Convict jacket

Made by War Department in United Kingdom, 1855-1880.

For convicts transported to the colonies of Australia, inadequate clothing was one of the many hardships to be endured. They were issued with prison clothing, often of the coarse, ready-made, loose fitting variety known as ‘slops’. These clothes were intended to humiliate convicts and this was part of the punishment. Although many thousands of convicts were transported to New South Wales between 1788 and 1840, it is not surprising that very few articles of convict clothing have survived. They we...


Convict jacket of black and yellow felted wool. The jacket is short with front buttoning (of the original six metal painted black buttons, three are missing), a high stand-up collar, and a long, shaped sleeve with buttoned cuff. The torso, sleeve and collar are all particoloured and hand-stitched with linen thread. The inside right front is stamped in ink with the letters 'WD'.


710 mm
760 mm
160 mm


The designer of the jacket is unknown. The inside of the jacket is stamped with the mark 'WD', indicating that it was issued by the War Department which took over the supply of convict clothing from the Board of Ordnance in 1855 (this is a useful key in dating convict dress). The jacket also bears a broad arrow mark, signifying British government property.
War Department 1855-1880


Gift of the Royal Australian Historical Society, 1981
19 January, 1984

Cite this Object

Convict jacket 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 14 December 2017, <>
{{cite web |url= |title=Convict jacket |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=14 December 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Love Is... Australian Wedding Fashion at the Powerhouse Museum.
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