Elizabeth Cassidy wore this dress at her wedding to Robert McMullin in 1881. She was born in County Donegal, Ireland, around 1863 and is thought to have arrived in New Zealand a year or so before her marriage. Her husband was a produce merchant who originated from County Antrim, also in the north of Ireland, and was considerably older than her. The couple prospered as Robert gradually acquired property in the central city around his business premises. They lived in Clyde Street before building a home near St Leonards where they lived until Robert’s death in 1918 when he was 82. Elizabeth then moved back into town where she lived for a further thirty-five years. She died in 1953 aged 90.

This dress follows the form-fitting style of the early 1880s with a long narrow profile and the small bustle sitting low at the back. The swathed material at the centre front of the skirt is gathered with small, unpressed pleats and has tiered flounces on the diagonal, decorated with silk fringing and leading down to a triple hemline of kilted pleating. The whole costume is of a charcoal gray silk taffeta with piping and buttons to add further decoration, as well as the customary watch pocket above the waist. The dress is in excellent condition but has stains and other wear marks to indicate that it had repeated use after the wedding.