How to look for records of... Apprentices and masters
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to researching records of an apprentice or master. Official records of apprentices were kept in England and Wales between 1710 and 1811, when stamp duty was payable on indentures of apprenticeship. Registers of the duty paid were kept by the Commissioners of Stamps.
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
The apprenticeship books are divided into Town Registers (London) and Country Registers (elsewhere), depending on where the stamp duty was paid.
If the apprenticeship was in Middlesex or one of the home counties the duty may have been paid in London and the details entered in one of the London registers.
From 1710-1811 the master paid stamp duty for taking on the apprentice. The payment could be made at the start of the apprenticeship or any time up to one year after the expiry of the indenture.
The rate was 6d (sixpence) for every £1 under £50 which the master received for taking on the apprentice, and the rate of 1s (one shilling) for every £1 above £50. The indentures on which duty was payable cover Great Britain but not Ireland.
You may not be able to find records for common trades such as weaving or other 18th century industries because
- informal indentures became increasingly common with fathers often teaching sons and nephews
- the Statute of Apprentices only applied to trades which existed when it was passed in 1563