Regency Priorities For Servants When Waiting on Women

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Regency servants had an important task in that they were there to serve their mistresses and masters. However, when accomplishing their duties, they had to serve female guests according to their rank, which helped if you were familiar with those you were serving. If not, it could be tricky, as marriage, remarriage, or widowhood could affect a woman’s rank. Moreover, if a servant was new or if they were waiting on a large party and unfamiliar with their guest’s titles or ranks, it could make their task nearly impossible.

Besides waiting on women according to rank, the servant also had to take into consideration the age of the person being served.  This meant the oldest person within a rank was served first and the youngest person within that rank last. For example, the oldest daughter of a Duke would be served first, the second oldest daughter next, and so on, with the Duke’s youngest daughter being served last.

To help eliminate some confusion when serving women, there was a designated order servants could use. It was accomplished in the following order after first serving the Queen.

  1. Daughters of the King
  2. Wives of the King’s sons.
  3. Wives of the King’s brothers
  4. Wives of the King’s uncles
  5. Wives of the eldest sons of Dukes of royal blood
  6. Wives of the King’s nephews
  7. Wives of Archbishops
  8. Duchesses
  9. Marchionesses
  10. Wives of the eldest sons of Dukes.
  11. Daughters of Duke
  12. Countesses
  13. Wives of the eldest sons of Marquesses
  14. Daughters of Marquesses
  15. Wives of the younger sons of Dukes
  16. Viscountesses
  17. Wives of the eldest sons of Earls
  18. Daughters of Earls
  19. Wives of the younger sons of Marquesses
  20. Wives of Bishops
  21. Baronesses
  22. Wives of the eldest sons of Viscounts
  23. Daughters of Viscounts
  24. Wives of the younger Sons of Earls
  25. Wives of the Sons of Barons
  26. Maids of Honour
  27. Wives of the younger sons of Viscounts
  28. Wives of the younger Sons of Barons
  29. Wives of Baronets
  30. Wives of Knight Grand Crosses of the Bath
  31. Wives of Bannerets
  32. Wives of Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath
  33. Wives of Knights Commanders of the Bath
  34. Wives of Nights Bachelors
  35. Wives of the eldest sons of the younger sons of Peers
  36. Wives of the eldest Sons of Baronets
  37. Daughters of Baronets 
  38. Wives of the eldest sons of Knights of the Garter
  39. Wives of the eldest sons of Bannerets
  40. Daughters of Bannerets
  41. Wives of the eldest Sons of Knights of the Bath
  42. Daughters of Knights of the Bath
  43. Wives of the eldest Sons of Knight Bachelors
  44. Daughters of Knights Bachelors
  45. Wives of the younger sons of Baronets
  46. Daughters of Knights
  47. Wives of the Companions of the Order of th3 Bath
  48. Wives of the Esquires of the King’s body
  49. Wives of the Esquires of the Knights of the Bath
  50. Wives of Esquires by creation
  51. Wives of Esquires by office
  52. Wives of the younger Sons of Knights of the Garter
  53. Wives of the Younger Sons of Bannerets
  54. Wives of the younger Sons of Knights of the Bath
  55. Wives of the younger Knights Bachelors
  56. Wives of Gentlemen entitled to bear arms
  57. Daughters of Esquires entitled to bear arms
  58. Daughters of Gentlemen entitled to bear arms
  59. Wives of Clergymen
  60. Wives of Barristers at Law
  61. Wives of Officers in the Navy
  62. Wives of Officers in the Army
  63. Wives of Citizens
  64. Wives of Burgesses
  65. Widows
  66. Daughters of Citizens
  67. Daughters of Burgesses 

Although in general, women were served as indicated above, there were a few exceptions.

  • A precedent existed involving the wife of the greatest land-owner in a county. She had precedence at any public dinner given on any public occasion in that county.
  • If three sisters were married to three lords, and the eldest sister’s husband died, then the younger sisters were served first. But if the younger sisters were not married, then the widow was served first.
  • If young ladies invited company to dinner, the strangers were served first and the young ladies last.

To see Regency Priorities for Servants When Waiting on Men, click here.

References:

  • The Footman’s Directory, and Butler’s Remembrancer, 1823

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