Log in Register Basket

The Apprenticeship Series

The new British Record Society Apprenticeship series will make available indices, calendars and analyses of nationally significant record collections relating to apprentices, their training and careers.

The first two volumes publish a calendar and index of the civil cases presented to the Lord Mayor’s Court of London brought by apprentices against their masters for the early termination of their apprenticeship indentures. Notwithstanding two major fires – the Great Fire of 1666 and the Royal Exchange fire of 1838 – the court archive contains over sixteen thousand cases. Details of all of these cases have been extracted for the present volumes. Collectively, they provide a unique resource of information about the background, circumstances and training of apprentices subsequent to their being bound to their masters.

Although the court dealt with cases brought by apprentices bound under the auspices of the London livery companies or by mariners’ apprentices bound near London, these records have a national scope. Most apprentices bringing cases before the court had been brought up in other parts of the British Isles or further afield and came to London, a place that had become a magnet for families seeking training for their children. Most apprentices were bound in their mid-teens for a minimum of seven years, often with a master with whom they had no familial connection. For this arrangement to work, there had to be in place effective mechanisms for dealing with breakdowns in the apprentice-master relationship and dissolving the legally binding indenture. The introduction examines the circumstances of these breakdowns, the variety of resources and legal options available to apprentices, as well as providing the first modern treatment of the legal practice of the Lord Mayor’s Court. Further analysis of the records includes the relationship between the livery companies and their nominal trades over the seventeenth century, the status of female apprentices, and the circumstances under which apprentices were led to take legal action.

Supplementary sections provide a transcription of the surviving attorney case files dealing with apprentices and a sample of equity cases between masters and apprentices. The names, places, London signs and the wealth of information on trades are all inexed.

Subsequently the Society has also published a two volume edition of the Merchant Taylors' Company membership records and a three volume edition of Haberdashers' Company Membership Records 1500-1800

Future volumes in the apprenticeship series will encompass further membership records, legal proceedings or cognate documents. The series will focus on records from the early modern period.

Numbers of apprentices and freemen

This section will include data on the numbers of apprentices and members of the various Livery Companies at various times.

Company Liverymen 1832 Apothecaries 35 Armourers and Brasiers 81 Bakers 270 Barbers 218 Basketmakers 7 Blacksmiths 112 Bowyers 51 Brewers NOT GIVEN Broderers NOT GIVEN Butchers 195 Blockmakers 161 Carmen NO LIVERY Carpenters 120 Clockmakers 135 Clothworkers NOT GIVEN Coachmakers 64 Combmakers 18 Cooks 167 Coopers 309 Cordwainers 85 Curriers 212 Cutlers 95 Distillers 36 Drapers 245 Dyers 144 Fanmakers 21 Farriers 119 Feltmakers 87 Fishmongers 326 Fletchers 18 Founders 97 Frameworkknitters 65 Fruiterers 58 Gardeners NO LIVERY Girdlers 94 Glass-Sellers 64 Glaziers 85 Glovers 121 Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers 54 Goldsmiths 153 Grocers 141 Gunmakers 35 Haberdashers 404 Hatbandmakers NO LIVERY Horners NO LIVERY Innholders 413 Ironmongers 69 Joiners and Ceilers 146 Leathersellers 109 Longbowstringmakers NO LIVERY Loriners 273 Makers of Playing Cards 66 Masons 51 Mercers 115 Merchant Taylors 300 Musicians 107 Needlemakers 533 Painter-Stainers 117 Pattenmakers 179 Paviours NO LIVERY Pewterers 73 Pinmakers NO LIVERY Plaisterers 75 Plumbers 87 Poulters 73 Saddlers 67 Salters 121 Scriveners 43 Shipwrights 89 Silk Throwers 8 Skinners 111 Soapmakers NOT GIVEN Spectaclemakers 80 Stationers 394 Tallow Chandlers 119 Tinplateworkers 71 Tobacco Pipemakers NO LIVERY Turners 70 Tylers and Bricklayers 136 Upholders 134 Vintners 297 Wax Chandlers 172 Weavers 101 Wheelwrights 183 Woodmongers EXTINCT Woolmen 16