Why Do People Tip?

There is a long tradition of tipping your waitress or waiter at a restaurant. Your ancestors may have worked most of their career as a waitress or waiter and were very dependent on tips left by their customers. So how did it all start?

In England during the 1600s, a practice was done where any overnight guests in a person’s private home would provide a sum of money known as ‘vails’ to the servants in the house. That later lead to leaving money, gratuity or a tip in the coffeehouses and other commercial businesses. Then came the addition of a dish with the phrase ‘To Insure Promptness’ were seen in taverns and inns. This phrase was the acronym of ‘tip’.

By the 1800s with more Americans traveling in England and Europe, they saw this custom and many began doing the same once they were back in the United States. Yet, many Americans did not favor the idea of a tip being paid and that attitude spread back to Europe, which by the mid-1900s, tipping pretty much did not exist in Europe.

In the United States, many former slaves after 1865 and the Civil War found employment as barbers, railroad porters, waitresses, waiters and housekeepers, etc. Customers seeing the very low wages for many of these African-Americans pushed the idea of tipping especially for good service.

From the early 20th century onward, with more people eating out, it became a very common practice to tip any waitress, waiter, hairstylist, bartender, hotel maid, etc.

Photo: Tip left for the waitress.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Colonial Indentured Servants

Finding Working Ancestors

Overlooked Aspects about Our Ancestors

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