Ever thought about becoming a Butler or Maid to a private wealthy household? If you have, then you should know a little about the history of Butlers and Housekeepers (maids). Let’s start in Victorian England.
Being a Butler in 18th century England was much more than opening doors, taking a guests’ coat or mixing the perfect martini. The title of Butler actually begins in France where the word Butler originated from the French word Bouteillier, or “bottle-bearer”. one of the chief duties of the earliest known Butlers was as a cup bearer. These servants were usually in charge of the wine cellar; hence they were the wine bottle bearers. From this lowly start, the Butler rose to be the head of the male servants in most Victorian England households. Overseeing the duties of footmen and other menservants, he would also be in charge of the pantry, dining areas and the main functions of running the household. He would have his own room, albeit a small one and other staff members looked to him to lead them each day. Butlers earned approximately forty pounds per year, which in today’s money would equal about $60.00.
The Housekeeper was the Butler’s counterpart in the household. She was in charge of all female servants as well as the holder of all keys to the locked pantries and cellars. Although equal in status to the Butler, the Housekeeper did not make as much, nor did she have her own quarters.
Today, live-in staff or servants are only found in the wealthiest of households across the globe. There are male and female Butlers. The female Butlers usually work for Middle and Far Eastern households where it is culturally taboo for a male to work closely with a female member of the house.