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Hogarths-Servants

The following draft excerpt from the upcoming “A Ghastly Companion to Castles, Mansions, and Estates” is a rough guide to the staff that might be present in a Grand House during the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The lists assume the English or French practices of household management. In much of Europe it was actually common, however, for most of the servants to be undifferentiated in their duties, and have their tasks assigned to them day-to-day. Nonetheless, any particular household might also have followed the English or French models. The same basic setup of servants was actually practiced well into the 20th century, making the table useful for games set in the Second Empire, Belle Epoch, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, as well as the Georgian, Regency, and Napoleonic.

As a rough guideline to an aristocratic family‘s income in the late 18th century, figure about 9p per week in rent per acre of land they own, plus an additional 25% on top (for such things as rents on urban properties, mines, sale of estate produce, shares of stock, government bonds, tolls, and even still-active feudal obligations). A family that owns 1,000 acres might thus have an income of about 11,250p per week, which in terms of actual 18th century currencies translates to £2,438 (or 48,750 francs) per year. That family would expect to spend about 25% of its income on servants and retainers. Remember that it was considered deeply shameful (and was actually illegal in many places ) for an aristocrat to work at any trade for money, or have any actual employment at all besides tending their estate, collecting rents, being a government official, or serving as a military commander. Many aristocrats would eventually wind up up deeply in debt (and forced to sell off their estates) to wealthy financiers.

(d6)
The house and grounds are…

1
…barely staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 2,000p per week – £434, or 8,667 francs per year. If the house is large, part will be sealed off and never used.)

Female House Servants:
1 Maid-of-all-Work (or Servante).

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.

Retainers:
1 Governess, or 1 Secretary (The Governess will probably be a long-suffering orphan with a tragic or mysterious past, willing to take work with a family fallen on hard times.)

2
…modestly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 4,000p per week – £867, or 17,334 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d4 Housemaids.
1 Nursery Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid (or Femme de Chambre).

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Manservant.
1d4 Pages.
1 Coachman.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.

Retainers:
1 Governess, or 1 Secretary.

3 – 4
…fully staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 12,000p per week – £2,600, or 52,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1d3 Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
1 Lady’s Maid.
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d2 Kitchen Maids*.
1 Scullery Maid or Scullion.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d4 Pages.
1d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
1 Valet (or Valet de Chambre).
1 Handyman.
1 Porter (or Suisse).

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1 Stable Boy.
1 Postilion.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.

Retainers:
1 Governess.
1 Secretary.
1 Tutor.

5
…well staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 18,000p per week – £3,900, or 78,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4+1 Lower Housemaids.
1 Nurse Maid.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member)
1 Laundry Maid. (Only in English-style households.)
1d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d2 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Coachman.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1 Porter (or Suisse).
1 Hall Boy.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
1 Postilions.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Assistant Gardener.
1 Huntsman.

Retainers:
Governesses (one for each female child).
1 Secretary.
1d2 Tutors.
1 Lady’s Companion (or Demoiselle de Compagnie).
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).

6
extravagantly staffed.

(The family must have an income of at least 30,000p per week – £6,500, or 130,000 francs per year.)

Female House Servants:
1 Housekeeper (or Gouvernante).
1 Cook (or Cuisinière)*.
1 Upper Housemaid. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Lower Housemaids.
1d2 Nurse Maids.
Lady’s Maids (One for each adult female family member).
2 Laundry Maids. (Only in English-style households.)
2d4 Kitchen Maids*.
1d4 Scullery Maids, or Scullions.
1 Still Maid.
1 Hall Maid.

* In a French household the Cook (Cuisinier) and kitchen staff are likely to be male.

Male House Servants:
1 Butler (or Maître d’Hôtel).
1d6 Pages.
2d4 Footmen (or Laquais).
1 Men’s Coachmen.
1 Women’s Coachmen.
Valets (One for each adult male family member).
1 Handyman.
1 Underbutler (or Officier).
1d4 Porters (or Suisses).
1d4 Guards.
2 Hall Boys.

Grounds Servants:
1 Gardener.
1 Groom.
1d4 Stable Boys.
2 Postilions.
1d6 Guards.

Also on a country estate:
1 Dairy Maid.
1 Shepherd or Pastor.
1 Blacksmith.
1 Kennel Master.
1 Gamekeeper.
1 Forester.
1d4 Assistant Gardeners.
1 Huntsman.
1 Whipper-in.

Retainers:
1 Estate Manager (or Intendant).
Governesses (one for each female child).
Chaperones (one for each unmarried woman 14 years or older).
1 Secretary.
1 Librarian.
1 Chamber Nurse or Physician.
1d4 Tutors.
Lady’s Companions (or Demoiselles de Compagnie) for each married woman of the family.
1 Chaplain (or Aumônier).
1 Dance Master.
1 Drawing Master.
1 Occult Consultant (Alchemist, Astrologer, Card Reader, Seer, Mesmerist, etc.).
1 Ornamental Hermit.

Notes

Any household of means will also employ a Lawyer, but they will seldom actually live in the House.

As noted above, French households tended to employ male Cuisiniers and Garçons de Cuisine (Kitchen Boys), rather than female Cooks and Kitchen Maids. The Cuisinier had a higher status in France than the Cook did in England, and was usually co-manager of the house staff with the Maître d’Hôtel. Outside France, a French Cuisinier might be brought on staff and paid as a retainer, rather than a servant.

British houses would generally employ a larger percentage of female servants relative to similar households in other countries, because a British family had to pay a special tax on each male servant in their employ. French households tended to be smaller overall than British ones.

The French “Gouvernante” literally means “Governess”, and was used to indicate both the Governess who teaches children, and a servant equivalent to the English “Housekeeper”. Likewise, “Suisse” (“Swiss”) was the term for both Porters and Guards.

Only English-style households would divide the Housemaids into a senior Upper Housemaid and junior Lower Housemaids.

French households would not have dedicated Laundry Maids, because French practice was to store used linens in a large storeroom (Lingerie), and wash them yearly.

Note that if the family employed a number of servant and retainers out of proportion to their actual wealth, they must have been be deeply in debt, dependent on patronage, or engaged in some illicit enterprise to raise funds.

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