Apprenticeship Indentures

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

The following source list was originally available only on paper in one of the West Yorkshire Archive Service offices. It may have been compiled many years ago and could be out of date. It was designed to act as a signpost to records of interest on a particular historical subject, but may relate only to one West Yorkshire district, or be an incomplete list of sources available. Please feel free to add or update with any additional information.


Formal apprencticeships became popular in the Middle Ages, where they developed into a legally binding bond or 'indenture' between an apprentice and a tradesman. The indenture was a way of formalising the agreement between an apprentice and his master to exchange his labour in return for learning a particular craft or trade.

An apprentice was usually a young man between the ages of 10-15 years old who provided a source of cheap labour to a trademan, who in return would often provide food and lodgings as well as imparting the skills of his craft. Apprentices often came from poor families the care of which fell on the parish; therefore apprenticeships became a popular way of relieving the burden on the parish.

A stamp duty was levied on apprenticeship indentures (other than those for poor children) from 1710. These records are kept at TNA(1710-1811).

The majority of local apprenticeship records can be found in the Quarter Session rolls (ref. QS1), however other useful resources include parish records (overseers and vestry minutes) and private collections such as the ones listed below.


Description Dates Reference Repository
Cawthorne, apprenticeship of Richard Barlow to Isaac Senior, tailor 1792 C669 WYAS: Wakefield
Crigglestone, Arthur Wakefield (a Lady Bolles apprentice) to Joseph Hammon Waite, carpenter and joiner 4 Dec 1895 C1046 WYAS: Wakefield
Elland, apprenticeship of Alice Maud Smithies as a pastry cook 1895 C17/3 WYAS: Wakefield
Gildersome, apprenticeship of John Walker senior and John Walker junior of Wadlands, Calverley, to John Sharpe, salter 29 Sep 1739 C281/2/11 WYAS: Wakefield
Gildersome, apprenticeship of Sarah Heartley to John Sharpe, salter 17 Apr 1770 C281/2/24 WYAS: Wakefield
Gildersome, apprenticeship of Anne Murgatroyd of Armley to Robert Watson, coloured broad clothier 15 Feb 1744/5 C281/3/6 WYAS: Wakefield
Gildersome, apprenticeship of James Wilcock to John Tomlinson, clothier 31 Aug 1756 C281/3/9 WYAS: Wakefield
Mirfield, apprenticeship of Joseph Richard Parker 1878 C894 WYAS: Wakefield
Morley Methodist Circuit, pupil-teacher apprenticeship papers 1858-1860 C12 add WYAS: Wakefield
Peterborough, apprenticeship of Edwin Cook of Huntingdon to Charles Jacob, printer 1807 C692/8/1 WYAS: Wakefield
Sandal, apprenticeship of J W Moxon 1895 C920 WYAS: Wakefield
Sandal St Helen's Church, apprenticeship records including register of apprentices 1821-1824 and individual indentures - see Sandal St Helen's Apprenticeship Indenture for further info 1713-1848 WDP20/9/11 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield Charities, various apprenticeship papers 1818-1878 C493 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield, Lady Bolles' Charity, various apprenticeship indentures 1854-1940 C519/11-14 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield, Smyth of Heath and Dame Lady Bowles' apprenticeship indentures 1845-1912 C547/4/3/1-18 WYAS: Wakefield
Wakefield Museum, various apprenticeship papers 18thC-19thC C861 WYAS: Wakefield