The Footman 

The footman at Passford House was Henry Smith. We know nothing of his physical attributes but, generally speaking, servants were promoted to be footmen on account of their height and their well-turned calves. Smith’s livery would have been the clothing discarded by fashionable gentlemen in the previous century – knee breeches, silk stockings, embroidered coat with shoulder knots, and a powdered wig. When out of doors, accompanying Lady Arthur on Lymington shopping trips, he would also have worn a top hat and walked a respectful three yards behind, carrying her purchases. Unlike other members of the staff, he would have been addressed by his Christian name. The most usual names for footmen were Charles, James, John and John Thomas. There were some elevated establishments in which the first footman was always called Charles, the second James and the third John. If this made for simplicity above stairs, it could cause confusion below, especially if James’s real name was John and John’s real name was James. Neither master nor servant seems to have found anything odd in a system which decreed that a man could not even call his name his own.

Whatever he was called upstairs, Henry Smith would have had numerous duties. He would have turned napkins into mitres. He lit lamps and he carried coals. He rode as outrider on Lord Arthur’s carriage to protect it from robbery and from impecunious street urchins seeking to board. He bore messages to his employer’s friends. Under the watchful supervision of the butler he laid the dinner table and afterwards filled the urn from which the late evening tea was served. If there were any strenuous or unpleasant chores they invariably fell to the lot of the footman.

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