British Museum collections, £12.99
Appointment of the British Museum's Head Housemaid
London, AD 1772
In 1772 the Archbishop of Canterbury asked the Principal Librarian of the British Museum, Dr Gowin Knight, to appoint Mary Kyffin, wife of John Kyffin, as Head Housemaid. In this letter Kinght replies that he has appointed Mary 'in the room of' (in place of) Sarah Jones 'who has agreed to resign'.
Three years later Mary's husband John joined her on the Museum staff. According to the minutes of a Trustees' meeting held on 25 August 1775, 'Payne the porter, having for some time been disabled to attend his Duty, and his life being doubtfull', John Kyffin was appointed as porter ' till the fate of Payne is decided'.
As Porter, John had a responsible job which included opening the gate of the Museum to visitors. Mary appears on a list of the staff dated 1776. She is described as 'Upper Housemaid', with three ordinary housemaids working for her (Elizabeth Chaplin, Dorothy Markland and Judith Stanley). She is not on the next staff list, dated 1786, and we do not know what eventually happened to her and John.