Women of the Bedchamber 1702–1714
During the reign of Anne, the Queen was served by a varying number of women or gentlewomen of the bedchamber, often described as dressers. Their duties were described by Abigail, Lady Masham in 1728:
The bed-chamber woman came in to waiting before the queen's prayers, which was before her majesty was dressed. The queen often shifted [i.e., changed her clothes] in a morning: if her majesty shifted at noon, the bedchamber-lady being by, the bedchamber-woman gave the shift to the lady without any ceremony, and the lady put it on. Sometimes, likewise, the bedchamber-woman gave the fan to the lady in the same manner: and this was all that the bedchamber-lady did about the queen at her dressing.
When the queen washed her hands, the page of the back-stairs brought and set down upon a side-table the basin and ewer; then the bedchamber woman set it before the queen, and knelt on the other side of the table over-against the queen, the bedchamber-lady only looking on. The bedchamber-woman poured the water out of the ewer upon the queen's hands.
The bedchamber-woman pulled on the queen's gloves, when she could not do it herself. The page of the back-stairs was called in to put on the queen's shoes.
When the queen dined in public, the page reached the glass to the bedchamber-woman, and she to the lady in waiting.
The bedchamber-woman brought the chocolate, and gave it without kneeling.
In general, the bedchamber-woman had no dependence on the lady of the bedchamber. (fn. 1)
Starting at four in 1702 their number was increased to five in 1707 and to six in 1709. They received lodgings and salaries of £500. (fn. 2)
|1702||3 June||Danvers, B.|
|1702||3 June||Feilding, M.|
|1702||3 June||Cooper, A.|
|1702||3 June||Hill, A.|
|1707||1 Sept.||Hill, A.|
|1709||1 Aug.||Danvers, I.|
|1713||13 Apr.||Arundell, I.|
||J. W. Croker, ed., Letters to and from Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk (1824) I, 292–93: John Arbuthnot to Henrietta Howard, London, 39 [sic] May .
||Bucholz, pp. 123–4; LC 3/5 f. 1.