Australian dress register ID:240
Owner:Grenfell Historical Society
Owner registration number:2008/1373
Date range:1882 - 1884
Place of origin:Grenfell, New South Wales, Australia
This suit is significant in its historical portrayal of the more formal clothing order of the late 1800s. Although not really suitable for the Australian climate and way of life in rural NSW the owner purchased it in England as part of the new life he was about to embark on. The fact that the suit has remained almost fully intact shows the significance the garment had to the owner and his descendants. Whilst it is quite common for formal female clothing to be preserved this is only one of two male suits that belong to the collection of the Grenfell Museum and the oldest. Author: Lisa Eastaway, 6th July 2010.
Waffle weave wool morning suit consisting of jacket, waistcoat, trousers and bow tie.
History and Provenance
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Thomas married Jane Jones in Grenfell in 1894 and the couple had ten children between 1895 and 1908. Jane died on 9 June 1909 and Thomas died on 29 August 1938. They are both buried in the Grenfell Cemetery. Thomas was the grandfather of author Eric Rolls.
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
Thomas Rolls purchased the suit in England just prior to leaving for Australia. The suit and his passage both cost 26 pounds and he arrived in the Grenfell district in the late 1880s after having worked for the Hume family at Boorowa (Burrowa). He was one of the first share farmers in NSW at Iandra and eventually bought land. His descendants still farm in the district.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
This suit was made specifically for the owner before he left England. It is a good example of the style of the time and is at least 120 years old. It shows how garments were not sold 'off the rack' and the attention to detail not often seen in the clothes of today. The morning suit was made for more formal occasions and often had a strict code of wear attached to it. These days it is a popular choice for wedding suits.
Where did this information come from?
This information comes from files held at the Grenfell Museum as well as the Rolls family.
This garment has been exhibited
Place of origin:
Grenfell, New South Wales, Australia
Family stories say that the suit cost 26 pounds.
Grenfell Historical Society.
Emigration from England to Australia
Fibre / Weave
Coat is made from black waffle weave wool with a satin lining which features padding in the back. The front of the waistcoat is black patterned serge and the back is made of brown satin. The waistcoat is lined in a striped satin. The trousers are plain black serge and are fully lined with an unknown material. The bow tie is made of white cotton. It appears that the trousers have been replaced with a pair purchased in Sydney.
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
The suit appears to have been tailor made for the wearer but they are no manufacturer's labels. The trouser buttons bear the name of Piggot & Son St Ives.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
There are 3 original covered buttons on the sleeve cuffs as well as two on the back of the coat. The coat front has 4 buttons, 2 of which are original. 3 of the 6 buttons on the waistcoat are original.
- Hook and eye
Stiffening / Lining / Padding
The inside back of the coat has been quilted around the back of the chest area and under the arms.
|Waist||460 mm||900 mm||450 mm|
|Front neck to hem||890 mm||1150 mm||620 mm|
|Sleeve length||650 mm|
|Convert to inches|
The coat features a split at the back that is 430mm from waist to end.
Other related objects
Embroidered hand towel worked by Mrs Rolls.
Christening gown and petticoat belonging to Rolls family circa 1910.
Life membership certificate awarded to Thomas Rolls on 9 October 1919 by the Grenfell District Hospital.
The bow tie has become slightly discoloured with age.
Evidence of repairs
Small holes in one trouser leg. The interior of the jacket has staining around the quilted area.