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Regulations for Servants

Regulations for Servants in the Kingdom of Saxony


The following ‘regulations for Servants’ are taken from a booklet taken from Saxony to Australia by Peter Zwar and has been handed down by his descendants.
[It might also be called a Workers Certificate Book, or a Service Record Book, or a Work Record Book]
Apparently every apprentice and servant was issued with this book by the Saxon Government.

It contains a detailed description of the physical features of the apprentice.
It contains the rules for servants.
Then there are pages where the employer gives a brief report on the past year. Each report is signed and stamped.

Translated for Kevin Zwar in 1996 by Wolfgang Zschille from the original German ‘Regulations for Servants’ Book of Peter Zwar.

Extract from the Regulations for Servants from the 10th of January, 1835 and the Police Regulation of the same date.


Domestic servants are under obligation to the ruling family with regard to faithfulness, respect and obedience and to their relations. They have to submit to the existing domestic arrangements. They have to be industrious, hardworking, clean and tidy, respectable and orderly, and live in harmony with the other [additional] servants, and to study to live a god-fearing, respectable life. They are obliged to prevent misfortune and calamity to the employer, and if possible they are encouraged to provide profit and advantage to the ruling family.

Every servant in town and country is required to offer his whole time and activity to the service of the ruling family. For all agricultural activities or ordinary housework, hired servants have to perform all the required work according to the will of the ruling family, even if they have been hired for a definite service or under a special contract. Only a very special contract can grant an exception from these regulations.

Domestic services and activities have to be carried out by servants for all members of the family as well as for all guests and persons residing in the house.

Even if a special contract-limitation in relation to the special work – and service – obligation does exclude servants from definite activities, these servants are still obliged to execute their full work – and service – obligations. In extraordinary emergencies – like difficult times during harvest – domestic servants are obliged to work for the common good as required. If a dispute arises over which type of work should be carried out by definite persons of the domestic personnel the order of the master has to be carried out. The domestic servants are not permitted to have their duties carried out by different staff.

A servant is obliged to work for his master the whole day, and afterwards goes to bed and rises early. He is not permitted to stay up longer, particularly when the family of the master is going to bed.

No servant is permitted to walk out or to visit parks of pleasure during his working hours. If necessary compensation has to be paid to the master for loss or damages of any kind. For small damages he only has to pay when he acted against an explicit order. Embezzlements, burglary and theft by the servants have to be punished in the same way as if committed by outside people. There is punishment in the same manner for all damage or harm to the estate.

For inspection purposes every servant must be willing to agree to open up his drawer, chest or suitcase whenever required to do so.

The orders of the ruling family and their rebukes have to be accepted with respect and modesty.

In regard to moral conduct and performance, the ruling family has the right to exercise inspection and supervision, and every servant has to submit himself to necessary rebukes and reprimands. The ruling family is entitled to prohibit servants any delight, enjoyment, or show of extravagance in clothing and other pleasures, even if they are going to pay for these with their own money.

Words of scolding or light punishments don’t justify criminal proceedings and are not cause for claims for judicial satisfaction or compensation. Prerogative expressions and actions against the ruling family do not substantiate the supposition that the honour of the servants has been intentionally hurt. Incitement of the auxiliary personnel and instigation to squabbles against the ruling family are to be punished. Silence has to be observed about happenings, occurrences and events in the family of the ruling master.

The pay for the services in cash and the calculation of the same payment in kind and the provision of meals depends for municipal and agricultural servants without exception on the voluntary agreement made at the beginning of their commitment with the ruling master. Insofar as nothing definite has been decided about this agreement compensation has to be granted.

Gifts for Christmas, for the celebration of mass and for annual fairs can be demanded only if an explicit promise exists. If the employer has granted this gift once or several times in the past no guarantee can be given that the same can be demanded or expected in the future. If food has been promised in addition to wages then these items of food have to be provided. Each complaint about the quality of the food is superfluous if the master and the members of his household are taking the same food. Any gratuities and tips in favour of the servants are not to be charged to their accounts, but the master and the employer is entitled to know the full amount of these gratuities. In case of a disagreement or conflict of opinion about the income and the distribution of these moneys, a special contract or a decision of the master and employer gives details and information on this matter.

The care and nursing of sick people cannot be expected from service personnel against their own free will. On the other hand the refusal to act in this way as a nurse and guardian can be reason enough to dismiss the servant and to employ another servant in place of the present one.

The master and employer has to grant his servants the necessary time off from work for attending church services, personal affairs, as well as for the maintenance and washing of clothes and similar activities. In all cases of emergencies (particularly during harvest time) servants have to help on Sundays and special holidays, if this is unavoidable. On occasions like the consecration or dedication of a new church, a parish fair or any local fair the service personnel can have half a day or a full day off to attend this fair, provided it does not interfere with the usual domestic duties and obligations.

Immediately and without notice or warning the master and mistress are entitled to dismiss domestic servants and farm hands

1. when servants commit acts of violence, use words of slander and defamation or instigate discord and dissension within the ruling family,

2. when servants incur disobedience and obstinacy from not following up orders by the ruling family,

3. when servants refuse sick-nursing in cases of emergency,

4. when servants are acting against the will and orders of inspection and supervision by staff and officials,

5. when servants induce and mislead the children of the ruling family into evil deeds and suspicious activities,

6. when servants do not take care in the proper and responsible way for the children of the ruling family,

7. when servants commit acts of burglary and theft or don’t inform the ruling family about these misappropriations and thefts,

8. when servants borrow money or merchandise in the name of the ruling family without their knowledge,

9. when servants sell their earned or partly earned livery,

10. when servants stay overnight outside the house without foreknowledge or permission of master and mistress,

11. when servants handle fire and lights in a careless way,

12. when a servant allows cattle under his care to go astray or is treating the same in a bad and irresponsible way,

13. when a servant is harming or injuring the service personnel out of malice (spite) or out of mischief,

14. when it becomes plain and obvious that the service personnel is inflicted with an infectious sickness or contagious disease,

15. when servants attend pleasures and entertainment beyond the permissible time off and do not correct their behaviour.

16. when a servant is addicted to drink and gambling or leads an unchaste or impure way of life,

17. when a servant disturbs the domestic peace of family concord by wrangling, bickering or with a fight or scuffle,

18. when a servant lacks any skill or aptitude,

19. when a servant is called up for more than eight days by the Authorities,

20. when the ruling family has been betrayed by accepting for employment through the showing of false reports or certificates.

When a servant is dismissed during his contract time, it can be assumed that he himself has agreed to the dissolution of the work contract.

Servant personnel are entitled to leave (to quit) the service without any previous warning

1. when a servant has been abused or ill-treated by the ruling family and put in danger of life and health,

2. when the ruling family acted with great harshness or in temper,

3. when the ruling family acted against the Law or good customs,

4. when the ruling family was unable or unwilling to protect the servant in case of unlawful and illegal demands or expectations,

5. when the ruling family holds back wages, food or boarding allowances,

6. when the ruling family changes its place of residence at home or abroad and it is expected that servants participate and go along with the change of address or residence.

Servants who leave the service before the end of their contract time without legitimate or lawful reason must be forced to return by the police authorities to the ruling family.

If a disobedient servant refuses to return to his lawful work in spite of the police authorities he can be sued for damages and incorrect behaviour. Besides and moreover criminal proceedings can be arranged, as he can be sentenced for up to two weeks imprisonment. The ruling family is authorized to make a notice to this effect in the servants certificate book.

Some points to consider for out-of-service servants are:

1. What reasons caused the dismissal of the servant?

2. What certificate has been issued from his last master?

3. Has the servant any means of subsistence of his own for the immediate future?

4. Is there any similar activity on hand or can there be any help expected from another quarter?

5. Can help be organized by relatives or relations from the servants home area?

6. Does the servant show or display any skills or accomplishments which could help him survive financially?

The permission for a servant to stay at a place or township, which is not his home, may be permitted for a limited time only. Unemployed service personnel have to contact the police personally and give the necessary information and full particulars as to their trade, work, dealings, actions and the duration of their stay.

The fee for the drawing up and execution of a new service certificate book is two Groschen, and for a judicial entry or registration is likewise two Groschen.


©  Kevin P Zwar