Catherine Marshall wore this dress when she married William Key at her father’s house in Otepopo (Herbert) on 6 Jan 1877. She was born at Wick, Caithness, Scotland in 1851 and came to Otago with her family in 1860 on the Robert Henderson. The family faced a horrible dilemma on the dockside in Glasgow when the youngest child was found to have measles and was not allowed on board. Rather than abandon the trip, the year old baby was handed over to her grandparents and the family never saw her again. After Catherine’s marriage she and William settled at Otama in Southland, where they developed a substantial farm. Catherine died in 1935 aged 84, survived by two sons and two daughters.

Catherine’s dress is a little unfashionable for 1877. It has the high waistline and wide skirt of the 1860s rather than the tight bodice and narrow line fashionable in the later 1870s. The skirt is gathered into the slightest of bustles at the rear and decorated with three flounces. These add to the horizontal emphasis of the skirt, whereas the fashionable silhouette was long and narrow. A pale green tasselled fringe around the sleeves and collar enlivens the dull purple and soft pink stripes of the silk fabric. The sleeves flare out to the elbow but are drawn back in at the wrist. The dress is in excellent condition with little sign of repeated wear.