The photograph album of my great-great aunt Rose Beggs has several portraits of the relatives of her husband Frank Beggs.
One, a cousin of Frank, is annotated ‘Catherine Beggs, Bushy Creek’.
Called Kitty, Catherine (1854 – 1939) was one of Frank’s cousins, the oldest daughter of Hugh Lyons Montgomery Beggs and his first wife Elizabeth née Smith.
Catherine’s birth notice appeared on 30 August 1854 in the Empire newspaper (Sydney):
July 27, at Bushby [sic] Creek, Geelong, the wife of Hugh Lyons Montgomery Beggs, Esq., of a daughter.
Hugh Beggs married Elizabeth Smith in Melbourne on 27 April 1853. The Argus of 29 April 1853 has:
At St. James's Church, Melbourne, on the 27th inst., by the Rev. George Studdart, Hugh Lyons Montgomery Beggs, Esq., of Malahide, County Dublin, to Elizabeth Smith, second daughter of Richard Horner Smith, Esq., late of Tullaghcop, County Meath, Ireland.
In 1853, the year of his marriage, Hugh Beggs purchased the Bushy Creek property of John Kidd, near Glenthompson in Western Victoria. It remained in the Beggs family for 125 years.
Catherine’s mother Elizabeth died in 1864, when Catherine was ten. Her father Hugh remarried the next year.
One of Catherine’s half-sisters was Sophia Montgomery Grattan Beggs, the second wife of my great great grandfather, Philip de Crespigny, a bank manager.
Catherine never married. At the time of her death, on 20 October 1939, she was living in Hawthorn with her niece, Queenie Wood, the daughter of her sister Rose (Annie). She was buried in Box Hill cemetery.
From the Argus 23 October 1939:
BEGGS.—On the 20th October, at Carboona, Riversdale road, Hawthorn, Katherine (Kitty), eldest daughter of the late Hugh Lyons Montgomery Beggs, Bushy Creek, Glenthompson, aged 85 years. (Privately interred, Box Hill Cemetery.)
BEGGS.—On the 20th October (suddenly), at Carboona, Hawthorn, Catherine, eldest daughter of the late Hugh Lyons Montgomerie and Elizabeth Beggs of Bushy Creek Estate, Glenthompson, loved aunt of Eileen (Mrs. Gordon Langridge).
The photograph was taken by Stewart & Co at 217 & 219 Bourke Street East. The company operated at these premises from 1881 to 1889.
The photograph shows Catherine Beggs posed in half-profile. She is dressed in the fashion of the early 1880s, firmly corseted, with a very small bustle. Her hair, parted in the middle, seems to end in a small bun.
Lenore Frost writes in Dating Family Photos 1850-1920: “From late 1870s skirts were no longer full, but rather sheath-like with a train until about 1882 when they again expanded into a bustle. The bustle of the eighties was at times even larger than that of the seventies, reaching its maximum size between 1886 and 1888.”
Catherine’s bustle does not look large suggesting the photograph is from earlier in the decade.
Catherine appears to be wearing a coat-basque, a long, coat-like bodice that fully encased the torso and often extended into coat-tails resembling the back of a man’s frock coat; the coat-basque was extremely fashionable during the 1880s. In the early part of the decade waists were fairly long.
The pleated ruffle at the hem is typical of the early 1880s. The use of gauging, (pleating) was a notable decorative feature between 1880 and 1882. The asymmetrical line is a feature of the early part of the 1880s and apparently swathes of contrasting fabric across the abdomen is a peculiarity of 1882.
Catherine’s hair, plainly dressed and close to the head with a centre part and small bun is typical of the early 1880s.
- Frost, Lenore (1991). Dating family photos 1850-1920. L. Frost, Essendon, Vic
- Taylor, Maureen Alice (2013). Family photo detective : learn how to find genealogy clues in old photos and solve family photo mysteries. F+W Media, Cincinnati
- “V&A · Corsets, Crinolines and Bustles: Fashionable Victorian Underwear.” Victoria and Albert Museum, https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/corsets-crinolines-and-bustles-fashionable-victorian-underwear Accessed 5 Jan. 2023.
- Zwolan, Madeleine. “1880.” Fashion History Timeline | A Hub for Fashion Research, State University of New York, 2 June 2020, https://fashionhistory.fitnyc.edu/1880-2/
- Bishop, Catherine. “Vintage Victorian: 1880s Evening Dress.” Vintage Victorian:, 21 May 2006, http://www.vintagevictorian.com/costume_1880e.html
- Sessions, Debbie. “1880s Fashion History – Dresses, Clothing, Costumes.” Regency Dress, Shoes | Jane Austen Clothing, Bridgerton Dresses, 3 Oct. 2019, https://vintagedancer.com/victorian/1880s-fashion/
Wikitree: Catherine Beggs (1854 – 1939)