English Boys' Clothes: The Lambtons

Figure 1.--This photograph shows Lady Beatrix Lambton. Compare the dress with her brothers. Note the ringlet curls. While American boys would wear ringlets, the style was less popular in England for boys.

The Lambtons played an important role in English history. I have little information on the clothing worn by the most important member of the family, John George Lambton. Infornmation on his grandson, however, illustrates clothing conventions in England during the 1860s.

John George Lambton (1792-1840)

John George Lambton, First Eart of Durham, was a noted English statesman. I have no information on his clothing as a boy, but they presumably included tunics and skeleton suits .

He became a Liberal member of Parliament in 1813 and avocated reforms in the prevailing of electing members to parliament. As privy councillor and lord privy seal in the ministry (1830-33) of Charles Grey, Lambton was one of a group who drew up the Reform Bill of 1832. The Bill greatly expanded the sufferage in England. After serving as Ambassador to Russia, he was appointed Governor General of Canada and helped forge modern Canada out of fractous Upper and Lower Canada. While the unification of Canada was not achieved until 1867, it was Lambton who played a key role in initiating the process.

George Lambton (1860?-??)

I believe the Honorable George Lambton was a grandson of John George Lambton. Available photographic images from the 1860s show that George as a small boy was dressed almost identically as his older sister, Lady Beatrix. She lloks to be about 10 years of age. He looks to be about 5 years old. This was common at the time for boys until they were about 5vyears of age. Images show George and Beatrix wearing identical riding dresses of check cloth trimmed with braid. The bodices fasten with buttons down the front, the sleeves are close-fitting to the wrist and the full skirts are pleated. They have matching jackets with small white collars. They wear short white socks and boots. George's boots are fastened with laces and Beatrix's with buttons. The onlu sgnifican differences are the hats (hers has plumes), the hair (she has ringlers), and the fact ghat she sits side saddle while her brother sits manly astride the horse, despite his dress.

Figure 2.--George Lambton about 1860 wears an identical dress to his sisters. Note the difference in his hat and hair style. Also note he sits astride the horse, unlike his sister who rides side saddle.

Christopher Wagner


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Last updated: October 21, 1999