Story: Household services

The general servant

The general servant

A servant serves afternoon tea to Fred, Mary and Amy Barkas at 180 Salisbury Street, Christchurch, in April 1881. She is probably a ‘general servant’ – referred to as a ‘general’. The term implies she would be the only servant in the household. She would do all the housework, probably with help from her ‘mistress’, particularly with the cooking, because there was so much to do.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Frederick Barkas Collection
Reference: MS-Papers-2491-06-034

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jane Tolerton, 'Household services - Servants in the 19th century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 October 2021)

Story by Jane Tolerton, published 11 Mar 2010