Chapter 12 ~ The Wedding
On the day of 27 January 1848, the couple entered the Registry Office located in the Public Buildings, Waymouth Street, Adelaide. Giving the occasion a strong sense of history was the presence of Chief Protector of Aborigines, Mr Matthew Moorhouse. He had a special role to play. He had consented to give the bride away. Even though he was the legal guardian of Kudnarto, he had no obligation to perform this function. It is a recognition of the historical significance attached to this occasion.
There must also have been some fondness for Kudnarto for he speaks of her with a warmth seldom displayed by him towards other Aboriginal women. On many occasions he speaks well of her. He also stands in defence of her rights despite the pressure applied by Adams upon her. However, his attitude to other Aboriginal women is rather casual. For example, on 19 July 1849, Moorhouse indifferently announced the marriage of a woman under his charge when he wrote:
The marriage of Kudnarto to Adams was a simple but very dignified civil ceremony due to an abiding prejudice by the Anglican Church in South Australia.
At this time the Anglican Bishop of Adelaide had forbidden any marriage between a white and an Aborigine to be sanctioned by the church in South Australia. This man had a great deal of trouble of coming to terms with the essential humanity of Aborigines. He considered that it would be wrong to marry such avowed heathens within his churches. Moorhouse begged him to change his attitude and after the marriage of Kudnarto and Adams, the Bishop relented and allowed such marriages to occur. His Eminence, Augustus Short, The Lord Bishop of Adelaide indicated to Moorhouse that he was inclined to undertake mixed marriages after the marriage of Kudnarto and Adams. The importance of this is one of social standing. Without the ability of marrying in the church, it gave an air of social non-acceptability. It must be pointed out that His Eminence, Augustus Short, the Lord Bishop of Adelaide was not above showing the "miserable heathen" a few lessons in the virtues of Christianity. One day whilst riding along the road through Wellington, some Aborigines were playing pitch and toss on the road. They refused to move.  His Eminence recounts with some humour that:
The reader will conclude without any further assistance as to the character of His Eminence, Augustus Short, the Lord Bishop of Adelaide. Thus if Aboriginal people wanted to marry each other or marry whites through British law, they had to resort to civil marriages.
On this occasion, Kudnarto and Adams were dressed modestly but well for the occasion. The bride wore unaffected but eminently suitable clothes. Her gown was unassuming and graceful. In keeping with the fashion of the time, it was possibly made of stripes with brilliant shades of blue. An open bodice would have extended to the waist showing a beautifully laced front. Around the neck was a small frilled collar. Her sleeves were full and reached to the wrist. Around the wrist was a wide cuff of muslin. To get her dress to billow out more stiffly, Kudnarto wore a horse hair underskirt underneath her petticoats. Hanging seductively from Kudnarto's shoulders and gathered in around her elbows was her satin mantle. Put together, Kudnarto's gown gave an appearance of being neat and yet seemed to give the impression of wonderful comfort.
For the occasion, Kudnarto carefully coiffured her hair. In keeping with the times, her hair would be carefully parted in the middle with ringlets cascading from the sides of her head. This didn't detract from the occasion for most people recognised Kudnarto and her hair which hung 'around her head in rich profusion'.  It explains why the poke bonnet was not present, a fashion accessory whose absence was recognised immediately. Contrary to the characteristic fashion of the times, Kudnarto did not wear a poke-bonnet. Because this was so unusual it was commented upon in the media. To place her long hair under a bonnet would have been extremely difficult and impractical. The result was simply stunning. Her very attractive face was framed by her luxuriant hair and punctuated by her striking dress.
Kudnarto's dainty heeled low leather boots were modest but comfortable. They were laced up on the front. Her shoes were white with a delicate blue leather trim around the ankle. Kudnarto wore these instead of the normal high heeled long laced boots.
She attracted favourable comment about her looks and clothing. The reporter noted that Kudnarto:
There is no mention in the records about the clothes worn by Adams. One can surmise that he wore a rented suit. Such clothes were available on order from the tailors in town. He possibly wore a rich blue frock coat punctuated by white, tight fitting, ankle length trousers. Underneath Adams' coat was a canary yellow waist coat which exposed a white shirt in an elegant "V" over the chest. His collar was turned down over a loosely tied, large bow tie. On his feet he wore two toned lace up Cuban heeled boots. On his head, in keeping with the accepted fashion of the day, he wore a top hat.
The hairstyle of the day dictated that Adams allowed his hair to grow to almost a short bob. He also wore side Dundreary whiskers. Put together, Adams' would have looked very respectable without being rakish or foppish. Since there is no adverse comment about his appearance or any comment about any unusual feature, it must be assumed that Adams dressed in the expected mode of the day.
The Deputy Registrar performed the ceremony. It was a modest and uplifting ceremony where each person played their role as required. At this point, Kudnarto was able to display her command of the English language. She had no difficulty in answering the questions asked of her. What surprised the witnesses, of which one was the editor of The South Australian Register, was Kudnarto's form of expression in the English language. The editor concluded that:
Only one thing went wrong during the ceremony. It was minor but it does dilute the occasion. The Deputy Registrar didn't show as great care over his recording as he did over the actual ceremony. He recorded the year of the wedding as 1843 instead of 1848.  Maybe the awe of the occasion and history making nature of the celebration got to him as his excited pen recorded the incorrect year. What ever the reason, the Marriage Certificate is incorrect in its date.
At the completion of the ceremony, the newly married couple and their invited guests commenced their celebrations. The curious and friends were all welcomed. Included in this number was the reporter for The South Australian Resgister who was kind enough to file a positive report on the occasion. After their celebrations, the couple returned to their place of accommodation. Clothes would need to be returned. During their stay in Adelaide, Kudnarto may have spent some time with her relatives, many of whom would have been in Adelaide. Maybe Adams joined them. They didn't remain in Adelaide for very long. The couple went to Penwortham where Adams remained with his acquaintance, a Mr Jones, until he commenced working for William Slater as a shepherd at Kercoonda.
1. South Australian Government Gazette, 19 July 1849, p. 313. Return to text
2. Legislative Council Select Committee, (1860), Report on the Aborigines, Paper 165, SA Govt. Printer, q. 62, p. 5. Return to text
3. The South Australian Register, 5 August 1850. Return to text
4. The South Australian Register, 28 January 1848. Return to text
5. The South Australian Register, 28 January 1848. Return to text
6. Certificate of Marriage Number 333 in the District of Adelaide between Thomas Adams and Konarto is clearly dated 27 January 1843, although the year was 1848. Return to text
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