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Domestic Service

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Domestic Service

Postby Buckdenboy » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:26 pm

I am trying to find any information on my Grandmother, the only knowledge that I have on her is that she was a Domestic Cook for the Gerson family in Willesden around 1928. Does anyone know if there are records of Domestic Servants from that time?
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby paulberyl » Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:26 am

[font="times new roman"][size=3]In the 1931 census, the closest to 1928, there were just over 1.3 million female domestic servants (just over 78,000 male domestic servants). Unfortunately there are no central records for domestic servants. [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Going back to the 19th century whilst domestic service was the largest occupation of women it is a largely unknown occupation. No Royal Commission investigated it or suggested legislative protection of the worker; no outburst of trade union activity called attention to the lot of servants, as it did to that of the building workers, the cotton-spinners and the dock labourers. Immured in their basements and attic bedrooms, shut away from private gaze and public conscience, the domestic servants remained mute and forgotten.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]It is only when domestic service went into decline and servants became scarce that interest was aroused in “the servant problem”.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Domestic service began to decline after the First World War but nevertheless in 1931 it was still a major occupation for women. The hours worked were very long, the work was arduous and often lonely, and it did not provide the freedom which was available to factory and shop workers.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Within the larger households employing a number of servants there was a hierarchy of servants, which for female servants was typically:[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]housekeeper[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]cook[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]ladies maid[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]parlour maid[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]housemaid[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]kitchen maid[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]-[/size] [size=3]scullery maid[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]The number of servants depended on the wealth of the family but a cook and a housemaid were a priority, although the first employed servant may well have been a girl/woman who came in to do the cleaning.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]To quote from [i]The Annals of Labour: Autobiographies of British Working Class People, 1820-1920 [/i]by John Burnett “Victorian households built up their staffs of domestic servants in accordance with a well-understood pattern: this was based on a natural and logical progression from general functions to more specialized ones, heavily reinforced by an outpouring of literature and advice on domestic economy and household management. Domestic help began with a daily girl or charwoman. The first living-in servant would be a 'general' maid-of-all-work, almost always a young girl often of only thirteen or fourteen: the next addition a house-maid or a nurse-maid, depending on the more urgent needs at the time. The third servant would be the cook, and these three — either cook, parlour-maid and house-maid, or cook, house-maid and nurse-maid — then formed a group which could minimally minister to all the requirements of gentility”.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]Whilst I appreciate that most of the above information relates to a much earlier period than your grandmother’s service hopefully you will find it of some interest.[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Regards,[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Paul[/size][/font]
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby Annie08 » Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:56 am

Hi,
My Great Grandmother was in domestic service and I thought I'd share this story.

She worked at the local vicarage as a Domestic Servant - Cook (by 1891), her two younger sisters were also in service at the Vicarage - one as a Nurse and the other as a Housemaid. I have found that sisters, and in other lines of my family the mother and her two daughters are different levels of servants within the same household.

Anyway back to the story - the Vicarage had a gravel drive and it was expected on one halloween night that there would be trick or treat coming up to the Vicarage. We are not sure which sister it was but one hid in the hedge, where she could hear them coming with a sheet over her. The kids knocked at the door and one of the other sisters answered and said "What's that in the hedge?" It frightened the kids - scattering in different directions some ran down the drive and others ran into the Vicarage. They nearly got the sack over it.

We joke about this now, however there was also the serious side to the job which was hard. The majority of my nineteenth century and early 20th Century female family members were in service.

Annie08
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby ksouthall » Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:13 pm

Paul,
This information is very helpful however I have a few further questions for you:-
Do you know if domestic servants always lived in, or is it possible that some of them would have remained in their family home?
Also, was this type of work restricted to single women in the 19th Century or were married women also in service, if they needed the money?
I have also found on some censuses, that one or two of my ancestors were listed as housekeeper to their widowed fathers. Do you think they would have received wages for their work or were their fathers trying to impress the enumerators by claiming they had servants to give the impression of importance?
Thanks for the information in your previous message,
Katherine
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby paulberyl » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:00 am

[size=3][font="times new roman"]Hi Katherine,[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]I will do my best to answer your questions succinctly, although you could quite easily write a book on the history of domestic service.[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]The first point to clarify is the term “servant”. If this term appears on a census return it inevitably means a live in servant. That is not to say that were not “servants” who remained in the family home but these would be described in accordance with their relationship to the family (head, wife, son, daughter, lodger or visitor) with their actual jobs shown (coachman, gamekeeper, gardener, charwoman). Also with the practice of not showing occupations for married women we have no idea how many of these undertook domestic duties (such as cleaning and laundry) for other families. There is a further complication in Scotland with agricultural labourers (as they were called in England and Wales) being described as farm servants.[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]Returning to your questions the vast majority of servants were live in as it was not practical for them to live at home. A typical day could run from 6am to 11pm. Also it was common practice not to employ domestics from the immediate local area as the employing family would not wish their family gossiped about in the local community. The majority of servants were single girls; girls entering service typically at 12/13 years of age, although it is not unknown for girls as young as 8 years old to enter domestic service. That is not to say that married women were not employed but these tended to be either the housekeeper or cook with the likelihood that their husband was also employed by the same family as a servant (butler, gamekeeper, coachman). However you must bear in mind that the convention in Victorian times was for women to give up work upon marriage to look after her husband, home and future children. Widows were certainly employed as servants.[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]The following table is an extract from the 1871 census for England and Wales which shows typical ages of servants. (CAP is the Central Age Point; the age at which the greatest numbers of individuals are recorded)[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]Men[/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Role Number CAP[/size][/font]
Servant 68,369 Not given
Coachman 16,174 25-45
Groom 21,202 15-25
Gardener 18,868 20-45
Inn & hotel servant 28,538 15-35

Women
General Servant 780,040 20
Housekeeper 140,836 45
Cook 93,067 30
Housemaid 110,505 15-25
Inn & hotel servant 20,537 20-25
Nurse 75,491 15-20

[font="times new roman"][size=3]For interest I am setting out below some house rules for servants[/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"] [/font][/size]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]1 - When being spoken to, stand still, keeping your hands quiet, and always look at the person speaking.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]2 - Never let your voice be heard by the ladies and gentlemen of the household, unless they have spoken directly to you a question or statement which requires a response, at which time, speak as little as possible.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]3 - In the presence of your mistress, never speak to another servant or person of your own rank, or to a child, unless only for necessity, and then as little as possible and as quietly as possible.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]4 - Never begin to talk to the ladies or gentlemen, unless to deliver a message or to ask a necessary question, and then, do it in as few words as possible.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]5 - Whenever possible, items that have been dropped, such as spectacles or handkerchiefs, and other small items, should be returned to their owners on a salver.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]6 - Always respond when you have received an order, and always use the proper address: “Sir”, “Ma’am”, “Miss” or “Mrs,” as the case may be.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]7 - Never offer your opinion to your employer.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]8 - Always “give room”: that is, if you encounter one of your betters in the house or on the stairs, you are to make yourself as invisible as possible, turning yourself toward the wall and averting your eyes.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]9 - Except in reply to a salutation offered, never say “good morning” or “good night” to your employer.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]10 - If you are required to walk with a lady or gentleman in order to carry packages, or for any other reason, always keep a few paces back.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]11 - You are expected to be punctual to your place at mealtime[/font][/size][/i]
[size=3][font="times new roman"][i]12 - You shall not receive any Relative, Visitor or Friend into the house, nor shall you introduce any person into the Servant’s Hall, without the consent of the [/i][i]Butler[/i][i] or Housekeeper.[/i][/font][/size]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]13 - Followers are strictly forbidden. Any member of the female staff who is found to be fraternizing shall be immediately dismissed[/font][/size][/i]
[i][size=3][font="times new roman"]14 - Expect that any breakages or damages in the house shall be deducted from your wages.[/font][/size][/i]
[i][font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font][/i]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]The term housekeeper can cover at least three situations. There is the “servant” housekeeper; the woman who was responsible for all the female servants in a household and was responsible for the running of the house. She was responsible for the household accounts. The term housekeeper is also used for daughters who cared for widowed fathers. It is unlikely that they received a salary but would have been responsible for the household accounts and therefore exercised a degree of control over the household money. Finally the term was sometimes used as a euphemism for a woman living, but not married, with a man. [/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Hope this is of some interest.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]Paul[i] [/i][/font][/size]
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby ksouthall » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:16 pm

Paul,
Thank you very much for all this information. It helps give a much better idea of life in service. I imagine it was also better for parents of large families if their children lived where they were working as I presume their board and lodgings formed a large part of their wages, or is this a misconception?
Katherine
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby paulberyl » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:06 am

Hi Katherine,

Firstly I meant to include the following on my last post - but forgot it! It is an extract from a diary of a servant employed at Tatton Park.

[size=3][font="times new roman"]6.00am Woke up, swept state rooms, cleaned grates and fireplaces, took hot water upstairs for family and guests.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]8.00am Breakfast in Servants Hall.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]8.30am Cleaned bedrooms, made beds, emptied slops and refilled the coal buckets. Swept staircases.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]1.00pm Took hot water upstairs for family to wash before lunch[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]1.30pm Servants lunch[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]2.00pm Returned to bedrooms to empty water. Dusted and tidied. [/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]4.00pm Put clean towels etc. out, answered calls from mistress.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]5.00pm Re-lit bedroom fires. Cleaned glass and china in the drawing[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"] and dining room.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]7.00pm Took up more hot water. Lit lamps.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]8.00pm Tidied bedrooms whilst guests were at dinner.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]10.00pm Made up bedroom fires for the night.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]11.00pm Answered requests from guests for drinks of water![/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]11.30pm Retired at last.[/font][/size]

As regards salary this may, or may not, have included board and lodgings. Typically where board and lodging were included (food, lodging and clothes) the servant's annual salary could be as low as £10 per annum. Average salaries collected by the Board of Trade in the 1890s were:

Between Maid - £10 7s 0d pa
Scullery Maid - £13 0s 0d pa
Kitchen Maid - £15 0s 0d pa
Housemaid - £16 2s 0d pa
Parlour Maid - £20 6s 0d pa
Cook - £20 2s 0d pa
Lady's Maid - £24 7s 0d pa
Cook/Housekeeper - £35 6s 0d pa
Housekeeper - £52 5s 0d pa

[size=3][font="times new roman"]In 1888 Butlers earned £45 per annum and had no expenses except clothes. They would make up their income from such perks as tradesman offering discounts to receive continued orders. Butlers would also collect the end of candles and one bottle of wine for every six opened.[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"][/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"]There are a couple of books available from Amazon on Victorian Servants:[/font][/size]
[size=3][font="times new roman"][/font][/size] [size=3][font="times new roman"]
[i]The Victorian Domestic Servant[/i] and [i]Keeping Their Place: Domestic Service in the Country House.[/i]
[i][/i]
Regards,

Paul [/font][/size]
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby ksouthall » Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:36 pm

Hello Paul,
Thanks very much for all this information. It certainly was a long day for the servants. I can also see, from the wages, why people would have wanted to work their way up through the ranks to become a butler or housekeeper.
Thanks again for all your help. I hope other people reading this forum find it as interesting as I have.
Katherine
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby ljstod1970 » Tue Feb 03, 2009 6:36 am

Hi Paul

My Great Great Grandfather, reportedly worked at Tatton Park or Jodrell Hall in the late 1800's/early 1900's as a gamekeeper, his name was Dan Stoddard and his wife, who I think was also in service was called Agnes Stoddard nee Hawkins, do you know where I can find more information about this?

Thanks

Lisa
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RE: Domestic Service

Postby paulberyl » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:50 am

Hi Lisa,

I would suggest you write to Tatton Park at Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6QN with as much information you have. They should be able to let you know whether any records exist and where these are held (Tatton Park is jointly managed by the National Trust and Cheshire County Council).

Paul
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