Servants in the 19th Century

Amy, you there? AMY?

Well, that's enough to get my 19th century curiosity going. What do you mean "Shh, they're talking about servants?" Who's talking about servants?

George and the master of the house. George is here. He must've come to ask about Charlotte. And now the  master of the house is telling him that she was sent away. Wait ... he's telling George that he's sorry his maid consorted with him under inappropriate deception. He's saying that he had no idea Charlotte was such a deceitful servant. I just heard him say, "Pray my forgiveness, Sir." 

Oh, oh. Well, what's-

Wait ...
They must be in the library. I can hear them. cause they keep getting louder. George is telling the master of the house that Charlotte seems to him no more like a servant than a cockroach seems like a horse! He's like, totally defending her. He said he believes she is fashioned after the highest principles.

The master of the house just said, "But she is a servant! A servant, man! Do you disregard my certainty?"
Oh! Now George is yelling! "Perhaps by current circumstance, sir, but decidedly not by creation!"

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Wait ...

The lady of the house must have joined them when she heard all the commotion because I can hear her talking now too. She must be wondering WTF is happening.

"Do you not realize she is irregular?" she just said to George.

Oh my gosh. Don't tell me she's going to say ---

Wait ...

She's telling George about Charlotte missing two fingers on her left hand because of the accident she had when she was working in a factory in England.

Ack. I think I just heard George gasp.

Oh no.


Wait ...

The lady of house just said, "Level heads shall prevail. Let us have the new maid prepare us tea so we may respectively put all this foolishness regarding a simple servant behind us."

And now? Is George saying anything?

Yeah, he just asked for his hat. Ooh! And now he's insisting to know the whereabouts of Charlotte before he leaves! Snap!

 And YOU thought this would never work.

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In the mid 1800s, when you currently live, there is a huge demand for servants in homes, for those who can afford to pay for hired help.

Most of these domestic servants are young women, many arriving from Ireland after the famine occurred there.

A housemaid's responsibilities start early every morning, normally at 6:00 a.m., although she may be allowed to sleep in a half hour later on Sundays.

Drawing the curtains and opening shutters is no doubt the first of her duties. Removing ashes from the fireplaces and lighting fires  to keep the house warm in cold weather is the second. 

Dusting, sweeping, shaking carpets outside, hauling water - these are also all part of a Victorian housemaid's morning, 

It is normal for a  maid to change clothes after this cleaning ritual, before she starts cooking breakfast. And while the family is eating, she is able then to travel upstairs into the bedrooms, where chamber pots must be cleaned, bed linens stripped for airing, and pitchers filled with water.

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Over the rest of the day, floors need to be scrubbed, dirty dishes and cutlery need to be dealt with, windows need to be cleaned and laundry needs to be washed.

Just before dinner, a maid will remove her apron when serving the meal she has prepared, then wait for the family to finish. It will be time at this point to clean the dining area of all dishes and crumbs and return to the kitchen for another clean-up.

In the evening, a maid is still working.. She might prepare tea for the family before closing the drapes and blinds and getting beds ready for the night. If asked by her employers, she must also extinguish any remaining fires and put out the lights of the lamps before she retires for a slight bit of time all to herself.