Jane Watson, dressmaker


Jane Watson, a dressmaker, first appears in the Marlborough Express advertising for two apprentices in 1876. At this stage she is based on the corner of Auckland and Short streets and four years later she is in Grove Road. By 1886 her business is run from a shop in High Street.


Jane Watson and family. Image supplied by author


Woman's two piece cream and brown striped taffeta day gown handmade in Blenheim c.1890 for Annie Draper landlady at the Royal Hotel. Image supplied by author

She was married to Edward Watson, a brewer, who was declared bankrupt in 1870 and again in 1878, when it appears his wife came to Blenheim from Christchurch, and set up business. Edward was again declared bankrupt in 1881.

They had five children between 1865 and 1879. Edward died in June 1886, aged 53, leaving his wife to raise the children on her own.

Although Jane ran her own business to support her husband and family she wasn't entitled to vote, she is not listed on an electoral roll until 1911.

At that time,  women worked, employed staff and paid their taxes, but were not able to exercise the right to vote. Legally they were regarded as possessions, first of their fathers and then, once they married, their husbands.

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Further sources - Jane Watson, dressmaker


From Papers Past:

  • Star, issue 627, 27 May 1870
  • Marlborough Express, Vol XI, issue 791, 3 Feb 1876
  • Marlborough Express, Vol XVI, issue 99, 30 Apr 1881
  • Marlborough Express, Vol XXVIII, issue 237, 6 Oct 1892