Forum Title: LIZZIE BORDEN SOCIETY Topic Area: Stay to Tea Topic Name: Maggie the maid  

1. "Maggie the maid"
Posted by harry on Sep-11th-03 at 2:03 PM

Was just watching the classic movie "Life with Father".  In the movie the father is always upsetting the maid and they quit. He is constantly faced with a new maid for which he doesn't know their name.

In the last one hired, he asks her her name and she says Margaret. He says "We already have a Margaret around here. We can't have two."

And she replies, "At home they call me Maggie."

2. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Sep-11th-03 at 7:41 PM
In response to Message #1.

Fiction, to be credible, must reflect real life.
Ever work with people who have foreign first or last names? It still happens.

3. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Sep-11th-03 at 10:33 PM
In response to Message #1.

Thats a cool coincidence!  Was she Irish like our Bridget?  Is that the movie with Elizabeth Taylor in it when she was very young? 

4. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Sep-12th-03 at 2:54 AM
In response to Message #1.

That's pretty funny! 
I love that movie, and remember Elizabeth Taylor in it.
The son can't let her sit on his knee because he's wearing his father's pants!
We love Irene Dunne.

At least the maid's name was *Margaret* which makes sense to call her Maggie.
Is Maggie a form of Bridget?  I wouldn't think so, and she certainly was there long enough to have her proper name used by those girls.
What is a nickname for Bridget?

(BTW:  The address of this cover includes the letters "LZZZZZZZ".  Odd.)

(Message last edited Sep-12th-03  2:54 AM.)

5. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Sep-12th-03 at 3:47 AM
In response to Message #4.

Thanks, Kat.  It is the movie I'm thinking about, saw it quite awhile ago and don't recall much from it.

Nicknames for the name Bridget are: Biddy, Bride, and Beesy.

From this site of Irish names:

Found this from another site: Bridget-Delia
They also have this: IRELAND Note: Irish girls in servitude were called "Bridget" and the boys were called "Paddy"

From this site:

Also found this: Bridget, a 2-syllable girl's name of Celtic origin, means: Strong; fiery.The ethnic backgrounds of Bridget include , Irish .

Nicknames for Bridget are , Bridgid , Brie , Brieta , Brigette

From this site:,,1849,00.html]

So, no Maggie in the bunch.  I kind of like Beesy for our Bridget. 

(Message last edited Sep-12th-03  3:49 AM.)

6. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Sep-12th-03 at 6:54 AM
In response to Message #5.

Wow you did some homework!
I thought maybe "Bridie" might be a nickname for Bridget, but maybe it's a name all by itself?
You like BEESY because it sounds like your new toy, the "Bizzy Lizzie Doll"!
(Ah, eees a beesy lisseee-  NOT!    More like a "lounging lizzie"...)

7. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Sep-12th-03 at 11:05 AM
In response to Message #6.

I believe Bridget is derived from Bridie, an Irish saint or was it goddess?

Well, the Brie sounded like cheese.  Bride is just that.  And Biddy sounded like as in Old Biddy.  Thats actually why I picked Beesy. 

8. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Sep-13th-03 at 11:15 AM
In response to Message #7.

Maybe you meant to type "Bridey"?
On the continent, Brigitte, Birgita, etc. are very popular. Maybe it is a Catholic traditional name? Anyone know?

9. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Sep-13th-03 at 1:19 PM
In response to Message #8.

No, it was "Bride" on the site I searched.  Bridie is another variation of the name.

Winter Festivals
Saint Brigid's Day
In the old days February 1st was considered the start of the growth season. After Christianity was introduced, Saint Brigid (Bridie) was honored instead of the pagan gods.

In many places in rural Ireland people still make Brigid Crosses to honor her.

Pageants take place at schools and churches with young women carrying green rushes.

On the eve of this festival, crosses are woven of rushes and hung for a year above the doors of houses and barns. These crosses are believed to protect the house and the livestock from harm and fire. No evil spirit is told can pass through these charms.

A small folk play is enacted in which a girl playing the part of Brigid brings rushes to the door and is allowed inside. She blesses the family, eats with them, and helps them make crosses

From this site:

10. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Sep-14th-03 at 12:20 AM
In response to Message #9.

Well I guess that means Bridget didn't do it!
Thanks Susan.

BTW:  Whenever I hear the name "Bridie" I think of the book, "The Search for Bridie Murphy."

(Message last edited Sep-14th-03  12:35 AM.)

11. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Sep-14th-03 at 1:54 PM
In response to Message #10.

Well, I don't know about that.  This festival reminded me of Palm Sunday, I remember my mom bringing home a cross made out of palm fronds every year to hang up.

Yes, Bridie Murphy!  Isn't that story what that Barbra Streisand movie On A Clear Day is based on? 

12. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by harry on Sep-14th-03 at 2:39 PM
In response to Message #5.

One of the other maid's name in the movie was "Delia" as mentioned in Susan's post (#5).  There was also an Annie, Ellen and Hilda.

Ala Lizzie the children called their father "Father" whenever they spoke to or about him.

(Message last edited Sep-14th-03  2:46 PM.)

13. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Sep-14th-03 at 3:59 PM
In response to Message #9.

May 1 is the traditional start of summer. June 22 was MidSummer's Day. Probably redolent of Pagan customs.
But if a couple celebrated May 1, then nine months later would be Feb 1. Do births cluster after certain holidays and events?
We all know about the Nov 1965 blackout?

14. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Sep-15th-03 at 12:06 AM
In response to Message #13.

Speaking of clusters:  I know & Stef knows a memorable amount of Virgos.
I just recently figured that they were all likely conceived between Thanskgiving and Christmas!

Anybody recall the name of the maid who stayed with Emma during Lizzie's incarceration?  I thought it was Hannah, but I can't find it anywhere.
(newspapers, Porter)

15. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by harry on Sep-15th-03 at 7:10 AM
In response to Message #14.

I don't know if the same maid was with Emma during Lizzie's entire absence but this is from Rebello, pg 255. This is after Lizzie left the Holme's on Pine St.:

"The next morning Emma and Lizzie went to Second Street. They were greeted by Harriet, the new housekeeper."

I could find no further reference to her. Pages 287-290 lists the servants names at various times at Maplecroft but not for the immediate time after the move.

(Message last edited Sep-15th-03  7:11 AM.)

16. "The Maids of Borden"
Posted by Kat on Sep-15th-03 at 7:40 AM
In response to Message #15.

That is so helpful, thanks so much.
I don't know why I can't remember that name.
I wonder where the info came from.  There was also some unidentified man who would check the post office for mail?

17. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Benjamin on Oct-3rd-03 at 11:38 PM
In response to Message #1.

I'm reading a biography of silent star Louise Brooks (by Barry Paris) and there was this interesting footnote. She is discussing a film she made called A Social Celebrity.
  "Having looked everywhere else for the Social Celebrity theme, I find that too in the comics---1913, Bringing Up Father. About 1910 the immigrants who had been ditch diggers and servants began to get rich and form 'Society,' copied after the society dramas of the English.  An aristocracy of wealth (perfect example--the Irish saloon keeper [Joseph] Kennedy). So Irish Maggie with the sudden wealth from political graft in New York can make the grade if she can keep Jiggs out of the saloon..."

(Message last edited Oct-3rd-03  11:39 PM.)

18. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Oct-4th-03 at 3:10 PM
In response to Message #17.

You don't get rich by digging ditches; unless you are a contractor and get others to work for you. Saloons could make you rich IF there isn't much competition. Who controls the licenses? Did Andy's wealth from funeral home come from limited competition?

Back in the late 19th century Breweries generally owned taverns, the franchisee could only sell what they produced (like gasoline stations, or taverns in Gt Britain). Railroads, and industrial production, allowed a few breweries to supply to many states.

19. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Benjamin on Oct-4th-03 at 11:26 PM
In response to Message #18.

Rays, I love your posts.  It is so clear to me that you and I think on totally different wavelengths.  I have yet to believe you've gotten the main point of what I post, because you always seem to focus on something else.(not a problem. your viewpoints are interesting)  I doubt we'll ever have a meeting of the minds, though!   I posted that quote because it was an outside example of someone referring to an Irish working woman as a "Maggie". It was clearly still a common appellation even up into the 1920s.

20. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Oct-5th-03 at 3:52 PM
In response to Message #19.

We are both free to comment on the facts as we see them. I won't comment on any ethnic jokes of that day, and there were plenty (such as the now censored 1930s comic strips of "Joe Palooka" and others.)

Years ago one of my co-workers was highly incensed by being called "Jose", another stereotyped name. Ever hear of a "Guido"?

21. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Oct-5th-03 at 10:15 PM
In response to Message #19.

Actually reading the phrase Irish Maggie made me stop and envision the girls calling her that for that purpose...seeing her as IRISH only.
It really struck home.
Maybe that's why Lizzie, in her testimony, says she didn't see or notice Bridget on the morning of the murders.
The girls maybe are really calling Bridget by a racial moniker.

Actually I cringe when Bridget is called Maggie...maybe that's unconscious reaction.

(Message last edited Oct-5th-03  10:16 PM.)

22. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by haulover on Oct-8th-03 at 12:18 PM
In response to Message #21.

especially when lizzie says, "i may have seen her and not know it."
that's pretty insignificant!

23. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Oct-8th-03 at 2:36 PM
In response to Message #22.

I don't really know what Lizzie meant, and don't want to defend her over this. But think of your own experience at work.
Do you really notice the workers who clean your workplace, if you are there when they do it? Or are they just strangers of whom you know little? Unless you talk and interact with them.

24. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Oct-8th-03 at 3:15 PM
In response to Message #23.

But Bridget lived with those girls for 2 years and 9 months.  She washed their intimate wear. 
And yes, I notice everyone.

25. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by harry on Oct-8th-03 at 3:23 PM
In response to Message #24.

You beat me to the "lived with" answer Kat. Makes a hell of a difference.

26. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by haulover on Oct-9th-03 at 3:59 PM
In response to Message #23.

publicly i'm surrounded by strangers, but privately at home it's a very intimate place.  i don't have a live-in maid.  i'm sure i couldn't stand it.

anyway, about lizzie's remark:  lizzie was in fact very aware of where bridget was.  but i think i hear her falling back on bridget's "inferior status" as a way of explaining why she, lizzie, would not feel the need to notice her one way or the other.

27. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Oct-9th-03 at 6:35 PM
In response to Message #24.

But what does "lived with" really mean? When I was barely in my teens I lived for a while with my Grandparents; later they lived with us (moved to a new home). But I knew little about their lives.

Yes, it would be different in some cases. WHAT is your frame of reference for someone who lives in the same house?

28. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Oct-10th-03 at 12:21 AM
In response to Message #27.

It's different with kids.  They are wrapped up in their own lives and nothing else exists unless forced to take notice.
These girls were grown-ups and I'm sure interacted with Bridget in some ways at least.

29. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Tina-Kate on Oct-10th-03 at 9:26 AM
In response to Message #28.

I often wonder to what degree Lizzie and Emma were "grown-ups".

(I often wonder that about myself, since I haven't done so many of the things that are associated with that phrase).

It's hard to imagine being the kind of non-entities they would have been.  Never living outside of the family home.  Never having had any kind of real responsibility.

I see the division of the house as quite telling.  They wanted desperately to do their own thing, but they were "trapped".  And yet, would "real grown-ups" respond to the circumstances in the ways they did?

I wonder what Bridget really thought of them.  She'd been incredibly daring (esp for a Victorian!), & set out alone to find a new life for herself in a new country.  She'd worked her own way since arriving in Portsmouth, RI.  And, did "the girls" ever think about that & envy (or even secretly admire) Bridget?

30. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Oct-10th-03 at 11:43 AM
In response to Message #29.

Thats a really neat perspective on things, Tina-Kate.  I will have to mull this one over a bit. 

31. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Oct-10th-03 at 12:54 PM
In response to Message #29.

Thanks Tina-Kate.
You know, when I wrote that word *grown-ups* I thought Lizzie is not grown up.  I wasn't sure about Emma.
I heard haunting refrains in my head that Alice didn't ask Bridget anything about the murders, like it might not have entered her mind, and Emma only says she asked Bridget 2 questions:  one being "Will You Stay?"
So maybe the girls, even though grown-up, didn't pay much attention to Bridget after all.
I wonder if they were miffed at her too, and if that was one reason they didn't come down to meals.
If she was friend and ally to Abby, they could make her life a bit miserable by coming down to eat at different times than the elders causing more work for Bridget?  Clear the table, twice, 2 serving times per meal and never knowing when all the dishes would be through?
But I still think they noticed her and knew her, even just well enough to cause her extra work.

32. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by rays on Oct-10th-03 at 4:53 PM
In response to Message #31.

According to what I remember from books etc., Bridget got along best with Abby. Somebody said she stayed there that long because of Abby.
Perhaps Emma & Lizzie had seen too much of a turnover in servants?

33. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Benjamin on Oct-10th-03 at 5:13 PM
In response to Message #31.

I like what is said about Emma & Lizzie being trapped.  They really did attempt to establish their own "residence" by dividing the house the way they did.  Didn't Lizzie & Emma usually receive their guests in the upstairs guestroom rather than the sitting room?
  In trying to assert their own lives and create even a tiny bit of independent space, perhaps in their minds Bridget really was Abby's servant, not theirs and was a member of "Abby's part of the house".  Didn't each girl clean her own room, not Bridget? Maybe that could be why Lizzie wouldn't take notice of Bridget.  Perhaps she'd been in the habit of ignoring Bridget(ABBY's servant)for so long that she really had been unaware of Bridget's location.

34. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by njwolfe on Oct-10th-03 at 7:13 PM
In response to Message #33.

That makes good sense Benjamin. To us Lizzie is the famous one,
the one we focus on, but back then in day to day life, Lizzie was
just one of the daughters. Not the lady of the house, not the one
Bridget answered to.  I had thought maybe Lizzie was friendly with
Bridget because of that exchange "I hear there is a sale on fabric"
..."I think I will get me some" (quoting just from memory)  but yet
that was probably just a one-time friendly exchange, set up by
scheming Lizzie..

35. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Oct-10th-03 at 7:45 PM
In response to Message #29.

Well, I was able to give it some more thought than I could this morning, in a hurried rush to get out of the house and go to work.

I think Lizzie and Emma were grown-ups in that they were adult women, other than that, they were treated as children.  Meals were cooked for them, their clothes were washed for them, bills payed for them, etc.  Everything they owned came from what Andrew gave them or the allowance he allotted them each week.  Trapped as they were, under Andrew's roof, they had to abide by his rules and regulations.  It must have been maddening to be in that kind of atmosphere.

As for Bridget, she was the elder Borden's servant and only Lizzie and Emma's by proxy, perhaps she wouldn't have been their choice if given the chance to choose?  Bridget then would primarily answer to Abby, so, I guess technically, she was Abby's servant.  As Kat stated, they did make more work for Bridget with meals, whether that was on purpose or not, I can't fathom.  I wish we had an answer from Lizzie and Emma why they called her Maggie.  Derogatory name or one of endearment?  I kind of think the former.  Abby's ally, shes also on our list.  Emma did sound as though she tried to be kind to Bridget telling her about the sales there were to be had or was that a form of mockery?  'We know you can't afford much, working girl that you are, why don't you go buy some new rags to wear, there is a sale of them down at that store where only the Irish shop.  You might look a bit more presentable in our presence then.'??? 

36. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Kat on Oct-11th-03 at 12:11 AM
In response to Message #34.

Yes, you're right.  Bridget does admit it was the one time Lizzie offered such information. 
It sounds oddly here as if Lizzie disclaimed that she told Bridget about the sale that day, but had mentioned it a few days earlier...I wonder what the point of that was?

Q.  Did she say anythingelse to you then?
A.  Not then.

Q.  Directly afterwards?
A.  I got through with my work, and was in the kitchen. Then she told me there was a sale of dress goods in Sargent's, eight cents a yard. I said I would have one. That is all.

Q.  Did not she make the statement about the sale of dress goods at Frank Sargeants, if that is the name, two or three days before that?
A.  No Sir.

Q.  Did she ever tell you about any sale at Sargeants before this particular day?
A.  No Sir.

Q.  It is the first time she ever mentioned it?
A.  Yes Sir.

Q.  About any chance of buying any?
A.  Yes sir. Emma had a good many times told me about bargains.

Q.  Miss Lizzie had not before, so far as you recollect?
A.  No Sir.

Q.  What did you do next?
A.  I went up stairs directly after that.

37. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by alice on Oct-11th-03 at 12:54 AM
In response to Message #21.

One of the most striking moments, in terms of realism for me, in the "Legend" movie is when Lizzie is entering the shop to shoplift the hatchet. There's a sign in the window that says, "Irish Keep Out".

38. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Tina-Kate on Oct-11th-03 at 11:32 AM
In response to Message #36.

It just crossed my mind -- was Bridget illiterate?  i.e. she could not read & had to be told of the news in the paper?

39. "Re: Maggie the maid"
Posted by Susan on Oct-11th-03 at 2:32 PM
In response to Message #38.

I have wondered that too.  I would think that Bridget must have had some schooling, but, its still possible that she didn't.  My other thought was that she was kept busy during the day and really didn't have the time to read the papers or stroll about town and find out when sales were going on.