today to be almost contradictory terms both as a Gentlemen sic of woorshipfull

Today to be almost contradictory terms both as a

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today to be almost contradictory terms: both as ‘‘a Gentlemen [ sic ] of woorshipfull Parentage’’ and as ‘‘my Servaunt.’’ ¹⁶ In the same letter, Sir Henry is recommending equally his servant Molyneux and his own son Robert as joint incumbents for the lucrative o ce of Supervisor of Attorneys in Wales which he is urging Sir Francis Walsingham to create. He also mentions how ‘‘longe agoe it was commended to the Lords, by my Lettres, to have passed in the Name of Fowke Grivell , and Molyneux ,’’ but now he names his son Robert because Greville, Philip’s close friend and the frequent bene fi ciary of Sir Henry’s patronage, ‘‘is spedd so well alreadye’’ with ‘‘the Reversions of twoe of the best O ces’’ in Wales. ¹⁷ As this ambiguous network of power relations suggests, the institution of service constitutes one of the most basic di ff erences between early modern English society and our own. Servants were not drawn from any single social class or status group: a very large proportion of the  Language and service
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population was employed as servants at some stage in their lives, including those deriving from high-ranking families, most often for a transitional period during youth or early adulthood. The term ‘‘ser- vant’’ applied to a broad range of roles, encompassing both the personal servingman and the wage-earning agricultural laborer. What servants had in common was that ‘‘they worked for one master, and were maintained by that master.’’ ¹⁸ In upper-gentry and aristocratic house- holds, most of the servants were male, even those employed in preparing food, serving at table, and cleaning house. ¹⁹ In A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Serving-Men (  ), I. M. makes a distinction that may help to account for the apparent contradiction between Edmund Molyneux as ‘‘a Gentlemen of woorshipfull Parentage’’ and a ‘‘Servaunt.’’ The distinction is between ‘‘Servingmen’’ and other categories of servants, or between those in daily attendance upon their masters, partakers in their employments and pastimes, and those employed in ‘‘holding the Plough’’ and ‘‘whipping the Carthorse.’’ ²⁰ ‘‘Amongst what sort of people,’’ he asks, ‘‘should then this Servingman be sought for?’’ and responds with a logic that accounts for the high birth of many serving- men: ‘‘Even the Dukes sonne preferred Page to the Prince, the Earles seconde sonne attendant upon the Duke, the Knights seconde sonne the Earles Servant, the Esquires sonne to weare the Knightes lyverie, and the Gentlemans sonne the Esquiers Servingman: Yea, I know at this day, Gentlemen younger brothers, that weares their elder brothers Blew coate and Badge . . .’’ ²¹ In his lament for the decay of the servingman’s profession, I. M. contends that this social organization provided for ‘‘the preservation of ancient Houses, and, the mayntenance of the Commons in their calling.’’ ²²
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