Submitted by jays on 3 February 2014 - 4:23pm

This professionally hand-copied sheet music comes from a volume of music bound together in the late 1830s for a young Sydney couple, Willoughby James Dowling (1812-1849) and his wife Lilias Dickson (1818-1869). Lilias had been the victim of a scandalous court appearance in November 1832 when a conman named John Dow had claimed before Judge James Dowling that he and Lilias had been secretly married and that he was entitled to her large fortune. The judge rejected Dow’s claim, but was disparaging about the girl’s reputation and was horrified to see her marry his nephew Willoughby less than three months later! The Dowlings, described as ‘good looking’ and possessing ‘considerable accomplishments’, had a collection of vocal music which consisted mainly of popular pieces of the day, imported from London for retail in Sydney. The Dowling album is the earliest known example of a personal compilation of songs bound together in Australia. The manuscript copy of ‘The Sea’ is also unique as there are no other known examples of published music being sold in Sydney in this way. This songbook has long been part of the Rouse Hill House collection, though how it came to be there remains a mystery. 

Photograph: Greg Weight, 2013
Handwritten sheet music, 'The Sea' by Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, sold circa 1840 First page of handwritten sheet music, 'The Sea' by Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, sold circa 1840 Handwritten sheet music, 'The Sea' by Sigismund Ritter von Neukomm, sold circa 1840
Portrait
Rouse Hill House
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R84/869:1-2