Typically they were unmarried daughters of gentlemen who for one reason or another had to go into service to support themselves. As a governess they were able to make use of their education and in theory retain a little of their dignity. In reality their lives were miserable. They were looked down on by the house's family as being from a failed family. Equally, the staff looked down on them because they represented hypocrisy: they worked for wages like any servant yet were supposed to be genteel. Their job was to care for the family's teenage girls. (Teenage males were sent off to boarding school.) Their salaries were 25 pounds ($2,700) per year.