Servants: English Domestics in the Eighteenth Century

Servants: English Domestics in the Eighteenth Century

Servants: English Domestics in the Eighteenth Century

Servants: English Domestics in the Eighteenth Century

Synopsis

For the first time since 1956, here is a book about eighteenth-century servants, male and female, in large and small households, in town and country, seen not only through the diaries and journals of the masters, but also through the eyes of the few domestic servants who recorded their own experiences. Offering new material on the sexuality of servants, on kin as servants and on pauper servants, Bridget Hill's fascinating and detailed essays provide a new perspective on an important facet of English domestic life in the eighteenth century.

Excerpt

One thing I have become increasingly aware of in the course of writing this book is the enormous debt that is owed to those pioneers, D. M. Stuart, Dorothy Marshall, and, perhaps more particularly, J. Jean Hecht, who wrote on domestic service long before it was seen as a respectable subject for historians. Hecht's bibliography alone is invaluable for anyone starting to research into domestic service. Without their pioneering work this book would have been far more difficult to write and have taken many more years to complete.

Among the many people contributing to this volume are Mary Prior and Roger Lonsdale, both of whom gave most generously of their time to read sections of the book and made invaluable comments and suggestions. I am indebted to the oup reader for many stimulating and constructive criticisms. For important references I must thank Joan Thirsk, Bernard Capp, Peter Earle, and Sir Keith Thomas. Maxine Berg kindly lent me her copy of the Julius Hardy diary. Two seminars, one at the University of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1993 and the other at Berkeley in 1994 helped to clarify my thoughts. I benefited greatly from a discussion with Tim Meldrum and others on domestic service, at the London conference on Women's Initiatives in Early Modern England (organized by the Achievement Project) in June 1994, and from the discussion following a paper given at the British Society for Eighteenth- Century Studies Annual Conference in 1995. I would especially like to thank all those at the History Faculty Library in Oxford who have been consistently helpful and tolerant, as well as those at the Bodleian Library. My editor at the Press has been both encouraging and supportive. I would also like to thank Hilary McKee, Sheila Fisher, and Jonathan Ree for valuable injections of adrenalin when it was most needed. As always my greatest debt is to Christopher Hill, whose unfailing encouragement and support have always been generously given, as was his time in reading and re-reading the script and making suggestions for its improvement.

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