A Short Study of Distance travelled from Place of Birth by Servants
Employed in Large Houses Around West Lothian (1881)
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.
No. Servants No. Occupants
BONNYTOUN (lower) 4 3
BONSYDE,Linlithgow 3 3
BRIDGE HOUSE, Torphichen 3 3
CARRIDEN HOUSE 9 2
CLIFTON HALL 6 3
DECHMONT HOUSE 8 7
HOPETOUN HOUSE 29 4
INGLISTON HOUSE 11 6
LEUCHOLD PRIVATE HOUSE 3 8
LONG CROFT HOUSE, Linlithgow 5 7
NEW GARDENS, Dalmeny 5 11
POLKEMMET HOUSE 8 2
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
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
In Bonnytoun House Margaret L
McMillan, aged 20, is a governess, again she is a British citizen, but born in
In Bridge House, Torphichen
the governess has a British name, Mary E Winter, but she was born in
The remaining 4 servants born
Adelaide Brocarad, aged 26,
and Gulia Belvey, aged 32 are both ladies maids born in
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
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
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)