Life Below Stairs, Part 10 – The ‘Pugs’ Procession of Precedence

maxresdefaultA sense of status above stairs was to be expected among the aristocracy, but it was no less observed below stairs. For example, the lower servants often spoke poorly of the “Pug’s” Procession, which happened after the first course of supper below stairs. All the servants would eat the first course together, generally in enforced silence. However, when that first course ended, the upper servants would exit to either the house steward’s quarters or those of the housekeeper where their pudding would be served to them. Even when leaving the table, they rose and filed from the room in order of precedence within the household. During the Victorian era, butlers and upper servants associated with like servants from other fine houses in their “clubs.” Footmen had similar clubs where they met and socialized. At a social gathering, such as a country fête, the servants took on the status of their employer. A maid tending to a mere “Miss” would be lower on the line of precedence than the maid tending a member of the aristocracy. 

A smart servant, however, especially a footman or butler, could manage his day where he could find time for all sorts of leisure hours. A maid may be expected to carry a bucket of coals up and down the steps of the house, while a footman was entrusted with a silver salver containing a single letter. There was no accounting for chivalry. 

eb356c7c0710d4a18f15ee668eef300d1c851c223e5e3a6f1a79f5f786acd50eAs it was true that many had poor accommodations within the household, at least they were not out upon the streets. The servants had a roof over their heads.There were four meals provided each day – breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper. A resourceful servant might also salvage a bit of what was left over from the meals served to the master and his guests. Servants were given home-brewed beer at each meal. (This tradition began in the 1700s when imported tea was too expensive for the master to squander upon his servants.) The male servants received a pint and the females at half pint at each meal. In some households, instead of the beer a “beer allowance” was paid each day. It amounted to about 8d per day. Upper servants sometimes received wine with their meals. 

Servants generally received their wages upon a quarterly basis. According to the archives of the West Sussex Record Office regarding the estate books of the family seat of the Duke of Richmond’s Goodwood House (near Chichester, West Sussex), in 1888, the house steward received £100 per year, the groom of the chamber, £70; the valet, £60; and the butler £45. The footmen were paid between £26 and £34. The two housekeepers each received £60; the cook £60, the ladies’ maids, £26 to £28; the stillroom maid, £22; kitchen maids, £14 to £24; housemaids and laundry maids, £12 to £26; and the scullery maid £12. 

According to Banking in Bath in the Reign of George III, “As the customer base expanded, the subject of deposits by “the poorer sort” of person arose. This resulted in the appearance of a new kind of banking organisation in Bath when, in January 1815, the Provident Institution or Bank for Savings opened its doors in Trim Street. The Institution was supervised by a Committee and Trustees and invested deposits in Government 5% stocks which were held in the names of the individual depositors. Dividends were payable six-monthly. The Institution grew out of the success of a Servants Fund established in 1808. That fund was limited in size to £2000 and was consistently over-subscribed. The Bath Provident Institution had no limit to the size of its deposits and was one of the first such establishments in the country. A similar organisation, the Bristol Savings Bank, was founded in the same year having grown out of the success of the Prudent Man’s Friend Society.” Lady Isabella Douglas reportedly organized the first servants bank in Bath in 1808. “About a quarter to a half of all depositors in the early savings banks were servants: in York, 322 out of the first 670; in Lincoln 49 out of the first hundred; and in Bolton, 44 out of the first two hundred.(Horne, H. Oliver, A History of Savings Banks, Oxford University Press, 1947). A thrifty servant could save enough funds to begin his or her own business rather than to remain in service. 



About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
This entry was posted in British history, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, Regency era, servant life, Victorian era and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Life Below Stairs, Part 10 – The ‘Pugs’ Procession of Precedence

  1. nmayer2015 says:

    Even a hundred years after the regency there were special banking accounts and insurance policies for men with low wages. The insurance man used to come around once a week for the nickel life insurance policy. Burial money. One had a savings book at the bank and duly had the quarter entered every month or two weeks

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