Obtaining Servants

Servants' registry

It is no easy matter to secure quickly the treasure for whom you are seeking. Do not be in a hurry and take anyone; it only entails expense, much vexation, constant changes, and a bad reputation in the neighbourhood, because it is soon said that ” no one ever stops with Mrs. So-and-so.”

Better by far put up with temporary help than with someone who is unsuitable. It is a moot question whether it is better to find servants (1) through the medium of a registry office or (2) advertisements, or (3) through friends or tradespeople.

No. 1 answers well if you deal with a thoroughly good office where the head has a good reputation to keep up, and who charges a small booking fee of a is. or thereabouts, and then an engagement fee when the applicant is suited.

No. 3 is not always practicable, as it is a slow method, therefore No. 2 (an advertisement in a first-class paper) is generally the best.

State your requirements briefly, but plainly, and it is wise to conclude with the words ” No registries,” if you do not desire to deal with any, otherwise you are apt to be inundated with letters.


A personal interview is necessary. No mistress is bound to pay the applicant’s fare, unless she has agreed to do so beforehand, though sometimes an attempt is made to demand it.

During the interview it is wise to ascertain:

1. Why she left the last situation.

2. What wages she desires.

3. If her health is good.

4. What experience she has had.

5. What hours off and holidays she expects.

If possible, show the girl the house, kitchen, and her own room. Explain clearly all details of the situation, such as number in family, hours for rising and coming in, dress, and so forth, so that she knows what is expected of her.

Obtaining Characters

If the first interview is mutually satisfactory, the next move is to write to the lady who is to give the character. Written recommendations are to be avoided if in any way possible, as many false characters are thus obtained; the address of an empty house in a good neighbourhood being given, the care-taker of which is a friend or relative of the applicant. This friend opens the letter and replies in glowing terms about So-and-so’s honesty, cleanliness, etc.


Wages are usually paid monthly, dating from the day on which the servant enters the situation.

Keep a wage-book, enter each payment, and always require the payee’s signature. Unless a special arrangement is made, remember no deduction may be made from wages for breakages, or for illness.


No mistress can nowadays hope to keep servants unless she allows them reasonable and healthy relaxation. Usually one evening a week is given, between the hours of about 6 and 10, alternate Sunday after-noons and evenings, and, perhaps, an extra afternoon and evening once a month.

The yearly holiday ranges from a week to a fortnight. Fresh air and exercise are as essential for the maid as for the mistress, and it is bad management and false economy to permit domestics to become unhealthy and discontented for lack of them.

A New Servant

Be sure and give her a good start. Before her arrival see that all the cupboards, apparatus, cloths, etc., belonging to her province are in good order. Hand her an inventory of everything over which she has charge, and a plainly detailed scheme of her daily and weekly work, hours, etc.

A considerate mistress will also make sure that the maid’s room, bed, etc., are clean and comfortable, and will be prepared to show a little indulgence for the first week, or until the girl has been given time to settle down and learn the various fads of the family.

– Volume 1 of Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia


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