Every Mother's Nightmare

Red Coats Uniforms British old infantry uniforms

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!

by Linda Sawley

Jul 04, 2023

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