Thursday, March 12, 2020

What did George Washington look for in a woman Servant?

...When Mrs. Washington's ill health necessitated his engaging in 1797 a housekeeper, he made the following minute & anxious inquiries of Bushrod Washington at Richmond concerning a certain Mrs. Forbes:

"What countrywoman is she?

"Whether Widow or Wife? if the latter

"Where her husband is?

"What family she has?

"What age she is?

"Of what temper?

"Whether active & spirited in the execution of her business?

"Whether sober & honest?

"Whether much knowledge in Cookery, & understands ordering & setting out a Table?

"What her appearance is?

"With other matters which may occur to you to ask,--and necessary for me to know.

"Mrs. Forbes will have a warm, decent & comfortable room to herself, to lodge in, & will eat of the victuals of our Table, but not set at it, at any time with us, be her appearance what it may, for if this was once admitted, no line satisfactory to either party, perhaps, could be drawn thereafter.--It might be well for me to know however whether this was admitted at Govr. Brookes or not."

Text excerpted from the book George Washington: Farmer  by Paul Leland Haworth (1876-1936) Ch 12  Slaves