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Gentility in the dining and tea service practices of early colonial Melbourne's 'established middle class'
journal contributionposted on 2011-01-01, 00:00 authored by Sarah HayesSarah Hayes
Social mobility led to rapid changes in the class structure of early colonial Melbourne as the settlement increasingly came to incorporate many people from different backgrounds. In order to examine the influence of this on Melbourne society through historical archaeology it is useful to conceptualise immigrants to Melbourne as comprising different groups and examine whether these groups have distinctive material cultural patterns. This paper will examine the potential of this approach by focusing on the dining and tea service assemblage of one family who belonged to one of the earliest groups in the colony. By doing so, it will show that indicators of gentility in the assemblage such as matching sets, variety of vessels forms, consistency in goods for both public and private use, and keeping up with fashion can be used to interpret how this group were using gentility to define and maintain their class position.