Posts Tagged ‘professions and trades’

Professions and Trades: Apprenticeships

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Although apprenticeships are still very much in existence today, their structure and administration bears little resemblance to what our ancestors would have experienced. 

Medieval baker

With roots stretching back to the middle ages, the administration of apprenticeships fell under the strict control of the powerful Guilds. As legal entities themselves, holding charters or letters patent from the highest local authority, guild activities were strictly governed and recorded with due diligence, none more so than apprenticeships. Apprentices were bonded, usually for a period of seven years, to a master crafts or tradesman.  This was in essence a binding contract between the two parties, and would have been duly documented in the respective Guild’s record books.  Information recorded in these books would have included:

  •  The name, address and specific trade of the master, as well as the respective Guild that the master would have been obliged to be a member of.
  • The name of the apprentice, but more importantly, the dates of the indenture

As you can see, records such as these are a treasure trove of information for genealogists. The challenge of course lay in finding them.  Although they have evolved over time, many of these medieval guilds still exist, such as the Livery Companies of the City of London. Information on how to access British apprenticeship records can be obtained through the National Archives website.  If you are researching Canadian apprenticeship records, here are some resources you can check out:

 Our own library collection at the North York Central Library also contains a few resources on this subject, including:

  •  Labouring Children: British Immigrant Apprentices to Canada, 1869-1924
    • By Joy Parr
    • Call # 331.31 0971 Parr 1994
  •  Nineteenth Century Apprentices in New York City
    • By Kenneth Scott
    • Call # 929.3 747 1 Scott 198
  • Child Apprentices in America from Christ Church Hospital, London, 1617-1778.
    • Peter Wilson Coldham
    • 929.3 73 Coldh 199
  • Freemen and Apprentices of York.
    • By John Malden
    • 929.3 41 English 1986
  • A Calendar of Southampton apprenticeship records, 1609-1740
    • By Arthur Willis and A.L Merson
    • Call # 929.3 422 76 Willi 1968

 Happy hunting!

Profession or Trade: Researching your ancestors’ working past

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Over the next few weeks, we are going to take a look at the various resources in our collection that will assist you in determining just exactly what your ancestors did for a living. For many of us, this will be a fairly straight forward exercise, particularly if farmers, blacksmiths and shop keepers populate your family tree. But what if you come across some one that was listed as an Ale-Conner in the 1861 or 1871 Canadian census? According to this handy online resource, Ancestral Occupations, an Ale-Conner is basically an “official who tests the quality and measure of ale served in public houses.”  This was probably not your first guess, right?

If you really want to delve into your family’s working past, our library collection contains a wealth of information that will assist you in researching this topic. Here are just a few to get you started

  • Researching Local Craftsmen and Industries
    • Elizabeth Quance
    • Call # 929.3 713 016 Quan 1984
  • Occupational Resources for Genealogists
    • Stuart Raymond
    • Call # 929.3 41 016 Raymo 1992
  • Trades and Occupations shown on rubbings of English Monumental Brasses from the 14th to 18th Century
    •  Jane Plante
    • Call # 929.3 42 Plant 1976
  • An Introduction to……:Occupations, a preliminary list
    • Joyce Culling
    • Call # 929.3 42 03 Culli 1999
  • Yorkshire Occupations: A genealogical guide
    • Stuart Raymond
    • Call # 929.3 428 016 Raymon 2000

For a full listing of all titles in this category please check our catalogue.  Next week’s Professions topic: Apprenticeships.