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Master's Instructions Women For Hired Servant of 1814 Acquired by Widener Library From Heirs of John Pratt

Caretaker of Three-Story House Is Required to Have Abundance of Virtue


"Expect no character when you go away unless I choose to give it. . . If you refer to me the bad will come out," said John Pratt to his hired man in 1814, in a list of instructions which has been acquired by Widener Library.

The original instructions were written in 1814 for an employee of Pratt, Boston merchant, ship owner, and grandfather of the late Josiah Parsons Cooke, professor of Chemistry. Mr. Pratt captained his own ships for years in trade routes between Boston and the West Indies.

In 1814 he moved into a large three-story house, known as "Harris' Folly," at Pearl and High Streets, and lived there until his death in 1838. The name of the man whom Dr. Pratt employed to do the work in the house is unknown.

The "Mem. of Items for a man to do who lives with John Pratt," is as follows:

Do not go out without asking leave which will not be granted.

See which way the wind blows.

Go to bed when I do, but see that you get up early.

Be temperate--Keep no bad company, go to church, be civil, tell the truth and use no bad language.

Keep a good fire while I am sleeping after dinner.

Fruit Warder

See that the boys don't climb over and steal the fruit.

Clean brasses--Go and come when bell rings.

Clean and rub furniture--Take in and pile wood.

Split wood for oven--Split wood for kindling fires.

Make fires--bring in wood from wood house for use as it is wanted and chips.

Bring in water from pump in yard--Bring in water from cistern.

Jos the pump every time you go for water in the yard.--Trim all the lamps.

Bring down blinds, wash and hang them.

Unhang blinds and carry them upstairs and pile them in good order.

Clean and sweep and wash front steps

Night Owl

Do not be out nights after 9 o'clock if I ever let you go out.

and side walls.

Shovel show and level it in street before the gate.

Shovel snow in yard for hanging out clothes to dry.

Put up clothes line to hang clothes on to dry.

Help to clean out rain water cistern.

Take care of the garden, rake grass, prune trees, etc.

Go to market and be quick about it and buy as cheap as you can.--Go on any errands wanted.

Clean windows all over the house, inside and outside.

Help to shake the carpets and mats.

Be honest, industrious, and saving.

Go down to the store if occasion requires it, such as sickness, etc.

Mistress Pratt

Mind Mrs. Pratt, but come to me first.

Keep the wood house in order and grind coffee.

Carry meals to the table, set it and then wait upon it.

Bring up coal for use in parlors and chambers.

Help to watch if anybody is sick, if required.

Keep and render a just account when you have money to pay out for anything.

Bring in manure for yards when wanted and spread it carefully.

Or Anything Else

Wheel home a barrel of flour when wanted or anything else.

Expect no character when you go away from me unless I choose to give it and then nothing more than you deserve and if you refer to me the bad will come out.

Wash and clean bottles and bottle wine.

Clean and fill spit boxes.--Clean knives and forks.

Brush clothes and hats.--Go to post office.

Go to libraries.

Shovel snow from top of houses.

If it is cold, fill the boiler.

Turn the machine for washing clothes.

If any of the family is out, sit up until they come home.

Shut the door after you.

Carry home horse and chaise on my return from a ride and keep a lookout and be at the gate to help me.

Mind and do anything you can to save your employer's property.

No notice to be given on either side, as it respects parting and to wind up, you are to do willingly everything required, whether it is mentioned here or not.

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