12. The Work of a Farmservant (Welsh audio)

Felin Newydd, Ceredigion
A woman milking outdoors on a farm in Felin Newydd, Ceredigion, in the 1900s.

Well, if you were in a place with two maids - well, the senior maid would look after the men, as they say. Baking, looking after their beds outside. Washing their bedclothes and milking and making sure the calves had milk. And making sure the other maid helped her and making sure that every calf had milk and drank it. It wouldn't do to leave it with none or the calf would get weak, wouldn't it? And the pigs. But it was often the lad who did the pigs. Often. More often than the maid.

But the senior maid was the highest in rank?

The senior maid was the eldest. And then she would look after the milk, you know. The milk had to be churned to make butter. Then the senior maid would look after that.

Yes. I see.

Then the kitchen maid would do what I've already said. And then she would look after - and then she would help to wash things from the house when washing day came. And watched that things - set the table. And set the table for tea. Breakfast, dinner and tea and everything like that. And she would be around if anything was needed, you had to be there.

But -

You had to drop whatever you were doing if the Mistress called. You had to be there to answer. And do what she wanted, and go back to your work afterwards. You had to or - ...

(Mr Davies:) The kitchen maid started work at five o'clock in the morning. To make breakfast by six for a crew of us. And then she finished. She'd leave work and go to bed.

Would she work all day without stopping?

(Mr Davies:) Then you can't give such a girl a better name than a slave can you?


Mrs Mary Davies, Gwalchmai, Anglesey. Born 1894.

MWL archive no.: 4109. Recorded 1974.