I recently left a comment on a post on one of my favourite blogs about both my grandmothers being 'in service' when they were young. I suspect that the words 'in service' imply a rather grand establishment. A large town house like the one in the recent 'Upstairs, Downstairs' television series or a large country house on an estate like the one in 'Downton Abbey'. I think the residences that both my grandmothers worked in were much smaller affairs probably not much bigger than their own homes. I've been looking back at the census returns that I found some time ago to try to find out more about the type of place and family they worked for.
|Photo taken inside a house at Blists Hill Museum, Ironbridge|
The first of my ancestors I found 'living in' as a servant was my paternal great grandmother Sarah Ann Hodgetts (known as Sally). She was born in Birmingham in 1854. On the 1871 Census she is living as a domestic servant, aged 17, in St Frederick Villa, Oliver Road, Ladywood, Birmingham which was the home of a Mr T Faulks an architect and his wife Rose. There were no children in the house and she was the only servant.
In the 1901 Census for Nottingham I found my maternal grandmother Florence Mary Stubbs working as a housemaid at 311 Mansfield Road for Samuel Arthur Hill and his wife Rose, both 37 years of age. Samuel was a Wine Merchant's Secretary. There were no children in the house and no other servants. My grandmother was just 17 years old. I remember my mother pointing out the house to me once as we passed by on the bus on one of our occasional shopping trips to Nottingham. The house then had a black and white frontage and was quite close to the big cemetery on Mansfield road. Years later when I was travelling backwards and forwards to work everyday I used to look out for the house.
|Florence Mary Stubbs later Limb with my Aunt Gladys who was born in 1907|
My paternal grandmother Rose Edwards was also in service in 1901, aged 22 and to be married later that same year. Her household, where like my other grandmother she was the only servant, was full of children from the age of 20 down to a 9 year old. The head of the household was Charles Wright a builder and carpenter and his home and workshop was at 177 Fosse Road North, Leicester. Granny's eldest daughter, Millicent Mabel (my aunt Millie) was born in 1902 and she also became a domestic servant at the home of John Campbell Boot in Nottingham. He was the only son of Jesse and Florence Boot founders of Boots the Chemist. She once told me the tale of when she was married from there in 1925, Mrs Margaret Boot loaned her shoes and gloves for the ceremony, Aunt Millie was mortified that she lost one of the gloves.
|Aunt Millie as I remember her in her flowery pinny|