The gathering storm was ominous in the days when a feeble old French woman lay dying within the dull, pastel walls of a welfare ward. The winds from the hurricane that had devastated Rhode Island were now bringing misery to New York. But in her weakened state, barely able to breathe, the murky confusion of wind and torrential rain seemed of no consequence. She had no money left and no relatives even lived on the same side of the Atlantic Ocean. Only one or two friends could even be expected to visit in the last of her days on earth. By the time the blue skies returned and the first cool breezes of autumn blew over the skyscrapers of Manhattan, preparations were made to give her a pauper's burial.
There had been another time a generation earlier when Rosalie Bidois lived in different circumstances. There had been another day in which her name was respected by the foremost families of New York. There had been a night in which her name became etched in one of history's pre-eminent dramas, associated forever with wealth and high society.
In the early 1860's Pierre Bidois of Normandy, France and his young bride, Rosalie Martillet, moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands. Rosalie, their first child, was born there on May 10, 1865. Three sons and another daughter, Augustine Marie, would follow. Rosalie was an attractive young girl while Augustine was plain. When the girls reached maturity, both went to London seeking work as domestics. Gaining considerable respect from their employers, the sisters decided to become even more adventurous. Leaving behind all that was familiar to them, they traveled to Southampton, England and boarded the CEDRIC in the autumn of 1900. They traveled with letters of introduction from British employers and had no trouble finding employment upon their arrival in New York on October 23rd of that year. While Augustine would be a respected employee in her own right, it was Rosalie's name that would become known among the most prominent families. Sought after, recommended, and prized, Rosalie would find herself in the service of very wealthy and important New Yorkers. After only a decade, the 36 year old French spinster from Jersey found herself employed as the personal maid of the new Mrs. John Jacob Astor, IV, surrounded by all the splendor associated with the name. And in early 1912 she prepared to accompany the Astors on the trip of a lifetime to Egypt. After several months of touring and seeing the wonders of the world with her own eyes, Rosalie was enthralled with the prospect of traveling back to New York on the most luxurious ocean liner in all the world.
In mid-April of 1912, in the mansions of Manhattan, sleepy-eyed matrons would awaken to the news that Titanic had foundered. Adding to the shock was the apparent death of J. J. Astor. In the chaos of information and misinformation that followed, the anxious friends and relatives of Madeleine Astor found some solace. People with the eminent names of Lorillard and Stickney engaged in conversation after conversation agreeing that if Miss Bidois had survived, Madeleine's well-being was assured. Rosalie had been recommended to the Astors by A. J. Dickinson, head of an elite Fifth Avenue employment agency that catered to the needs of the ultra wealthy. In an article appearing in the Guernsey Evening Press after the sinking Mr. Dickinson stated:
Just as soon as I heard that Rosalie was saved with Mrs. Astor, I knew the Colonel's bride was in safe hands. I would rather have that little Frenchwoman beside me in an emergency than many a man. I don't believe she ever lost her head in her life. Most French maids are flibbety-jibbety creatures, with brains that don't go much further than a knowledge how to lay out an evening gown and how to dress her mistress's hair, but that isn't Rosalie's sort. It is my belief that Rosalie did more to help rescue Mrs. Astor than anybody knows now. From the first she must have been at Mrs. Astor's side. Probably Mrs. Astor was wearing an evening gown - of course she would have had to dress for dinner on a boat like Titanic. They said she had on only a raincoat, but I doubt that. If Rosalie had time to get anything at all for her mistress, it can be depended on that she found the warmest coat obtainable and the clothing best suited to such an emergency. Miss Bidois has been in America about 10 years. Practically the whole time she has been in the service of wealthy women.
The master and the man went down; the mistress and the maid were saved - a striking commentary on the democratic rule that puts the salaried maid above the millionaire master and the millionaire mistress above the wage earning valet.
Following the Titanic disaster, Rosalie's life becomes somewhat nebulous until the mid 1920's. It is known that she continued to work as a domestic and she and her sister spent as much time together as possible. Both were hard workers and loyal to their mistresses in Manhattan and they frequently enjoyed the company of others in New York's French community. But neither had married, their parents were dead, and their brothers had remained in England. They often visited one another and attended Catholic services together and were intensely devoted to one another.
In late 1924, after 24 years in the United States, Rosalie filed a Declaration of Intent to become a citizen. She described herself as a "ladie's maid," 59 years old with a ruddy complexion, gray hair, brown eyes, 137 pounds and 5 feet, 3 inches tall. She was naturalized in Manhattan on December 5, 1927.
Shortly before Rosalie was naturalized, tragedy struck when 52 year old Augustine Marie Bidois was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her death on April 27, 1926 left Rosalie bereaved and without family in America. She bought a single gravesite in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bronx and Augustine was buried there. Rosalie and her brothers, Eldert, Alfred, and Jules, shared in the small estate, valued at only $800.00. After this great loss, Rosalie spent time with friends in New York's French community whenever possible, but the sense of Augustine's absence was profound. Although she had always been considered a good-looking woman, she had never found love and marriage. And now she was getting old and feeling very much alone.
* * *
When the vessel LaTouraine arrived in New York City from Bordeaux, France on January 6, 1916, it brought a dapper Frenchman named Francois Courtinade. He had been born in L'Isle Jourdain, France on April 6, 1874 and had married Louise Masbatin on August 19, 1914. In New York he worked as a cigarette manufacturer for Milan Pichler in the Bronx. Louise Courtinade was a domestic and the couple had a happy, though childless marriage. Mrs. Courtinade suffered from rheumatic heart disease and she died at the couple's apartment at 215 East 55th in Manhattan on May 1, 1928. She was 48 and left only a brother in Limoges, France.
Rosalie Bidois was a 66-year old spinster when she was introduced to the still dapper Francois Courtinade in the latter part of 1931. He was 9 years her junior with dark hair and a full moustache. He had a reputation of being something of a lady's man and Rosalie was flattered that this younger Frenchman seemed to be paying attention to her. Their unlikely courtship would lead to marriage on February 6, 1932 at the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Manhattan. The marriage ceremony was followed by a large dinner given in their honor and many friends from the French community were in attendance. For Rosalie life had reached an apogee, a delirious time in which she could thrill in the knowledge that all events of her past had led upward to this time. Looking forward to the years of wedded bliss, she moved into the apartment on East 55th that Francois had shared with his first wife.
But in the giddy, school-girlish pleasure of those days, Rosalie wouldn't realize that if all events of her 66 years had led to an apogee, there would necessarily come a falling away from it. On September 22, 1932, after just seven months of marriage, Rosalie came home from work unexpectedly and caught Francois in the act of adultery with a woman she had never seen before. Friends sympathetically informed her that this sort of thing had been going on since shortly after her marriage and that other women were involved as well. Four days later Rosalie filed for absolute divorce, citing adultery.
The quality of Rosalie's life would only deteriorate after her separation from Francois. She was approaching 70 and had developed arteriosclerosis and was also suffering from diabetes. Unable to continue working, and facing mounting medical bills, life offered little to look forward to. She continued to encounter Francois from time to time, and for unknown reasons the divorce would never be finalized. But there would not be a reconciliation. In 1940 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States but disappeared after World War II, perhaps returning to spend his final days in France.
On August 23, 1938 Rosalie was admitted to Metropolitan Hospital, Welfare Island, in Manhattan as a charity patient. Her diabetes and arteriosclerosis had rendered her helpless and she required constant care. The empty time spent lying in a drab and sparsely furnished hospital ward was a far cry from her days among the Lorillards and Astors. In mid-September she developed lobar pneumonia and died alone in the wee hours of September 24, 1938 at the age of 73. Her body was taken to Walter B. Cooke Funeral Home but when no one came forward to assume responsibility for funeral expenses, the body was prepared for a pauper's burial in the City Cemetery of New York. At the last minute, someone among her friends remembered that Rosalie's sister had been buried in St. Raymond's Cemetery and suggested that her body should be taken there and placed in the grave with Augustine. There the two sisters came together again for eternity. Today a stone marks the site but no inscription appears on it.
Rosalie Bidois had given her best years to the wealthiest families of Manhattan. The newspapers of April 1912 spoke of the enormous respect her employers held for her and they rejoiced that she was aboard the Carpathia to care for Madeleine Astor in her time of greatest need. But none of them would be there for Rosalie in her final days. Perhaps none of them even remembered her name.
Today this role is still sought after and Marshall Harber have placed many successful lady's maids. The role can encompass so much more, for example a lady's maid can take care of the male and female wardrobes of the house.What is the male version of a lady's maid? ›
The masculine gender of a maid is the Manservant.What do servants call their female masters? ›
The Master and Mistress of the House should be addressed as "Sir" and "My Lady" respectively.How much do rich people pay maids? ›
She notes that a housekeeper for a zillionaire may earn up to $60,000 a year (the industry median salary is less than $20,000), but a “lady's maid” can take in $75,000. Full-time butlers can earn $70,000 a year, and some who travel around with a family on yachts or private jets could earn as much as $200,000 a year.Do personal valets still exist? ›
Valets, like butlers and most specialized domestic staff, have become relatively rare. A more common, though still infrequent, arrangement is the general servant performing combined roles.Where is maid Alex now? ›
The ending of Maid (opens in new tab) shows Land's fictional avatar Alex moving to Missoula, Montana, to study creative writing in college. In real-life, Land also attended college while continuing to clean houses and take care of her kid, Story.What is a female butler called? ›
A butler is usually male and in charge of male servants while a housekeeper is usually a woman and in charge of female servants.What is a male cleaner called? ›
A male maid is called a 'manservant'.What are male servants called? ›
manservant. / (ˈmænˌsɜːvənt) / noun plural menservants. a male servant, esp a valet.What did ladies maids wear? ›
No uniform was worn (unlike the lower servants), but simple, clean and neat attire was expected. The lady's maid was the female equivalent of the valet – who was the manservant to the gentleman of the house.
Such loyalty and long-standing employment between a lady's maid and the lady of the house was common. The early 20th century started to see a decline in the use of a lady's maid though the contrast of the lives of the staff and family on these estates still intrigues.What are the duties of a lady's maid? ›
A Lady's Maid is a female valet who attends to the needs of the lady of the house. Lady's maid duties range from helping with dressing, make up and hair care to maintaining fine clothing, shoes, while keeping her room and study in perfect order.Do maids make the bed? ›
For the most part, your house cleaner will take care of weekly and bi-weekly chores. Daily tasks, including making the bed, will be left to the homeowner.Where do maids make the most money? ›
The highest-paid state for housekeepers is Alaska with an average salary of $39,946 per year. What city pays housekeepers the most? Dallas, TX pays housekeepers the most with an average salary of $35,762 per year.What is the average tip for maids? ›
Typical tip amounts for residential maid service are comparable to standard tip amounts in the restaurant business and other service industries, so 15 to 20 percent.Do royals still have ladies maids? ›
Technically, they're still known as Ladies of the Bedchamber, but the role has changed quite a bit since Middle Ages-era royals started calling on their subjects to tend to their bedroom-related needs. (Though they still choose only the best, which is to say mainly aristocrats.)Why doesn t Lady Edith have a maid? ›
In the movie, Bertie says they don't have servants with them (the inference being a valet and lady's maid who would normally travel with them) when they go to DA because they are "modern folk".Do rich families have butlers? ›
Besides using placement agencies, some wealthy families require butlers and other key household staff to take personality tests, she says. To land a new assignment, many butlers work with placement firms. Many become butlers after they outgrow another job as a personal chef or a nanny, Feigon says.How much did Stephanie Land get paid for Maid? ›
“They offered to fictionalize the story and I really appreciate that because my story is tightly focused on me,” says Land, whose memoir focuses on two years during which she worked as a housecleaner, earning $9 an hour.What happened with Alex and her dad in Maid? ›
In the series, Alex doesn't want to accept help from her father because a) they are semi-estranged, and b) she eventually remembers that he abused her mother — but in reality, Land's father was struggling himself after the housing crash and couldn't afford to feed two more people.
The Netflix miniseries is a grueling look at the struggles of protagonist Alex (Margaret Qualley), a young mother with few resources trying desperately to exit a toxic, abusive relationship with her boyfriend Sean (Nick Robinson), with whom she has a preschool-age daughter, Maddy (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet).Can a butler marry? ›
Employers generally prefer their butlers to be single. It is felt that butlers with wives can be torn between their loyalties towards their families and their master. A butler without any family commitments of his own is therefore able to devote himself entirely to the needs of the family he serves.Do butlers cook for you? ›
Whether you have an extensive manor or an average home, a butler or maid will have the same individual tasks, regardless of setting. In any home atmosphere, a butler is seen as a manservant of the household, while the maid is responsible for domestic matters such as cooking, cleaning, and washing.What is a modern day butler called? ›
Having said that, the role of the butler has developed and changed so much over the years, that many are now called 'House Managers' or even carry the title of 'Estate Manager', even though they might still do some of the more traditional Butler tasks, too.Do janitors clean toilets? ›
Many janitors and cleaning services start with the urinals and toilets first and then work their way out to the sinks.What are janitors called in a hospital? ›
A hospital janitor, also known as a hospital custodian, performs sanitation and maintenance duties at a hospital or medical care building.What do cleaning ladies like to be called? ›
A maid, or housemaid or maidservant, is a female person employed in domestic service.What is a servant girl called? ›
noun. Definition of maidservant. as in housekeeper. a female domestic servant a large estate that once had many maidservants.What do servants call a queen? ›
For the Queen, the correct form of address is 'Your Majesty' at first, then 'Ma'am', after that. Similarly, for other members of the Royal Family, it is 'Your Royal Highness' at first and then 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' after that.What are modern day servants called? ›
A domestic worker or domestic servant is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional English contexts, such a person was said to be "in service".
It was often the structures beneath Victorian clothing that gave women's fashion its form. Corsets (also known as stays) moulded the waist, while cage crinolines supported voluminous skirts, and bustles projected a dress out from behind.Why did maids wear caps? ›
French maids wear symbols of Revolution on their heads.
The mob cap got its name because the lower-class women, who worked in kitchens, factories, and hospitals, generally anywhere it was important not to get their hair in their work, wore white hair-covering caps with a bit of a frill on them.
Example of a servant's bedroom. Author's collection. Under-servant Bedrooms: Male and female domestics had separate servant bedrooms for sleeping. Female domestics were usually provided with bedrooms either in the attic, uppermost story, or over servant offices, which were accessible by a back stairway.At what age does a woman become an old maid? ›
What age is an old maid? In the 17th century, a woman was considered an old maid if she remained unmarried and childless by the time she reached her mid-20s. However, today the word 'spinster' is more commonplace, and it is used to refer to women between the ages of 23 and 26.Were ladies maids allowed to be married? ›
Yes, ladies maids were allowed to marry, although the social rules and expectations of the time period in which they worked meant that they took great care to secure the approval of their employers before doing so.Are there still butlers in America? ›
Modern butlers are most often employed in the USA and the Middle East, and a large majority of those butlers are Swiss. The premier butler school is located in the Netherlands. The traditional butler may be thought of as a formal, British, male staff member; however, female butlers are gaining popularity.How do you deal with a maid? ›
Don't put too many restrictions
Try to treat your maid like family. Allow her some personal time as well so that her mood is better and she stays happy. Eg: You can allow her to go for a stroll in the park. You also have to make sure that this freedom is not excessive as this could lead to negligence in house chores.
Derived from the Hebrew for 'father rejoices', the first name Abigail has been used since the early 1600s in English as another word for a female attendant or lady's maid. Use of the name in this context derives directly from the Bible, wherein Abigail was the humble wife and self-proclaimed 'handmaid' of King David.How should a maid behave? ›
- Responsible. The maid should be responsible enough to do all the chores that were assigned to her so that you shouldn't feel that the money you pay her is worthless. ...
- Hardworking. House chores are not a simple task, and you hire a maid to support you with your schedule. ...
- Teachable. ...
: to remove all the sheets from a bed.
Guest aren't expected to strip the bed, but should you decide to, make sure to leave the comforter on a chair or in the closet, not on the floor. And don't ball the bed linens up with the blanket, keep them separate. Looking to book a trip?Is it helpful to strip beds at a hotel? ›
Stripping the sheets and pillows off of your bed isn't helpful unless you're checking out. A hotel's throw pillows can be tough to clean, so you should avoid sleeping on them.Do rich people still have maids? ›
Maids are not just for the rich! In fact, maid services offer a lot of benefits that people of all income levels can enjoy. Whether you have children or pets, maids can help keep your home clean and clutter-free. They can also take care of any other household chores — like laundry.How much is a maid paid in USA per month? ›
While ZipRecruiter is seeing monthly salaries as high as $3,583 and as low as $1,292, the majority of Maid salaries currently range between $2,333 (25th percentile) to $3,041 (75th percentile) across the United States.How much is a maid per hour in USA? ›
|Years of experience||Per hour|
|Less than 1 year||$13.55|
|1 to 2 years||-|
|3 to 5 years||$15.18|
|6 to 9 years||$15.69|
As a result, some guests might think there's no need to tip housekeepers. But even if you never opt for room cleaning during your stay, you should leave a tip on your departure day, as housekeeping staff will be coming in to clean up after you and disinfect the room before the next guests arrive.Is it rude not to tip hotel housekeeping? ›
You don't have to tip your hotel housekeeper, but these hardworking staff members are often forgotten when it comes to tipping, so the money can go a long way for them.How much is the Christmas bonus for housekeepers? ›
Suggested Amount or Gift: Up to the amount of one week's pay and/or a small gift.
A Lady's Maid is a female valet who attends to the needs of the lady of the house. Lady's maid duties range from helping with dressing, make up and hair care to maintaining fine clothing, shoes, while keeping her room and study in perfect order.Why doesn t lady Edith have a maid? ›
In the movie, Bertie says they don't have servants with them (the inference being a valet and lady's maid who would normally travel with them) when they go to DA because they are "modern folk".
The role is not typically paid, and it has been reported that Lady Hussey was not given a salary during her time in the position, instead serving the Queen out of loyalty. The Queen had at least five ladies in waiting during her reign, including Lady Hussey.Do royals wear bras? ›
Royal etiquette expert Myka Meier told Fabulous, "Underwear and bras are also considered private intimate wear, and for royals to put intimate apparel on display would simply not be done."Do the royals have wet nurses? ›
Life in the Royal Nursery
The reason was, that wetnurses were not to be distracted from their primary duty of providing care—and milk—to the infant prince or princess. Consequently, they probably hired wetnurses to provide that comfort and care for their own babies in their absence.
A lady's maid's specific duties included helping her mistress with her appearance, including make-up, hairdressing, clothing, jewellery, and shoes. A lady's maid would also remove stains from clothing; sew, mend, and alter garments as needed; bring her mistress breakfast in her room; and draw her mistress's bath.Do valets and ladies maids still exist? ›
Yes, they still exist. Although the position has evolved over the years, the role is the same in essence: looking after the lady of the house. A woman requiring a maid nowadays is someone with a busy lifestyle who needs a personal assistant and a little extra.Do maids wear maid outfits? ›
Most maids wear a company cleaner uniform. Those working for a hotel or hospital wear a hotel uniform while those working for a private cleaning company wear a company uniform. This attire is professional yet comfortable and unrestrictive to allow for all cleaning activities.Where did a lady's maid sleep? ›
Under-servant Bedrooms: Male and female domestics had separate servant bedrooms for sleeping. Female domestics were usually provided with bedrooms either in the attic, uppermost story, or over servant offices, which were accessible by a back stairway.Does Lord Grantham know Thomas is his son? ›
Lady Grantham poisons Lord Grantham (already nearly dead anyway after contracting a rare form of slow-acting rabies from Isis) and on his deathbed he acknowledges Thomas as his son. Thomas inherits the estate.Why did Edith give up Marigold? ›
Mrs. Drewe, initially unaware of who Marigold's birth mother is, strongly dislikes Edith and her frequent visits. It escalates when Mr. Drewe tells Edith to stay away from the child temporarily, which prompts Edith to remove Marigold from their care and flee to London.Why does Edith outrank Mary? ›
The Crawley line at Downton Abbey are earls. This is the next level of nobility, beneath dukes and marquesses. That is why Edith suddenly outranks her sister after marrying Bertie Pelham, who suddenly became the 7th Marquess of Hexham after his cousin died.