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For other uses, see Maid (disambiguation).

A maid, or housemaid or maidservant, is a female
Smedley maid illustration 1906
person employed in domestic service. Although nowusu-
ally found only in the most wealthy of households, in the
Victorian era domestic service was the second largest cat-
egory of employment in England and Wales, after agri-
cultural work.
1 Description
Once part of an elaborate hierarchy in great houses,
today a single maid may be the only domestic worker
that upper and even middle-income households can af-
ford, as was historically the case for many households.
In the contemporary Western world, comparatively few
A Ladys maid. (Painting c. 1890-1900
households can aord live-in domestic help, usually com-
promising on periodic cleaners. In less developed na-
tions, very large dierences in the income of urban and
rural households and between dierent socio-economic
classes, fewer educated women and limited opportunities
for working women ensures a labour source for domestic
Historically many maids suered from Prepatellar bursi-
tis, an inammation of the Prepatellar bursa caused by
long periods spent on the knees for purposes of scrub-
bing and re-lighting, leading to the condition attracting
the colloquial name of Housemaids Knee.
Maids perform typical domestic chores such as cooking,
ironing, washing, cleaning the house, grocery shopping,
walking the family dog, and taking care of children. In
many places in some poor countries, maids often take on
the role of a nurse in taking care of the elderly and peo-
ple with disabilities. Many maids are required by their
employers to wear a uniform.
Legislation in many countries makes certain living condi-
tions, working hours, or minimum wages a requirement
of domestic service. Nonetheless, the work of a maid has
always been hard, involving a full day, and extensive du-
A maid cleaning in Denmark in 1912.
The word maid itself is short for maiden, meaning
virgin. In great houses of England, domestic work-
ers, particularly those low in the hierarchy, such as maids
and footmen, were expected to remain unmarried while
in service,
and even highest-ranking workers such as
butlers could be red for marrying.
2 Types of maid
Maids traditionally have a xed position in the hierarchy
of the large households, and although there is overlap be-
tween denitions (dependent on the size of the house-
hold) the positions themselves would typically be rigidly
adhered to. The usual classications of maid in a large
household are:
Ladys maid a senior servant who reported di-
rectly to the lady of the house, but still ranked be-
neath the Housekeeper, and accompanied her lady
on travel.
House-maid or housemaid a generic term for
maids whose function was chiey 'above stairs, and
were therefore usually a little older, and better paid;
Goan serving maid, 1880s
where a household included multiple House Maids
they were often sub-divided as below.
Head house-maid the senior house maid,
reporting directly to the Housekeeper. (Also
called House parlour maid in an establish-
ment with only one or two upstairs maids).
Parlour maid the parlour maids cleaned
and tidied reception rooms and living areas by
morning, and often served refreshments at af-
ternoon tea, and sometimes also dinner. They
tidied studies and libraries, and (with footmen)
answered bells calling for service.
Chamber maid the chamber maids cleaned
and maintained the bedrooms, ensured res
were lit in replaces, and supplied hot water.
Laundry maid the laundry maids main-
tained the bedding and towels, and also
washed, dried, and ironed clothes for the
whole household, including the servants.
Under house parlour maid the general
deputy to the house parlour maid in a small
establishment which had only two upstairs
Nursery maid also an 'upstairs maid', but one
who worked in the childrens nursery, maintaining
res, cleanliness, and good order, and reporting to
the Nanny rather than the Housekeeper.
Kitchen maid a 'below stairs maid who reported
to the Cook, and assisted in the running of the
Head kitchen maid where multiple kitchen
maids were employed, the Head kitchen
maid was eectively a deputy to the Cook,
engaged largely in the plainer and simpler
cooking (sometimes cooking the servants
Under kitchen maid where multiple kitchen
maids were employed these were the sta who
prepared vegetables, peeled potatoes, and as-
sisted in presentation of nished cooking for
Scullery maid the lowest grade of 'below stairs
maid, reporting to the Cook, the Scullery Maids
were responsible for washing up cutlery, crockery,
and glassware, and scrubbing kitchen oors, as well
as monitoring ovens while Kitchen Maids ate their
own supper.
Between maid roughly equivalent in status to
scullery maids, and often paid less, the Between
Maids in a large household waited on the senior ser-
vants (Butler, Housekeeper, Cook) and were there-
fore answerable to all three department heads, often
leading to friction in their employment.
Still room maid a junior maid employed in the
still room; as the work involved the supply of al-
cohol, cosmetics, medicines, and cooking ingredi-
ents across all departments of the house, the still
room maids were part of the 'between sta', jointly
answerable to all three department heads, Butler,
Housekeeper, and Cook.
In more modest households a single Maid-of-all-work
or skivvy was often the only sta. It is possible this word
originates from the Italian for slave (schiavo - owned per-
3 In popular culture
One of the most in-depth and enduring representations of
the lives of several types of maid was seen in the 1970s
television drama Upstairs, Downstairs, set in England be-
tween 1903 and 1936. Another representation of the lives
of maids is seen nowadays in Downton Abbey, set in Eng-
land between 1912 and 1922.
4 See also
Domestic worker
Au pair
French maid
Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong
Maid service
5 References
[1] See census results here.
[2] See medical reference and explanation at the UK Patient
website, here for details.
[3] David Hume, Essay XI
[4] Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Popu-
lation, p.139
[5] Downstairs at Downton: How the real servants worked
14-hour days and the maids were conned to 'virgin quar-
[6] AParlour Maids timetable is summarised in this webpage
extract from a book.
[7] An account of the scullery maids life is given here.
[8] This website oers an approximation of rates of pay for
Victorian servants.
6 External links
Media related to Maid at Wikimedia Commons
The dictionary denition of maid at Wiktionary
7 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses
7.1 Text
Maid Source: Contributors: The Anome, SimonP, Bradeos Graphon, Utcursch, Son-
jaaa, Antandrus, Iantresman, Dr.frog, Quill, Polluks, Supine, SidP, Mcy jerry, Bsadowski1, TheCoee, Angr, Woohookitty, Woyzzeck,
Zaorish, Isnow, BD2412, Mendaliv, Ian Pitchford, Itinerant1, Bubbleboys, Taichi, Chanlyn, Koveras, Southpaws03, ENeville, Psy guy,
Zzuuzz, Amberrock, Nihonjoe, Gilliam, ERcheck, Chris the speller, Bluebot, LDHan, Lambiam, Khazar, J 1982, 16@r, JAHateld, Mal-
intex Terek, JeW, HongQiGong, Nakjisanjeok, Iced Kola, Chuck Marean, B, Thijs!bot, Epbr123, Davidon, Anamargarita, Bongwarrior,
Timothy Titus, Johnpacklambert, Huzzlet the bot, J.delanoy, Sidhekin, Johnbod, Lizzie Harrison, Robertgreer, Squids and Chips, Idioma-
bot, TXiKiBoT, Someguy1221, Scrimmyjimmy, RG Miles, Mage cat, Flyer22, Reginmund, ClueBot, Vonbontee, Mild Bill Hiccup, Boing!
said Zebedee, Hafspajen, TonyBallioni, BOTarate, Good Olfactory, Addbot, Xp54321, 15lsoucy, SoSaysChappy, SpBot, Legobot, Noq,
Xufanc, Sz-iwbot, RandomAct, Giants27, Erud, AbigailAbernathy, Omnipaedista, RibotBOT, Schekinov Alexey Victorovich, Sky At-
tacker, Aboulrim83, Girlwithgreeneyes, DrilBot, Pinethicket, LittleWink, Indy766, Lf2god2003, HowardJWilk, Footwarrior, Howudooin,
Adi4094, Mean as custard, ArwinJ, Wintonian, EmausBot, Qrsdogg, Kylestyle6969, Wikipelli, K6ka, ZroBot, Makecat, ClueBot NG,
GR16, Sebisultan, Gcc111, 12q12q12w12w, Amp71, Three7zero, Lugia2453, Tentinator, Msbdc and Anonymous: 126
7.2 Images
File:ModelC5_1912.jpg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Contributors: Own work Original artist: Nilsk-Advance
File:Raimundo_Madrazo_-_La_Toilette.jpg Source:
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File:Smedley_maid_illustration_1906.jpg Source:
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Washington, D.C.; Original artist: William Thomas Smedley (1858-1920)
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