A Short Study of Distance travelled from Place of Birth by Servants

Employed in Large Houses Around West Lothian (1881)

 

 Andrina I Baillie

 

Using the 1881 Census I have examined the servants employed in 20 large houses/estates to see how far they had travelled from their place of birth.

I have concentrated on those servants who worked indoors, or those who might have direct, daily contact with the family.

 

Families Examined

No. Servants No. Occupants

 

BONNYTOUN (lower)    4 3

BONSYDE,Linlithgow  3 3

BRIDGE HOUSE, Torphichen 3 3

BRIDGECASTLE MANSION         5 5

CARLOWIE CASTLE, Kirkliston                      12 5

CARRIDEN HOUSE   9 2

CLIFTON HALL   6 3

CRAIGIEHALL MANSION, Dalmeny 11 9

DECHMONT HOUSE   8 7

DUNDAS CASTLE 20 5

HOPETOUN HOUSE                                          29 4

INGLISTON HOUSE 11 6

LEUCHOLD PRIVATE HOUSE 3 8

LONG CROFT HOUSE, Linlithgow 5 7

NEW GARDENS, Dalmeny 5               11

NEW LISTON MANSION HOUSE                    12  3

POLKEMMET HOUSE  8 2

PRESTON MANSION, Linlithgow 6 6

VIEWFORTH HOUSE, Dalmeny 5 8

WESTWOOD HOUSE 8 6

 

 

These 20 houses employed a total of 173 servants (132 female and 41 male) aged from 14 to 65.

 

 

This means there is an average of 1.6 servants for each individual occupant in these 20 houses, but the workload is very far from evenly divided.

Hopetoun House has 7.25 indoor servants for each occupant on the night of the 1881 census while Dundas Castle and New Liston Mansion House have 4 servants per occupant. At the other end of the scale Longcroft House has 0.7 servants per person, Viewforth House, Dalmeny has 0.62 and the servants at Leuchold Private House seem to be the worst off with only 0.37 servants per person.

 

 

How far had they travelled from their birth place?

 

Some servants were thousands of miles removed from their place of birth.

A few to note are as follows:

 

In Polkemmet House there is George Edward Chambers a 16 year old footboy who, although cited as a British citizen was born in the Cape of Good Hope.

In Bonnytoun House Margaret L McMillan, aged 20, is a governess, again she is a British citizen, but born in the USA.

In Bridge House, Torphichen the governess has a British name, Mary E Winter, but she was born in Germany.

The remaining 4 servants born outside Britain are all employed in Hopetoun House;

Adelaide Brocarad, aged 26, and Gulia Belvey, aged 32 are both ladies maids born in France. The governess, Elise Arends, aged 25, was born in Hanover and Ibriam Smith, aged 29, born in Turkey is employed as a footman.

 

How far had the male servants travelled?

 

Age Miles from Birthplace

 

14 19 99

20 29 100

30 39 90

Over 40 52

 

The age range of the male servants is 14 to 60 years. Only 7 male servants are aged over 40, 3 of these are married with families.

The furthest travelled of these is a coachman, John Eveleigh at Dechmont House, who is from England. Those aged 14 to 40 appear to travel roughly the same distance from place of birth. Even very young servants can be found hundreds of miles away from their birthplace.

 

 

How far had female servants travelled from place of birth?

 

Age Miles from Birthplace

 

14 19 25

20 -29 76

30 39 89

40 49 95

Over 50 30

 

 

The overall age range of female servants is greater than that of male. The youngest are two 14 year old kitchen maids, and the oldest the housekeeper at Clifton Hall, aged 65. The female servants appear to move further from place of birth with increasing age until over 50 when they are all much closer to their roots. This raises a question; have the older servants always worked closer to home or have they travelled away when younger and returned as they advanced in years?

More research would be needed to answer that question.

 

 

 

Who owned these houses?

 

It is worth mentioning who headed these households and what they stated as their occupations in the 1881 census.

James Brown at Craigiehall Mansion, Dalmeny was a 51 year old stockbroker. Edward Buchanan, aged 35, at New Gardens, Dalmeny, was Hawian Consul and Brazilian vice Consul. Charles Thomson at Bonsyde, Linlithgow was a Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University. Major John Cox, born in Ireland, was head of Bridge House, Torphichen and George McQueen at Dundas Castle states he is the late Captain of the 51st and 60th regiments.

Thomas Hogg, Newliston House and Alexander Seton, Preston House, Linlithgow were landowners while Sir James Hope at Carriden House was an Admiral of the Fleet.

However they made their living their income was substantial ensuring neither they, nor their families, ever had to lift a finger, their comfort was assured.

 

 

This is a very quick look at twenty local houses but gives an idea of the numbers of servants employed and how far they travelled from place of origin.

 

The Data (.xls)