Victorian Diplomatic Uniform ID

24 posts in this topic

ID: 1   Posted

I just picked up a beautiful Victorian era diplomatic uniform from Hogspear's Ebay auctions. Since the auction has only just closed I can't share any pictures of how I'm going to display it but I thought I'd get right on the task of trying to ID it. I'll be sure to post pictures of it and the consular uniform I picked up as soon as they arrive.

The item comes in a beat-up period tin named to the Right Honorable Wolfe Flanagan. The uniform has Victorian buttons. I know that one of these was IDed by forum member a while back, so I hope that I'll have similar luck. I'm not sure if the uniform itself is named but I can't wait to get it, I've never actually seen one in person and I consider it one of the most beautiful uniforms ever made. The names off the tin.

Oh, if anyone's curious and would like to take a look, the Ebay item number is 350142785057. I also picked up a British 'consular' uniform that I decided was worth the chance, I've never seen anything like it outside of pictures before, but I just liked the look of it. I guess I collect British diplomatic corps uniforms, who knew? :speechless1:

Thanks for the help,

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 2   Posted

The other fellow was alive in 1935, so found him in that year's Who's Who.

The family name is actually Woulfe Flanagan:

In 1937 I find two sons of the late Rt. Hon. Stephen Woulfe Flanagan, using varying final names--

Colonel Richard John WOULFE Flanagan, DSO (born 1868, "5th son of...") and

Lt. Col. Edward Martyn Woulfe FLANAGAN, DSO, CMG (born 1870 "y. son of...") are alphabetized under each's preferred in capitals.

Don't have any Victorian sources. :(

I've never had any success with google-searching (for some reason no matter what I ever asked for 7 out of 10 "matches" always seem to be Indian gambling casinos :speechless: ) but try Stephen there and see what might be online. :beer:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 3   Posted

I just picked up a beautiful Victorian era diplomatic uniform from Hogspear's Ebay auctions. Since the auction has only just closed I can't share any pictures of how I'm going to display it but I thought I'd get right on the task of trying to ID it. I'll be sure to post pictures of it and the consular uniform I picked up as soon as they arrive.

The item comes in a beat-up period tin named to the Right Honorable Wolfe Flanagan. The uniform has Victorian buttons. I know that one of these was IDed by forum member a while back, so I hope that I'll have similar luck. I'm not sure if the uniform itself is named but I can't wait to get it, I've never actually seen one in person and I consider it one of the most beautiful uniforms ever made. The names off the tin.

Oh, if anyone's curious and would like to take a look, the Ebay item number is 350142785057. I also picked up a British 'consular' uniform that I decided was worth the chance, I've never seen anything like it outside of pictures before, but I just liked the look of it. I guess I collect British diplomatic corps uniforms, who knew? :speechless1:

Thanks for the help,

~TS

Hello TS,

A lovely find.

To be a little more precise, there is no such thing as a "diplomatic uniform".

These are civil court uniforms. Although diplomats were entitled to wear them according to whatever their particular rank according to the table of precedence, so were civil servants and other civil officials such as governors, lieutenant-governors, administrators, privy councillors and the like.

In this case your man is The Rt Hon Stephen Woulfe Flanagan, who was in 1877 a Member of HM's Privy Council in Ireland and Judge of the Landed Estates Court. He was sworn of the Privy Council of Great Britain on 12th December 1885.

Source: London Gazette online.

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 4   Posted

Well, now that I have a complete name, I've done a little bit of research on my own. Not much, but I have found an obituary. I appreciate everyones help, and if anyone has anything else on this gentleman I'd love to see it.

From http://www.chaptersofdublin.com/books/cemeteries/cem18.htm:

The Right Hon. Stephen Woulfe Flanagan, nephew of Chief Baron Woulfe, and himself a highly distinguished Judge, died 6th December, 1891. He was a member of the Privy Council of England, as well as of that at home; he married the daughter of J. R. Corballis, Q.C., LL.D., and his family vault, crowned by a white marble monument, is found in the O'Connell Circle.

I've also figured out that he was appointed on 22 March 1877 to the Landed Estates Court. That doesn't tell me much but it seems to be the accomplishment he got the most recognition for. He was a magistrate in Sligo County in 1862.

He was also the 'author' of Reports of Cases in Chancery, argued and determined in the Rolls Court during the time of the Right Hon. Sir Michael O'Loghlen, Bart., Master of the Rolls. 1840-1842.

He was born in 1817 in Ratoath Manor, Ireland. His wife was Mary Deborah Corballis, born 1829, died 1886.

I was hoping for a diplomat but this is still a fascinating fellow. I actually didn't know until today that these uniforms were used by non-diplomats. I was always under the impression that the rather more simple 'court dress' that I had often seen was standard for others and that this jacket was limited to the foreign service.

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 5   Posted

I'm amazed that he didn't end up with a knighthood. Was such an omission common for members of the Privy Council?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 6   Posted

Yes, that was something that I wondered about. I was under the impression that a position on the privy council was pretty far up the chain. Out of curiosity, how many people were included in the privy council in this period? I know that now its very rare and assume the same back then? Or was it a slightly more common honor?

I know that the position is often awarded to very senior judges. This fellow is not too far off from the Irish land reforms, and coming from an Irish family (grandfather Protestant, grandmother Catholic, beleive it or not) its a very interesting uniform to have in my collection.

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 7   Posted

I was hoping for a diplomat but this is still a fascinating fellow. I actually didn't know until today that these uniforms were used by non-diplomats. I was always under the impression that the rather more simple 'court dress' that I had often seen was standard for others and that this jacket was limited to the foreign service.

~TS

TS,

As a Privy Councillor he is as high as the highest ranking Ambassadors, who would have usually been made Privy Councillors themselves.

What you have purchased is actually the First Class Civil Uniform - Levee Dress. The Full Dress version is much grander, with the whole breast covered in gold thread embroidery of oak leaves and the like in a sort of "V" shape from the shoulders to the waist. The latter was worn with white knee breeches, white silk hose and pumps.

You may like to go through the booklet called "Dress and Insignia Worn at His Majesty's Court" (1921).

Here is a link to an online version, you can turn the pages and look at the descriptions and illustrations in colour (after wading through a host of adverts):

http://www.archive.org/stream/dressinsigniawor00greauoft

Hope the link works!

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 8   Posted

There are uniforms grander than that? I'd barely have believed that you'd spend that much time, effort, and money fancying up a coat until I saw that booklet!

I've long collected military uniforms but these civil uniforms are starting to make my head spin. I think I should go back to nice, plain red tunic with less then ten pounds of bullion on them. :D Still, I love the history behind these jackets and they're beautiful to look at.

Being and American I've never been able to fully wrap my head around the British honors system but it is still fascinating that this is the correct uniform for a privy councilor. I've seen the title used before but I always assumed it was a mostly honorary title. Interesting to see some of the privileges it affords.

According to that text, which I assume is quoting the regs, this levee uniform could be substituted for the full dress uniform on all occasions. What little research I did do turned up quite a few full dress uniforms but only one levee dress uniform (actually, I found the only example of levee dress on this forum) and I had assumed, because I only found a handful of uniforms named to high figures, that the full dress pattern was actually unique to commonwealth heads of state or something. That uniform is beautiful! I can only imagine the contemporary cost, as well. I'm going to be on the look out for a print showing a late Victorian State Ball too display with this uniform.

I jumped at this uniform not knowing much about at and probably spent more money that I could afford. But, I'm incredibly happy with it and the more I'm learning the happier I am. I did figure out that the uniform was first class on my own, at least. :P

James, thanks for that link. The illustrations are great. I've been thumbing through it for a while now.

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 9   Posted

There are uniforms grander than that? I'd barely have believed that you'd spend that much time, effort, and money fancying up a coat until I saw that booklet!

I've long collected military uniforms but these civil uniforms are starting to make my head spin. I think I should go back to nice, plain red tunic with less then ten pounds of bullion on them. :D Still, I love the history behind these jackets and they're beautiful to look at.

Being and American I've never been able to fully wrap my head around the British honors system but it is still fascinating that this is the correct uniform for a privy councilor. I've seen the title used before but I always assumed it was a mostly honorary title. Interesting to see some of the privileges it affords.

According to that text, which I assume is quoting the regs, this levee uniform could be substituted for the full dress uniform on all occasions. What little research I did do turned up quite a few full dress uniforms but only one levee dress uniform (actually, I found the only example of levee dress on this forum) and I had assumed, because I only found a handful of uniforms named to high figures, that the full dress pattern was actually unique to commonwealth heads of state or something. That uniform is beautiful! I can only imagine the contemporary cost, as well. I'm going to be on the look out for a print showing a late Victorian State Ball too display with this uniform.

I jumped at this uniform not knowing much about at and probably spent more money that I could afford. But, I'm incredibly happy with it and the more I'm learning the happier I am. I did figure out that the uniform was first class on my own, at least. :P

James, thanks for that link. The illustrations are great. I've been thumbing through it for a while now.

~TS

The booklet that I gave is dated 1921 and therefore takes into account the relaxation of rules brought on by the Great War 1914-1918. By then the cost of the Full Dress First Class Civil Uniform had meant that it was getting out of the reach of some "poor" Privy Councillors. Remember that most government ministers have to be sworn of the Privy Council, and by the time of the Great War a good number of them no longer came from the traditional landed or moneyed classes. Although they could rent the uniforms from Moss Bros, they still cost the earth. Hence the relaxation in allowing the Levee Dress version to be used on state occasions.

Governors and Governor Generals had their own uniform, which they wore if they did not hold the rank of Rear Admiral or equivalent and higher. That uniform is illustrated a few pages down. The hat is magnificent, a layer of red goose feathers eminating from the top, covered by a layer of pure white feathers over the red. A slight breeze produces a marvelous effect.

One sometimes sees the Full Dress uniform worn by some Canadian Lieutenant-Governors even today, since Lieutenant-Governors are entitled to the Second Class Civil Uniform. It is similiar to the First Class but with slightly less gold embroidery (four inches to the cuff instead of five, etc). Though, for some odd reason ever since a member of the Canadian Monarchist League wrote some rot about it being the "Windsor Uniform" and "especially approved for Canadian LGs in the 1930's", people have started calling it that up north, even on official government websites. Entirely incorrect s incethe Windsor Uniform, also described in the booklet, is a very different animal.

As far as the UK is concerned, nowadays we tend to only see the Civil Uniforms worn by members of the diplomatic service. Normally the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs or the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps (if not a military gent) will be seen wearing them when a new foreign Ambassador is presenting his credentials to HM. British Ambassadors to foreign countries, usually to those monarchies that still hold the old fashioned "stiff" formal gala or court ceremonies (e.g. Thailand or Denmark), attend wearing the civil uniform.

Here's a link to a recent picture of the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps in London, Sir Anthony Figgs, with the Rumanian Ambassador after the latter presented his credentials to the Queen http://londra.mae.ro/images/images_stiri/l...08_05_02(3).jpg

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 10   Posted

Beautiful uniform you purchased!

I took the liberty of putting the main photo from the auction here in this thread for archive purposes. This is the photo from the auction.

I bought a very similar uniform, with pretty much the same level of knowledge on these ("Wow, that looks cool!" as my only expertise going in) and found them to be really neat. Mine belonged to a Consul General, which I just happened to be lucky enough to stumble upon.

I appreciate the links to the book... Now time to get some of the other diplomatic uniforms. A Governor General perhaps???? :jumping:

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 11   Posted

I appreciate the links to the book... Now time to get some of the other diplomatic uniforms. A Governor General perhaps???? :jumping:

Dave

Not diplomatic but Civil Uniform First Class.

Herewith examples of a Governor-General and Governor's uniform in colour.

The Rt Hon Roland Michener, Governor-General of Canada 1967-1974

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 12   Posted

Sir Edwin Leather, Governor of Bermuda 1973-1977. As it happens also a Canadian!

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 13   Posted

The Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps a few posts up is a fourth or fifth class uniform, which to me seems rather odd.

Those governor-generals look very impressive. Interesting to note the silver braiding, as well, I'd think such high officials would be granted gold braided as a symbol of their rank.

I was looking at some of these Napoleonic uniforms when I noticed how similar a French Napoleonic general's uniform http://www.fusiliers.com/item_generalv21.html is. Rather amusing, I wonder what people (esp. militaria collectors) would think if you brought this to a show and set it up where the buttons weren't easy to examine closely.

My information buying this uniform was only what the seller told me, my knowledge that it was going to look great in the war room and what I saw on the thread an your uniform. Hopefully the next forum member who buys one of these will have some idea of what he's doing...

Speaking of other diplomatic uniforms, I bought a white consular uniform (post 1902 and I'm guessing the 1930's) from the same source. I'll post it up as soon as it arrives and we'll have fun with some more diplomatic uniforms. I'll keep it on this thread, so keep a look out.

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 14   Posted

And there are always the Lords Lieutenant of the Shire-- whose uniforms always remind me of the "generals" of the Metropolitan Police.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 15   Posted

The Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps a few posts up is a fourth or fifth class uniform, which to me seems rather odd.

~TS

I am not surre how you make that out.

The collar and cuffs for the third to the fifth class are given on page 38 with colour illustrations between pp 38-39 in the bboklet http://www.archive.org/stream/dressinsigniawor00greauoft

As far as I can tell it seems to be the Civil Uniform 2nd Class Levee Dress.

Cheers

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 16   Posted

Sorry, I seem to have been confused. You are correct, it is second class levee dress.

In any event, I was mostly just surprised that it wasn't first class levee dress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 17   Posted

I found this interesting picture showing early twentieth century examples of full sets of both the First and Second Class Civil Uniforms in both full dress and levee versions.

Sold at Spinks in 2000 the first class set of the left belonged to The Rt Hon Sir Ernest Cassel, GCB, GCMG, the great financier and grandfather of Lady Edwina Mountbatten.

The second class set on the right belonged to his nephew, The Rt Hon Sir Felix Cassel, Bart, KC, sometime Judge Advocate General.

? Christie's 2008

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 18   Posted

While not exactly a British court uniform, here's a photo I saw posted awhile back on another site relating to the recent coronation of the King of Tonga. The photo had the following caption under it:

The King?s amicable nature ensures that the Tongan realm lives up to their sometime moniker of ?the Friendly Islands?; above, His Majesty meets with one of his honorary consuls to Australia.

tongaxg1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 19   Posted

A tremendous grouping there! I've never seen the overcoats. I'm curious, what did that grouping go for? And what's that pillbox cap? Do you happen to have the auction description? I only recognize maybe half the items on there.

As to the King of Tonga, I seem to remember that he died a few years back? I do remember that he used to wear an Old Swedish uniforms, or, more likely, considering his size and status, a perfect copy of it (fabric too!) when I saw him in a PBS interview. His uniform looks like a British rifles regiment uniform?

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 20   Posted

A tremendous grouping there! I've never seen the overcoats. I'm curious, what did that grouping go for? And what's that pillbox cap? Do you happen to have the auction description? I only recognize maybe half the items on there.

As to the King of Tonga, I seem to remember that he died a few years back? I do remember that he used to wear an Old Swedish uniforms, or, more likely, considering his size and status, a perfect copy of it (fabric too!) when I saw him in a PBS interview. His uniform looks like a British rifles regiment uniform?

~TS

The King of Tonga in the photo is George Tupou V, who is very much alive. His father died in 2006 and the country was in mourning for two years. King George Tupou V's coronation was August 1, 2008.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 21   Posted

I mistook him for the dead fellow! I'm not too familiar with how the little kindgdom's been going for the last few years, although now I think I'm going to start reading into it again. I used to be fascinated by those little islands, many of which were once part of grand empires, but now soldier own alone, complete with multi-million dollar trust-funds and welfare economies.

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 22   Posted

The second class set on the right belonged to his nephew, The Rt Hon Sir Felix Cassel, Bart, KC, sometime Judge Advocate General.

? Christie's 2008

The first lot consisted of Sir Ernest Cassel's First Class Full Dress Civil Uniform, First Class Levee Dress Civil Uniform, Cloak and the "Russian" pill-box style cap (not B ritish) went for US$2,940.

The second lot consisted of the rest: Sir Felix Cassels Second Class Full Dress Civil Uniform, white breeches and court shoes with gilt buckles; First Class Lev?e Dress coatee and trousers; sword with gilt hilt, gold lace sword-knot with bullion tassel complete with chamois leather slip and black oil-skin outer cover; bicorne hat; double breasted great coat, Wellington boots, shirts, collars and other sundry items all sold for US$ 4,900.

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 23   Posted

This is of course a named, researched, complete and interesting grouping, but I feel a little bit better about the price I paid for this now. I was starting to wonder if I had paid a little bit high, although I don't care that much, the uniform is beautiful!

I received it today. Once I get it in a display I'll snap some photos. The mannequin I had set aside for it is to small, and I'm trying to figure out a way to make the tin storage box that I got with it (a huge, beat-up old affair with a nice-looking engraved name-plate) look good on display.

The uniform I bought with this one arrived with it, and much to my surprise, I apparently have the jacket and trousers of the tallest man in the foreign service. I'll post that for ID (I'm vaguely aware of what it is) soon enough. I'm 6'3" and the trousers, held up to me, go up to above my elbows. :speechless:

One thing I've learned as a uniform collector is that you can never even guess what sizes the antique uniforms you buy are (although I guess this auction listed the sizes, not that I cared to look. :P

~TS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 24   Posted

TS

What was the other uniform you got with the one posted?

Cheers,

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now