Ellis Wareham was coffee maid to Queen Victoria at both Buckingham Palace and at her country retreat of Osborne House for 25 years. Her sister, Jane Wareham, worked in a similar capacity but had to resign after 15 years due to her marriage to another member of the Queen's staff.
Ellis was the daughter of one of my 3 x great grandfather's brothers on my adopted tree. She was born in 1817 in Esher, Surrey, the second of six girls born to William and Tabitha, whose first child had lived for just five months. On the 1841 census Ellis was living near Buckingham Palace with the family of one of the members of the Queen's household who was Clerk Comptroller of the Royal Kitchens. It was possibly through his connections that Ellis and Jane got their jobs.
Victoria married Prince Albert in February 1840 and she then went on to have nine children between November 1840 and April 1857 before Albert's death in 1861. Victoria was just 18 months younger than Ellis and her occupation on the census was described as “The Queen”. It seems to me, that being roughly the same age and working for the Queen in such an occupation continuously for 25 years, Ellis must have done a pretty good job and probably got on well with the Royal Family.
The 1851 census shows Ellis as being a coffee room maid with her sister at Buckingham Palace, both working for the Lord Stewards Department. Ten years later in 1861, Ellis is now on the Isle of Wight at Osborne House. Again, a coffee room maid, this time described as “belonging to the Lord Stewards Department”.
Some time ago, before the National Archives made all of Queen Victoria's staff records public, I wrote to the Archivist of The Royal Archives at Windsor Castle to find out if she could trace my relatives in their records. I received a very nice reply in a very smart, official looking envelope, saying :
"I have made a search of our records and have found a brief reference to Ellis Wareham and can confirm that she entered the Royal Household as First Assistant in the Coffee Room in 1842 and retired in 1867. Her sister, Jane Wareham, entered the Royal Household in 1844 as a Coffee Room Assistant. She resigned from the position of Second Assistant in the Coffee Room on 25th October 1859."
It seems Ellis, who never married, must have been dying when she retired from the Royal Household in 1867 as she died in January 1868 aged just 50 of "a fibroid tumour of the uterus" which sounds like cancer.
One of my future aims is to see if there were any staff photographs as I would like to put a face to the name of this relative who served her Queen from the age of 25 until her untimely death at just 50.