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Does it make you uncomfortable that your ancestors had servants?

(118 Posts)
veraaloe Sun 11-Mar-18 20:41:00

I'm not sure why, but it makes me feel a bit odd to think they had 3-4+ people who lived in their house.

Likewise an ancestor was a slave owner, now that makes me shudder.

mamaryllis Sun 11-Mar-18 20:43:13

I think my ancestors WERE the servants, lol.

NormHonal Sun 11-Mar-18 20:43:54

Mine were also the servants grin

AdultHumanFemale Sun 11-Mar-18 20:44:30

You beat me to it. Mamaryllis grin

BossWitch Sun 11-Mar-18 20:44:45

Definitely a case of WERE the servants not HAD the servants with my ancestors!

50andgoingstrong Sun 11-Mar-18 20:45:17

Yep. I come from peasant lineage...

Caulk Sun 11-Mar-18 20:45:22

Mine were the servants too. One was at Windsor Castle though so that’s quite fun.

AgathaRaisonDetra Sun 11-Mar-18 20:45:31

No, we still have the servants.

Auntieaunt Sun 11-Mar-18 20:45:35

My grandad grew up with a 'young girl'. I think he was one of 7 and both of his parents worked in the family business. I think the various young girls would have been local girls who lived in the home like modern day nannies but did the majority of the the house work. It always made me feel uncomfortable that my grandad always spoke of these 'young girls' as employees of the family. I was also a live out nanny during my time at uni which he never approved of.

MarklahMarklah Sun 11-Mar-18 20:45:43

Mine were agricultural labourers, so pretty much the same as servants. Those that weren't ag-lab were. .. servants.

Jaxtellerswife Sun 11-Mar-18 20:46:00

Nope, I'm not responsible for any actions of anyone in years gone by. I have no second hand shame or anything like that. That was then and this is now

lljkk Sun 11-Mar-18 20:46:17

Lots of slave owners in my tree.

My grandmother's sister (white, b. 1907) talked about meeting a man (black client, she was a social worker in 1930s) who shared her maiden surname ... the bloke was spitting image of her father. She couldn't figure out what to do with that information.

I guess you could say that they were all prisoners of the social system into which they were born. Few were the heros who could break out of it.

VivaKondo Sun 11-Mar-18 20:47:12

Different times, different ways.
What was normal in 1800 isn’t any more and the other way around.

Tbh I’m not sure I can see much difference between having ‘servants’ at that time and nowdays having a gardeners and a cleaner.
Sure I’m pretty su re we treat those people much better than we did servants then.
But they are from being the inking people who are treated better iyswim.

And as a person, you aren’t responsible of whatever youR ancestors have done.

LtGreggs Sun 11-Mar-18 20:47:14

My family were generally the servants too (and I remember great-aunts talking about it when I was little).

One branch emigrated to South Africa & did quite well for themselves and there is family photo of them - two young children with nanny in uniform - which says on back "Michael & Janet with native servant" shock

MintTeaLady Sun 11-Mar-18 20:47:25

My great-grandmother was “hired out” aged 12. She lived until she was 102 and I was never brave enough to ask her about unfortunately. I can’t imagine having ancestors that actually had the servants!

snawdays Sun 11-Mar-18 20:47:35

One of my relatives was one of the first people to die in the poor houses when they set the up in the 1830s.

How can you feel guilty about ancestors?
Those were totally different times.

Middleoftheroad Sun 11-Mar-18 20:47:45

My nan's mother was a char lady and so poor that my nan was adopted.
All other lines were very poor too so OP are you royalty????

worstwitch18 Sun 11-Mar-18 20:48:33

I mean do you think people with nannies or cleaners today are evil?

Obviously today cleaning and childcare positions are not done by servants, but out of everything I could be horrified over that my ancestors have done, paying someone to work for them is not very high on that list.

Judashascomeintosomemoney Sun 11-Mar-18 20:50:31

Er, they didn’t. In the second half of the 19th century to the beginning years of the 20th, some of my grandmother’s 21 siblings (yes 21, really) were in and out of the workhouse. For them it would have been a step up to be a servant. Apologies, not trying to invoke the four Yorkshireman sketch.

OutyMcOutface Sun 11-Mar-18 20:50:37

Nope. It was pretty standard back then. I wouldn’t really opt for live in staff given the option but then again my house is much smaller. Slave/serf owning on the other hand makes me feel a bit weird. But allegedly they treated them very well. At any rate it’s not really anything to do with me. I haven’t benefited from any of this, we haven’t retained any wealth from back then, I haven’t even seen the places where they lived (most of it is give now anyway).

treaclesoda Sun 11-Mar-18 20:52:13

Some of my ancestors would have had servants. On the other side of my family they would have been the servants. Different times, I can't feel guilty about it now. Although I am intrigued as to how the once wealthy side of my family became 'ordinary' over the period of a couple of centuries. Someone must have had poor business sense or a gambling habit or something...

headoutofthesand Sun 11-Mar-18 20:52:35

Like others, my ancestors were a mix of servants and those who employed servants depending on which side of the family you look at.
No, it doesn't make me uncomfortable presuming that those who employed servants were no more exploitative than the norm for those times. Likewise, I hope my descendants aren't going to judge me for having a cleaner & a gardener and using a childminder. I pay all of them slightly above the going rate and like
to think that I treat them fairly.
What would my ancestors who were servants have done has there not been big houses & estates to work for? Work was presumably better than no work and I'm not sure what the other options would have been other than wishing for a socialist utopia ... but, given human nature, I am very sceptical about the chances of that ever existing.

PinkHeart5914 Sun 11-Mar-18 20:54:20

No because times were different then and I’m not responsible for what anyone before me did or didn’t do

Trills Sun 11-Mar-18 20:54:50

My ancestors that I know of definitely would have BEEN the servants.

But no, not really.

There's no reason for me to expect my ancestors to behave any better or any worse or any differently to everyone else around them.

My ancestors are not a character in a novel that I can imbue with surprisingly up-to-date views on the prevailing gender or class or racial norms.

lljkk Sun 11-Mar-18 20:57:06

Mine were genocidal religious extremist bigots (early American colonists). They even loathed each other. I rather wish it was as difficult as they merely had servants.

Many were also younger sons/daughters from rich families, some rumours even minor nobility (woohoo... not impressed).

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