Letter from Mary Ord to her daughters : Dec 26th. 1796
My dear Girls as I may not live to see any of you married , I have laid down a few general Rules by way of Advice , respecting your conduct whenever that change in your situation takes place . It is my opinion there is often more fault in Women than Men with respect to Domestic quarrels , which if I can assist you to avoid , the intention of this will be fully answered . The attention Women are used to from a Lover they expect always to continue in the Husband , but this will never be the case long , except it be met with equal kindness and attention ; it is also necessary to study the temper of your Husband . Some are of a reserved disposition and dislike their wives should know any of their affairs - the best way with such I think is to shew no desire for more of their confidence than they please to give , but to endeavour to gain their esteem , consequently confidence will follow .
You will perhaps think it strange I talk of having esteem to gain after marriage but there is a great difference between Love and Esteem , though their union is absolutely necessary to Matrimonial happiness . The best way to gain esteem is by an ingenuous openness in your Behaviour mixed with Gentleness of Manners , and carefully avoiding more expense than his circumstances will admit . Let him see by all your actions that his interest and happiness is your study , and you will scarce fail of insuring your own . Many women who really love their husbands fret themselves out of humour when they are longer aabsent than they expected , and meet them with taunts or sullenness which is very wrong . The best cure if they be ever so guilty of staying long is to meet them with cheerfulness and to make their own Fireside as pleasant as possible. Men meet with many things in Business and Company to ruffle their tempers, and where shall they look for sympathy if denied by their bosom friend - for such a wife ought to be in the strictest sense of the word .
The next duty of importance is the management of Children , this should always be the Mothers province . Whenever Women either from indolence or mistaken tenderness leave the necessary correction of children to their Fathers , they lose all their authority , consequently the children are all their own Masters when Father is abroad ; you know from my own practice I am no to correction , but as children must be under some restraint before their own judgement comes , I would recommend them being begun with very soon , get your authority established in their infant minds and your task will be very easy , the twig is much better bent than the sturdy tree . As their ideas expand , let them know both by your conversation and conduct , that it is their good you have in view , when you are obliged to correct them - and guard yourself as much as possible from Passion at these times , for it will undoubtedly lead you into error which they will very soon see . Indeed to be good Mothers , you must be good Women , for your example will be far more than your precepts . If you quarrel with your children for faults they see you commit , such as Lying , Deceit , calling Bad Names , when you quarrel with either them , or your servants , they will be readier to do as you do , than as you say.
If the Almighty giver of all goodness bless these few lines , I hope they will help you to pass through the Ocean of Life with comfort to yourselves and your connections , and that He may give you all Grace , Virtue , and Happiness here , and hereafter in the sincere wish of your
Affectionate Mother Mary Ord Dec. 26th. 1796 I direct this to Margt. as my eldest daughter , and desire she will give each of her sisters both by Blood and Law a copy , as the advice of a Departed Mother whose first wish next the happiness of her own Soul , is their present and Eternal Welfare . M. Ord .
(Note) This copy is made by me , William Wilson C.E. youngest son of Barbara one of the daughters for whom the letter was written - Barbara Mills was married to George Wilson of Alnwick , and had thirteen children of whom I am the youngest , and only surviving one . April 4th. 1888
Re-copied by Jane wife of William Cail who is a great-Grandson of the writer . 5, Victoria Square , Newcastle on Tyne February 27th. 1902