Recently, when looking for something completely different (!), I found a copy of The Complete Man and Maid Servant:  Containing Plain and Easy Instructions for Servants of Both Sexes.

Man and maid servant

This little book from 1764 is a fascinating view of servant life in the mid-eighteenth century.  It contains several tables which “every Yearly Servant may be able to find their just Due of Wages to one Farthing, for any Number of Guineas, and for any Number of Days they shall serve in a Year.”

However, it is the instructions to trainee staff members which are truly interesting.  One such section is devoted to the training of a Chambermaid.

“The Chambermaid’s first consideration must be to attend properly to the care and management of their mistress’s cloaths, for it is always uncertain at what time she may want them, so it is absolutely necessary they should be ever in readiness.

Let your respective cloaths, either for dress or undress, be always deposited in their different departments, so that if you should be hastily called upon for either, it will be convenient to you, and more pleasing to your mistress.  Be particularly careful to preserve your linen clean and nice, and be sure to let it be well aired before it is used.

When your mistress has undressed, examine all her cloaths with great niceness, and if you discover any spots on them, let them be immediately taken out.  After which fold them up carefully, and put them in their respective places.

That the Chambermaid may be thoroughly compleat in the execution of her character, we shall here add a number of useful receipts, which, if properly attended to, must infallibly gain her the esteem of her mistress, as well as a perpetual satisfaction to herself.

To take Spots out of Silk

TAKE a piece of chalk, and scrape it very fine, lay some of it on the spot, and rub it gently, and you will soon find it disappear.  But the mist effectual application is spirit of Turpentine;  for this, be the spots ever so numerous, will infallibly take them out.  If the first time don’t entirely do it, the second will.

To take Spots out of Linen

TAKE some juice of sorrel, heat it well over the fire, and dip the parts affected into it, rub it gently and it will take the spots out.  If it is summer-time, and the sun very powerful, soap the places where the spots are, and hang it in the sun, and when it is dry, the sports will be gone.  Or, rub some salt and vinegar well on them, after which squeeze it well out, and then let it dry gently by the fire.  If your linen be stained with paint, rub some butter over the spots, hang it in the sun to dry, then wash it well, and it will all come out.

To take Spots out of Stuffs, or Cloth

TAKE some of the clearest and whitest fuller’s earth you can meet with, let it be well dried by the fire, after which point it in a mortar till it is very fine, then mix some spirits of turpentine with it, and form it into round balls, which you may keep by you to use as occasion shall require.  Take a piece of one of these balls, put it into a cup or pan, mix a little boiling water with it, and lay it on the parts that are spotted,  When it is dry, rub it with a little hard brush, and when you find the spots are out, take a clean but of cloth, and rub it gently till you have taken out the fuller’s earth also.

The same method applied to woollen cloth will have the same effect.


To clean Silks of all Sorts,

AFTER you have thoroughly taken out the sports take about a peck of bran, dry it well by the fire, then spread your cloaths on a convenient place, and rub them well with the bran while it is warm, after which shake it well off, and rub them with a piece of clean soft, dry cloth.

If you silks be flowered, take a crumb of a stale three-penny loaf, mix it about a quarter of an ounce of powder blue, crumble them well together, rub it gently over the silk with your hands, and then with a piece of clean cloth as for plain silks.

To take Spots out of Crimson Velvet

TAKE some very strong aqua vitae, and rub it well on the parts where the spots are;  then take the white of a new-laid egg, spread it over the aqua vitae, and put it in the sun to dry.  When this is done wash it in clean water, and wring it thoroughly dry;  you need not be afraid as it will not do any detriment to the colour.

To take the Spots out of Cloth in Grain

TAKE of Roch-allum water, tartar of tonnes, and white soap, about three ounces each, and make them into a fine powder.  Put the allum water into a earthen pipkin on the fire, and when it begins to simmer, take two ox galls, and stir them in with a stick, and by degrees the powders.  Let it boil till it is reduced to about one third, and then wash the spots with it three or four times, drying it between each;  after which wash it in clean water, and the spots will be entirely eradicated.

Dress 1760

To take Spots out of Scarlet

TAKE the juice of the herb called laneria (which you may get at any apothecary’s) and lay it on the spot;  let it remain thereon about three hours, and then wash it in warm water.  If the first time don’t do, repeat it, and add to the juice a little soap, and it will effectually take it out.

To take out Grease or Oily Spots

TAKE a quart of clear soft water, about four ounces of Alumen Fecis burnt, two scruples of camphire, and the gall of an ox;  mix all together, put it into pan or pipkin over a slow fire, and let it simmer till it is reduced to about the quantity, then strain it, and use it when it is about luke warm.  Wet the cloth on both sides where the spots are, then wash them with cold water, and the spots will disappear.

An excellent Compound to take out all Sorts of Spots from Cloth

TAKE six quarts of strong lye, a pound and half of white soap, a pound of fenugreek, and the gall of an ox;  mix all together, and put them on a slow fire.  Let it boil till it is half wasted, then strain it, wash the spots well with it, and when it is dry, the spots will be entirely gone.  You may also wash stuffs with this composition, only the quantity of lye must be double.

To take Spots of Ink or Wine out of Cloth, or Linen

TAKE the juice of lemons and rub it well on the spots, and when it is dry, wash it in warm water.  Repeat this a second time, and the spots will disappear.  If it is linen, out some boiling water into a pewter pot, take that part that has the spot, and hold it tight round the pot, then rub it hard with lemon juice, and it will take the spot quite out.

Tao take out all Sorts of Spots or Stains from the Hands, &c

TAKE a small quantity of bay salt, mix it with some lemon juice, wash the parts that are stained, and let them dry gradually.  Repeat it some time after, and the stains will be quite gone.

To take Iron-moulds out of Linen

TAKE the juice of a lemon, warm it with a little powder of allum dissolved in it, then wet it, and as it is wet dry it with a spoon herein is a live coal, and so continue to do for the space of two hours, and the spot or iron-mould in once or twice washing will disappear,  This will also take out spots of ink, fruit &c.

Another Receipt

TAKE some sorrel, bruise it well in a mortar, squeeze it through a cloth, bottle it, and keep it for use.  Take a little of the above juice in a tin sauce-pan, and boil it over a lamp; as it boils dip the iron-mould into it;  don’t rub but only squeeze it.  When you find the iron-mould is out, throw it into cold water.”

There are many more ‘receipts’ and over the coming weeks I will transcribe them.

Source:  The complete man and maid servant: containing, plain and easy instructions for servants of both sexes, To qualify themselves for Places in general, in order to obtain the Favour of their Masters and Mistresses in the Discharge of their several Stations; but more particularly for the Places of Valet de Chambre, Shopman, Apprentice, Gardener, Footman, Farmer’s Man, Groom, House-Keeper, Lady’s Maid, House Maid, Chamber Maid, Cook Maid, Dairy Maid, Laundry Maid, Nursery Maid, Scullery Maid. Together with Marketing and other useful Tables for casting up Wages for any yearly Sum, and from one Day to one Year. The Whole containing great Variety of curious, useful, instructive, and important Articles, for the Use and Benefit of Servants in general, never before published. London,  [1764]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. The Open University. 5 July 2014