In modern U.S. dollars, what was the salary of various Edwardian-era household servants such as butlers and maids? Obviously they got room and board, but how much in cash? Did they have to buy their own uniforms?
A good answer is hard to come by. This site indicates an average 1909 British worker made about a quarter of one in 2009.
But translating purchasing power over long periods of time is tough. (A worker in 1709 made only about nine percent of the modern wage.) Few goods and services from then and now are comparable.
The OP said “Butlers and maids”. I imagine those 2 answers would be pretty different. If you mean Butler like ‘Jeeves’ or Anthony Hopkins character in Remains of the Day, it probably would have been alot higher that a maid. He would have been in charge of the household staff and I would imagine that it would have been a decent salary, in addition to the room and board. Depending on the station of the person he worked for, wouldn’t there have been all sorts of protocal he would need to know and follow properly? I think there were Butler schools. Not any person off the street could go get a job as butler for Lord so and so.
Just as a note, Jeeves was not a butler. Bertie didn’t have any need of a butler, as he had neither any large number of servants to supervise (or, indeed, any at all other than Jeeves), or any wine cellar to speak of (he didn’t very often entertain and took his refreshment at the Drones Club).
However, Bertie, perhaps more than others, due to his horrendous fashion sense and his utter impracticality with money and managing household accounts, was in desperate need of a valet, and Jeeves served that function for him.
I didn’t know that. I’m actually not even familiar with where ‘Jeeves’ is taken from. I just thought it was some fictional Butler for some fictional early 20th century British aristocrat.
No, Jeeves is a fictional valet for a fictional early 20th century British gentleman.
Everything you could possibly want to know about servants in stately homes is in the very good book, Up and Down Stairs.
Thanks for the tip. Purchased.
Yes, the butler would have made more than a scullery maid, and the head maid would have made more than the maids she supervised. I wasn’t looking for the average pay of all household staff, but only some examples – such as a butler or a maid, or a cook or a head maid, or whatever – of monetary compensation (translated to current U.S. dollars).
P.G. Wodehouse - quite a number of books about Bertie and Jeeves, incredibly funny.
IIRC the butler made more than any other servant except the cook. Cooks were always the highest paid staff members; which makes sense given how important entertaing was in a great house. The cook answered directly to the mistress of the household (but often the houskeeper had the keys to the pantry) and was almost always a woman. Only the wealthiest households could afford male cooks. They were a major status symbol; especial if French. Even tutors and governesses didn’t earn as much despite having a higher social status (neither upstairs or downstairs, but always in a grey area inbetween).