Photo of Percy Gay McDougall, printed on opaque glass, hand-tinted. Percy was born in Melbourne in 1886, and lived only 10 months, dying of gastroenteritis and asthma. His father, John Johnston McDougall, was an 'engine man', born in Scotland. His mother, Maria Gay, was born in Melbourne in 1851. They were married in 1879, the year their first baby Marian was born. They had a total of seven children, all of the rest of whom lived until adulthood. Marian died at the age of 20. Maria herself died in 1939, at the age of 89, having outlived at least four of her children.

The photo was donated to the National Trust in October 1975 by Dorothy Lennox, last daughter of Maria and John, and sister of baby Percy.

Description of Content

Image of baby printed on opaque white glass, hand-tinted.

Physical Description

Image of baby printed on opaque white glass, hand-tinted.


Mourning objects provide an important insight into the ways people coped with the daily reality of mortality in 19th century Victorian society. Tangible reminders kept the memories of loved ones close, and many included personal items such as hair or photographs.

It is thought that about one in five children in Melbourne in the 1850s died in infancy. Poor sanitation, often inadequate diet, and lack of knowledge about the causes and treatment of disease kept mortality high. By the later 19th century sanitation and medical knowledge had improved, but the loss of young babies and children was still an ever-present danger.

Note that the donor of this photo to the National Trust, Mrs Dorothy Lennox, was the sister of the deceased baby. Her name at birth was recorded as Agnes Dorothy. She died in 1982 at the age of 86 years; her parents are named on her death certificate as Maria Gay and John Johnston McDougall.

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