02 - Marriage and Return to England




by Margaret du Plessis



Marriage in Amritsar 1877


Frederick Tucker’s first appointment in the Indian Civil Service in the Punjab was in 1876 as assistant-commissioner in Amritsar. This famous city was on the great north road that stretched from Delhi to Lahore and up to Afghanistan. Amritsar is the holy city of the Sikhs, with the Golden Temple standing in the midst of a large lake.

"One year later, while he was at Amritsar, Miss Bode came out as arranged, and the marriage took place. Tucker’s Aunt Charlotte (his father’s sister) was at the wedding, held in the Anglican Church in Amritsar in 1877. She signed the marriage register [1]

"Aunt Charlotte was a writer and a missionary of ‘The Indian female Normal School and Instruction Society’. She was connected to the Zenana Mission. She wrote under the title: A.L.O.E. (A Lady of England), and some of her writings can be found in the Indian English War Crys.

"The bride, unfamiliar with living conditions for civil servants, was amazed and not altogether pleased at the conditions she found confronting her, her young husband had prepared a home on the same scale as those of other officials. There were fifteen servants, a number that seemed to a woman knowing little of Indian customs and caste limitations as excessive. She took the earliest opportunity to dismiss most of them. It was not selfishness that impelled her. She had a passion for giving. To her, position and authority counted mainly as an opportunity to advance religion among the people. The distress that she saw among many of the Indians wounded her heart, and she gave both her hands. She sought opportunity, in railway carriages, in chance encounters, and when she accompanied her husband on his official journeys, to urge sinners to repentance. She held religious services herself, and had the reputation of being an eloquent preacher. She wrote hymns, and later published them in a volume entitled ‘Heart Warblings’[2]

The Tuckers Return to England - 1881

“Tucker was transferred from Amritsar to Simla, the summer headquarters of the Indian Government. Then he was appointed to a delightful hill station, Dharmsala, in the Kangra valley, one of the most lovely spots in the Himalayas”

It was at Dharmsala that Tucker read an account, in a London religious paper, of a new organisation, the Salvation Army. He sent a donation, and with the receipt he received a copy of the 23 December 1880 Christmas War Cry. An article by William Booth, based on the story of Nathan challenged him and Tucker requested four months’ leave, sailing for England to find out more about the Salvation Army.

In London, Tucker attended a meeting led by William Booth. At the close of the meeting Tucker spoke to the General. ‘I want to join you’ he said. The General asked him who he was and where he had come from and then instructed him to ‘go among my people and find the dark side as well as the bright. Discover everything about us -!’ Soon afterwards Tucker attended another meeting and immediately decided to join the Army. He fastened a red ribbon round his hat for all to see.

“When he shared the news with Mrs Tucker she made no secret of her opposition. Willing as she had proved herself to give her goods freely in charity, it seemed to her that resigning his official position, her husband was throwing away a career of great opportunity and influence. She pleaded and reasoned with him, but in vain. She was not attracted to the Salvation Army as he was, yet when she found him immovable, she resolved to do her best to adapt her life to this new prospect. But she did so with a heavy heart.” [3]

“Louisa Mary accompanied him on his famous journey to England to get knowledge of The Army. Although she did not at first approve of his relinquishing his position, which in her opinion gave him great advantages in influencing the native population, yet later on, when he, for the same object, broke from the last vestiges of Europeanism, she went most heartily with him, and might be seen barefooted in the streets of Indian cities, frequently recognised by the very persons who had known her before in all the splendours of Government service. [4]

[1]   For photographs taken at the church in 2010 click here St Paul's Church, Amritsar.
[2]   As F A Mackenzie writes: -  pages 31 – 32
[3]   Harry Williams in his book: Booth-Tucker: William Booth’s First Gentleman published 1980 - page 43
[4]   The Salvation Army War Cry, International Headquarters, London 12 March ,1887