*                                                  Servants                                                 *

1411-12 Exeter Cathedral accounts show that William Hayford and 'Richard his servant' refurbished some books at this date. He undertook some of the work in Exeter, but also some in Ashburton, 'perhaps his home.'
The Production of Books in England, 1350-1500, edited by Alexandra Gillespie and Daniel Wakelin, Cambridge 2001, p160

The expenses incurred at Ashburton show that he was paid £6, his servant £1 16s 8d. Expenses included gold, 6 skins of parchment, velym, 3 sheepskins, 6 calfskins and coloured thread. 4s 4d was for stitching the covers of 52 books at 1d a piece.
Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, October 1902 to May 1903, No. 44, Cambridge 1904, p303

 September 1418 Geoffrey Attewey, a servant born on the Bishop's manor of Ashburton, received his manumission (freedom) on Sept 2nd, signed and sealed by the Dean and Chapter on the 3rd.

Deaths. 1841, April 18th, Elizabeth Smerdon, aged 60. She had been a servant for the family of R Tucker for 33 years.
Western Times 24 April 1841, p3 col1

Above: Memorial to Mary Cook in St Andrew's churchyard. 'Sacred to the memory of Mary Cook who was a faithful servant in the family of the late Rev William Aldridge Cockey of this place upwards of 46 years. She departed this life April 14th 1843 aged 72 years.'
My own photograph 2024

In the summer of 1865 Charles Gordon Sprague, a surgeon, was brought to trial, accused of attempting to poison his wife, in-laws and their servant at Ashburton.  
A member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Charles had married Sarah Cosens Chalker at Ashburton in February 1863. 
Bristol Mercury 21 Feb 1863, p8 col 5

A year after their marriage a Charles Gordon Sprague (presumably the same one) was admitted to the Camberwell H asylum in Surrey on March 7th 1864. He was discharged on April 4th, but readmitted on the 5th, and again on June 17th.

UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers 1846-1912

The new Mrs Sprague had returned to her parents, but Charles then came to stay, and it is then that the family, including their servant Mary Jane Pidgeon, became exceedingly ill. The cause was established as a rabbit pie, and there were suspicious circumstances.

Mary Jane Pidgeon, the servant who was both a victim, and a witness in the case, was the daughter of John Pidgeon, who in 1861 had been living with his wife and family at the Golden Lion Tap in East Street.

For more on this story, see Crime and Punishment, under Ashburton in Peril.

Maud Beavis, a servant at Staverton House*, was charged at the Petty Sessions of setting fire to a store belonging to her master, John Hern. Beavis was under notice to leave, and after seeing smoke pouring from the store members of the family found boxes of dresses on fire inside. The charge was dismissed through lack of evidence.
Western Times 21 June 1887, p2, col5
Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 24 June 1887 p3, col1
*Mentions of family members suggest this is in fact Chuley House.

1898. Kate Bowers, aged 40, was a cook for Miss F Tozer at Priestaford House. In December 1898 she took a message to William Henry Morish, the coachman, who noticed that she had mud on her dress; she said that she had fallen coming up the steps to the yard, and had knocked her head. Returning to the house she told fellow servant Annie Murch that she had had a bad fall, and she went to lie down on her bed. Annie said that Kate was giddy and sick when she checked on her, and two and a half hours after the accident she found her on the floor unconscious. Miss Tozer was no longer at home, so the servant called for help, and Dr Wilcox arrived in half an hour. Kate died about 10 minutes later, and in the doctor's opinion death was caused by the blow on the head compressing the brain.
The inquest took place at Priestaford House, and the Coroner praised the actions of Annie Murch, saying that she had behaved well 'under very trying circumstances for a young girl.'
Totnes Weekly Times 17 December 1898, p8 col2

Right: Photograph taken at Kenwyn, when the child in the centre, George E Berry, was a baby - dating it to 1915.
The men are unidentified; but if the female servants are the same as on the 1911 census, they are (order unknown):
Daisy Furneaux Barden, housemaid; Alice Lilian Anning, nurse; and 
Olive Hart, cook.

The older children would be John and Richard Geoffrey Berry: their parents were Richard Bennett Berry, woollen manufacturer, and his wife Emma Rosemond.
1911 census RG14, piece no. 12725
Many thanks to Richard and Frances Berry for this photograph and information

November 1927. Mrs Elizabeth Jane Endacott, who had died on October 1st, left £5151 net. She left £100 each to Kate, Jessie, Florence and Winnifred, daughters of her brother, and £50 to her servant Elizabeth Andrews, if still in her service at the time of her death. The residue went to her nieces Ada Alice Coyte and May Brown.
Western Morning News 17 November 1927, p6 col3

My own reminiscences: 
When we moved to Devon my mum thought it was a very rich county, because everyone talked about so-and-so's maid - she didn't realise at first that this just meant 'daughter'. But Kath, who worked for Capt. and Mrs Stidston next door, was a real live-in maid. I met Kath again in 2019, and she told me that she was 15 when she first started working for the Stidstons, just after WWII. Her mother found the job for her, but she was reluctant - 'I stayed 23 years'.