Uniform worn by Sir Edward Deas Thomson

Made in Australia, Oceania, c.1837.

This uniform was worn by Edward Deas Thomson, who served as Colonial Secretary of New South Wales from 1837 to 1856. As a member of the Executive and Legislative Council, Thomson wore the official uniform as set down in the colonial regulations of the day, which detailed the dress requirements as established by the Court.

Sir Edward Deas Thomson was born on 1 June 1800 in Edinburgh. In May 1828 Thomson took up the appointment of clerk to the New South Wales Executive and Legislative Councils. S...


Object No.


Physical Description

Uniform consisting of matching navy blue wool tailcoat and trousers.

Semi-fitted tailcoat of navy blue wool with straight cut-away front and above the knee length tails. Tailcoat has a standing mandarin collar of red wool decorated with silver oak leaves and acorns. Cuffs decorated with matching embroidered trimming. Tailcoat opens at centre front and fastens with nine metal buttons decorated with crown and laurel wreath. The reverse of buttons marked 'FIRMIN & SONS 153 Strand London'. Standing collar fastens with three metal hooks and eyes. Tailcoat is fully lined with a centre back vent with side pleats and concealed pockets. Vent trimmed with four metal buttons.

Pair of straight legged trousers made of navy blue wool and decorated with matching silver brocade stripe featuring oak leaf and acorn design down outer seams. Trousers secure with a buttoned fly with waist featuring five buttons on the outside and two buttons on the inside. Under foot strap secured to each leg hem with buttons. A concealed money pocket is located inside right front of waist.



It is likely that this uniform was made in England, or was made in Australia from imported materials and official buttons.

On the reverse side of the buttons is marked: "FIRMIN & SONS 153 STRAND LONDON". Firmin & Sons was established in 1677 and is one of the longest established companies in England. The company is still in operation in 2007, holds three Royal Warrants of Appointment, including button manufacturer to the Queen, and is the official supplier of a wide range of uniform accessories and equipment to the UK Ministry of Defence (Firmin 2007).

As is usually the case with such uniforms, the style is conservative and formal. It is made of navy blue wool and follows the official uniform as set down in the colonial regulations of the day. All details, from the number of buttons through to the style and width of braiding, were meticulously executed according to the position of the wearer.

T H Holding writes: 'The principles between an ordinary coat and a military tunic are very striking. To begin with, an ordinary coat to sit free round the back of the body, over the chest, and hollow of the waist, needs a certain distribution of material in that part, and needs to hang freely, but the tunic to fit the back close and snug requires very much less material..than an ordinary coat, because in the first place it is worn without a waistcoat, and in the next place it has to fit the figure snugly without any superfluous material.'


Holding, T. H., 'Uniforms of the British Army, Navy, and Court', London, 1894





Deas Thomson was appointed Colonial Secretary of New South Wales and Registrar of the Records in 1837, positions which carried with them membership of the Executive and Legislative Councils.

This uniform, consisting of dress coat and trousers, was worn by Sir Edward Deas Thomson (1800-1879) during his time as Colonial Secretary of New South Wales from 2 January 1837 to 6 June 1856. The suit was formal diplomatic wear for colonial secretaries.

The Deas Thomson suit is a very small size. While later photographs show him as portly, in his younger days he must have been quite slim.


Deas-Thomson, Edward 1800-1879


Credit Line

Purchased 1966

Acquisition Date

25 August 1966

Cite this Object


Uniform worn by Sir Edward Deas Thomson 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 15 November 2018, <https://ma.as/249747>


{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/249747 |title=Uniform worn by Sir Edward Deas Thomson |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=15 November 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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