How was the relationship between servants and rich people in 1920?

Dec 2011
10
How was the relationship between servants and rich people in 1920?
Was it possible for a female servant to get married to a rich man? Or would that put the rich man in a bad light?

Thank you :)
 

Louise C

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
7,239
Southeast England
relations between employers and their servants varied, but there was a greater distance generally between them than there had been in earlier centuries. the victorians emphasised the difference more strongly than people in earlier times had done, and this tendency continued in the early 20th century. Domestic service was not seen as a very desirable occupation, and girls preferd to go into other forms of work if they could get them.

A rich man who chose to marry a servant would certainly be considered to have made a poor choice of wife by most people of his class. however, traditionally a woman has taken on her husband's status, and if a Duke for instance married a servant girl she would be a Duchess, no matter what other people thought of her. Some servants would be more likely to fit in with upper class life. A lady's maid usually had a rather better education than other female servants were likely to, she would have spent a lot of time in the company of her mistress and would have quite polished manners. She would find it easier to adapt than most other servants would.

The other servants in the household would probably have mixed feelings about her position. Some of them might be glad for her good fortune, others might resent the fact that she had been raised above them, and some might be sceptical as to whether she would be really happy in her new role. Some servants were very snobbish, senior servants in particular tended to identify with their employers, and a butler or housekeeper for instance might be acutely conscious that their employer had lowered himself by marrying a servant instead of 'a lady'. 'Not what I've been used to' was a phrase often used by a servant who found him or herself having to wait on someone they considered a bit inferior socially.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,669
San Diego
Funny question.

Ever see that movie "Beverly Hills Cop"? the first one with Eddie Murphy?

Near the end of that movie he and the two BHPD cops attack a mansion supposedly in Beverly Hills. ( the actual house used was in Santa Monica Canyon)

That mansion was designed in 1930, and construction was completed in 1932.
The original mansion only had two resident bedrooms. ( with three servant bedrooms in the service wing )

It was built by an heiress to a fortune, born and raised back East.

She had divorced her first husband, and run off to California with her Chauffeur.

It was a scandal, back then. And part of why she left for California was that no one out west gave a tinker's damn for the socialite gossip of the monied classes in Newport and Detroit.

So... it happened. It was frowned upon... but it still happened. And it was probably a lot more likely to happen in the US where you could take your money and find some other place insulated from the reputation wrecking gossip of your prior peers.
 

Port

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
2,093
portland maine
I see no reason why there would be a difference in 1920's in the relationship of servants and the rich then in any other time period. I do believe that in the 1920's the culture of this country changed especially for women. suffragettes, flappers, men who had experience in Europe. But I cannot say how it might play out in the servant rich relationship. I am thinking of a movie plot. wealthy industrialist hires a young attractive female servant who is a flapper at night, smokes does drugs and a communist who falls in love with the industriaist's son