The Court Dress of Thomas Forster Brown

Thomas Forster Brown, father of Doris Ives Smith, was born in Garrigill, Cumbria in 1835 and died at Richmond, Yorkshire on October 23rd 1907. He was a descendent of the mining engineer Westgarth Forster (1738-1797), worked as a mining and civil engineer, especially in the South Wales Coalfield, and himself gave rise to further mining engineers (Westgarth Forster Brown and Edward Otto Forster Brown). His obituary can be found here. He married twice, to Helen Ann Hicks of Machen, Monmouth and then to Marion Ives Wintle (who was the mother of Doris Smith).

We still have in the family Thomas’s court dress, supplied by H.Poole & Co, Army and Navy Tailors of Savile Row, London (established in 1806). 

There’s an interesting story about James Poole, who made his own uniforms for a volunteer corps in Napoleonic times and his son Henry who inherited the thriving business in 1846 and moved it to Savile Row.

The costume comes in a metal case with a name plaque labelled “T. Forster Brown Esq”. 

It includes an 18th century style bicorne hat, velvet tailcoat, breeches, white silk waistcoat, white bow tie and gloves. Thomas was not a large man. A sword that would have been part of this outfit has parted company with the rest of the costume sometime during the past 105 years. The costume is an example of “New style court dress”, worn from the 1840s onwards.

A photograph of Thomas Forster Brown, courtesy of Jess Forster Brown.

I don’t have any information on when Thomas would have appeared at court and would be very interested if anyone knows more. The costume is a fascinating relic of the man and his times.


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