the trouser waistline lining at the front [taken 9-11-09] Water damage to the trouser waistline lining [taken 9-11-09] Split silk lining at the back of the inside neck [taken 9-11-09] Label inside neck [taken 9-11-09] Label inside hat [taken 9-11-09] Newspaper Article - 'Former PM's Uniform Turns Up' Newspaper Article - 'Parra's Pioneer MP Our One PM' Newspaper Article - 'Historical Relics to go on Display' Newspaper Article - 'Blushes in Council'
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Parramatta Heritage Centre
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

This uniform and insignia are historically significant because they are a wonderful example of quite a rare and important costume in early Australian culture. The insignia is especially rare, as the number presented every year are limited and recipients after 1948 have to return the insignia to the British Crown upon their deaths.

The fact that the uniform belongs to Joseph Cook also makes it significant. Cook was voted in as the MP for Hartley in the New South Wales Parliament in 1891. In 1901 Cook became the Federal MP for Parramatta, a position he held until 1921. He became leader of the Liberal Party in 1910 and won a one seat majority in the Lower House in the 1913 election. In 1914 he called a double dissolution election in an attempt to gain control of the Senate , but the First World War was declared in the middle of the election campaign and Labor won.

Cook was created a member of the Privy Council only months before the election. In 1918, on the other side of the First World War, he was made a member of the Order of St Michael and St George. He was part of the Australian delegation to the peace talks in Paris, where he defended the White Australia Policy. He later became Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

The major events in Cook's political career show how closely linked this costume is with Australia's history. It can be seen to represent, not only the most successful moments in Cook's personal career, but also the way in which Australia in the 1910s was still very closely linked with British culture and protocol.

Author: Margot Stuart-Smith, 13 November 2009.


Privy Council uniform made for Joseph Cook (Prime Minister 1913-1914) in 1914. The uniform consists of a jacket with tails, pair of trousers, cloak (now missing), ceremonial sash, ceremonial half sash (possibly for wearing with the cloak), sword and sword holster. The Privy Council uniform and ceremonial sword were worn on special occasions, such as the opening of Parliament. In 1918 Cook was presented with the insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George. The set consists of a collar and star, worn with the Privy Council uniform.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Sir Joseph Cook (7.12.1860 - 30.7.1947) [born Joseph Cooke, but dropped the 'e' as an adult]

Joseph Cook married Mary Turner (1863-1950) in 1885

Son [name unknown] born in 1886

Albert born in 1888

Joseph William born in 1890

John Hartley born in 1897

Annette born in 1898

Winifred born in 1900

Cecil born in 1902

Raymond born 1904

Constance born 1906

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

The uniform and insignia were donated to the Parramatta City Council in 1949, after which time it was misplaced. In 1985 the family approached Phillip Ruddock, MP, and he pressured the Council into locating the uniform.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

The Privy Council uniform was a distinctive signifier of governance under the British Crown from the Victorian era until the mid 20th century. The uniform links into the history of the Windsor parliamentary system and shows clearly the importance of British customs throughout Australia's early history as a nation.

Where did this information come from?

Family upon donation in 1949.

Correspondence between the Parramatta City Library and Old Government House curators in 1986.

This garment has been exhibited

Garment and insignia were displayed for the first time at Parramatta Central Library in 1985.

Garment and insignia were on permanent display between 1998 and 2009 (currently not on display). Display was a part of the Parramatta Heritage Centre's core exhibition Parramatta: People and Place in the section relating to governance.

  1. Place of origin:


  2. Owned by:

    Joseph Cook 1914-1947

    The Cook Family 1947-1949

    Parramatta City Council 1949-

  3. Worn by:

    Joseph Cook

  4. Occasion(s):

    St James Palace in London 19??

  5. Place:

    Canberra, Parramatta and London

  6. Made by:

    Ede, Son and Ravenscroft, court tailors and robe makers.

    Garrod and Co. Ltd., goldsmiths and jewellers.

  7. Made for:

    Joseph Cook

Trimmings / Decoration

Hat decorated with coiled gold metal thread and white feathers.


Sash: red and blue striped silk ribbon; half sash: red and blue striped ribbon; hat decorated with black silk ribbon


Gold braiding down the front of trouser legs.


Back of tails have tucking detail.


Gold bullion embroidery on collar, cuffs and tails of coat.

Fibre / Weave

Black felt suit and hat.

Black felt on front of sword holster.

Black velvet cuffs on sleeves.

Black silk lining in jacket, sword holster and hat.

Cream silk lining in sleeves of jacket and at waist of trousers.

Gold metal thread used in gold braiding and gold bullion embroidery on collar, cuffs, tails, trouser legs and front of hat.

Blue and red silk used in ceremonial sash and half sash.

Black silk ribbon on front of hat.

Buckram used to stiffen back of sword holster, neckline and cuffs.

White cotton inside jacket tail vents.

Brown cotton inside jacket pockets.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


In original accompanying storage tin box - Ede, Son and Ravenscroft. Founded in the reign of William and Mary 1669. Robe Makers. Court Tailors. By Special Appointment to H.M. the King, H.M. the Queen, H.M. Queen Alexandra. Levee Suits and Diplomatic Uniforms. Church, State, Law, University and Municipal Robes. 93 & 94 Chancery Lane, London.

On original storage box for ceremonial star - Garrad and Co. Ltd. By special appointment to His Majesty the King. 24 Albermarle St, London and Dalhousie Sq, Calcutta.

On original storage box for ceremonial collar - Garrad and Co. Ltd. Goldsmith and Jewellers to the King. By special appointment to the Crown. 24 Albermarle SFW.

Hand stitching on the hem of the trouser legs. Machine stitching across the padded areas of the jacket and hat.


Inside collar - Ede, Son and Ravenscroft, founded in 1689 by Royal appointment. 93+94 Chancery Lane, London.

Inside hat - Ede, Son and Ravenscroft, by appointment to the King and Queen. 93+94 Chancery Lane, London.


cotton braces sewn in for exhibition purposes in 1998.

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Hook and eye at neck.

Button fly

Button fastening for jacket.

Button fastenings for ceremonial cloak (missing), sword and sash.

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding


Sword holster stiffened with buckram.

Collar and cuffs stiffened with buckram.


Jacket lined with black and cream silk. Trouser waist band lined with cream silk. Hat lined with black silk.


Torso section of jacket padded.

Inside of hat padded.


jacket trousers
Neck 145 mm
Chest 490 mm
Waist 500 mm
Hip 540 mm
Cuff 180 mm
Front neck to hem 500 mm
Front waist to hem 565 mm
Back neck to hem 1000 mm
Back waist to hem 1210 mm
Sleeve length 600 mm
Inside leg 780 mm
Outside leg 1100 mm
Neck to sleeve head 150 mm
Underarm to underarm 480 mm
Convert to inches

Hat - 445x145 (not including feather decoration)

Sword holster - 670x130

Sash - 830x100

Sword - 900x90

Dress Themes

Ceremonial uniform of the Privy Council, of which all Australian Prime Ministers are members.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

Newspaper Articles

'Blushes in Council: historic regalia vanishes' - Parramatta Advertiser 29-10-85

'Former PM's Uniform Turns Up' - Parramatta Advertiser 6-11-85

'Historical Records to Go on Display' - Parramatta Advertiser 20-11-85

'Parra's Pioneer MP Our One PM' - Parramatta Advertiser 27-6-01

Published Books

'Pitboy to Prime Minister' - G Bebbington

Records pertaining to Joseph Cook at the National Archives

National Archives Fact Sheet 72 -

Other related objects

Photo - 'The Honourable Joseph Cook [left], Prime Minister 1913-14'


Waist band has water damage (discolouration and tearing) at the front.

Right trouser leg has small holes on the back at mid calf height with a patch of wear around them.

Sword holster has a damaged back side, with tearing of the material exposing the hessian stiffening.

The silk lining at the back of the inside neck is split and come away slightly from the stiffening.

Privy Council ceremonial uniform cloak missing.

Evidence of repairs

There is no evidence of repairs, which is not surprising, as the uniform may well have only been worn twice throughout Joseph Cook's life.


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


  1. Holes
  2. Parts missing
  3. Stained
  4. Torn
  5. Water damage
  6. Worn
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