Description: This thesis serves to highlight the significance of food and diet in the servant problem narrative of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Britain and the role of food in master-servant relationships as a source of conflict. The study also shows how attitudes towards servant labor, wages, and perquisites resulted in food-related theft. Employers customarily provided regular meals, food, drink, or board wages and tea money to their domestic servants in addition to an annual salary, yet food and meals often resulted in contention as evidenced by contemporary criticism and increased calls for legislative wage regulation. Differing expectations of wage components, including food and other perquisites, resulted in ongoing conflict between masters and servants. Existing historical scholarship on the relationship between British domestic servants and their masters or mistresses in context of the servant problem often tends to place focus on themes of gender and sexuality. Considering the role of food as a fundamental necessity in the lives of servants provides a new approach to understanding the servant problem and reveals sources of mistrust and resentment in the master-servant relationship.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Weiss, Victoria A