No mother wants to hear the words from their son (or daughter nowadays) that they intend going in the army. It was no different in Georgian England, although it was only boys who wanted to, or were allowed to go in to the army in those days.
Ellen Parker, who lived at Alkincoates Hall in
Colne and was related to the Parker family at Browsholme Hall, was horrified
when her son Ambrose announced in 1832 that he wanted to go in the army the
year after when he became 16 years old. He was at school, under the tutelage of
a Mr Carter at Aberford in Yorkshire. His mother wrote a stern letter to
Ambrose outlining her objections to this career for her son. It is apparent
that he was not a studious boy and caused his parents a great deal of concern.
As ever in old letters, grammar and punctuation are somewhat scarce in places!
Ellen writes “I think my darling Child there is a
prospect your wishes respecting your future destination will soon be acquiesced
in – in conceding to them however My Dearest Ambrose you must always remember
for we sacrifice our own desires in the hope of contributing to your happiness.
If you must endeavour to repay us for the very painful effort we make, by
earnestly labouring to attain that Mental & Moral excellence we so ardently
wish you to possess. It would soon lay us both in the grave to see our first
and almost dearest hope treading the paths of perdition; & alas my dear
Boy! In the army there are many temptations to immoralities your character is
so yielding that I tremble for you. You know that I do not promise your desire
is to be granted. I only say perhaps your father will consent. A great deal
will depend on you making great improvements in your studies during the next
year, to fit you for removal to a Military College.”
Harsh words indeed from a mother to her firstborn son!
It is apparent from other letters that Ambrose was always in trouble of some
kind or another and forever asking for money when he was away at school, like
other children do! He did go into the army but hardly had a distinguished
career and continued getting into trouble in the army. But that is for another
time. Bad boy Ambrose! Poor mother Ellen!