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Victorian Diplomatic Uniform ID


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#1 TS Allen

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 22:05

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.gif

Thanks for the help,

~TS

#2 Rick Research

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Posted 29 December 2008 - 23:58

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. sad.gif

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.gif ) but try Stephen there and see what might be online. beer.gif

#3 James Hoard

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 07:45

QUOTE (TS Allen @ Dec 29 2008, 22:05 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.gif

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

#4 TS Allen

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 19:16

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.chapterso...ries/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




#5 Rick Research

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Posted 30 December 2008 - 23:41

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

#6 TS Allen

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 00:12

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

#7 James Hoard

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 20:34

QUOTE (TS Allen @ Dec 30 2008, 19:16 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.o...iawor00greauoft

Hope the link works!

Cheers,
James

#8 TS Allen

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 22:38

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. biggrin.gif 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. tongue.gif

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

~TS

#9 James Hoard

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 07:16

QUOTE (TS Allen @ Dec 31 2008, 22:38 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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. biggrin.gif 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. tongue.gif

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...08_05_02(3).jpg

Cheers,
James

#10 NavyFCO

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 04:09

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.gif

Dave

Attached Files



#11 James Hoard

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 17:32

QUOTE (NavyFCO @ Jan 3 2009, 04:09 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I appreciate the links to the book... Now time to get some of the other diplomatic uniforms. A Governor General perhaps???? jumping.gif
Dave


Not diplomatic but Civil Uniform First Class.

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

Attached File  MITCHENER.jpg   42.09KB   17 downloads

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

Attached Files



#12 James Hoard

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 17:36

Attached File  LEATHER.jpg   25.02KB   9 downloads


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

Cheers,

James



#13 TS Allen

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 21:42

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...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




#14 Rick Research

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 00:53

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

#15 James Hoard

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 09:20

QUOTE (TS Allen @ Jan 3 2009, 21:42 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.o...iawor00greauoft

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

Cheers
James

#16 TS Allen

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 18:35

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.

#17 James Hoard

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 11:47

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.

Attached File  civil_uniforms_1st___2nd_class.jpg   57.07KB   32 downloads
? Christie's 2008

Cheers,
James

#18 Mike Dwyer

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 21:44

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.



#19 TS Allen

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 00:27

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

#20 Mike Dwyer

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 02:14

QUOTE (TS Allen @ Jan 6 2009, 18:27 ) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.





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