This article focusses on a particular political controversy in India surrounding the Ilbert Bill of 1883, in which domestic servants had an unwitting and significant role. The response to the Bill in the Anglo-Indian community was vehemently hostile. By considering how the potential threat posed by Indian domestic servants to their English mistresses became a rhetorical stick for servant employers to beat the Government with, this article demonstrates the centrality of the servant/employer relationship to the intertwined gender, class and racial assumptions of the English in India.

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