Victorian Family Portrait

This week’s photograph is a delightful family group from the late nineteenth century:SKM_C284e18032911530The patriarch of this family sits front and centre:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy (3)Surrounded by his daughters and sons, two of whom are serving their queen. The soldier on the left is wearing Highland dress and under magnification it can be seen that his collar dogs are those of the Cameron Highlanders:SKM_C284e18032911530 - CopyThe other soldier seems to be a member of the Army Service Corps with that corps’ distinctive dark blue uniform faced in white:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy (2)For once we can get a fairly accurate date on this photograph from the ladies clothing. They wear a slender ‘leg of mutton’ sleeve on their dresses and this particular fashion choice was only really seen between 1893 and 1895:SKM_C284e18032911530 - Copy (4)After this date the sleeves of fashionable ladies’ dresses grew larger and larger before the fashion disappeared altogether in about 1906. It is perhaps surprising that both these young men are serving as private soldiers at this date. The family are clearly reasonably well to do and there remained a stigma towards soldiers at this period of history. Soldiers were seen as drunks, illiterates and degenerates, it was not until the Boer War that attitudes started to change towards the common British Tommy. It was therefore often those on the lower rungs of society that joined the army and it was not unheard of for mothers to burst into tears at the shame their sons had brought upon the family by enlisting. Kipling perhaps expressed the late Victorian sentiment most accurately:Capture1


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