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The Lady’s Maid — 15 Comments

  1. There are definitely worse positions than a lady’s maid but I don’t think I could keep up, either! I’d have had to make sure the ponytail and messy-bun became the in-thing, if I was responsible for anyone’s hair! It would be kinda lonely, too, if all the other servants were jealous or afraid to be around you much; never thought of that! Guess you just pray you have a great employer and maybe her husband has a handsome valet you can hang out with! 😉

    • I was thinking the same thing about the loneliness when I was writing this! I learned a few things I was unaware of when I wrote the post about housekeepers, and I did as well here. The abigail was probably rather busy and I would imagine the other servants are wary of her–especially if she’s nasty like O’Brien in Downton Abbey! Thanks, Monica!

  2. No, I would rather be the lady! Is it true that the lady’s maid or even the valet didn’t marry while in those positions? It would be a position to aspire to if you were a parlour maid though! Then again, maybe housekeeper would be even better as the pay evidently was.

    • I’m not positive on the question about marriage as there was nothing mentioned in the sources I used. I would imagine marriage while still in service was rare unless you were a man and had a very good position (In order to afford some sort of home unless the master offered a cottage or such on their property). A lady’s maid had the potential to be at work from early in the morning until late at night, depending upon the day–not much time to spend with a spouse. If they did marry, I bet they were forced to quit when they presented with child. There would be no time to care for a child and your mistress.

      I’m not sure which position I would prefer. The housekeeper has a lot more responsibility for those wages! Thanks, Carole!

    • I enjoyed the housekeeper post I wrote so much, I decided to write another! It certainly gives me a better perspective of their life when I write one into the story! Thanks, Dorothee!

  3. Thanks for these insights into the life of a ladies’ maid! We definitely get a peek at that life through Downtown Abbey although it’s set more than a century after Austen. We see how one can abuse the position as Miss O’Brien did with the Countess, and we can also see how helpful the relationship can be between Mary and Anna Bates…who isn’t called by her last name since her husband, the Earl’s valet, is known by “Bates” as well. So “Anna” the housemaid isn’t promoted to using her last name when she becomes a ladies’ maid. 😉 But we also see the lengths a good family will go to care for their ladies’ maids and valets when first Bates, then Anna, are accused of murder.

    A little off-topic, but the lives of ladies’ maids is so intriguing! Have any of you read “Longbourn” by Jo Baker? It shows P&P from the POV of one maid-of-all-work who doubles as a ladies’ maid to the five Bennet sisters at Longbourn while Mrs. Hill “triples” as ladies’ maid to Mrs. Bennet, housekeeper, and cook!! Yikes…talk about being worked to the bone! This novel shows the nitty-gritty of being a servant in this time period with such realism. It’s an amazing novel. 🙂

    Thank you for this peek into the life of a ladies’ maid, Leslie!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

    • I completely flubbed the names in Downton earlier, didn’t I? LOL! I’m terrible with names. I usually have a list of every character in my books as I write so I don’t forget their names or repeat a name somewhere!

      I have not read Longbourn, but maybe I will at some point. So many books, so little time! Lately, I’ve had to force myself to put my reading aside so I have time to write we’re so busy. I’ve kept one story that posts online once a week, and at the moment I’m a post behind on that one!

      I’d be a terrible servant with my memory! Thanks, Suzanne!

  4. I love reading about “Below Stairs.” Though I would dearly love to be a “lady,” with luck I may have only been a servant. Most likely a tenants wife. Thanks for your post. Jen

  5. They kept long hours, worked hard, kept secrets, but were hand picked and devoted to whoever they worked for and showed respect. They probably didn’t get paid much but had the one of the better jobs in the household instead of being the scullery maid.
    Authors of P & P variations have done a wonderful job of putting bits and pieces of these jobs in their novels and makes it knowledgeable to us readers. I thank you for the lovely article and your hard work doing the research.

  6. Hmm I think I would definitely have to be a lady because I detest ironing and have absolutely no talent with hair therefore I would have a remarkably short career as a ladies maid 😨

  7. I am sorry. I find I fell very far behind. If I had to choose a position in service, a lad’s maid would be better than most. I think. Although, I’d rather not be a servant at all.

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