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Butler Butler


A butler is a person who works in a house serving and is a domestic worker in a large household. In great houses, the household is sometimes divided into departments with the butler in charge of the dining room, wine cellar, and pantry. Some also have charge of the entire parlour floor, and housekeepers caring for the entire house and its appearance.[1] A butler is usually male, and in charge of male servants, while a housekeeper is usually a woman, and in charge of female servants. Traditionally, male servants (such as footmen) were better paid and of higher status than female servants. The butler, as the senior male servant, has the highest servant status. He can also sometimes function as a chauffeur.




Butler Butler


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In older houses where the butler is the most senior worker, titles such as majordomo, butler administrator, house manager, manservant, staff manager, chief of staff, staff captain, estate manager, and head of household staff are sometimes given. The precise duties of the employee will vary to some extent in line with the title given, but perhaps, more importantly in line with the requirements of the individual employer. In the grandest homes or when the employer owns more than one residence, there is sometimes an estate manager of higher rank than the butler. The butler can also be assisted by a head footman or footboy called the under-butler.[2]


The word "butler" comes from Anglo-Norman buteler, variant form of Old Norman *butelier, corresponding to Old French botellier "officer in charge of the king's wine bottles", derived of boteille "bottle" (Modern French bouteille), itself from Gallo-Romance BUTICULA "bottle". For centuries, the butler has been the attendant entrusted with the care and serving of wine and other bottled beverages, which in ancient times might have represented a considerable portion of the household's assets and led to the position becoming chief steward of a household.


In Britain, the butler was originally a middle-ranking member of the staff of a grand household. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the butler gradually became the senior, usually male, member of a household's staff in the very grandest households. However, there was sometimes a steward who ran the outside estate and financial affairs, rather than just the household, and who was senior to the butler in social status into the 19th century. Butlers used always to be attired in a special uniform, distinct from the livery of junior servants, but today a butler is more likely to wear a business suit or business casual clothing and appear in uniform only on special occasions.


A silverman or silver butler has expertise and professional knowledge of the management, secure storage, use and cleaning of all silverware, associated tableware and other paraphernalia for use at military and other special functions.


The biblical book of Genesis contains a reference to a role precursive to modern butlers. The early Hebrew Joseph interpreted a dream of Pharaoh's שקה (shaqah) (literally "to give to drink"), which is most often translated into English as "chief butler" or "chief cup-bearer."[3]


In ancient Greece and Rome, it was nearly always slaves who were charged with the care and service of wine, while during the Medieval Era the pincerna filled the role within the noble court. The English word "butler" itself comes from the Middle English word bo(u)teler (and several other forms), from Anglo-Norman buteler, itself from Old Norman butelier, corresponding to Old French botellier ("bottle bearer"), Modern French bouteiller, and before that from Medieval Latin butticula. The modern English "butler" thus relates both to bottles and casks.


Eventually the European butler emerged as a middle-ranking member of the servants of a great house, in charge of the buttery (originally a storeroom for "butts" of liquor, although the term later came to mean a general storeroom or pantry).[4] While this is so for household butlers, those with the same title but in service to the Crown enjoyed a position of administrative power and were only minimally involved with various stores.


The Steward of the Elizabethan era was more akin to the butler that later emerged.[5] Gradually, throughout the 19th century and particularly the Victorian era, as the number of butlers and other domestic servants greatly increased in various countries, the butler became a senior male servant of a household's staff. By this time he was in charge of the more modern wine cellar, the "buttery" or pantry (from French pain from Latin panis, bread) as it came to be called, which supplied bread, butter, cheese, and other basic provisions, and the ewery, which contained napkins and basins for washing and shaving.[6] In the very grandest households there was sometimes an Estate Steward or other senior steward who oversaw the butler and his duties.[7] Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, a manual published in Britain in 1861, reported:


The number of the male domestics in a family varies according to the wealth and position of the master, from the owner of the ducal mansion, with a retinue of attendants, at the head of which is the chamberlain and house-steward, to the occupier of the humbler house, where a single footman, or even the odd man-of-all-work, is the only male retainer. The majority of gentlemen's establishments probably comprise a servant out of livery, or butler, a footman, and coachman, or coachman and groom, where the horses exceed two or three.[7]


From the beginning of slavery in the United States, in the early 17th century, African Americans were put to task as domestic servants. Some eventually became butlers. Gary Puckrein, a social historian, argues that those used in particularly affluent homes authentically internalised the sorts of "refined" norms and personal attributes that would reflect highly upon the social stature of their masters or mistresses. One of the first books written and published through a commercial U.S. publisher by an African American was by a butler named Robert Roberts. The book, The House Servant's Directory,[10] first published in 1827, is essentially a manual for butlers and waiters, and is called by Puckrein "the most remarkable book by an African American in antebellum United States". The book generated such interest that a second edition was published in 1828, and a third in 1843.[11]


European indentured servants formed a corps of domestic workers from which butlers were eventually drawn. Although not the victims of institutionalised slavery, many of them had not volunteered for domestic service, but were forced into it by indebtedness or coercion. As with African American slaves, they could rise in domestic service, and their happiness or misery depended greatly on the disposition of their masters.


Beginning around the early 1920s (following World War I), employment in domestic service occupations began a sharp overall decline in western European countries, and even more markedly in the United States. Even so, there were still around 30,000 butlers employed in Britain by World War II. As few as one hundred were estimated to remain by the mid-1980s.[12] Social historian Barry Higman argues that a high number of domestic workers within a society correlates with a high level of socio-economic inequality. Conversely, as a society undergoes levelling among its social classes, the number employed in domestic service declines.[13]


Following varied shifts and changes accompanying accelerated globalisation beginning in the late 1980s, overall global demand for butlers since the turn of the millennium has risen dramatically. According to Charles MacPherson, President of Charles MacPherson Associates and owner of The Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers, the proximate cause is that the number of millionaires and billionaires has increased in recent years, and such people are finding that they desire assistance in managing their households. MacPherson emphasises that the number of wealthy people in China has increased particularly, creating in that country a high demand for professional butlers who have been trained in the European butlering tradition.[14][15] There is also increasing demand for such butlers in other Asian countries, India, and the petroleum-rich Middle East.[16][17]


Along with these changes of scope and context, butlering attire has changed. Whereas butlers have traditionally worn a special uniform that separated them from junior servants, and although this is still often the case, butlers today may wear more casual clothing geared for climate, while exchanging it for formal business attire only upon special service occasions. There are cultural distinctions, as well. In the United States, butlers may frequently don a polo shirt and slacks, while in Bali they typically wear sarongs.[24]


Butlers traditionally learned their position while progressing their way up the service ladder. For example, in the documentary The Authenticity of Gosford Park, retired butler Arthur Inch (born 1915) describes starting as a hall boy.[27] While this is still often the case, numerous private butlering schools exist today. Additionally, major up-market hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton offer traditional butler training, while some hotels have trained a sort of pseudo-butler for service in defined areas such as "technology butlers", who fix guests' computers and other electronic devices, and "bath butlers" who draw custom baths.[28]


Butlers have traditionally been male, and this remains the norm. Probably the first mention of a female butler is in the 1892 book Interludes being Two Essays, a Story, and Some Verses by Horace Smith. In it Smith quotes the noted writer and Anglican clergyman Sydney Smith, who between 1809 and 1829 struggled to make ends meet in a poorly paid assignment to a rural parish in Yorkshire: 041b061a72


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