#OnePlaceServants: Keeping up with the Ashworths

A couple of weeks ago I looked at Mary Ann Ashworth's apparent need to increase the number of servants after her marriage, when suddenly a mere Ladies' Maid wasn't sufficient. This prompted me to look at the range of servants in some of the other local 'Big Houses'. I chose 1881 as the year to compare, as that is when Patrick's complement of servants was at its greatest.

Mayfield wasn't built then so obviously no record from there. Lea Bank was built but the enumeration starts with 'Annie Jacks, servant, unmarried, age 19, Cook, b Shropshire.' OK so were the family away on census night?


House
Springhill
Heightside
Staghills
Springfield
Greenbank
Thistle Mount
Lea Bank
Owner
Charles Patrick
Henry Hargreaves Bolton
Helen Ashworth
Robert JH Mitchell
Robert Worswick
John Clegg
?
Occupation
Sub-Inspector of Factories (Rtd)
Colliery proprietor
None given
Manufacturer
[felt]
Cotton spinner
[manufacturer]
Clergyman
?
Cook

1

1
1
1
1
2
1

Housemaid

2

1
1
1
1

1

Kitchen Maid

1

1
1




Nurse

1


1
3



Butler

1

1
1


1

Laundress

1

1
1
1



Gardener

1

1
1

2

1

Coachman

1

1
1


1
1

Sewing maid


1

1



Parlour Maid


1
1




Governess


1



1

Ladies maid



1




Footman



1




General servant






3
1

total

9

10
11
7
4
8
5


In 1871 Lea Bank was occupied by Richard Ashworth, Manufacturer, Magistrate and Landowner together with his wife and three children. Oh and a waitress, two housemaids and a cook. None of the servants were there in 1881 but that isn't surprising in what was probably a relatively transient employment pattern. Similarly in 1971 Staghills house was occupied by Edward and Helen Ashworth together with their complement of servants: coachman, butler, cook, nurse, laundress, housemaid, chambermaid, kitchen maid and gardener. Not bad. Fanny Powale, the laundry maid, was still there in 1881. Edward is described in the 1891 census as 'South American Merchant'. Ooh, wonder what he traded? Time hadn't been as kind to the Ashworths of Lea Bank however; Richard had died and Jane was living of her own means with only a waitress, cook, gardener and butler to keep her going - John Barcroft, the gardener, was present in 1881 also.

It was a good living in Holy Orders in East Lancs in 1881. John Clegg of Thistlemount, 'Clergyman without care of souls' had 8 servants as described above whilst the rector, JB Phillips, had to manage with a housemaid, a cook and a coachman.

One of the surprising things was the number of nurses employed. Charles and Mary Ann Patrick of Springhill House employed a nurse. Charles is known to have been active at this time, but Mary Ann died in 1883 so may well have been ill at this time. Helen Ashworth at Staghills was on her own with three adult children - was one of them ill?

Robert Mitchell at Springfield had three nurses however. Martha Lyons, widow age 59 is recorded as a 'Professional Nurse', presumably to indicate that she was trained. This was doubtless to distinguish her from Eleanor Brown, unmarried age 28 who is enumerated simply as 'nurse' and Eliza Cornfield, unmarried age 14 who is enumerated as 'un nurse'. Why did they need three nurses? Robert Mitchell and his wife were in their 30s and lived for some years yet. They had three children, two daughters aged 4 and 3 and future Springhill resident Robert J H Mitchell aged <1. Surely there wasn't one nurse per child?

What would be interesting to ascertain is the extent to which social standing was reflected in the number of servants. Was there a culture of 'keeping up with the Ashworths?