Female Servants Pay 1700’s

The life of a female domestic servant in 1700’s England was extremely difficult. There were no labour laws at this time, so girls worked seven days a week and were paid a pittance, if they received any money at all. In return they were provided with a place to sleep, food and clothes.

Some homeowners gave the girl’s wages directly to their father’s. The job duties of a domestic servant were wide and varied such as maid, dairy maid, cook etc. Some held higher ranking positions such as ladies’ maid, while a maid-of-all-work did whatever needed to be done around the home.

There were not many employment options for peasant women so those who failed to get or keep a domestic servant position might of had no choice but to consider prostitution and or theft, the first of which was extremely dangerous and the second punishable by hanging.

This is an account of female servants pay from 1714-1728 in Sir John Noel Bart’s household in Kirkby Co. Leicester. Sarah Sherwin started working in the household as a maid on 22nd June 1717 and was paid £4 per year which she ‘desired to leave in the hands of her master’ for three years. She also had savings of £5.14.3 (probably from a previous employer) and £2.05.9 from her father, both amounts were given to her master for safe keeping. By 1721 she had savings of £20 which would have been worth approximately £1,695 in today’s money.

These documents, along with many other 18th century material can be found in the Mundy Special Collection.

My Ancestor Was in Service’ publication by Pamela Horn is available at £8.50 from our bookshop. Click here to buy online.

Attend our  lecture ‘The Oldest Profession’ by John Hurley on Wednesday 8th December at 2pm to learn more about the ‘other’ profession peasant woman sometimes had to consider.

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Passports

Regulations for issuing UK passports were not formulated until 1846. In fact, before the First World War it was not compulsory for a British person travelling abroad to have a passport. Passports issued to British-born subjects could be used for a single journey and any subsequent journey only if countersigned afresh by the ministers or consuls of the countries which the holder intended to visit. Possession of a passport, however, was confined largely to merchants and diplomats, and the vast majority of those travelling overseas had no formal document. That was until 30 November 1915 when an Order in Council was issued to amend the Defence of the Realm and insisted that ‘A person coming from or intending to proceed to any place out of the United Kingdom as a passenger shall not, without the special permission of a Secretary of State, land or embark at any port in the United Kingdom unless he has in his possession a valid passport issued to him not more than two years previously, by or on behalf of the Government of the country of which he is a subject or a citizen …’.

The National Archives has an extensive but incomplete collection of passport applications, licences to pass beyond the seas and entry books of passes issued by the Secretaries of State.

Below is the 1853 passport of Reverend John Cholmeley from our Special Collections which includes details and stamps from thirteen trips all over Europe, including France, Italy and Austria.

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Grants of Arms

Coats of Arms derived when mediaeval knights taking part in tournaments were recognised by the arms they bore on their shields and the crests they wore on their helmets. Heralds became responsible for recording arms, and then later for controlling their use.

Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

To establish a right to arms by inheritance it is necessary to prove a descent from an ancestor who is already recorded as entitled to arms in the registers of the College of Arms.

The Society of Genealogists has hundreds of historic ‘Grants of Arms’ letters patent which are all quite beautiful in their own right. Most have one or two seals attached to the official parchment document which are protected by a removable metal case. They are rolled and kept in official College of Arms boxes.

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Grant of Arms for Amelius Richard Mark Lockwood 1917

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Grant of Arms for William Joseph Kelson Millard 1882

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Bonds

All three of the Society’s collections (Special, Document and Topographical) contain many different legal documents such as wills, marriage settlements, leases, indentures etc. Also included are Bonds for things like family debts like the example below.

An 1807 Bond showing the Joint and Several Loan Obligation of James William Drinkwater Guest and Jonathan Shield Guest of Islington obliged to repay William Till of Pentonville £1020 plus interest. Should they default they are obliged to pay the Penal sum of £3000.

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Suggested lectures:

Sat 31 July 2010 10.30am Finding and Understanding Wills. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Wed 6 October 2010 2pm In the High Courts of Justice: Chancery Records for Family Historians. Book early to avoid disappointment.

 

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Civil Service Evidence of Age

The Civil Service Evidence of Age documents were for established civil servants and civil service examination candidates, collected by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in order to establish accurate birth dates for the purpose of either ensuring that an examination candidate was of the required age, or for granting a pension.

By the 1980s, the CSC still held original documents for approximately 60,000 individuals, consisting largely of items that it would be impractical to replace, such as personal testimonials or documents from overseas. This important genealogical collection was deposited at the Society of Genealogists (SoG) and provides unique and often irreplaceable evidence of birth for which other sources are unlikely to be available. It might more properly be titled the Remains of the Civil Service Evidences of Age, as it is estimated that it constitutes only 2% of the papers originally held by the Civil Service. The remaining 98% were destroyed by the Civil Service.

This collection spans evidence of birth from 1752 up until the twentieth century, though the great majority of births recorded took place in the nineteenth century.

The Society indexers transcribed not just the civil service post-holder or candidate, but also any relatives named in the same document where a date of birth was given for them.

The below example is of David Gross born 15 January 1885 in Constantinople Turkey.

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Suggested lecture:

My Ancestor was a Policeman. Wednesday 3rd November 2010 2pm

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Pedigrees

The word Pedigree derives from the Old French phrase ‘Pied de grue’ meaning ‘Crane’s foot’ which refers to the appearance of the typical drop-line family tree with lines from an individual branching down to descendants or up to ancestors.

The Society holds over 7,000 Roll Pedigrees outlining the genealogical relationships of thousands of families. Most of these are unpublished and represent the hard work of our members. Some, such as these beautiful volumes of illustrated pedigrees from the Lucas Pedigrees and Connections by ‘Louise Cecilia Bazalgette Lucas’ are works of art in their own right.

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The Scattergood pedigree is another very attractive family tree compiled by John Scattergood of Madras who died in 1723. What’s most interesting about this particular pedigree is that it claims to trace the family back to Adam and Eve.

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Wills

The Society hold thousands of both original and copied, abstracts and transcripts of probates and wills dating as far back as the 1400’s. Many of the wills are unprobated, which means County record offices would not be aware of their existence. Over the years, the Society has collected copies and abstracts of Irish wills, the originals of which were destroyed in the Irish Civil War of 1922. These include, for example, the volumes known as Welpley’s Irish wills and pleadings which contain some 20 volumes of abstracts from Irish wills, Chancery & Exchequer cases, Guardianships, Deeds, Marriage Settlements, etc which are all prior to the 1922 fire at the Irish record offices.

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The Bank of England Will Extracts

The Society is very proud of rescuing the Bank of England Will extracts that were due to be destroyed in 1985. These large volumes date from 1717 – 1845 and list the details of burials and those that were declared ‘lunatic’. These fascinating documents contain the will extracts of many well known and influential people such as Lord Nelson, Duke of Wellington and Charles Dickens.

This extract is from the will of Lawrence Spencer senior who was clerk of works to the building of St Paul’s Cathedral by Sir Christopher Wren. He inherited the Lottery annuity stock mentioned in the abstract after administering the estate of his son Lawrence junior. Other records show that he also invested in South Sea Stock using capital from the Cathedral building fund but sold his investment at a profit before the bubble burst. Lawrence Spencer senior outlived two of his three wives and his children and died not knowing whether his youngest son was alive or dead as he had last been heard of in St Kitts. Lawrence was buried within the Cathedral along with his first wife Dorothy Bradshaw and an unidentified infant child.

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Suggested lecture, leaflet and visit:

Sat 31st July 2010 at 10.30am Finding and Understanding Wills. Book early to avoid disappointment.

The Society have put together a free information leaflet called ‘Probate Records’ click here to download.

Wed 18th Aug 2010 at 2pm visit: Bank of England Museum & Talk. Book early to avoid disappointment.

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