Australian dress register ID:442
Owner:Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Owner registration number:2001/120/1
Date range:1840 - 1849
Place of origin:Ireland
This garment is a well preserved example of a mid-nineteenth century Irish linen shirt. This shirt, as indicated by a handwritten laundry mark, was owned by Joseph Brady who is considered to be one of the most accomplished civil engineers to work in Australia during the nineteenth century. Brady was twenty-two years old when he came to Australia and eventually married Adelaide Sarah Keck, the daughter of the infamous Henry Keck who was the first Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol in Sydney. Upon his arrival in Australia, Joseph Brady established himself as a successful engineer and surveyor. Some of the numerous projects we was involved with during his career were the construction of the Bendigo Waterworks (1858-63), the Brisbane-Dalby Railway (1867-9) and the Port of Melbourne (1877-91).
Even with its famous owner, the significance of the shirt however lies mainly in its manufacture and gifting. This shirt is a fine example of nineteenth century domestic needlework - it is entirely hand stitched, with broderie anglaise incorporated into the pintucks at the front, and it is made from very fine linen.
The laundry mark at the lower left hand side of the shirt which states 'Joseph Brady, Dec 25/49' indicates that this shirt must have been given to Brady as a Christmas gift in 1849 - the year before he was scheduled to sail to Australia. It is believed that this shirt was hand-made for Brady by a member of his family, possibly his sister, and it seems that Irish linen - being quite cool to wear - was deemed a very suitable gift to give to someone who was going to live in the hot climate of Australia. This shirt is in very good condition, so it is believed that it was not worn in everyday use, perhaps due to its sentimental value, only on special occasions. Author: Sarah Bendall, Lindie Ward, 27 February 2013.
This voluminous men's white linen shirt, hand made in Ireland, was worn by Joseph Brady and made sometime between 1840-1849.
It is square cut with long sleeves and a short stand collar, and is handsewn and unlined. The shirt fastens with white shell buttons at the cuff and there are also button holes for shirt studs located down the centre front.
The front of the shirt is decorated with hand sewn pintucks and embroidered braid and at the left hand hem is a handwritten laundry mark that states 'Christmas 1849, Joseph Brady'.
Link to further information about this object
History and Provenance
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Joseph Brady was born 18 August 1828 near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland. Under his father he worked on the Title Commutation Survey in England, as well as on other projects in England and Ireland, and was apprenticed in field surveying and draftsmanship. In 1850 he left Ireland and travelled to Australia on board the Argyle and became a draftsman for the newly-established Sydney Railway Co.
By 1858 he had been appointed as engineer to the Bendigo Waterworks and would go on to work on many different projects such as the Coliban River Supply, the Enoggera Water Works, the Brisbane-Dalby Railway and on the Port of Melbourne.
In 1854 Brady married Adelaide Sarah Keck, the daughter of Henry Keck who was the Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol. They had seven children. During his lifetime he was elected as a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London. He died at his home in Melbourne in 1908.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
This shirt, as indicated by a handwritten laundry mark, was owned by Joseph Brady who is considered to be one of the most accomplished civil engineers to work in Australia during the nineteenth century. Some of the numerous projects we was involved with during his career were the construction of the Bendigo Waterworks (1858-63), the Brisbane-Dalby Railway (1867-9) and the Port of Melbourne (1877-91).
Where did this information come from?
The Powerhouse Museum Collection
Place of origin:
This shirt was owned by Joseph Brady, it is thought that it was given to Brady as a twenty-first birthday present. Brady came to Australia from Ireland when he was twenty two. He worked as an engineer on many Australian railway and water projects.
Thought to be worn by Joseph Brady, though it is in very good condition
The shirt it handsewn and was possible donated and/or made by a member of the family. Joseph Brady was 21 years old and still living in Ireland when he received it.
At the left hand hem is a laundry mark: 'Joseph Brady, Dec 25/49'
Trimmings / Decoration
There are two floral broderie anglaise braiding insertions sewn into pintucks down the shirt's centre front
Vertical handsewn pintucks located down the centre front of the shirt, starting at the collar and finishing midway
White shell buttons on shirt cuff and down the centre front of the shirt there are button holes for shirt studs
- Hook and eye
|Front neck to hem||880 mm|
|Front waist to hem||385 mm|
|Back neck to hem||969 mm|
|Sleeve length||534 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||191 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||620 mm|
|Convert to inches|
Shirts such as this were usually part of everyday wear, however this shirt is in very good condition and seems to have seen very little wear.
Other related objects
Men's Cabbage Tree Hat, c. 1860-1880, ownded by John C. Read, Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol from 1861-1889.
In 1854 Joseph Brady married Adelaide Sarah Keck, the daughter of Henry Keck who was the first Governor of Darlinghurst Gaol.
During his time at the gaol, Keck became quite infamous due to his corruption and money making schemes which utilised the prisoner's labour. As governor he set the prisoners to work making cabbage tree hats. According to a report from 1849 that was undertaken "to inquire into the disclipine and security of the Darlinghurst Gaol', prisoners were making up to 200 cabbage tree hats a week and they often worked through the night and on Sabbath. Althouugh Keck later left his position at Darlinghurst Gaol, it seems that the business of convicts making cabbage tree hats kept on.
The cabbage tree hat owned by John Read is believed to have been made by prisoners at Darlinghurst Gaol under the system that Henry Keck established. Miss Jessie Scott, who donated the hat the to Royal Australian Historical Society in 1923, is recorded as stating that it was made "by one of the prisoners". The hat is believed to have been given to him during his time there as governor between 1861-1889.