gowns and bedgowns outside Wales.

Illustrations and descriptions of women’s gowns and bedgowns outside Wales.



  • Loading hay by George Stubbs, 1794;
  • G.Walker’s, Costume of Yorkshire, (1814) contains a number of illustrations

Descriptions and references


I saw Elizabeth Canning the night she came home. She … had this dirty bedgown and cap on.

An authentick narrative of the whole affair between Elizabeth Canning and Mary Squires: containing an impartial relation of every incident from it’s [sic] first rise to the present time. With a faithful summary of the evidence against Mary Squires for robbing Elizabeth Canning, London, 1754, p. 51

Lancashire, 1807

I was greatly astonished, as we advanced into Lancashire, to observe the uncivilized appearance of the lower orders of the people, and the extreme wretchedness of their condition, which, though perhaps a harsh epithet, seems to approach almost to barbarism. The apparel of the women in some of the villages we passed through was scarcely decent, and all the children were without shoes and stockings.

… the dress worn by the women is a long bed-gown, black stockings, and a mob cap hanging open from the ears. .

Spence, Elizabeth Isabella, Summer Excursions through parts of Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Derbyshire, and South Wales [in 1806, 1807] . By E. I. Spence, 1809, pp. 119, 123


The taller one was dressed in a dark cotton bedgown, dark petticoat, gray stockings, … The other had on also a short bedgown, but of a pink colour,

William Howitt, The Rural Life of England, (1841), p. 176

1878, location?

She is generally to be seen in a linsey- wolsey petticoat, a short striped bedgown or kirtle, and a greenish- brownish kerchief carefully placed on her

Joseph Kenny Meadows, Heads of the People: Or, Portraits of the English, (1878), p. 381


A survey of the annual needs of a family of the labouring poor in Scotland during the 1790s shows that the wife required ‘a petticoat, bedgown, shift, caps, stockings, clogs, apron and napkin worth 15 shillings and 6d.’

Sinclair, John, A Statistical account of Scotland, (1791-1779), p. 20

1893, (Ayrshire)

… compare an Ayrshire dairymaid in work-a-day attire of short pleated petticoat and the linen jacket called a bedgown, …

Anon, The Popular Science Monthly, 1893, p. 533


A tight-bodiced, wide skirted gown was worn in Ireland. An example dated to about 1600 was found in a bog in County Tipperary but this type of dress went out of use except in the more remote regions of the western seaboard and the islands by the 18th century.
Mahon, Brid, Rich and Rare, The Story of Irish Dress, (2000) pp. 56- 57

Kate Kavanagh [was] dressed in the every-day fashion of the place- the striped linsey short petticoat, and loose bedgown or wrapper, a dress that would make an ordinary woman frightful, and straw hat … M.G.R., Handsome Kate Kavanagh [fiction], The Irish Penny Journal , Vol. 1, No. 32 (Feb. 6, 1841), pp. 249-254




Illustration of a man and woman, the woman in a tall hat, like a Welsh hat, and a bedgown.
M Maynard, Fashioned from penury: dress as cultural practice in colonial Australia, (1994), p. 11 and figure

This raises the question as to whether emigrants to Australia, Canada, America and Patagonia took Welsh costume with them, and if so, whether any has survived. Despite extensive requests for information from museums and other organisations (e.g. Welsh groups and St David’s Day clubs), only one item, a Welsh hat, has been found, in Canada.