Thursday, 1 March 2012

Servants

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

10 comments:

  1. Fascinating post.Several of my ancestors were servants or in service as it was called and I had always assumed they were working in big houses.I realise now they may not have been.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Anne - I think sometimes the conditions some servants worked in weren't as good as we would like to think:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've enjoyed reading about your family history. All of my ancestors came from England and I'm having a wonderful time learning all about them. Genealogy is fascinating, I've found a few secrets about family members too. Enjoy your research.
    Anne xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Anne glad you've enjoyed reading. Family History is fascinating isn't it? I'm very conscious that I haven't updated this blog for ages, I must try to do something later but I guess it is something you pick up and put down when you get another piece of the jigsaw puzzle:)

      Delete
  4. Hello Rosie, I've just been back through your every post to January 2007. What a fantastic record you have and I am amazed at how much work you have put in and how well you have presented it here.
    I'm now the eldest (70 years young) of our family and I too have several large boxes of hundreds of family photographs. My tree goes back to Lincolnshire on one side and Swansea on t'other. The families met in the Midlands - Birmingham area and I was born in Bournville, within the smell of the Cadbury factory where my Dad worked.
    I have no children to pass on my memories to, so I have decided to do a bit of blogging, but so far, I have only got to post No.7. I am finding it so hard to structure things correctly. It's going all over the place at the moment, but I feel I must get something down on 'paper'. I am trying to put names, dates and places onto photographs too.
    What a struggle!
    A strange thing happened just before Christmas - I was doing a bit of Google research into the history of Cadburys to confirm some dates when I ended up on a BBC web-site where they were reviewing, of all things, 'my blog'!
    I'd gone full circle!
    I have really enjoyed reading this blogspot and seeing how you have done things. I don't feel I could do anything like this searching records, registers and libraries - I'm not that well into computers. But must at least try.
    Thank you.
    Best wishes .....Bernard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Bernard I'm so pleased that you have enjoyed reading this blog - I think my posts are 'all over the place' too as I just add things in as I think about it. I started family history research in 1988 and things have changed so much since the and so much information is now available via the internet which is a wonderful tool as so many people are willing to exchange information and help each other. Some of the old photos I have are labelled but many more aren't and I don't suppose I'll ever find out who the people are. How wonderful to be mentioned on the BBC website. I will pop over later to look at your blog:)

      Delete
  5. Hi Rosie. BBC? Well I'm not sure about wonderful. I had no 'extra traffic' because of it - but I was just a teeny weeny bit flattered. :)
    To save you hunting it was here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickbooth/2011/02/sepia-toned_memories_from_post.html
    I am currently encouraging one of my nephews to search out family trees on-line. He knows more about these things than me. (not difficult!)
    Best wishes ....Bernard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bernard, I'll pop over to your blog and take a look and also add a link to your blog on here:)

      Delete
  6. My Grand Mother was 'in service' for I think 7 years ..she too worked (I think) as an only servant in a small household.. family tradition is She really didn't enjoy that part of her life. We do still have her framed certificate celebrating her 'Faithful service' I think it was a Church society certificate ..I'll have to check. You have created a very interesting blog. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most domestic servants were in a household on their own or perhaps with just one other and I don't think a lot of them had a very happy time of it. Thanks for visiting and I'm glad you have enjoyed reading my blog:)

      Delete