How did the peerage address their servants?

Jan 2015
1
USA
#1
Would they address them by their first or last names? Particularly the upper servants such as the butler, housekeeper, or ladies maid. Does gender matter in how you would address a servant?

Thanks
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,688
Australia
#2
My knowledge of this topic is based entirely on a tour of a restored Edwardian house I once went on in Ireland, plus innumerable episodes of Upstairs Downstairs, so I may not be the most reliable source.

However, I understand that the senior servants, butler, housekeeper, head cook etc, were addressed as Mr or Mrs, while the lower servants were addressed by surname only. There may have been exceptions for personal ladies maids etc. who were addressed by first names.
 

BenSt

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,565
Canada, originally Clwyd, N.Wales
#3
To add to the excellent post by Belgarion, it depends on what time in history also. At certain times, servants were classed as members of the family or household, and likely amongst the middling sort, first names for younger members were used "Take this package to X Jack". In the great manors, my understanding was that lower servants were to be not seen (if possible) and not heard at all unless spoken to, and usually orders were directed at them in a curt and direct manner.

Interestingly though, within the Royal Household, the majority of servants at the highest levels were usually peers or the sons and daughters of peers. You may have a Duke serving as a Steward, and in this case, they would be addressed by the name of their seat. So, to use a classic name of a favourite member on Historum, a King might say "Rochester, make preperations for my departure" etc,.
 
Jun 2014
729
In a Palace Library
#5
As Ben points out in royal households the servants were often peers, in France I believe they were referred to by their title and the task of serving the king or queen were given to the highest ranked person in the room.

At Versailles, if the king or queen were being served upon and a more senior member of the peerage entered the room, the lower ranked peer needed to hand the task over to the higher ranked person.

I image this was followed elsewhere in Europe.
 

BenSt

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,565
Canada, originally Clwyd, N.Wales
#6
It shall be done sire.

Some of the King's friends/Lords were given honours such as 'gentleman of the bedchamber' and were expected to help the King get dressed etc.
Good show, old boy.

This is true, but then, who else would be better than someone of his station? Especially if that person was a cousin.

As Ben points out in royal households the servants were often peers, in France I believe they were referred to by their title and the task of serving the king or queen were given to the highest ranked person in the room.

At Versailles, if the king or queen were being served upon and a more senior member of the peerage entered the room, the lower ranked peer needed to hand the task over to the higher ranked person.

I image this was followed elsewhere in Europe.
Wasn't there a very precise pecking order though? I know in pre-Revoltutionary France in Versailles, one of the issues brought up was Marie Antoinettes' aversion to all manner of different Comtesses and Marquesses fighting it out for the right to help lace up the corset, etc,.
 
Mar 2014
6,633
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#7
Goodman and Goodwife were common forms of address for senior servants. In the miniseries "By The Sword Divided" the chief female servant is always addressed as "Goodwife Margaret."

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodwife]Goodwife - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
 

BenSt

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,565
Canada, originally Clwyd, N.Wales
#8
Goodman and Goodwife were common forms of address for senior servants. In the miniseries "By The Sword Divided" the chief female servant is always addressed as "Goodwife Margaret."

Goodwife - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ahhhh I always wondered why they always called Puritan women in the colonies 'Goody'... I always thought it was a purely puritanical way of addressing moral women in a slightly patronizing way. 'Goody Simpson's cake was not as blessed as Goody Herbert's"

:) thats interesting!
 

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