‘How came I to be his property? What right has he in me, but such as a thief may plead to stolen goods?’ cried Pamela, the virtuous servant maid of Richardson's novel. Pamela was written in 1740, but the assumption that masters had sexual rights over their servants cast a long shadow. The questions Pamela raises about powerlessness and ‘worth’ are crucial to understanding the plight of female servants in the nineteenth century. This study examines why servants were particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, the consequences of sexual abuse for victims and offenders, and underlying male attitudes which affected both the incidence of assaults and the justice meted out by the courts.