Saturday, 2 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee weekend...

For our non-UK readers, this weekend marks the official celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee as 60 years as, amongst other things, the constitutional monarch of 16 independent Commonwealth countries and the British Crown Dependencies; head of the Commonwealth of 54 nations; Defender of the Faith (although when this title was bestowed upon Henry VIII, it was by the Pope as defender of the Roman Catholic Faith); and head of the Established Church of England.

To coincide with the Jubilee, the Royal Archives has released the papers documenting the names of people who were employed by the royal household from 1660 to 1901 (Royal Household Index series 1660-1901). These are available on

There are no Fitz-Henrys or Fitzhenrys mentioned, but there are two Fitzharrises: Ann Fitzharris and Judith Fitzharris. Both are mentioned in Establishment Book 13 **.

Each received a pension from the royal estate.

Ann was granted £50 from 1702. What she did in the household is not recorded. This was the year that Queen Anne (1702-1714) came to the throne. So this may indicate that Ann was a servant of Anne's predecessor William III (William of Orange), and was being "let go" with a change in the monarch who would have already had an established household.

Judith received a pension of £20 from 1704. Again, her role is not recorded.

What was this worth to these women? This excellent article at the Old Bailey's website explains that a female house servant would only be earning £2 or £3 a year at this time, and a skilled housekeeper would be earning in the region of £15 p.a. so this indicates that both these women were not just ordinary house servants.
This website is unreferenced*** , but states that you could buy 1400 acres of farm land in North Carolina for about 50 pounds around 1700.

I don't know whether these two women were related, which of the royal houses they worked at, or any more details about their lives. All information gratefully received!

**Royal Archives, Establishment Book of the Royal Household vol 13, RA/EB/EB/13

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