Saturday, August 10, 2013

A wedding in Cobden

This is the wedding photo of my grandparents, Robert Alan (Alan) Wyllie and Dorothy (Dolly) Taylor. As was often the case in those days, the photo would not have been taken on the actual day but rather a day or two later whilst they were passing through Melbourne to Tasmania on their honeymoon. The newspaper report provided me with a lot of detail about the wedding, and I have a copy of the wedding certificate.

Dorothy Taylor and Alan Wyllie, married 27 September 1916 in Cobden, Victoria
The Cobden Methodist Church presented a very pretty site on Wednesday afternoon last, it being decorated with marguerites, lilies, lucerne blossom, ivy and evergreen.  Prominent among the decorations was an archway over the aisle and a streamer across the church with a wedding bell suspended.  The occasion was the marriage of Miss Dorothy Taylor, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Taylor, of South Ecklin, with Mr Robert Alan Wylie, second son of Mr and Mrs Robert Wylie of Minyip.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. M. M. Bennett, in the presence of a large number of friends of the couple and spectators. As the bride entered the church, leaning on the arm of her father, Miss Ella McConachy played the ‘Wedding March’, and when the nuptial knot was tied, the choir and congregation sang the wedding hymn, ‘The Voice that breathed o’er Eden’, and at the close of the service the bridal company left the church to the accompaniment of the ‘Wedding March’, and amid a hail of confetti and rice. The bride was charmingly attired in a becoming crème silk dress, with pearl and net, and guipure trimming, and wore the customary wreath and veil, the latter being prettily finished and was a gift to the bride from her uncle (Mr Matthews) of Waterloo, New South Wales.  She carried a shower bouquet of white camelias, white perennial peas, asparagus fern, and a touch of forget-me-not, a special gift to the bride. The bridesmaids were Miss Wylie (sister of the bridegroom), and Miss Wyles (cousin of the bride), who were prettily gowned in dresses of embroidered voiles, and carried bouquets of pink and white sweet peas, blossom and asparagus fern.  The flowers of the bocquets were the gift of the bridegroom. The bridegroom’s best man was Mr Geo. Howarth. Mrs Taylor (mother of the bride) was suitably gowned in a tweed dress, finished with a scarf and brooch, sent by her soldier son from Ceylon: and hat to match.  Mrs Wylie (mother of the bridegroom) wore a black corded silk dress, black hat finished with heliotrope. After the ceremony at the invitation of the bride’s parents, the guests were entertained at a wedding breakfast, nicely laid out and prepared at Mrs J. Sincock’s tea rooms, a beautiful wedding cake occupying pride of place on the table.  Rev. Bennett presided and after full justice had been done to all the good things provided, proposed the toast of ‘The King’, followed by the toast of ‘The Bride and Bridegroom’, which was suitably acknowledged by the bridegroom.  The toast of ‘The Parents’ was proposed by Mr J. H. Searle (home missionary) and responded to by Mr Taylor.  ‘The Bridesmaids’ was proposed by the bridegroom, and acknowledged by his best man.  The chairman apologised for the absence of Mr Wylie, sen., who, owing chiefly to his son being at the front, could not leave the farm. The happy couple left Cobden by the afternoon ‘bus amid another shower of confetti, rice and good wishes.  They intend spending a months’ honeymoon in touring Victoria and Tasmania. The bride travelled in a black and white check costume, with hat to match and wore a set of furs, gift of her father, and carried a satin bag, gift of a cousin. Mr and Mrs Wylie’s future home will be at Carron. A number of handsome and useful presents were received, among which, besides those already mentioned, are the following:-Bridegroom to bride-Gold brooch, Bridegroom to bridesmaid-Gold bangle, Mother of bride-Dinner set, Mrs Maskell (aunt of bride)-Teapot, Mrs Matthews (aunt of bride)- Silver jewel case, Mrs Matthews (cousin of bride) cake dish, Miss Stewart (cousin of bride)-Silver brush and pin trays, Mrs J Johnson, South Ecklin- pair of cake dishes, Mrs Hensley- Pair silver vases, Misses B. and K. Hensley-Silver photo frame, Mr and Mrs Sorrenson- pair vases, Miss May Wyles- Tea set, Mr and Mrs Geo Howarth, Weerite- lamp, Miss Maskell- glass jug, Mr and Mrs R. Rogers- Box of handkerchiefs and collars.The Cobden Times and Heytesbury Advertiser October 1916. *This spelling of the surname is in some records but the family preferred the double 'l'.
But there is more to the story.

First, Dolly's wedding veil. I've highlighted the references to the veil in the newspaper transcript above. I have a handwritten note that I had scribbled in 1966 when I lived with my grandparents for a year. My parents lived on a farm and it was easier for me to board in town with my Nana and Grandad while I did my final year of high school. I was only 17 but was interested in family history even then and asked them both lots of questions and wrote down the answers. Of course I wish now I'd asked lots more but some is better than none. Anyway, one of the things Nana told me was that her aunt, Alice Matthews who was a dressmaker, made her wedding dress and veil. And that her cousin Alice (Aunt Alice's daughter) wore the same veil when she married in 1932. For a long time, probably not until the late 1980s, I didn't know where Aunt Alice Matthews fitted into the family. Dolly's father was an only child, I thought, and she certainly wasn't connected to her mother's family. But then research finally proved that Dolly's father actually had some half-siblings and one of them was Alice Matthews (nee Young) who lived near The Rock, New South Wales.

I also have a letter that Dolly's brother wrote to her earlier in 1916. David Taylor was an enlisted soldier who had been on Gallipoli and was writing from England before going to France. In it there is another clue about the wedding dress and veil.
2nd April 1916
 Dear Dorothy
            I suppose you will think that I have forgotten you all but you see I have not  I often think of you all & wonder how you are all getting on & if you are still at S. K. the last letter that I got from Ruby she told me that she expected you down to stay the night with her on your way to N.S.W. & the last letter I got from Mother she was saying the Dad was up there & that you were going up shortly but that was a long time ago so I suppose you are back again by this time you might be married by this for all I know so you see that there must be a bundle of Australian letters for me some where for I have not had a letter since I left Anzac & that is some time ago now

I've highlighted the section of the letter where he is asking Dolly if she has been up to NSW yet. This is presumably a trip that she made from Cobden (probably by train) to her aunt's place to be fitted for her wedding dress.

Alice Matthews nee Young, the dressmaker who made Dolly's wedding dress and veil.
But there is more to the story.

In July 1916 the British infantry and the Australian 1st Division had made costly attacks against Pozieres in France and the village had reduced to rubble. The 1st Division lost 5285 officers and men in three days, and the exhausted men were replaced by the 2nd Division on the  27 July 1916. In ten days they lost 6848 officers and men before they were relieved by the 4th Division. David Taylor, Dolly's brother, was killed in this battle at Pozieres, on the 5 August, but his body was never identified. He is listed on the Memorial Wall at Villers-Bretonneux (Register Number 26).  

David Edgar Taylor
The Taylor family was informed that he was missing the day before Dolly's wedding. At least that was what I was told. So missing from the wedding guests were Dolly's brother David Taylor (missing, later declared killed, in action), another brother, James William Taylor (also serving in France), Alan's brother William Angus Wyllie (serving in France) and his father (who had to stay home on the farm). Alan wasn't allowed to enlist because his only brother was a soldier and farming was considered an essential industry. And sadly, Dolly's mother always believed that David would walk in the door one day.


  1. The loss of those young men must have haunted their families forever. Weddings must have been bitter-sweet within the shadow of the war, and to receive such news the day before would surely have put a dampener on their moo, to say the least.

  2. I can think of nothing worse than to lose a child. My grandmother had three sons serving during WWII. Our family was fortunate that all returned safely. I was five when an uncle, who had a recording machine, had us talk and sing so that a record could be sent to one of his brothers.

  3. You have uncovered some interesting stories of your family. It is sad for those families who lost members in the war.
    You asked me about the valleys in the old photos of my parents and the motor bike. They were not family property unfortunately. The photos were taken when my parents were still living in England before the war but I have no idea where the shots were taken. None of my family were land owners. I couldn't find an email address to answer your question.


I love to read your comments. Thankyou for your interest.



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