Because they could not get servants, many of New Zealand’s female settlers had to do their own housework – like Sophie Bambridge, depicted here in her mid-20s. Her husband William didn’t like her doing so much housework, as he recorded in a note written to accompany this line drawing: ‘The next sketch represents a little contrivance by my good wife for the convenience of washing. Would that she did not consider herself compelled to exert and weary her body at not only the wash tub but many other things.’
If Sophie’s circumstances were like most would-be ‘mistresses’ in the 1840s, she would not have been able to find reliable help at a reasonable price, as there were simply not enough servants available.
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