Ladies Maids and Valets


Bob Godfrey

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Yes, Martin, that's my understanding also.

Brian, Giglio is often described as Guggenheim's valet, but at the Senate Inquiry their steward, Henry Etches, referred to him as Mr G's secretary. Maybe he was versatile!
 
Dec 7, 2000
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A little off topic but I thought I'd address the cabin issue here. In her writings, Mrs. Spedden says that Douglas' cabin was bigger than his room at home. If we assume that the Cave List is correct in placing Franks in E 36 (along with the Spedden maid) this would mean that Douglas and his nurse were in E 40. Given the size of E 40, I wonder what broom-closet size his room at home was?!

E 40 is essentially a single-berth room, although the sofa could have been arranged as an extra berth. It would make much more sense if the maid was there on her own, while Douglas and his nurse were in E 36, which indeed was a large room and would have been bigger than his room at home.

Lastly, in her letter, Franks mentions that men were working on a hole in the floor outside her cabin. I address this issue in detail in my article in relation to the Molly Brown cabin. There are some parallels between Franks' and Molly Brown's accounts and, given that this hole was outside E 26, and Franks makes no mention of sharing a cabin with anyone, I think it is most likely that the "3" on the Cave List was a misprint for "2" and that Franks was indeed on her own in E 26.

Best Regards,

Daniel.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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I'm afraid I'm totally at sea on the issue of cabins...my reading of the posts on this site has taught me that virtually nobody was situated where I thought they were!

Interesting, though, to consider where the servants would have slept (those not housed in the inside cabins of the B-deck suites, I mean). I doubt mistresses and maids cosied up in adjacent berths. There is that very funny story related by Anthony Glyn in his biography of his grandmother. During one of their trips abroad, Clayton and Elinor were forced (I can't recall why) to take the last small cabin aboard a steamer, which they shared with their servants, an English diplomat and his valet. The party had to dispose themselves around the room as comfortably as possible, although things were horribly cramped. Elinor and her maid, as the two women in the group, took the only bed...the intimacy of which so mortified the maid that she kept falling out!
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Another one for Randy! Did Lucy Duff Gordon have a maid of her own (I imagine she did) and why wasn't she making the crossing?

Were there any other first-class women who had left their maids at home? Helen Churchill Candee perhaps?
 
Oct 15, 2006
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I read somewhere that Lady Duff Gordon had a maid but she stayed at home to take care of Lady Duff Gordon's beloved dogs....

Sorry for my english.

Jonathan
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Thank you. And please don't apologise for your English. It is much better than my French (I assume that you ARE French - or maybe French-Canadian?)

That could be a good explanation for Lucy's maid 'staying home'. I wonder if Randy could possibly confirm...?
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Somebody recently raised the question of the 'responsibility' first-class passengers may have felt towards those in their employ as the 'Titanic' sank. The issue of staff loyalty also cropped up.

It is worth noting that every maid survived with her mistress although not every mistress survived with her maid; Ida Straus famously saw Ellen Bird to safety in Lifeboat No. 8, passed her a fur coat, and then returned to the side of her husband. When they were roused around midnight, the initial reaction of most, if not all, of the maids aboard was evidently to seek out their ladies to 'report for duty'. I'd be interested to learn (if anybody can tell me) where first-class servants were berthed in relation to their employers. I know that the B-deck suites included inside cabins for maids and valets but what was the practice elsewhere on the 'Titanic'? Did one engage the cheapest accomodation possible for one's personal retainer or did it make more sense to have them close to hand, no matter what the price? Regarding the issue of loyalty, I think it is telling that, despite the immense size of the ship and amid the general confusion of the sinking, the instinct of both mistresses and maids was to 'stick together'.

On a slightly different note, I recall the splendidly patrician command - 'Come, Robinson' - Theodate Pope delivered to HER maid as they leapt into the water from the deck of the sinking 'Lusitania'. Pope survived but poor Robinson was not so fortunate.
 

Brian Ahern

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Dec 19, 2002
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There has been some discussion on this before. Perhaps under the cabin thread.

Mrs. Douglas mentioned that her maid shared a room with another lady's maid (Mrs. Carter's, I believe), and I got the impression from the account that the maid's cabin was near her own. So apparently they weren't all put on E deck, as Mrs. Robert's maid was.

I don't know if you'd have to pay more to have your servant berthed near you on an upper deck. I would imagine that it would be on record if this was an option. My guess would be that passengers booking accommodation were asked if they cared where their servants were berthed, but that a lot of factors determined whether or not their requests could be met.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Thank you, Brian.

I wonder if the 'two maids to a room' arrangement was typical? It would certainly make a lot of sense. Perhaps they were housed in double-berth inside cabins on the higher decks - I assume that such accommodation was relatively cheap and it would seem logical to have one's servant close to hand.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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I very, very, very much doubt it! Although you might like to refer to one of my previous posts, in which I describe an occasion when Elinor Glyn and her maid DID have to share a bed...
 
Jan 28, 2003
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My granny was a maid in those days, and knew her young charge for years afterwards. I think it really depended upon how 'accepted' they were as a member of the family. If you were very young, and your maid had brought you up - yes, you might have looked upon them on that night as your 'sister'. Otherwise, they would be just servants. Sharing beds would might have been both common and rare, in general society, but not necessarily on a ship. And don't forget that any common love between servants and children would have been deliberately severed at very early age .. like when they could have been sent to Boarding School .. at aged 7?
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Oh course, the situation was slightly different for children. Although I still don't believe that it would have been common practice for an upper-class child (however small) to share a bed with his or her nurse - the parents would certainly have disapproved.

I think I'm right in saying that no lady, whether on land or sea, would EVER bed down with her maid.
 
Mar 20, 2007
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Sonia Keppel in her splendid memoir 'Edwardian Daughter' on the duties of a lady's maid:

'...now, I recalled the daily services that Miss Draper had always done for Mamma: drawing her bath and scenting it with rose-geranium bath-salts; setting out her underclothes under their lace cover; kneeling on the floor to put on Mamma's stockings; lacing Mamma into her stays (as though she were reining in a run-away horse); doing her hair; pinning her veil to her hat; putting her powder and cigarettes and money into her bag. And, behind the scenes, washing, ironing, mending'.

Aboard the 'Titanic', all of these activities (besides packing and unpacking) would have fallen into the province of the personal maids making the voyage with their mistresses.
 
Jul 26, 2009
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I know they clean and do stuffs like that but after that, what would they do? I just wonder. Were they allowed to go to the Turkish Bath or read in the first class library or sit in the first class lounge?

[Moderator's note: This message, originally a separate thread, has been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Although personal servants (ladies' maids and valets) often had First Class tickets they were generally traveling at a reduced rate which excluded them from any of the public rooms (including the dining room). Not that they would have much (if any) spare time for luxuries like reading - or sitting! But they wouldn't have had to do any cleaning, the stewards took care of that. Neither were they expected to clean their employer's home - that was the job of domestic servants.

If housemaids, cooks, chauffeurs and the like were traveling as part of their employer's entourage they usually went 2nd Class and had no work at all to do while at sea, so unlike the personal servants they did have a chance to enjoy the voyage like any other passenger.
 
Oct 4, 2010
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I`'m from germany and try to research about the private servants.
y first question would have been about the food served to the servants in the maids and valets' dining saloon.
Now I have read Bob Godfreys post that no menu cards from this special dining saloon survived and that he suggests that the servants were provided with the full standard or somehow reduced/selected menus from the second class.
My second question is, which kind of china was used for the maids and valets' dining saloon?
My idea would be, that if they served the second class menus, this menus were served on the blue-and-white Delft china from the second class dining saloon.
Are there any other suggestions?

Third, I would like to know more about the reduced fares(prices,conditions)for the private servants.From where got the first class passengers this information about the fares? from the WSL-Office, booklets?
Where can I read/learn more about that? (in which books or reprinted booklets?)
regards,
Steffi
 

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