Another week and yet another new collection of occupations records! And this time we’re going even further back in time, to the start of the 18th century, to catch your ancestors right at the start of their careers.
Apprentice Books, 1710-1811, explores a practice that has its roots even earlier, in the time of Elizabeth I. That was when families first started paying for their children to learn skilled trades from established experts.
By the 1700s it was common practice for these apprentices to move in with their masters for up to nine years, until they were ready to start out on their own. The masters were paid healthy sums for their efforts – so of course the Government got in on the act and starting charging them a tax. It’s because of this tax that our records were created.
English poet, painter, and writer, William Blake
was apprenticed to engraver and stationer
James Basire in 1772.
The youngsters depended on their employers for food and shelter, and worked whatever hours they demanded of them. This meant their new lives varied hugely according to how generous the masters were. Many were treated well, but others suffered in appalling conditions.
Our records give you an insight into your ancestors’ experiences. They tell you what trade they learned, and when they finished. You can also discover the master’s name and address, so you can go on to learn more about those people.
If you’re lucky, you’ll also find details of the parents that paid for their children to be taught in this way, in the hope of giving them a better life in the long run.
Edward Jenner’s apprentice record.
Known as the ‘Father of Immunology’ he was the
developer of the smallpox vaccine.
Don’t forget to watch our exclusive video, revealing more of the history behind these records with insight from Tony Robinson. Then go back and watch the rest of our occupations series to learn more about our other recent releases.