Staffordshire Working Lives
Letter of application for a footman
Reference for a footman

Letter of application and reference for a footman (1911).

(© Staffordshire Record Office: D6584/A/183)

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References: finding the right staff, finding the right employer

Letter of application and reference for a footman, 1911.

A good personal reference was essential for a domestic servant. Word of mouth, both between servants and between employers, was a key means of hearing about new positions or enquiring about potential candidates. So it was very common for the employers to be closely connected in some way, through family relationships or by living in the same vicinity and occupying the same social spheres.

Charles Coe is here applying for a post as footman in the household of Mrs Evelyn Lane, the wife of the Rev Ernald Lane, who was Archdeacon of Stoke on Trent and a member of the Lane family of Kings Bromley (in the 1901 census they were living at the Rectory in Church Leigh). Coe was then working as footman at Dilhorne Hall, home of Mrs Lane’s aunt by marriage, Lady Mary Manningham Buller, herself one of the daughters of William Davenport of Maer Hall. This illustrates the personal connection between employers which could facilitate opportunities of new employment for their staff.

The two letters here slightly contradict each other, as Coe has said he had to leave Dilhorne because his employers found him too short as first footman, but Lady Manningham Buller states that he was leaving of his own accord. A reference from the previous employer also mentioned is found to be only faintly informative.


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