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William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), English novelist, used this name for The Yellowplush Papers (1837-8), a series of sketches in Fraser's Magazine purportedly written by a London West End footman named Charles James Yellowplush. The name itself was suggested by a domestic servant in the Thackeray household, "a bona fide manservant, an old gentleman named John Goldsworthy, formerly the Larkbeare footman, who wore faded knee-breeches in the family livery" [D.J. Taylor, Thackeray, 1999]. Plush was a fabric traditionally used for footmen's wear, and especially for their brightly-colored breeches. The same character appeared with a "gentrified" form of his name in The Diary of C. Jeames de la Pluche (1846), and his popularity caused "Jeames" (an affected form of "James") to be used for a time as a generic name for a footman.[1]


Jeames (plural Jeameses)

  1. (slang, dated) A footman; a flunky.


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for Jeames in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)