Author Topic: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?  (Read 496 times)

Offline snuttall

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Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« on: Thursday 02 December 21 22:36 GMT (UK) »
Everything I have read suggests apprentices were not allowed to marry.

I am looking at a Thomas Challinor, who was an apprentice cutler in Sheffield, apprenticed 1728 and freedom 1746 so it was a long apprenticeship, 18 years. He would have been 30 by the end.

Unfortunately if he was not allowed to marry, that bulldozes a theory I'm building in which he started having children from 1739 onwards, including my 6xgreat-granddad  ;)

I do have some corroboration that they're the same person, namely that all of those children were born to Thomas Challinor, Cutler, of Sheffield between 1739-1747 - and I have all the apprentice cutler records for Sheffield and he was the only Thomas Challinor apprenticed to be a cutler around that time (there was one over 100 years earlier and a couple a few decades later but that's it).

Offline BumbleB

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 02 December 21 22:41 GMT (UK) »
I'm certainly not too knowledgeable about apprenticeships, but my understanding is that they generally lasted 7 years. 
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Offline goldie61

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 02 December 21 23:21 GMT (UK) »
All the apprenticeships I've found were for 7 years, as BumbleB says.
That's not to say they couldn't be for longer I guess, but 18 years does seem a very long time.
Do records for other apprentice cutlers at this time show apprenticeships were usually for 18 years?

As to whether they could marry during their apprenticeships, you are correct in thinking they were not supposed to. I do have one though that started an apprenticeship in 1812 for seven years - this 'seven years' is actually stipulated on the records. However, he did marry in June 1816, just 4 years into his apprenticeship, and his first child was born in December 1816. Obviously they had to marry because she was already pregnant. I'm sure this sort of thing happened quite often, so there must have been some common sense lee-way applied to these situations.
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Offline Lady Di

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 02 December 21 23:23 GMT (UK) »
Usually an apprenticeship was 7 years - although some were longer and a couple were shorter.
Marriage was not allowed under normal circumstances.

Freedom could be requested any time after completion although freedom could be purchased without an apprenticeship or it might be requested if one's father had been an apprentice and had his freedom.

It's possible that your Thomas may have completed his apprenticeship in 1734/1734 and only felt the need of freedom papers when he decided to set up a business of his own in 1746.
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Offline Rena

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #4 on: Friday 03 December 21 00:01 GMT (UK) »
Apprenticeships were paid for by the parents.    I have read somewhere that if the parent couldn't pay for the 7 year training, then in some cases the apprentice carried on working until the debt had been paid off.
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Offline Lady Di

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #5 on: Friday 03 December 21 06:34 GMT (UK) »
You probably have this website:

https://cutlers-hallamshire.org.uk/archives/

Within the site it states that there are only two ways to become a Freeman [of the Cutlers' Company in the Sheffield Region]
" They are – by servitude, which means the person has served an apprenticeship to the trade, or by redemption – by paying an entrance fee.  Unlike the London Livery Companies, the Cutler’s Company does not have qualification by patrimony, which meant that if your father was in the Company – you too could become a Freeman"

You will probably find further information from their Archives (if you haven't already been in contact)

I understand that you could apply to become a Freeman any time after completing your apprenticeship.




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Offline Old Bristolian

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #6 on: Friday 03 December 21 08:35 GMT (UK) »
I've always understood that an apprentice could marry only with the approval of his master, which I suppose would have been rare enough,

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Offline youngtug

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #7 on: Friday 03 December 21 12:21 GMT (UK) »
It say's here that Sheffield cutlers required a minimum of 7 years apprenticeship.;; https://www.sheffieldrecordsonline.org.uk/data/about_cutlers.html
Although 18 years seems rather excessive, especially being that the master would have to provide food and lodging during that time, Oh, and the apprentice was not to marry in that time.
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Offline horselydown86

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Re: Would an 18th century apprentice have married?
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 04 December 21 14:05 GMT (UK) »
As Lady Di has twice pointed out, the date on which a former apprentice was granted Freedom of the Company or of the City has nothing to do with the duration of their apprenticeship.

The duration of an apprenticeship is stated on the Indenture which binds apprentice and master at the beginning of their service.  Nothing else matters.