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Victorian servant

   Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 and ruled Britain for more than 60 years until her death in 1901, occupying most of the 19th century. Victorianera England, following the completion of the Industrial Revolution, experienced three parliamentary reforms, and achieved great development in all aspects of economy, politics and society, reaching its prime. And the long-existing world of servants was also increasingly enriched during this period.

  Influenced by the medieval monarchy and vassal system, before the 17th century, there was a personal dependency relationship between masters and servants in England. Servants, apprentices, hired workers, etc. living in the master's house are regarded as "family members". The survival of the servants depends on the master. The master has the obligation to protect the servants. After the servants lose their ability to work, the master has the obligation to support them; Personal and property also have a great degree of control. After the 17th century, the feudal relationship gradually weakened, and the personal attachment relationship between master and servant also began to loosen. After the Industrial Revolution, the employment relationship between capitalists and workers in the factory system had a profound impact on the master-servant relationship in Britain. By the Victorian era of the 19th century, the personal attachment relationship between master and servant had disintegrated and began to transform into an employment relationship. The relationship between master and servant has also been eased, and there have even been many phenomena of mutual trust and support for servants. Mrs. Everest, the nanny of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's family, took good care of her family with due diligence, making Churchill feel like an irreplaceable family member. Churchill was adamant against firing her when the family was devastated by her father's recklessness. Even later, Churchill continued to provide financial assistance to Mrs. Everest, who had quit her nanny job, until her death. It is said that Churchill has also been paying for the management of Mrs. Everest's cemetery.

  Victorian servants were no longer the private property of their masters and slaves serving for generations, and the way servants were hired had undergone major changes. Among them, the most common method was to publish recruitment information through the advertisement column of the newspaper. At that time, various newspapers and periodicals in big cities were filled with a large number of advertisements for recruiting servants. The most popular with both employers and employers is the introduction and recommendation method. Some referrals are from currently employed servants, and candidates for domestic help jobs are also referred through locally qualified figures. This method of introduction, on the one hand, allows the employer to clearly grasp the background and strengths of the servant and other relevant information, and on the other hand, the servant can also understand the working environment, specific people, and the personality of the employer. In addition to the introduction of private employment centers, there is a last resort to use the introduction through employment agencies or relief agencies, but due to various drawbacks, it rarely works.

  As the middle class grew rapidly, so did its need and ability to hire servants (one of the hallmarks of its class). The total number of servants grew rapidly and reached its peak during this period. The servants of this period were mainly housemaids, and a typical middle-class family generally had three maids: a cook, a domestic maid, and a nursemaid. The number of servants employed by households of different status and income also varied widely. Nobles and squires earning more than £5,000 a year were able to employ 11 maids and 13 footmen. In the classic drama "Downton Abbey" produced by ITV in the United Kingdom, which reflects the relationship between the masters and servants of the manor before and after the Victorian era, there are 12 servants in the manor of the Earl of Grantham: one male and one female housekeeper, and one personal servant of the Earl. Name, one Countess's personal maid, one first and second male servants, one maid foreman, one cook, one assistant cook, and three kitchen maids at the bottom.

  During this period, the number of male servants was far less than that of maids. In addition to the high wages of male servants and the fact that most of them were transferred to factories, the government imposed a large luxury tax on employers who raised male servants in order to increase the number of factory workers. Among the male servants, the butler is the highest, supervising the coachman, the groom, the errand boy, the young valet, the gardener, and the night watchman, not only arranging the master's books and newspapers, but also supervising the food supply. He was in charge of the keys to each room of the owner, and was in charge of the storage of wine and silverware. If the master does not have a valet, he also looks after the master's wardrobe and personal property. He was able to get some rebates from suppliers for being responsible for the purchase of the host's wine and necessities. The valet takes care of the master's clothes, provides bath water, waits for the master to eat, and waits for the master to change his clothes. Their clients are mainly unmarried male masters or single old masters. The valet is responsible for indoor and outdoor chores, the most important thing is to deliver letters, buy tickets, escort the owner to travel and carry bags for him. The errand boys are generally around 12 years old, and most of their duties are to serve as side attendants. Among the outdoor valet, the coachman is the head of the carriage and horse management department, and is also the highest-ranking man in uniform. It is the gardener who manages the courtyard of the mansion, whose job is to manage the farm, take care of the courtyard and other chores, and sometimes even have to mobilize a large number of gardeners' helpers or temporary workers. A gardener is sometimes in the same position as a general manager, and even receives a higher salary than a general manager.

  Among the maids, the highest-ranking housekeeper is the housekeeper, usually a mature woman or a widow, who is called "wife" regardless of whether they are married or not. They don't need to wear uniforms, they have their own personal rooms, and the daily necessities around them are all high-end products. Its main responsibilities are to manage household accounts, be responsible for purchasing, supervise maids, and even hire and fire lower-level servants. The house keys in their hands can be said to be a symbol of power, and some of the servants trembled with fright at the mere tinkling of the keychain. The status of the personal maid is only lower than that of the housekeeper, and it is mostly performed by beautiful and literate women, especially those who are tall, have professional skills in tailoring and decoration, are outgoing and cheerful, and are more familiar with fashion. They take care of everything by the hostess' side, mainly dressing up the hostess, arranging the hostess's clothes, hats, accessories, etc. They do not need to do cleaning or cooking like other maids. Before the 18th century, female governesses were respected and treated by upper-class families, and their status and reputation were higher than servants. However, due to the sharp increase in the number of governesses in the Victorian era, the mix of fish and dragons, and the number of low-quality governesses, the governess is no longer a respected profession, and its status has also been reduced to servants. A female chef is a high-level maid who is responsible for cooking and is the highest commander in the kitchen. In the big family, her subordinates are the kitchen maid and the washing maid. They do not belong to the command system of the housekeeper, so there is often a situation of intrigue between the two. If the host has few maids, the female chef is also responsible for cleaning the kitchen, dining room, washing the stairs, and sometimes even babysitting. The parlour maid is a relatively new type of servant, mainly engaged in the reception work of entertaining visitors, and is also good at responding, pushing back and forwarding letters. Housemaids are mainly responsible for cleaning and environmental cleaning in the home. Low in status is the washing maid, who scrubs floors, pots and pots, and does a lot of wet and dirty kitchen chores.

  The work of servants is tedious and difficult, and the working hours are very long, with an average of 14 to 16 hours a day. The servants worked six-and-a-half days a week, with extended periods of free time only on Sunday afternoons, but were often asked to take part of their time to church for services. If you meet a good boss, the servant will have a fixed rest time, such as a specific night every week, or a specific full day of free time every month. If the master goes on vacation with his family, the servants left behind are assigned a lot of work, but they can allocate work according to their own wishes through internal negotiation, so that specific time for rest or recreation can be arranged. In summer, servants get a week or two of vacation to go home to visit relatives and friends. Salaries for servants vary widely by gender, age, and division of labor. In general, maids are paid much less than male servants.

  Although the work of servants is mainly about serving, for them, work also involves their own achievement and promotion. Take male servants as an example, most of them start from the lowest level of domestic help. Fully understand the work content, and memorize the essentials of work can be promoted to attendant or personal attendant. If the work is serious and the mind is shrewd, it can also be promoted to the position of chief or butler. The maid started as a dishwashing maid, gradually learned the skills of cooking and housework, and gradually advanced. Another method is to start with a personal maid and become a housekeeper after gaining the love of the hostess. Some maids will use this promotion method as the goal, and they will be promoted from domestic maids to personal maids, but because this way cannot learn the methods of cooking and managing housework, if they fail, they will pay a great price, namely If you cannot become a housekeeper, as you grow older, once you are no longer loved by the hostess, you may be fired directly.
  During this period, although the personal dependence relationship between master and servant has been replaced by free employment relationship, there is still a relatively strict hierarchical relationship. Servants are often regarded as second-class citizens, and some even believe that servants should sincerely thank God for this status. In order to distinguish the status relationship between master and servant, servants must abide by a series of strict rules. One etiquette booklet mentions the following, "Walk around the house as quietly as possible, and don't let your host hear you unless you need to report; if you run into a lady or a gentleman indoors, step back or stand aside to let them know. Go first; if the hostess or hostess asks you to escort you or carry your bags, be sure to follow them and keep a few steps away: when the host is telling jokes to family members or guests in front of you, don't laugh, pretend not to Hear; if you don't need to report, don't interrupt the host's family conversations or meals, and don't talk to guests." In addition, in large families, the maid's access to the valet, male masters and visiting male guests is often strictly restricted. . In the master's house, too much contact between the maid and any man will cause suspicion, and it is even forbidden to have sex. The maid will be fired if she is found to be pregnant out of wedlock, for whatever reason. However, men who impregnate them are not particularly blamed or punished, either by male employers or by other male servants. To make matters worse, there were also numerous incidents of bad employers, servants, or guests entering and leaving the house indecently assaulting the maid.
  However, young and beautiful maids often become the love objects of male employers, the sons of employers, or other male servants. Originally a novelist, Henry Fielding, who later became a magistrate of Westminster in the British Chambers of Parliament, married a maid who was supposed to look after his ex-wife. In addition, Arthur Mumby, a well-known lawyer, also privately married a errand maid. There are also many examples of servants living happily after marriage. For example, after frequent correspondence with their hometown lovers, and after passing the test of long-distance love, they finally obtained a happy and stable marriage.
  While some servants work as domestic helpers for up to 60 years, most servants only work for about 20 years before starting a new life. Typically, male servants use the wages they save while working as domestic servants to invest in new careers. Opening a bar is the preferred type of business for resigned male servants. Sometimes employers also offer land for their servants at cheap prices, many of them near their mansions, for them to open various shops. For example, the famous Claridge Hotel in the UK was opened after the departure of the butler and valet couple. And female servants generally choose to embark on the road of marriage and become housewives after leaving their jobs. Some employers will even provide them with accommodation in their old age, if they have a good relationship with the employer, and enjoy their retirement with the employer's family. If you don't like to depend on others to live, the maid will choose to start a business just like the male servant after leaving the company. And servants who neither save nor find a suitable home will end up in a workhouse for the rest of their lives.


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