Convict shirt, c1840, Hype Park Barracks Archaeology collection

This is a shirt which was discovered in 1980 at the Barracks when the restoration program of the building began. The workers discovered many things including this. These shirts would have been issued in their thousands in the 1830s, 1840s and this one of only two surviving examples in Australia so it is very rare and precious. It was a valuable possession for convicts on a Sunday at the Barracks when convicts washed their shirts, they didn’t hang them out but let them dry on their bodies over their jackets as the risk of hanging them out to dry was too great — they might “disappear”.

Convict shirt, c1840, Hype Park Barracks Archaeology collection, Sydney Living Museums, photograph © Alex Kershaw

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