Officers were discouraged from marrying until their mid-thirties.
|"A Subaltern may not
captains might marry,
majors should marry,
and lieutenant-colonels must marry."
junior officers were discouraged from marrying as it was felt that
it could ruin them financially when the cost was added to the
initial outlay for commission, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions
and the mess. The purity of the mess was disturbed by
marriage, as it took the officer out of the all-male warrior
clique. An officer who married without getting permission
from his commanding officer severely jeopardized his chances of
promotion. Custom, economics, and peer pressure combined to
postpone marriage until quite late in life.
was time to marry, certain criteria were expected to be met.
Firstly, the bride had to be of the same social class as her
suitor, and her family should be wealthy. Marriages were
usually a way to enhance a career. The courtship rituals
involved a grand social life, strictly regulated by
chaperones. Once married, wives were expected to continue
hosting social events as subtle political manoeuvers on behalf of
their husbands. They were also expected to maintain a
dignified domestic life for their husbands even if situated in
far-off countries. If an officer married, his wife and
family would not be in residence at the fort, but would be living
in private quarters in Kingston. The other alternative was
to wait in Britain for their husband to be posted back.
married, an officer's wife was recognized with the same social
distinction as her husband.
were not allowed to join the army during the nineteenth
century. But in every company (100 men), 12 soldiers were
given permission by the commanding officer to marry "on the
strength of the regiment."
"On the strength of the regiment" meant that the women
and children lived in the same garrison as the soldier and drew
rations at no extra cost. When the Regiment was moved to a
new posting (approximately every two years) the family would
travel with the regiment for free. After the Crimean War,
separate married quarters were adopted. At Fort Henry,
families occupied the ditch towers and some barracks rooms.
Only married men on strength or married men on leave could sleep
out of barracks and only if the husband and wife were, in the
opinion of the commanding officer, to be of "good
character." Men still had to be regular in their duties
and never leave their quarters after tattoo (9:30 or 10:00 p.m.).
husband died and the family wished to stay in Canada, they were
cut off rations immediately. If they wished to return to
Britain they were put on the Widow and Orphans fund until the move
could be completed. A woman could also remarry another man
in the regiment. There was rarely a shortage of suitors.
Although standing orders would vary, it was understood that the
women would do work for the army in exchange for money.
Washing was an immense task that fell to the women. Other
tasks would include repairs of shirts and uniforms. Sewing
and knitting thus became organized activities. Garrison
Needlework Associations formed in all garrisons.
married quarters, a woman was appointed daily to be an orderly,
responsible for utilities and cleanliness of common areas and the
stove. Every married man with a family in the barracks was
expected to pay a charge for a woman to keep the women's washhouse
and privies clean.
British government unofficially realized the positive influence of
women in the barracks, by allowing the marriage percentage to be
increased at border posts. The unwritten truism being: the
higher the percentage of married men, the lower the desertion
were also usually more children than women in the barracks.
The 1861 census in Kingston shows that the average military family
consisted of a husband, wife and at least three children.