Francis Topping Atcherley and family

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The following photographs were taken in Montreal, Canada by William Notman in the 1860s. They form part of the McCord Museum’s collection of images and are available under a Creative Commons licence.

This photo depicts “Lt. Col. and Mrs. Atcherly, 30th Regiment” and was taken in 1863, not long after the couple’s marriage on June 4th of that year. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Topping Atcherley was a Crimean War veteran serving in Canada with the 30th Regiment of Foot. He married Emma Arabella, second daughter of Francis Harris Heward and his wife Eliza Paul of Toronto, in that city’s St George’s church. He retired from the Army by the sale of his Commission on 21 Mar 1865 and remained in Canada. He joined the Militia, became Deputy Adjutant-General of Military District 4, and helped to defend Canada from the Fenian raids of 1866 and 1870. Original image.

The following was written in celebration of the union of Francis and Emma (transcribed from a copy held at Shropshire Archives, Class: BA 86 v.f.).

A SONG,
WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION OF THE
MARRIAGE OF LIEUT.-COL. ATCHERLEY,
30TH REGIMENT,
BY WILLIAM ROBERTS.

Oh! remember the time in the Crimean War,
   When the battle of Alma was fought ;
When the vain Russian General so vainly did boast,
   And his boasting was soon brought to nought.
His position, he said, for three weeks he’d maintain,
   In the face of the brave Allied Powers ;
But they made it too hot to hold him and his men,
   In a less space of time than three hours.
Oh! remember the time when on Inkerman’s height,
   The dense masses of Muscovites pour’d ;
When the brave British boys in that deadliest fight,
   Defeated the great Russian Horde.
When Atcherley, with his brave handful of men,
   Did gallantly keep them at bay ;
And held them in check until succours arrived,
   That drove the proud foemen away.
The war it went on amid battle and strife,
   Till the town of Sebastopol fell ;
When the Czar ‘gan to think it was time to have peace,
   For he saw his mistake very well.
So the war was then ended, and peace was restored,
   And the Allies their forces withdrew ;
But not till they’d made the proud Russian Bear,
   Succumb to the Red, White and Blue.
The Yankees next promis’d to give us some work,
   And warm work they said it would be ;
For their forces could easily Canada take,
   And beat us by land and by sea.
But Russell and Palmerston soon took the hint,
   And our soldiers to Canada sent ;
Determin’d to see what the Yankees would do,
   And repel them if they should attempt.
These great preparations the boasters did daunt,
   And they gave up their plans in affright ;
For the Yankees, I think, are that sort of dogs,
   Who are more apt to bark than to bite.
But our Colonel went over to conquer, and he
   In his purpose was not to be baulk’d ;
He went to be victor, and victor he’d be,
   Though the Yankees so loudly they talk’d.
With a heart warm and free as a bold British Tar,
   He determin’d at once to them prove,
That a brave British Soldier so gallant in War,
   Could also be gallant in Love.
A “Ministering Angel in human form,”
   Very soon, with delight, he espies ;
The “Fair Maid of Canada,” is woo’d, and is won,
   And he bears her away as his prize.
He consider’d, as most likely I should do,
   And ev’ry one else, I suppose,
For he thought (and a very good thought it was too)
   That ‘tis better to win friends than foes.
Then wish them, with me, every blessing and say,
   “May happiness long them betide ;
Long life, health, and wealth, unto brave Atcherley,
   And his Bonnie Canadian Bride.”

“Mrs. Col. Atcherly” photographed in 1867. Although known as Emma Arabella Heward at the time of her marriage, the register of Christ Church, Montreal shows that she was baptised (on 3 May 1841) as Arabella Emma. Within four years of this picture being taken, Emma had died, aged just 29. Original image.

Although this photo, also dating from 1867, is apparently of “Master H. Atcherly” the little boy shown must actually be Francis and Emma’s first child, Francis Robinson Hartland Atcherley. Born on 8 Jan 1865 in Toronto, Frank would have been 2 years old when this photograph was taken. Following the death of his mother in 1871, Frank and his three surviving siblings left Canada with their father and came to England, before moving to the coast of north Wales. Original image.


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