Life Below Stairs: Benevolent Groups Come to the Aid of Domestic Servants


Life as a servant in Victorian England | Revelations

There were groups operating in London and throughout England to aid domestic servants. The most important of those were…

Established in May 1846, The General Domestic Servants’ Benevolent Institution was located at 32 Sackville Street, Piccadilly. It was under the patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It was registered under the Friendly Societies Act, 13 & 14, Vict. c. 115. This group purpose was “to relieve honest and industrious domestic servants, of both sexes, who have been incapacitated by active duty from unavoidable misfortunes and the advance of age, with its consequent infirmities, by granting to members annual pensions, to be fixed by the committee of management for the time being, after taking into consideration the character, necessities, and especially the duration and the amount of subscription of the applicant, and to grant relief to a limited extent in cases of urgent temporary distress, provided that the members applying have subscribed upwards of three years, to be computed from the day of paying their first subscription money, and within two years of their application.” (Baylis, Thomas Henry. The Master and Mistress and Domestic Servants, London, Sampson Low, Son, and Co., 1857)

To become a member, servants had to be employed within one year of their application. They paid somewhere between 3 s. and 10 s. to become candidates for benefits offered by the institution. Those granted assistance receive 15 -20 Libra per year. The institution had some 7000 members and a permanent fund of 10000l.

The National Guardian Institute was located at 4 Bedford Row, London. It was established in 1825. It supplied families with competent domestic servants of good character. They also maintained almshouses. Almshouses for aged female servants were found in Raven Row, Mile End Road. Those residing there had to have an annual pension of 10l.  Under the patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Servants’ Royal Provident and Benevolent Society was amalgamated with the National Guardian Institute in May 1854. The Servants’ Royal Provident and Benevolent Society  was located at 49 and 9A, Great Marlborough Street, St. James’s. 

11000175893_cd8ca008f1_oThe Female Servants Home Society was located at 21 Nutford Place and 110 Hatton Garden. Lodging was available on Nutford Place for 1s. 9d. per week. At Hatton Garden, the cost was 1s. Medical attendants cared for those too ill to work. The society granted to servants who continued in the same employment rewards proportionate to their length of service. Those who were employed for two years received a copy of the Bible. Five years earned the servant a certificated testimonial and a suitable book. A silver medal was handed out for nine years service, and a good medal rewarded for fifteen years. The group founded homes to receive female servants who were displaced. Those in residence were given religious instruction, as well as advice on providing excellent service. 

The office of the Female Aid Society was located at 27 Red Lion Square. It was established in 1836 to provide shelter and protection to servants and other unprotected young ladies of good character, and to provide asylum to fallen, but penitent females. Three distinct “Homes” were established. A Servants’ Home was established at 51 Southampton Row, Russell Square, for respectable servants who were displaced. A Penitent’s Home was located at 57 White Lion Street, Barnsbury Road, Islington. A Friendless Home for young and friendless girls of good character was found at 17 New Ormond Street, Bedford Row. Foundling Girls




About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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1 Response to Life Below Stairs: Benevolent Groups Come to the Aid of Domestic Servants

  1. Elizabeth Melrose says:

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