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10. 8. 2023

A Fascinating Glimpse into 19th Century Servants' Salaries at Shugborough Hall


Shugborough Hall, located in Staffordshire, holds a captivating historical record of the salaries paid to the serving staff in the 19th century. The stark differences in wages between male and female roles are particularly intriguing. In this blog post, we will explore the salaries of the serving personnel at Shugborough Hall, shedding light on the distinct roles played by "panys" and "damas" (lords and ladies) and the fascinating dynamics of their employment.

Female Staff Salaries

  • Lady's Maid - 25 GBP per year: Lady's maids were responsible for attending to the grooming and dressing needs of their mistresses. Despite their close proximity and intimate duty, their annual salary was the lowest among female staff members.
  • Housekeeper - 52 GBP per year: The housekeeper played a crucial role in managing the household, overseeing domestic affairs, and supervising other female staff members. Their salary reflected the higher level of responsibility they held.

Male Staff Salaries

  • Butler - 100 GBP per year: The butler, often considered the head of the male staff, was responsible for managing the household and coordinating the service. With their prominent position and extensive responsibilities, butlers received a significantly higher salary than other male staff members.
  • Under Butler - 34 GBP per year: The under butler assisted the butler in various tasks, ensuring the smooth functioning of the household. Their lower salary reflected their position as a subordinate to the butler.
  • Footman - 32 GBP per year: Footmen were an essential part of the serving staff, responsible for tasks such as serving meals, attending to guests, and running errands. Despite their significant contributions, footmen received a relatively modest salary compared to other male staff members.
  • Chef - 120 GBP per year: The chef held a pivotal role in the household, overseeing the preparation of meals and ensuring culinary excellence. The chef's salary was the highest among all the servants, reflecting their specialized skills and the importance of their role in maintaining a prestigious household.

The Gender Pay Gap

The stark contrast between the salaries of male and female staff members at Shugborough Hall highlights the prevalent gender pay gap during the 19th century. Female staff members, such as the lady's maid and housekeeper, earned considerably less than their male counterparts, despite their valuable contributions to the household.

The Social Hierarchy

The salary disparities also reflect the social hierarchy within the household. The butler, as the head of the male staff, received the highest salary, followed by the chef. These positions represented the upper echelons of the serving staff, responsible for managing and maintaining the prestige of the household. On the other hand, lady's maids and footmen held relatively lower positions in the hierarchy, resulting in lower salaries.


The salary overview of the serving personnel at Shugborough Hall in the 19th century offers a captivating glimpse into the dynamics of the household. The differences in wages between male and female roles shed light on the gender pay gap prevalent during that era. Furthermore, the salary disparities reflect the social hierarchy within the household, with butlers and chefs occupying the top ranks. Exploring historical records like these allows us to better understand the complexities of social structures and gender dynamics in the past.

Note: One 1860s GBP is about 155 of todays GBP.