The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

~Regency Wednesday~ Lady's Maid

Today's Regency post is about a very important person in an upper class household, the lady's maid.

The lady's maid was the personal servant of the mistress of the house. She was in charge of her mistress' clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics. She made sure her mistress was always presentable and attended to her every need.

In the servants' hierarchy, she was basically equivalent to the master's valet or "gentleman's gentleman". Hence, she had a bit of cache, as it were, among the lower servants, being addressed as Miss.

In the introduction to the section titled Lady's Maid in The Servants' Guide and Family Manual from 1831, it says:

"THE principal duty of the Lady's Maid is her personal attendance on her Mistress: she ought, therefore, to possess the qualifications of propriety and polite behaviour; and her conduct should be uniformly influenced by correct principles, and strict regard to religious and moral obligations. Although these ought, strictly speaking, to be the qualifications of every servant, yet in no instance will their necessity be more evident than in the situation of the Lady's Maid. Again, her education, and share of the useful and ornamental branches of female acquirements, ought to be considerable; neatness and gentility of person and address will be great recommendations; and cheerfulness of temper and mildness of manners will ensure her the esteem and respect of her superiors.

Her employment is extremely simple, and far from laborious, and is, in most instances, little more than an agreeable exercise of useful qualities. Simple and little varied as are her duties, taste will be regulated, and her services otherwise rendered valuable by her attention to particular instructions and connected with the toilette and the wardrobe, as well as the personal ornament, dress, and decoration of her mistress."*

Below is a book clip of the above quote. Clicking will take you to the Google book.

*The Servants' Guide and Family Manual, p 97 (1831)

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