Wealthy Household

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Wealthy households have dozens of servants to keep things running smoothly. As a mapper, the following might help you populate your mansion maps.

Types of Servants

Grooms are generic household serving men; grooms of the stable, chamber, etc. Females of the same order are called maids or serving maids: of the kitchen, chamber, still room, etc.

Most of the servants in any household are men.

Personal attendant is a descriptive term, not a job title. In general, it separates everyone else's personal servants (of all ranks) from household grooms and maids.

Servants take money from anyone. They will accept a tip for any service rendered. ("Here's a penny to drink to my health.") They expect to be tipped for delivering a gift or message. Their masters are aware of this, and do it themselves to other people's servants.

The most powerful servant of a household is the Steward. He is responsible for managing the entire household, and is second in authority only to the master of the house and his family.

Other servants might include: Auditor General, Receiver, Solicitor, Yeoman of the Wardrobe, Chief Cook, Secretary, Yeoman waiters, Porter, Bailiff, Gentlemen of Horse, Baker, Gentlemen waiters, Brewer, Marshall of the Hall, Grooms of the Great Chamber, Clerk of the Kitchen, and Scullery men.

The Steward and His Office

The management skills required to coordinate a great house and its staff are extraordinary. This list of duties is drawn from the Book of Rules and Orders prepared and enforced by Anthony Maria Brown, Viscount Montague, 1595. According to this rule, only the Clerke of the Kitchen and the Gentleman Usher come close to having this much responsibility.

In matters foreign and without the house

Make sure provisions are ordered and acquired. This includes beef, mutton, grain, livery, badges, wood, coals, wild fowl, wines, salt, hops (for brewing), spices, fruits of all sorts.

Make sure repairs are carried out as needed in any of his lordship's houses, both inside and outside, including maintenance of fences hedges, marshes, walls, ponds, etc.

Distribute wages quarterly to household servants and other manor employees, and provide whatever each one is due in cash or in kind.

Deliver money as appropriate to the:

  • Clerke of the Kitchen for purchasing fresh supplies of anything not supplied by the manor
  • Purveyors of beef and mutton
  • Gentleman or Yeoman of the Horse for buying feed, equipment, and other necessaries for the stable.
  • Granator for buying wheat or malt, as needed

Collect bills and expense receipts from all these under-officers, review and enter them in his book of accounts (livery book).

Ride out into the parks, pastures, marshes, and other grounds to see that they be not abused or disordered, either by his own bailiffs or anyone else.

Support the Bailiff of Husbandry in his efforts to carry out his lordship's orders.

Arrange to sell the hides, skins, horns, wool, etc of any sheep or oxen slaughtered for the table.

Arrange to dispose of the tallow from such sales, keeping part to make candles and rush lights, part for use in the kitchen, and the rest to sell.

Get a receipt from anyone to whom money is paid out, all to be filed against the annual audit.

Sign off the livery book for all monies received from his lordship to pay household expenses, each entry to be dated with name of the person paid, location, and nature of the expense.

Once a month report to his lordship with the livery book for review, and once a year to the Auditor.

The Steward in Matters Domestical

The Steward will at all times:

Bear himself like the chief officer of a great house.

Maintain a submissive and dutiful attitude towards his lordship and his wife and (to a lesser degree) the children, both as his own duty and to set an example to the rest of the staff. Assist his lordship with sound advice and great deliberation, and keep all his secrets.

Hire and manage all domestic officers, servants and attendants and, when appropriate, recommend them for advancement (promotion).

Be obeyed by every servant and officer in all things whatsoever, no matter how inconvenient, unless the task is dishonest, illegal or harmful to his lordship or his family.

Regularly hold a staff meeting of the officers and domestic servants to encourage and remind them of their duties. Remind them that they want to do well for hope of reward and to contribute to both their own and his lordship's credit (good name).

Admonish and correct negligent and disordered persons of any degree (both gentlemen and yeomen), and reform them by his grave and vigilant watch over them.

  • He has some discretion in punishments, including suspending them from duties.
  • When he finds them reformed, he can restore them to attendance.
  • Bring the incorrigible and outrageous to his lordship for his direct consideration.
  • No servant is ever to appear before his lordship out of livery.

Give appropriate notice if he is going to be away from the house for longer than normal, so the master can find a replacement for the interim.

  • He is not under any circumstances to appoint his own deputy.
  • This is a replacement in terms of ordering of the household only, not for receipts and payments, because he has to be accountable for those himself.

Appoint any of the household to carry messages to neighbors or elsewhere, with these stipulations:

  • Never send a groom of the great chamber or of the wardrobe without informing the Gentleman Usher, or send anyone by horse without informing the Gentleman of the Horse. This is both so their boss knows they're gone, and so their duties can be covered.
  • Get permission in advance before sending any of his lordship's own chamber servants.

Share out at his discretion any gifts or rewards (vails) given by guests to the house.

Take an inventory of all the plate and silver vessels in the house, including the weight and type, and goldsmith's mark on each, and make a copy for the Gentleman Usher and another for his lordship.