Children’s costumes

See also Children’s Welsh Costumes

There are very few descriptions or illustrations of the costumes worn by children in rural areas. Tourists rarely commented on children’s costumes unless they were exceptionally smart, picturesque or ragged.

It appears that both girls and boys wore something similar to a smock or frock when they were young.


There is no indication as to when girls began wearing clothes like those their mother wore but a print after Henry William Bunbury  ‘Peasants of the Vale of Llangollen’ dated 1781, shows a boy in his early teens wearing a hat, jacket, breeches, stockings and shoes just like a man’s of the period.© Trustees of the British Museum







westall-boy westall-girl

Richard Westall’s ‘Boy of Glamorgan shire’ (1788) shows a boy in hat, jacket, shirt, breeches, stockings and shoes.  His ‘Girl of Carnarvon shire’ (1788) has a straw hat, simple top, plain skirt and no shoes.

J.C. Ibbotson’s watercolour of 1792 ‘Peculiar dress & costume of the Peasantry, in the districts around /Newcastle Emlyn in Pembrokeshire, derived from that of the/Flemings, who settled in these parts, & in the Peninsula of Gower,/in the Reign of Henry 2d’  (NMW, Cardiff : A 17502), shows a little girl dressed like the other women in the group.



Campion, George Bryant, Sketches of the picturesque character of Great Britain from nature and on stone. (London: Ackermann, 1836), no. 5 ‘Welsh Harper’

The girls is wearing a simple check dress over a long-sleeved undergarment, and footless stocking with a hook over a toe.






Taskers School, Haverfordwest, was founded by Mrs Mary Tasker in 1684, … Originally the school was for poor children of both sexes … The quaint costumes of the recipients of the bounty of Mary Tasker was as here described: the boys had old fashioned hats, long tailed blue coats turned up, with scarlet waistcoats, corduroy knee-breeches, yarn hose, and shoes with buckles: the girls wore hats, white caps, white neckerchiefs, white aprons, blue jackets turned up, with scarlet cotton skirts, yarn hose, and shoes with buckles.
Brown, John, The History of Haverfordwest with that of Some Pembrokeshire Parishes. Originally written by the late John Brown, Revised and added to by J. W. Phillips and Fred J. Warren,(1914), pp. 75-76

The children here seem universally addicted to begging, as in Ireland, … They are not, however, quite ragged enough to be picturesque
Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864) Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1833, 1st edition, New York, 1838, p. 115; 2nd  Edition, (Edinburgh, 1839),  p. 142

1803, between Ystrad Meurig and Strata Florida
It was one of those poor huts that are thinly sprinkled by the sides of the hills, inhabited by peaters and shepherds. As we approached, first one, and then two more fine children, almost in a state of nudity, ran out …
Evans, John, B.A., 1768-1812 (Jesus College, Oxford), Letters written during a tour through South Wales, in the year 1803, and at other times: … (London, 1804), pp. 348-351

1803 Caerleon
The most decent building we observed is a charity school, for maintaining and educating thirty poor boys, and twenty poor girls, till they attain the age of fourteen, when they are apprenticed with a bounty of seven pounds to the former, and four for the latter. They are clothed in a dress of blue cloth, with a badge of white, containing the initials C. W. alluding to the founder;
Evans, John, B.A., 1768-1812 (Jesus College, Oxford), Letters written during a tour through South Wales, in the year 1803, and at other times : … (London, 1804), letter 2

1805 Between Llanidloes and Machynlleth
Children are dressed in a striped flannel gown or frock, with sleeves, sitting close to the waist and pinned before.  A beautiful little girl of about twelve years of age, dressed in this costume, walked barefoot … in order to open a gate for us …. The flannel frock was evidently the whole of her dress, and it showed her shape to great advantage. It reminded us, that beauty when unadorned attracts the most.
Mavor, William Fordyce, A tour in Wales, and through several counties of England: including both the universities; performed in the summer of 1805 (London, 1806), p. 78