THE POWER OF LONDON
Part 2 & 3
THE APPRENTICES & MINOR COMPANIES
by Tony Storey
This article was originally published in the December 2008 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Many people in trade, skilled crafts and the professions serve an apprenticeship.
In fact, in 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices forbade anyone from practising a trade or craft without first serving a period as an apprentice to a master, and the statute was not fully repealed until 1814.
Apprenticeship usually began at 14, unless a parish or charity sponsored the child when they might be apprenticed at an earlier age. The usual period of apprenticeship was three or four years, but could be more or less depending on the occupation. The terms or articles of the apprenticeship contract were written up in a document called an indenture and a sum of money or premium was paid to the master who then provided subsistence and training to the apprentice for the agreed term. Apprentices were bound to be obedient, industrious and orderly and could not marry until their apprenticeship was served and they became free.
In cases where parochial and charity apprenticeship indentures have survived, they may be found in county record offices. The London Foundling Hospital kept apprenticeship registers, which are now held in the London Metropolitan Archives. The Society of Genealogists holds the Crisp collection of some 1500 private indentures, and some others may survive in local studies libraries and record offices. Sadly the majority of private indentures were kept by the parties involved and have been lost, unless by chance a copy has passed down among family papers.
From 1710 to 1804, stamp duty was payable on the indenture premium, except where apprenticeships were set up by public charity or by the parish overseers of the poor. The duty was payable by the master any time from the commencement of the apprenticeship, but in any case within twelve months of the completion of the term of the apprenticeship. The Commissioners of Stamps in London kept registers of the payments from 1710 to 1811 and these survive in the Inland Revenue series of records (IR 1), which are kept in The National Archive at Kew. As well as the term of the apprenticeship and the duty paid, the entries record the name, address and occupation of the master and the name of the apprentice. There is an index to both masters and apprentices but it only covers about half the above period.
The only three ways of gaining entry to a London livery company are through patrimony, redemption and apprenticeship. Patrimony entitles the son of a guild member to claim membership in his own right, irrespective of his craft or profession. Redemption allows a wealthy merchant to buy his membership of the guild. However, the majority of new members take the third option and earn their membership of a guild by serving an apprenticeship.
In the City of London, copies of indentures were often lodged with guilds and livery companies. The Great Fire and two world wars have taken their toll but most of the London companies have now deposited their surviving archives with the Guildhall Library. Copies of indentures may survive along with other records that might include details of family and employment. In addition, London apprentices who became freemen were recorded by the Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court in the Corporation of London. The registers cover the period from 1681 to 1923 and are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.
PART 3 – THE MINOR COMPANIES
In addition to the top twelve guilds known as the Great Companies, there are 85 Minor Companies. Those of most interest to the Sole Society are listed below, the company’s ranking shown in brackets after its name.
Brewers’ Company (14)
In 1420 there were 290 brewers in London and the London Company of Brewers was incorporated in 1427 with its own coat of arms. By 1574 the number of brewers had been consolidated to just 26, and by the 1830s there were just 12 principal brewing concerns in the City. Nowadays the Company has around 80 senior members, virtually all of whom are directors of London brewing companies. The present Brewers’ Hall opened in 1960 to replace the previous building destroyed by enemy bombs in 1940.
The Company’s apprentice records reveal the following:
William Sowell was apprenticed to Roger Turnor on 4 December 1537,
Richard Sewell, was apprenticed to Robert Smyth on 2 May 1538,
John Sewell, the son of Thomas Sewell of Barrock Field, Cumberland, yeoman (deceased), was apprenticed to Thomas Blisse on 11 March 1616/17,
Christopher Saul, the son of Thomas Saul, was apprenticed to John Hawkins on 27 September 1698.
Pewterers’ Company (16)
Pewter is an alloy of tin, lead and copper and until the seventeenth century was the principal material for tableware and vessels used in ecclesiastical establishments. The Pewterers’ Company obtained its royal charter in 1474 and was assisted by the authorities specifying that every brewer and hosteller selling ale should use pewter pots.
John Sewell, the son of Richard Sewell of Byfield, Northamptonshire, yeoman, was apprenticed to John Pettiver on 15 June 1682.
Charles Saul, the son of Henry Saul of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, maltster, was apprenticed to Robert Sayers on 23 December 1676, discharged on 4 September 1678.
Simon Sole, the son of John Sole of Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, was apprenticed to James Crosse on 2 August 1654.
Tallow Chandlers’ Company (21)
Although the Company also dealt in salt, vinegar, sauces and oils, its main business was in tallow candles, which were made for everyday use. The process was both smelly and a fire hazard. The best quality candles used by the wealthy and by the church were of wax and were therefore the preserve of the Wax Chandlers.
Records reveal that Benjamin Solley, the son of Stephen Solley of Ash, Kent, gentleman, was apprenticed to Charles Doilie on 12 October 1654 by a bond from his father and Joshua Pordage, draper.
Armourers’ Company (22)
The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers, to give it its full title, has occupied the same site in the City since 1346. The Company incorporated the Heamers (helmet makers), Fourters (armour repairers) and Bladesmiths. Its members often travelled with the army, even into battle, repairing damaged armour and making new armour.
We know that Thomas Sole, the son of Robert Sole of St Marylebone, Middlesex, gentleman, was apprenticed to Thomas Tickett on 7 October 1742.
Saddlers’ Company (25)
The following is an extract from the Calendar of Wills, the Court of Husting, London
A.D.1449 – Monday the Feast of St Faith, Virgin (6 Oct)
Henry Sewale, gentilman
His feoffees in trust of a certain quitrent in the parish of St Vedast are directed to make a good life estate in the same to Cristina his wife; remainder to be sold, and the Wardens and Commonalty of the Mistery of Saddlers to have the right of pre-emption. The proceeds to be devoted to the maintenance of a chantry in the church of St Peter in Westchepe, the repair of highways, and other pious and charitable uses.
Dated 3 August, 27 Henry VI, A.D.1449
Henry Sewale is almost certainly the son of Simon Sewall, Member of Parliament and Master of the Saddlers’ Company (see article in Soul Search, December 2001), so would have claimed membership of the Company by patrimony.
The Company’s first charter was in 1272 but there has probably been a saddlers’ guild since Saxon times.
The craftsmen who made the wooden part of the saddle were the Fusters, half-remembered in the name of the street where Saddlers’ Hall was built, Foster Lane. During the Civil War the Company was contracted to supply the New Model Army with 600 cavalry saddles at 18 shillings each. The contract was made on the 1 April 1645, the saddles delivered on 5 April and payment of £540 was made by the treasury on 7 April. The present Saddlers’ Hall was built in 1958. The previous building, a replacement for the hall destroyed in the Great Fire of London of 1666, was a victim of enemy action in 1940.
Painter-Stainers’ Company (28)
Traditionally it was the Paynters who decorated, gilded and coloured objects of wood, metal and stone and Steyners who applied colour to woven fabrics. The trades united as one company in 1502. In the eighteenth century the Company became more involved in fine art and no fewer than fifteen Presidents of the Royal Academy have been Painter-Stainers, the first being Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1784.
James Sewell, the son of Thomas Sewell of Brigstock, Northamptonshire, dyer, was apprenticed to Silvanus Morgan on 17 June 1670.
John Sewell, the son of John Sewell of Coggeshall, Essex, yeoman, was apprenticed to William Elkington on 18 January 1733/34.
Samuel Sewell, the son of Samuel Sewell of Wood Dalling, Norfolk, farmer, was apprenticed to James Fell on 3 August 1796, later turned over to John Elliott, citizen and draper.
Curriers’ Company (29)
Curriers dressed, levelled and greased the tanned leather. The Curriers’ Company no longer has its own hall but uses the Tallow Chandlers’ Hall for its court meetings.
James Sole, the son of George Sole of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, tanner, was apprenticed to John Knighton on 7 August 1700. The entry concludes ‘now free, indenture sued out’.
Plumbers’ Company (31)
Medieval plumbers worked in lead, making roofs, leaded windows and cisterns.
Robert Soule, the son of Abraham Soule of Mortlake, Surrey, husbandman, was apprenticed to Robert Biddle on 26 April 1703. A further note states ‘Turned over to Samuel Hatton on 12 November 1706 as master deceased’.
The Plumbers’ Hall was demolished in 1863 to make way for the building of Cannon Street Station.
Poulters’ Company (34)
The Company controlled the sale of rabbits, pigeons, game, poultry and swans and can trace its origins to a Royal Decree of 1274 setting the prices of 22 kinds of poultry. A livery had been established by 1299 and the Company received its first ordinances from the Lord Mayor in 1364. Edward Sewell, the son of Edward Sewell of Maldon, Essex, tailor (deceased), was apprenticed to Robert Fowell on 1 December 1727.
Cooks’ Company (35)
The Company was founded from two guilds of cooks in medieval London, the Cooks of Eastcheap and the Cooks of Bread Street. Its only Lord Mayor was Alderman Samuel Birch in 1814-15 whose family business, Birch and Birch, was famous for more than a century for its turtle soup.
Adam Sewell, the son of Philip Sewell of Red Cross Street, St Giles Cripplegate, London, was apprenticed to his father on 8 May 1783.
Richard Sewell, the son of Philip Sewell, citizen and cook, was apprenticed to James Cooper on 13 July 1797.
Tylers’ and Bricklayers’ Company (37)
Cuthbert Saul, the son of Humphrey Saul of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, yeoman (deceased), was apprenticed to John Osborne on 25 January 1675/76.
John Sewell, the son of Clare Sewell of St Margaret Westminster, Middlesex, butcher (deceased), was apprenticed to Edward Glanville, carpenter, on 19 December 1771.
Fruiterers’ Company (45)
The Fruiterers once inspected all fruit entering the City of London, checking quality and assessing the duty.
William Henry Sewell, the son of William Sewell of St Bride, London, was apprenticed to his father on 16 July 1776.
Plaisterers’ Company (46)
Timber and thatched houses were a cause of many disastrous fires in ancient London. In 1189 the first Lord Mayor of London ordered that all houses should be plastered as a protection against fire. The order was endorsed by King John in 1212, who further decreed that all shops on the Thames and London Bridge must be plastered inside and out, and all houses covered with reed or rush must be plastered within eight days of the edict.
Thomas Sall, the son of Thomas Sall of Norwich, Norfolk, shoemaker, was apprenticed to Edmund Essex on 12 December 1603.
Robert Saul, the son of Thomas Saul of Everton, Huntingdon, husbandman (deceased), was apprenticed to Joseph Cooper on 25 July 1746.
Frances Sowley, the daughter of Henry Sowley of Jamaica, merchant, was apprenticed to James Palmer on 6 January 1786.
The Company still maintains a register of skilled plasterers.
Upholders’ Company (49)
The Company was associated with upholstery and bedding.
Benjamin Solly, the son of John Solly of Sandwich, Kent, draper, was apprenticed to John Goodchild on 28 February 1731/32.
Isaac Solly, the son of Thomas Solly of Faversham, Kent, linen draper (deceased), was apprenticed to Michael Bradshaw on 2 September 1756, free.
Basketmakers’ Company (52)
Robert Sewell, the son of Robert Sewell of Ingatestone, Essex, chirurgeon, was apprenticed to Richard Reading on 26 April 1680.
Farriers’ Company (55)
The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed virtually all the Company’s previous records so its archives begin with the Royal Charter granted by King Charles II in 1674. Even today, the Farriers Company is closely connected with horses, organising the examination and registration of smiths and awarding medals for shoeing competitions.
Henry Sewell, the son of Edward Sewell of Sacombe, Hertfordshire, carpenter, was apprenticed to John Chesham on 17 January 1623/24.
George Sewell, the son of Thomas Sewell of Dalston, Cumberland, husbandman, was apprenticed to Roger Wiggenton on 8 September 1656.
John Sole, the son of John Sole of Battersea, Surrey, innkeeper, was apprenticed to Robert Crosse on 12 November 1673.
John Sewell, the son of Adam Sewell of Culgaith, Cumberland, husbandman, was apprenticed to William Bryan on 24 June 1713.
Thomas Sewell, the son of Robert Sewell of Culgaith, Cumberland, mason, was apprenticed to John Sewell on 24 June 1740.
Samuel Sewel, the son of William Sewel of Braintree, Essex, weaver, was apprenticed to Thomas Warner on 20 August 1768.
Samuel Sewell, the son of Joseph Sewell of Stepney, Middlesex, gentleman, was apprenticed to Charles Bartrum, hardwareman on 24 May 1774.
Richard Sewell, the son of Thomas Sewell of St Luke, Middlesex, cabinet maker, was apprenticed to his father on 9 November 1786.
Loriners’ Company (57)
The Loriners are makers and vendors of harness and riding equipment such as bridles, bits, spurs and stirrups. Many were based in Foster Lane, off Cheapside, in close proximity to the saddlers and fusters. In 1327 a trade demarcation dispute with the saddlers led to violence and resulted in several fatalities.
John Sewell, the son of Blisberry Sewell of St Bride, London, watchmaker, was apprenticed to William Laycaul on 5 September 1792.
Spectacle Makers’ Company (60)
Henry Sewell, a bound apprentice to John Radfold on 9 April 1659, was made free on 25 June 1668.
Glovers’ Company (62)
The Company was founded in 1349 by glovers in the City of London in order to protect the high standard of their craft.
Rebecca Sowle, the daughter of John Sowle, citizen and stationer (deceased), was apprenticed to Mary Raven on 22 January 1676/77.
Needlemakers’ Company (65)
Joseph Sewell, the son of John Sewell of St Luke, Middlesex, watchmaker, was apprenticed to Thomas Thrasher on 14 September 1781.
Tin Plate Workers’ Company Alias Wireworkers (67)
A Royal Charter was granted in 1670 in order to amalgamate the tinplate workers, who had previously belonged to the Ironmongers’ Company, and the wireworkers, who had been members of the Girdlers’ Company. Early tinplate was used for drinking vessels, plates and lanterns while wire objects included fish hooks, cages, chains and traps.
Jonathan Saul, the son of William Saul of Shoreditch, Middlesex, weaver, was apprenticed to John Haggard on 17 September 1755. Turned over to Peter Noxon on 13 April 1757.
David Saul, the son of Jonathan Saul of Shoreditch, Middlesex, victualler (deceased), was apprenticed to Martin Pennell on 30 January 1793.
Glass Sellers’ Company (71)
Augustus Sewell, the son of Thomas Sewell of Shadwell, Middlesex, labourer, was apprenticed to Joshua Rayner on 20 July 1708.
Coachmakers’ and Coach Harness Makers’ Company (72)
Nathaniel Solley, the son of Benjamin Solley, citizen and grocer, was apprenticed on 1 December 1685.
Thomas Soley, the son of Thomas Soley of Pyrford, Surrey, farmer, was apprenticed to William Roberts on 28 March 1728.
John Sewell, the son of John Sewell, citizen and farrier, was apprenticed to John Howard on 19 September 1734.
Fisher Sowley, the son of Henry Sowley of Enfield, Middlesex, gentleman, was apprenticed to John Foster on 6 March 1777.
Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers’ Company (74)
Introduced to the City of London by European craftsmen, the craft was well established by the fifteenth century. The fine gold-coated silver thread is still used in brocade, banners, badges and ceremonial uniforms.
Charles Saul, the son of Charles Saul, was apprenticed to Francis Wilkinson on 10 July 1760.
Although very few of the more ancient livery companies retain close connections with their original craft or trade, new companies continue to be created, from Insurers (92) to Scientific Instrument Makers (84), Launderers (89) to Chartered Accountants (86), reflecting the industry and commerce of today. Nowadays, there are nearly one hundred City livery companies, successors to the guilds and misteries. The livery companies are private organisations without shareholders and there is no legal requirement for them to publish accounts. In the modern world their role is in charitable works or in education, providing scholarships or supporting schools and colleges. For example, the City and Guilds of London Institute was incorporated in 1878 for the advancement of technical and scientific education. It is now the foremost qualifying body for technical and commercial education for skilled occupations. In 2007 more than 1.9 million people were trained for more than 500 qualifications at 8,500 colleges, businesses and training centres in 100 countries.
Environmental Cleaners (97) and Air Pilots and Air Navigators (81) may seem light years away from the fusters, ferroners, pepperers and haberdashers but they share the same vision: to set the standard for their profession and be a force for good in world commerce.
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