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Mary Tween – circa 1778

Mary was born in England and was of French descent. Her mother’s name was Sarah Docura. Mary married in 1787.

This gown which Cavalcade has dated c1778‑80, did not come to Australia for quite a few years, but may easily have been worn to wave a fond farewell to friends or family sailing in the first fleet.

It was on the 13th May 1787 the first fleet sailed from Portsmouth with 1,500 people aboard; 759 convicts, and the rest sailors and mariners. Captain Arthur Philip was pulled out of retirement to head the first fleet ‑ he was on half pay.

Mary Tween’s gown was handed down in the family, always to the eldest girl and was brought out to Australia in the mid 1900s. Some of Mary’s descendants originally came out to Australia in 1871. One brother settled on a property near Ballarat, Victoria, two settled in Northern New South Wales and later in Grafton. Later one of the brothers went to Brisbane where he had a general store and also took a covered wagon with goods to the outlying districts; he also was the barber for the country folk and often acted as dentist.

During the 1939‑45 War, the gown was kept in a tin trunk in a cupboard under the stairs in a house in Kent. When the house was bombed, Aunt Mabel was sitting in the recommended safe retreat under the stairs in the cupboard. Both Aunt Mabel and “Mary Tween” were undamaged.