I made a brief mention of what I called upper-crust tattoos in my last post. In the late 19th and early 20th century, tattoos were very popular among people who were considered (or considered themselves to be) “high society.” Winston Churchill’s mother had a tattoo, and so did the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).
My grandmother’s parents were Canadians by birth but her mother always considered herself British and had British upper-class pretensions. It must have been very difficult to sustain those kinds of aspirations on the pay scale of a professional soldier–my great-grandfather was an officer in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Much like her granddaughter, she was raised to marry a rich man, but married a rich man’s son, which is a different kettle of fish altogether.
I didn’t know much about my mother’s ancestors till fairly recently, other than that they’d scooted over the border into New Brunswick circa 1776 with the other Tories, and left behind the land that Princeton University stands on today. (And that, of course, explains why I am the first of this particular branch to be born in the USA.)
The more I looked into it, the more interesting family details turned up. And some of the historical information I found proved very useful in present-day times.
My mother did not like tattoos. She refused to even look at mine and made it clear she wished I hadn’t done it. Nicely, of course. But the meaning was QUITE clear.
As part of my family research I sent off for the papers that her grandfather had signed when he joined the Canadian Army. And when the photocopy arrived I saw something of great interest. My great-grandfather had three tattoos! One of which, to my delight, was a dragon. This was not long after I got my own dragon tattoo, so I felt a sense of family pride immediately.
And then I called up my mother and told her it was all genetic and it was all her fault. 🙂