23 Apr 2017

Thomas Squire's apprenticeship

Mary Squire's Almshouses

This is the seventh post in my series reporting my research of Mary Squire's Almshouses in Walthamstow, London, formerly in the county of Essex (the Squire's Almshouses); and of Mary Squire herself.

I believe that the Squire siblings moved away from Walthamstow after their parents died in 1742 and 1744.  In terms of their occupations, William named himself a boxmaker in his 1763 will and I found the original apprenticeship indenture for Thomas.

Again this is incredibly exciting - I believe that not all that many of these parchment apprenticeship certificates survived.

The certificate reads, in part:

This indenture witnesseth that Thomas Squire Son of William Squire late of Walthamstow in the County of Essex Farmer dec'd

doth put himself Apprentice to William Hatch Citizen and Wheelwright of London, to learn his Art...
... serve for seven years...
And the said Master (in consideration of Fifty Pounds of Mr. Pennoyer's Gift paid by the Worship[ful] Comp[any] of Drapers being the money given with said Apprentice). [etc]

2 August 1743

The reference of the apprenticeship records at LMA containing Thomas's indenture is:
X109/005 - 1734-1752
The letter 'S' against Thomas's name in the index stands for 'servitude' and means he served an apprenticeship.  Other references were 'P' for patrimony, when someone could apprentice because their father was a member of a worshipful company, and also 'R' but  unfortunately I can't think what this stands for (could it be renumeration?).

This date confirms that the burial record dated 14 May 1742 is most likely that of Thomas and William's father, and not of Thomas's brother William (which would scupper the idea that William was Mary's husband. So phew!).

1743 was the year after William Sr died, and one year before Elizabeth Squire died - so I feel that this was likely the mother's burial and not that of their sister.

Starting an apprenticeship meant that Thomas moved away from Walthamstow to likely live with William Hatch and his family to carry out the seven years' contract.  I know from the apprenticeship indenture of Thomas's own son that Thomas did become a wheelwright.

I found out a little more about apprenticeships.  Boys, and some girls too, would commit themselves (or I should say their fathers committed them) to serving an apprenticeship of seven years under a master or mistress.  This was the normal, standard length of time.

Some apprentices had a really bad rep: they would go drinking and carousing and form street gangs that made a nuisance of themselves and could even be dangerous.  I suspect that the vast majority of apprentices were nothing of the sort.  I may write more about 18th Century apprenticeships at some future point but this post is already long enough, so I won't add to it just now.

An apprenticeship could also be quite a harsh regime, depending on the master.  Some apprentices were horribly exploited and abused.  Most would probably have experienced a more middle of the road apprenticeship.  I hope Thomas did.

The last point of interest of this apprenticeship indenture is where the money came from: apparently not from the Squire family (did their father's death leave them in financial straits?) but the Company of Drapers seems to have procured a charity payment from something called Mr Pennoyer's Gift.
I found out more about that, and (think that I) learnt a context that makes it even stranger that Thomas would have had help from this quarter - more about that in another post.

© Company of Drapers
I must say that I don't understand why the Company of Drapers got involved (it is lucky for Thomas that they did. Who helped him by putting the Squire family in touch with the drapers?  Was someone at the Company of Drapers a mentor for young Thomas?). Thomas's son William did an apprenticeship to become a haberdasher, which is a lot closer to what drapers did (wool and cloth merchants) - but a wheelwright?  Maybe this is just the apprenticeship they could find for him, maybe it was just luck of the draw.  I must emphasise that I have not found out who helped Thomas get the charity payment, and unfortunately I am unable to answer any of the other questions that occurred to me.  Such a shame.

Most apprentices would start their apprenticeship at 14, I reckon that Thomas was 15 and a half, a bit late in starting.  Was this because of possible financial problems at home?  Where was his older brother William at this time?  William would have been 18 in 1742 at the time of his father's death and 20 when his mother died.  Was there no farm to inherit from his father?  Did he perhaps not want to work as a farmer, or did they lose the farm without their father around because William Sr may have been a tenant farmer?

The late apprenticeship start by Thomas could point towards them giving up farm life in 1743 or 1744 when their mother died.  I have the feeling that this is when William moved to the city - but I have not been able to find an apprenticeship record for him to become the boxmaker his will names him to be in 1763.

If you are wondering why I am writing about Mary Squire's Almshouses then have a look at this first blog post.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please do leave me a comment if you enjoy this blog. I particularly love if you have anything to add, or a question. Research is a solitary pursuit so it is great fun to discuss my findings.