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Research Results For 'Valet'


A butler is a domestic servant, one of the principal menservants, who is principally in charge of the household's wine and beer cellar (hence the name which derives from the French word meaning someone who bottles drinks) and plate. It is a common misunderstanding that a butler is in charge of the other servants, in reality this was the duty of the valet, however in the absence of a valet the role would be required of a butler. Primarily a butler is a wine consultant and brewer of beer. The notion of a butler opening the door to guests is quite incorrect, that duty was traditionally conducted by a footman.

The duties and role of the 19th century butler were helpfully described in 1860 by Mrs Beeton to those starting a household as:

The domestic duties of the butler are to bring in the eatables [food] at breakfast, and wait upon the family at that meal, assisted by the footman, and see to the cleanliness of everything at table. On taking away, he removes the tray with the china and plate [silver plated metal articles], for which he is responsible. At luncheon, he arranges the meal, and waits unassisted, the footman now being engaged in other duties. At dinner, he places the silver and plated articles on the table, sees that everything is in its place, and rectifies what is wrong. He carries in the first dish, and announces in the drawing-room that dinner is on the table, and respectfully stands by the door until the company are seated, when he takes his place behind his master's chair on the left, to remove the covers, handing them to the other attendants to carry out. After the first course of plates is supplied, his place is at the sideboard to serve the wines, but only when called on.

The first course ended, he rings the cook's bell, and hands the dishes from the table to the other servants to carry away, receiving from them the second course, which he places on the table, removing the covers as before, and again taking his place at the sideboard.

At dessert, the slips being removed, the butler receives the dessert from the other servants, and arranges it on the table, with plates and glasses, and then takes his place behind his master's chair to hand the wines and ices, while the footman stands behind his mistress for the same purpose, the other attendants leaving the room. Where the old-fashioned practice of having the dessert on the polished table, without any cloth, is still adhered to, the butler should rub off any marks made by the hot dishes before arranging the dessert.

Before dinner, he has satisfied himself that the lamps, candles, or gas-burners are in perfect order, if not lighted, which will usually be the case. Having served every one with their share of the dessert, put the fires in order (when they are used), and seen the lights are all right, at a signal from his master, he and the footman leave the room.

He now proceeds to the drawing room, arranges the fireplace, and sees to the lights; he then returns to the pantry, prepared to answer the bell, and attend to the company, while the footman is clearing away and cleaning the plate and glasses.

At tea he again attends. At bedtime he appears with the candles; he locks up the plate, secures doors and windows, and sees that all the fires are safe.

In addition to these duties, the butler, where only one footman is kept, will be requires to perform some of the duties of the valet, to pay bills, and superintend the other servants. But the real duties of the butler are in the wine-cellar; there he should be competent and advise his master as to the price and quality of the wine to be laid in; "fine," [refine] bottle, cork and seal it, and place it in the binns [wine racks]. Brewing, racking and bottling malt liquors [beers, ales, stouts and the like], belong to his office, as well as their distribution. These and other drinkables are brought from the cellar every day by his own hands, except when an under-butler is kept; and a careful entry of every bottle used, entered in the cellar-book; so that the book should always show the contents of the cellar.

By the 20th century the traditional role of the butler as a wine steward had changed, and the word butler came to mean a manservant, or the principle manservant where a household had more than one.
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Domestic servants, also known as domestics, are members of a household employed to assist with the running of various aspects of the household. During the 18th century in England servants were commonplace, with almost all employed families able to afford servants, or rather domestic drudges, who were supplied from the workhouses and charity schools and treated little better than slaves for the most part. While in apprenticeship female domestic drudges, or scullery-maids also known as scullions, were not paid and could not leave their mistress. Even less fortunate were charwomen, employed for odd work or single days to assist in the kitchen and paid with just a few scraps of food and a few coals.

Page boys, usually black, were employed by the fashionable women of 18th century London to precede her and hand refreshments to her guests. Footmen were similarly employed more for show than labour to impress the guests and people one met on ones travels, hence they received their slang name of 'fart catchers', from their position of walking behind their master or mistress, dressed up in fancy clothes provided by the household as a form of uniform for the job.

By the 19th century conditions had improved for some servants, though for the lower staff they were still appalling. In the mid-19th century Mrs Beeton, the famous author, lists domestic servants in order of rank as follows:

Households would employ a selection of servants varying upon their household income, a very wealthy household employing a full selection of servants, a less fabulously wealthy household maybe just employing a housekeeper, a cook or a maid-of-all-work. A chamberlain being only employed by the king or noblemen of very high position. In the mid-19th century most households which employed servants employed two or three male servants, comprising a servant out of livery, or a butler, a footman and a coachman, or a coachman and a groom where the household had more than two or three horses. A popular mis-conception is that cooks are, and were, always female. Not so. Male cooks were also employed in the 19th century and were paid more than their female counterpart.

Each domestic servant had their own scope of duties or responsibilities, though these overlapped depending upon the number of domestic servants employed. A butler, for example, where only one footman was employed would be required to perform some of the duties of a valet, to pay bills and to superintend the other servants.

19th century English society was warned against abusing its servants, for, as Mrs Beeton puts it; "The sensible master and kind mistress know, that if servants depend on them for their means of living, in their turn they are dependent on their servants for very many of the comforts of life; and that, with a proper amount of care in choosing servants, and treating them like reasonable beings, and making slight excuses for the shortcomings of human nature, they will, save in some exceptional case, be tolerably well served, and in most instances, surround themselves with attached domestics." It was possible for domestic servants to progress up the ranks, usually through leaving one position and seeking a higher appointment at another employer. In order to achieve this a servant required a good reference from their employer, and this encouraged a degree of honesty in a position with a lot of opportunity for misappropriation.

The Great War instigated a great deal more equality in British society and the use of domestic servants greatly reduced, though it was still not extinct in the 21st century.
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A footman was a domestic servant. During the 18th century, pompous and grand-looking footmen strutting through the streets of London caused some degree of resentment among the ordinary population who termed them 'fart catchers', and dismissed them as little more than fashion accessories showing off the wealth of their employers. However, Mrs Beeton helpfully describes the duties of the footman to those starting a household in 1860 as:

Where a single footman, or odd man, is the only male servant, then, whatever his ostensible position, he is required to make himself generally useful. He has to clean the knives and shoes, the furniture, the plate [silver plated metal objects]; answer the visitors who call, the drawing-room and parlour bells; and do all the errands. His life is no sinecure; and a methodical arrangement of his time will be necessary, in order to perform his many duties with any satisfaction to himself or his master.

The footman is expected to rise early, in order to get through all his dirty work before the family are stirring. Boots and shoes, and knives and forks, should be cleaned, lamps in use trimmed, his master's clothes brushed, the furniture rubbed over; so that he may put aside his working dress, tidy himself, and appear in a clean jacket, to lay the cloth and prepare breakfast for the family... He lays the cloth on the table; over it the breakfast-cloth, and sets the breakfast things in order, and then proceeds to wait upon his master, if he has any of the duties of a valet to perform.

Where a valet is not kept, a portion of his duties falls to the footman's share - brushing the clothes among others. If the footman is required to perform any part of a valet's duties, he will have to see that the housemaid lights a fire in the dressing-room in due time; that the room is dusted and cleaned; that the washhand-ewer is filled with soft water; and that the bath whether hot or cold, is ready when required; that towels are at hand; that hairbrushes and combs are properly cleansed and in their places; that hot water is ready at the hour ordered; the dressing-gown and slippers in their place, the clean linen aired, and the clothes to be worn for the day in their proper places. After the master has dressed, it will be the footman's duty to restore everything to its place properly cleansed and dry, and the whole restored to order.

At breakfast, when there is no butler, the footman carries up the tea-urn, and, assisted by the housemaid, he waits during breakfast. Breakfast over, he removes the tray and other things off the table, folds up the breakfast-cloth, and sets the room in order, by sweeping up all crumbs, shaking the cloth, and laying it on the table again, making up the fire, and sweeping up the hearth.

At luncheon-time nearly the same routine is observed, except where the footman is either out with the carriage or away on other business, when, in the absence of any butler, the housemaid must assist.

For dinner, the footman lays the cloth, taking care that the table is not too near the fire, if there is one, and that passage-room is left. A table-cloth should be laid without a wrinkle; and this requires two persons; over this the slips are laid, which are usually removed preparatory to placing dessert on the table. He prepares knives, forks, and glasses, with five or six plates for each person. This done, he places chairs enough for the party, distributing them equally on each side of the table, and opposite to each a napkin neatly folded within it a piece of bread or small roll, and a knife on the right side of each plate, a fork on the left, and a carving-knife and fork at the top and bottom of the table, outside the others, with the rests opposite to them, and a gravy-spoon beside the knife. The fish-slice should be at the top, where the lady of the house with the assistance of the gentleman next to her, divides the fish, and the soup-ladle at the bottom: it is sometimes usual to add a desert-knife and fork; at the same time , on the right side also of each plate, put a wine-glass for as many kinds of wine as it is intended to hand round, and a finger-glass or glass-cooler about four inches [nine centimetres] from the edge. The latter are frequently put on the table with the dessert.

About half an hour before dinner, he rings the dinner-bell, where that is the practice, and occupies himself with carrying up everything he is likely to require. At the expiration of the time, having communicated with the cook, he rings the real dinner-bell, and proceeds to take it up with such assistance as he can obtain. Having ascertained that all is in order, that his own dress is clean and presentable, and his white cotton gloves are without a stain, he announces in the drawing-room that dinner is served, and stands respectfully by the door until the company are seated: he places himself on the left, behind his master, who is to distribute the soup; where soup and fish are served together, his place will be at his mistress's left hand; but he must be on the alert to see that whoever is assisting him, whether male or female, are at their posts. If any of the guests has brought his own servant with him, his place is behind his master's chair, rendering such assistance to others as he can, while attending to his master's wants throughout the dinner, so that every guest has what he requires. This necessitates both activity and intelligence, and should be done without bustle, without asking any questions, except where it is the custom of the house to hand round dishes or wine, when it will be necessary to mention, in a quiet and unobtrusive manner, the dish or wine you present.

When required to go out with the carriage, it is the footman's duty to see that it has come to the door perfectly clean, and that the glasses and sashes, and linings are free from dust. In receiving messages at the carriage door, he should turn his ear to the speaker, so as to comprehend what is said, in order that he may give his directions to the coachman clearly. When the house he is to call at is reached, he should knock, and return to the carriage for orders. In closing the door upon the family, he should see that the handle is securely turned, and that no part of the ladies' dress is shut in.

It is the footman's duty to carry messages or letters for his master or mistress to their friends, to the post, or to the trades people; and nothing is more important than dispatch and exactness in doing so, although writing even the simplest message is now the ordinary and very proper practice.

In addition, footmen were also required to reserve seats in the family's box at the theatre, awaiting the arrival of the family. To lay out and wait at table for evening receptions and games of cards. To open and close doors behind visitors and to announce visitors upon directing them into the drawing room where the master or mistress awaited.
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A lady's-maid is a lady's personal servant, with similar duties to a gentleman's valet, but more numerous. A lady's-maid is responsible for dressing her mistress, ensuring her clothes are in good order, hairdressing her mistress and also repairing and producing some of her mistress' clothes. Mrs Beeton in her 1861 book 'Household Management' describes hairdressing as the most important part of the lady's-maid office.
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A valet is a domestic servant performing a general role as a man's personal attendant and also superintending the other servants, a lady employing a waiting-maid in a similar role. Within the hierarchy of domestic servants, the valet was almost at the top, receiving orders only directly from his master, dressing him, accompanying him on his journeys, being a confidant and generally 'right-hand man'. In her book 'Household Management', published in 1861, Mrs Beeton describes the duties of a valet as follows:

His day commences by seeing that his master's dressing-room is in order; that the housemaid has swept and dusted it properly; that the fire is lighted and burns cheerfully; and some time before his master is expected, he will do well to throw up the sash [open the window] to admit fresh air, closing it, however, in time to recover the temperature which he knows his master prefers. It is now his duty to place the body-linen on the horse before the fire, to be aired properly; to lay the trousers intended to be worn, carefully brushed and cleaned, on the back of his master's chair; while the coat and waistcoat, carefully brushed and folded, and the collar cleaned, are laid in their place ready to be put on when required. All the articles of the toilet should be in their places, the razors properly set and stropped, and hot water ready for use.

Gentlemen generally prefer performing the operation of shaving themselves, but a valet should be prepared to do it if required; and he should be a good hairdresser. Shaving over, he has to brush the hair, beard and moustache, where that appendage is encouraged, arranging the whole simply and gracefully, according to the age and style of the countenance. Every fortnight, or three weeks at the utmost, the hair should be cut, and the points of the whiskers trimmed as often as required. A good valet will now present the various articles of the toilet as they are wanted; afterwards, the body-linen. Neck-tie, which he will put on, if required, and, afterwards, waist-coat, coat, and boots, in suitable order, and carefully brushed and polished.

Having thus seen his master dressed, if he is about to go out, the valet will hand him his gloves, and hat, the latter well brushed on the outside with a soft brush, and wiped inside with a clean handkerchief, respectfully attend him to the door, and open it for him, and receive his last orders for the day.

He now proceeds to put everything in order in the dressing-room, cleans the combs and brushes, and brushes and folds up any clothes that may be left about the room, and puts them away in drawers.

Mrs Beeton goes on to describe how some gentlemen are indifferent to their clothes and appearance, and how it is the duty of the valet to select suitable clothes for his master and to check and ensure all clothes are clean, paying particular attention to collars which often become greasy and dirty. In addition, the valet liases with the tailor, perfumer and linen-draper.

The valet also dresses his master for dinner and any other occasion, and is awaiting his master's return to the house, ensuring that the master's drawing-room is properly ready with fire lit and candles prepared.
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David Rizzio was an Italian musician. He was born in 1533 at Pancalieri and died in 1566. He went to Scotland as an attendant of an Italian envoy and while there attracted the attention of Mary Queen of Scots, who gave him an appointment in her court, first as a singer in the chapel, then as a valet de chambre, and finally as secretary. The promotion of a Roman Catholic foreigner aroused suspicion of a Popish plot, and Mary's husband, Lord Darnley, suspected Mary and David Rizzio of being lovers and took little persuasion from other jealous nobles that he should be murdered. On March the 9th 1566 at Holyrood, David Rizzio was dragged from Mary's presence and murdered, suffering 56 separate injuries in a frenzied attack.
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Francois Ravaillac was a French religious fanatic and the murderer of Henry IV of France. He was born in 1578 and died in 1610. He started life as valet to an attorney, and afterwards became attorney's cleric, and schoolmaster. He afterwards took service in the order of the Feuillants, but was expelled as a visionary. His various disappointments and his religious fanaticism led him to plan the assassination of Henry IV, which he successfully accomplished on the 14th of May, 1610. Upon this he was seized, horribly tortured, and put to death.
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Geoffrey Chaucer was an English poet. He was born in 1340 at London and died in 1400. He was the son of a vintner named John Chaucer. Nothing is known of his education, but in 1356-1359 he was a page to Princess Lionel. He tells us himself that in 1359 he bore arms in France and was taken prisoner. He was ransomed next year, the king paying 16 pounds towards the necessary sum. In 1367 we find his name as a valet of the king's chamber. Whether he married his wife Philippa in 1366 or not until 1374, and who she was we do not know for certain. In 1367 he received a pension of twenty marks, and between 1370 and 1380 he was employed abroad in seven diplomatic missions. In one of these, in 1372, he was sent to Genoa as a commissioner to negotiate a commercial treaty. It is probable that he visited the Italian poet Francesco Petrarch on this occasion.

In 1374 he was appointed comptroller of the customs on wool at London, a lucrative post, and he also received an annual allowance. In 1377 he was sent to Flanders and France on diplomatic business, and next year to Lombardy. In 1382 he was appointed comptroller of the petty customs. In 1386 he was returned to parliament as knight of the shire for Kent, but in the same year he shared the disgrace of his patron, John of Gaunt, was dismissed from his coontrollerships, and reduced to a state of comparative poverty. Three years later, however, he was made clerk of the works at 2 shillings a day, and afterwards had other offices and one or two annuities bestowed upon him, but in 1394-1398 must have been quite poor.

In 1399 he got a pension of forty marks from Henry IV, but did not live long to enjoy it. His most celebrated work, The Canterbury Tales, was written at different periods between 1373 and 1400. It consists of a series of tales in verse (two in prose), supposed to be told by a company of pilgrims to the shrine of St Thomas (Becket) at Canterbury in 1386. In its pages we get such pictures of English life and English ways of thought in the 14th century as are found nowhere else. Besides his great work Chaucer wrote many poems (and others are falsely attributed to him): The Book of the Duchess (1369), The Parliament of Fowls (1374), Troilus and Cres-sida (1380-82), The Legend of Good Women (1385), The House of Fame (1386), etc, some of which are founded on French or Italian works. He also translated Boethius, and wrote a treatise on the Astrolabe (1391) for his son Lewis (who probably died early). He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
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Robin Hood was a legendary English folk hero who led a band of outlaws in Sherwood forest and opposed the tyranny and excessive taxes of King John.

Robin Hood is first mentioned by the Scottish historian Fordun, who died in 1386. According to Stow, he was an outlaw in the reign of Richard I (twelfth century). He entertained one hundred tall men, all good archers, with the spoil he took, but 'he suffered no woman to be oppressed, violated, or otherwise molested; poore men's goods he spared, abundantly relieving them with that which by theft he got from abbeys and houses of rich carles'. He was an immense favourite with the common people, who have dubbed him an earl. Stukeley says he was Robert Fitzooth, Earl of Huntingdon.

According to one tradition, Robin Hood and Little John were two heroes defeated with Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Evesham, in 1265. Fuller, in his Worthies, considers him an historical character, but Thierry says he simply represents a class - that is the remnant of the old Saxon race, which lived in perpetual defiance of the Norman oppressors from the time of Hereward.

Other examples of similar combinations are the Cumberland bandits, headed by Adam Bell, Olym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesley.

An old sporting magazine of December, 1808, says the true name of Robin Hood was Fitzooth, and Fitz being omitted leaves Ooth, and converting th into d it became 'Ood'. He was grandson of Ralph Fitzooth, Earl of Kyme, a Norman, who came to England in the reign of William Rufus. His maternal grandfather was Gilbert de Gaunt, Earl of Lincoln, and his grandmother was Lady Roisia de Bere, sister to the Earl of Oxford. His father was under the guardianship of Robert, Earl of Oxford, who, by the king's, order, gave him in marriage the third daughter of Lady Boisia.

The traditions about Fulk Fitz-Warine, great-grandson of Warine of Metz, so greatly resemble those connected with 'Robin Hood', that some suppose them to be both one. Fitz-Warine quarreled with John, and when John was king he banished Fulk, who became a bold forester.

The traditional bow and arrow of Robin Hood are religiously preserved at Kirklees Hall, Yorkshire, the seat of Sir George Armytage; and the site of his grave is pointed out in the park.

It is generally thought that Robin Hood died in 1325, which would bring him into the reign of Edward II, not Richard I, according to Sir Walter Scott.

In the accounts of King Edward II's household is an item which states that Robin Hood received his wages as king's valet, and a gratuity on leaving the service'. One of the ballads relates how Robin Hood took service under this king.
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David Garrick was an English actor, writer and theatre manager. He was born in 1717 at Hereford and died in 1779. His grandfather was a French refugee, his fattier a captain in the army. He was educated at Lichfield grammar-school, spent a short time at Lisbon with an uncle, and returning to Lichfield was placed under Samuel Johnson, who was induced to accompany him to the metropolis in 1737. Garrick then began to study for .the law, but on the death of his father joined his brother Peter in the wine trade. He had, however, as a child a strong pasaion for acting, and in 1741 he joined Giffard's company at Ipswich under the name of Lyddal. At Giffard's theatre in Good-man's-fields he achieved a great success as Richard III, and in 1742 was no less successful at Drury Lane. In 1745 he became joint manager with Sheridan of a theatre in Dublin, and after a season at Covent Garden in 1746 purchased Drury Lane in conjunction with Lacy, opening it on the 15th of September, 1747, with the Merchant of Venice, to which Dr. Johnson furnished a prologue. From this period may be dated a comparative revival of Shakespeare, and a reform both in the conduct and license of the drama.

In 1763 he visited the Continent for a year and a half. He had already written his farces of The Lying Valet, Lethe, and Miss in her Teens; and in 1766 he composed, jointly with Colman, the excellent comedy of The Clandestine Marriage. After the death of Lacy, in 1773, the sole management of the theatre devolved upon David Garrick, until 1776, when he sold his moiety of the theatre for 37,000 pounds, performed his last part, Don Felix in The Wonder, for the benefit of the theatrical fund, and bade an impressive farewell to the stage. He died on January the 20th, 1779, and was buried with great pomp in Westminster Abbey. Besides the pieces mentioned he wrote some epigrams, a number of prologues and epilogues, and a few dramatic interludes. As a man David Garrick was highly respected, the chief defect of his character being vanity. As an actor he has probably never been excelled, and he was almost equally great both in tragedy and in comedy. He left a large fortune.
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