Apprentices in 18th Century Harpenden

In the eighteenth century it was quite common for a young boy, or less frequently a girl, to be apprenticed to a Master at an age between 14 and 20 years. In many cases this involved leaving home to go to London and for the family there was a need to find a sum of money to be paid to the Master. For the poorest families the sum might be less than £ 5 to be apprenticed to say a weaver but for a rich family might be as much as £ 500 to be apprenticed to one of the leading merchants in the City of London.

At the Guildhall Library in London can be found the Apprentice books of over 70 Livery Companies and the Society of Genealogists have been publishing booklets with details of these apprenticeships but they mainly refer to Masters in London.

At the Public Record Office there is another source of information the Apprenticeship Books, IR 1, which are the registers kept by the Commissioners of Stamps of the money received from the duty on indenture from 1711 to 1810. Whilst, looking through these records for my study of eighteenth century Stepney I noted the following entries between 1740 and 1781, which may be of  interest for Harpenden studies.

Note: This article was published in the Harpenden & District Local History Society’s Newsletter Number 86 (September 2001) page 9 where the table included apprentices in Redbourn.  I have picked out the Harpenden apprentices and was able to add  extra names by checking the Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures from the website. Diana Parrott

For apprentices from Harpenden and Wheathampstead who were under masters in London see John Wassell’s page ‘London Livery Company Apprentices from Harpenden & Wheathampstead 1611 – 1791.


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