By Joan Lane
A social historical past of the altering fortunes of apprentices and the process of apprenticeship over 3 centuries of English background.
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Extra resources for Apprenticeship In England, 1600-1914
They were not bound to the poorest trades, but to butchers, millers, blacksmiths, masons and shipwrights, respectable occupations with adequate premiums. In the third category of longterm apprentices were the poorest children, just above parish level, often bound alongside paupers, indentured for the sake of their labour and a low premium. Such children went to farmers, weavers, carpenters, tailors and shoemakers, all in a small way of business. In arranging a shorter term than seven years different factors were important, excluding the children who changed masters.
In the same company, a variety of uncles, aunts and grandparents paid for fatherless boys to be bound. Other masters who regularly took high premiums were those dealing in valuable raw materials, the professions, fashion trades with a wealthy clientele and industries with a large amount of capital tied up in stock and premises. In all these categories a large premium recompensed the master for an apprentice’s errors he made as a novice and the clients he would offend; it provided a child with instruction and entry to a profitable livelihood for 30 years or more, establishing him in a prosperous niche with appropriate marriage and social prospects.
57 Although the length of the term was written into the agreement, it could be amended to suit particular circumstances, in spite of the 1768 act, and numbers of pauper indentures were endorsed freeing the child at various ages after 16. Supporters of binding the very young child, to silk-weaving or chimney-sweeping, for example, maintained that, at the end of the term, then aged 14 or 16, a second apprenticeship could be arranged, giving the adolescent training for an adult livelihood, as William Hutton experienced.