Generation 1

SA History Project

History Through the Eye of a Needle

Generation 1 - Georgiana Margaretha Eliza Palm 1864 - 1939

Georgiana before her wedding in 1886

In 1937 Georgiana wrote in her diary:
‘In the first year after 50 years of married life, in my 74th year, I completed: 12 pairs of socks; 1 tea cosy; 1 knitted jumper for Daphne; 2 knitted jumpers for myself. These were made in the first six months. In the second half of the year: d’oyleys (all in 150 cotton) for presents; 9 commemorating the Coronation of George VIth; sandwich tray d’oyleys – 2 orange and grape design; 7 butterfly design; 3 single roses and buds; 4 double roses and buds. Also a woollen stole for Minnie; a knitted skirt for Daphne.’Georgiana Newman was born at Houghton, South Australia, on the 20th of February 1864, the fifth surviving child of Mary Ann Maria (nee Bales) and Charles Frederick Newman’s fourteen surviving children. Georgiana’s father was a nurseryman, and the business he started continues today as Newman’s Nursery at Tea Tree Gully. In many ways Georgiana’s story mirrors the pioneering history of South Australia.


The custom in Georgiana’s youth was the preparation of a ‘trousseau’ prior to marriage. The Museum of The Embroiderers Guild of South Australia has a collection of Georgiana’s needlework donated by her daughter, Daphne Machin. These embroidered items were almost certainly part of Georgiana’s trousseau, as they were worked before her marriage, and are typical of trousseau items of the period.

A pair of black woollen stockings hand-knitted by Georgiana with very fine yarn on size 16 needles

D’oyley (mat) worked by Georgiana with a linen centre and ends of Irish crochet with rose and leaf motifs

Georgiana’s black satin ‘parlor’ waist apron with ribbon ties and a black cotton machine-made lace edging features surface embroidery worked in very pale salmon pink, greens and golds in a design of briar roses and ferns

Envelope style night-dress sachet of milk-coffee coloured cotton with an edging of matching cotton machine-made lace and surface embroidery in pinks, greens and browns with a design of berries and leaves

Georgiana married Albert Palm in November 1886 at St. Andrews Church, Walkerville. Albert had established a business as a machinist and coach builder at Paskeville, making and supplying a range of equipment to the European settlers who were beginning to occupy land on the Yorke Peninsula.

The life of the new bride was arduous. Paskeville was in the low mallee country. It was hot and dry and dependent on the low annual rainfall. Georgiana milked the cows, made butter and baked bread. She made all her own clothes and all the clothes for their children. She also made all her husband’s work clothes, including the heavy leather apron he wore in his workshop. Albert’s business employed a number of men who were housed in men’s quarters and Georgiana also ‘boarded’ them, that is, did their cooking and cleaning.

In 1907 Albert obtained a block of land in newly settled country to the north of Port Lincoln. Georgiana and Albert and their eight children moved to Edillilie. They sailed from Wallaroo to Port Lincoln on the SS ‘Rupara’, and then set out on a three-day journey by horse and cart over unmade tracks to reach the property. The family lived in a large barn built by Albert until a house was built six months later. One week after arriving, only a change of wind saved them and their new buildings from a bushfire (almost one hundred years before the tragic fires in the same region in 2005).

The Palms were active in all aspects of their community and regularly entered exhibits in the local Cummins’ Agricultural and Horticultural Society Show. Over the years, Georgiana won many prizes for her ‘fine needlework’.

In 1926, Albert and Georgiana moved to the inner Adelaide suburb of Wayville. Georgiana continued with her ‘fancywork’ and won many first prizes at the Royal Adelaide Show and in competitions interstate promoted by the two cotton-makers Semco and Coats. Some of her crochet work went on display in other capital cities.

Georgiana continued her knitting and crochet until her final illness and at the time of her death was part-way through crocheting a d’oyley in the finest thread from a very difficult pattern.

Georgiana crocheted this white oval mat or sandwich d’oyley in a star design with no 100 cotton

A Bronze Medal was awarded to Georgiana for a crochet supper and tray cloth in 1935

White crochet cotton d’oyley worked by Georgiana