Tracing Your Servant Ancestors by Michelle Higgs

The lives of Victorian servants

Did you know that female servants usually had to pay for their own clothing, and that their employers could dictate their style of dress and hairstyle? Or that footmen were paid more if they were a specified height or had good calves?

You can find out more about daily life for Victorian servants in this new book. It describes the servants' world, and the conditions they lived and worked in, together with detailed information about the employers; the social hierarchy within the servant class; and the recruitment, training and responsibilities of servants. It also includes a comprehensive guide to the sources that can be used to trace servant ancestors.

Well illustrated with 40 images, this book is ideal for anyone with a servant in their family tree. It will also appeal to anyone interested in delving into Victorian social history.

'In a Servants' Hall: At Dinner' ('Servant London' in Living London, 1902)



'This book is well researched and contains many points of interest for those wishing to learn more about servant life in general.

...the author nobly compensates for the lack of specific sources by offering an enjoyable and well-written social history, helpfully revealing more about what life would have been like for your kin 'below stairs'.'

Who Do You Think You Are?, October 2012

Carte de visite of Alice White, housemaid, 1 October 1892

'Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs show how the lives of the ordinary folk 'below stairs' are just as interesting as those of the wealthy house owners. The fact that 1.3 million domestic servants appear in the 1911 census also reveals it's much more likely that these are the people we will find in our family trees.

Here Michelle Higgs, who has numerous social history books to her name, turns her expertise to the sources available for researching people in service.'

Your Family Tree, October 2012

'The Service Franchise' (Punch, 15 March 1884)





'Read this book for an introduction to the history of servants, an overview of the world of servants and their duties, information about how to trace servant ancestors, and a comprehensive account of the available sources.'


Your Family History, August 2012