Historical information

This full length lobster tail bustle was owned and worn by Alice Frances Henty, the daughter of Francis Henty and Mary Ann (Lawrence) Henty. Bustles of this form date from the mid-1860s however this example probably dates from the mid 1870s, and perhaps from before her marriage to John Hindson in 1876. Alice's father, Francis Henty, was the youngest son of Thomas Henty, who with his family, their retainers and property moved to the Australian colonies between 1829 and 1832. In 1834, Francis’ older brother, Edward, sailed from Launceston in Van Diemen’s Land to what was to become Portland in the western part of Port Phillip District [Victoria]. Francis, together with the first flock of Merino sheep [in Victoria], followed some months later. The first and second generations of the Henty family established vast pastoral properties in the Western part of the Port Phillip District. Francis Henty managed ‘Merino Downs’ near Casterton, while also living in his retirement at ‘Field Place' in Kew.


The Henty Collection of nineteenth and twentieth century clothing, including outerwear and underwear, was collected, stored and exhibited over time by female family members descended from Francis and Mary Ann Henty. During the twentieth century, items from the collection were modelled in two fashion parades by various descendants [1937, 1959]. The items in the collection are historically and aesthetically significant, with provenance provided by oral and written tradition within or held by the family. A number of the items in the collection are very rare survivors, and provide researchers with the evidence needed to reconstruct the lives of notable women in the Port Phillip District [later Victoria] during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Physical description

An exceptionally rare and fine, floor length, 'lobster tail' bustle that belonged to Alice Henty possibly worn with her two-piece pink silk gown but also with other dresses that she owned that required a bustle of this shape. The structure of the bustle includes an outer layer of polished cotton with inserted steel hoops and ties at the front. The lower four hoops have flounces of the same fabric. Overall, the bustle contains 12 hoops, crossed nearer the waist and semi-circular for the remainder of the undergarment. [One of the tapes of the bustle is imprinted with the word lockstitch. Elias Howe invented the lockstitch sewing machine in 1846.]

Measurements (mm):
Girth - Waist 660
Vertical - Front waist to hem 914, Back waist to hem 965.