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Apprentices and Masters

The Statute of Apprentices in 1563 stated that no one could set up in a trade without completing an Apprenticeship. An Apprentice was placed with a Master for at least seven years and he was bound by the agreement until the age of 24. This was reduced to 21 in 1768. An Apprentice’s life was dependent upon his Master, who supplied food, shelter and clothing. The Apprentice was forbidden to marry, gamble or visit public houses. An Indenture – an agreement between the Master and the Apprentice or his guardian – allowed for the payment of a Premium for the apprenticeship. This usually varied from a few pounds to tens of pounds, but could be higher. In 1601, the Overseers of the Poor were given the ability to bind pauper children to a Master. Anyone under the age of 21 refusing to be an Apprentice was to be imprisoned until they found a Master.

The records below are taken from the London Apprenticeship Abstracts, 1442–1850 and the Britain Country Apprentices, 1710-1808. The records are copyright of the Society of Genealogists and can be viewed on findmypast.  Additional details are given where the men mentioned appear in the Wickhamford and Badsey parish registers. As many of the men concerned would have been illiterate, the spelling of their surnames sometimes varies.


Seven men from Wickhamford served Masters elsewhere and three Apprentices served Masters who lived in the village. Five of the village men were apprenticed to Livery Companies and two to local Masters.

William Burt, son of John Burt of Wickhamford, a husbandman, was apprenticed to Gilbert Cowley of the Blacksmith Livery Company in London, on 28th June 1613. William “Byrte” had been baptised in Wickhamford on 10th October 1595, a son of John and Jane (née Burston). A William “Byrte” was buried in Wickhamford in 1625.

Edmund Mickleton, son of Edward Mickleton of Wickhamford, a yeoman, was apprenticed to Henry Mustoe of the Fishmonger Company in London, on 10th June 1616. Edmund was baptised in Wickhamford on 25th June 1597. Edward Mickleton’s name appears in the Manor Court records as one of the Homage of villagers hearing cases between the years 1631 and 1639.

Abel Gurney, son of John Gurney of Wickhamford, was apprenticed to the Cooks' Livery Company in London on 1st February 1655/6.  The surname Gurney does not appear in the village parish registers.

Samuel Marshall of Wickhamford was apprenticed to Thomas Gilkes, weaver of Murcott for a Premium of £3.0.0 in 1715. Samuel was baptised in Wickhamford on 8th Sept. 1695. His father was Edward Marshall, who had other children baptised in the village in 1691 and 1692.

William Smith, son of Thomas Smith of Wickhamford, was apprenticed to Henry Horne of the Tylers' and Bricklayers' Livery Company in 1703.

Robert Brooke, son of Robert Brooke, a Wickhamford farmer, was apprenticed to Thomas Wyat of the Cutlers' Livery Company on 8th April 1713.

Ralph Fisher of Wickhamford, son of William Fisher, a yeoman, was apprenticed to Thomas Yearnold, an Evesham baker in 1716 for a Premium of £14.15.0. There is a burial for a Ralph Fisher in Wickhamford on 23rd March 1768. William Fisher had been buried in Wickhamford in November 1727.

William Loughton was apprenticed to John Miland, a weaver of Wickhamford for a Premium of £7.0.0 in 1761. Two Miland women were married in Wickhamford in this period, Anne in 1764 and Mary in 1765 and these may have been daughters of John Miland.

Thomas Butler was apprenticed to William Richards, a weaver of Wickhamford in 1780. William Richards was a witness to the marriage of Thomas Pain in Badsey on 26th Oct 1778.

John Nightingale was also apprenticed to William Richards, in 1782. John Nightingale was buried in Badsey on 23rd Nov. 1794, aged 24. There is a baptism record for a John “Knightingale” in Badsey on 28th January 1770, which is almost certainly the same individual. His parents were James and Mary “Knightingale”.


Benjamin Knight was apprenticed in 1723 to Francis Pinchin, a smith in Bricklehampton. His father was said to be James Knight. (There is a baptismal record in Badsey for a Benjamin Knight, but the father is recorded in the register as Joseph.)


Anthony Smith, whose father, Thomas, was a yeoman in Badsey, was apprenticed to Richard Ordway of the Vintners Company in London on 6th June 1648. Anthony had been baptised in the village on 15th May 1634.

Richard Canning the son of Richard Canning, a gentleman of Badsey, was apprenticed to William Johnson of the grocers Company in London on 9th August 1648. Richard Canning senior had a daughter baptised in Badsey in 1645. There are burials in Fladbury of two men called Richard Canning, both of Throckmorton, in 1688 and 1716.

Thomas Brewer, whose father, also Thomas, was a blacksmith in Badsey, was made an Apprentice to Arthur Gobsall of the Vintners Company in London on 5th June 1660.

Thomas Dingley, son of Clement Dingley, a gentleman of Badsey, was apprenticed to Joseph Richardson of the Grocers Company in London on 6th June 1671. He had been baptised in the village on 29th August 1656. His parents had married in Badsey in 1649 and two of their other children were baptised there in 1651 and 1653.

Richard Cox, whose father Philip Cox was a Badsey blacksmith, was apprenticed on 2nd March 1709/10 to Walter Coney of the Blacksmith Company in London, to learn his father’s trade.

William Smith, son of Joseph Smith of Badsey, was apprenticed in 1713, for £7.0.0. to William Harley, a whitesmith (a worker with tin or other light metals).

Edward Seward, son of Badsey gentleman, John Seward, was apprenticed in 1716 for the large sum of £408.10.0. to Sir William Chapman, a City of London merchant. Chapman was a baronet and a Director of the South Sea Company which ran into trouble in 1720 – the ‘South Sea Bubble’. Edward Seward died in 1772 aged 74 years and there is a marble wall monument for him in Badsey church.

Edward Miland, a Badsey weaver, took William Gelps as an Apprentice in 1720 for £5.0.0. Gelps’ father was William, a labourer from Bretforton. Edward, son of Thomas Miland had been baptised in Badsey on 29th July 1683. There is a marriage recorded for Edward Miland and Mary Morris in Bretforton on 14th August 1728, which may be that of the Badsey weaver.

John Harrison, a Badsey weaver, employed Charles Sheepherd, the son of a Badsey yeoman, Thomas Sheepherd, in 1720. The apprenticeship cost £4.10.0. A John Harrison was buried in Badsey in 1727 but no records of a Sheepherd family appear in the Badsey church records. In 1721. John Harrison employed George Hazard, whose father of the same name was deceased, only requiring £2.0.0 for his apprenticeship.

Robert Bennett was also a Badsey weaver and he employed Thomas Grove for £3.10.0. in 1719 and Joseph Moore for £4.0.0. in 1723. He was buried in Badsey on 27th October 1728.

Benjamin Bond, Badsey tailor, employed Sylvester Davies for £6.0.0. in 1737. Bond later moved to Evesham where he employed another Apprentice in 1758. He died in Evesham in 1765.

William Cotton, a tailor in Badsey, employed two men as Apprentices, John Roberts of Littleton in 1741, for the sum of £3.0.0. and John Cooper in 1755, for £4.0.0. William Cotton was buried in Badsey in 1785 and his wife, Sarah pre-deceased him in 1758. They had been married on 13th December 1753 and a son, William, was baptised in Badsey on 11th January 1756.

James Beesley or Beasley was a weaver in Badsey who employed three Apprentices in the 1750s. He died in 1768 and is buried in Badsey churchyard. The Apprentices concerned are Joshua Smith (1754) who paid £7.0.0., John Careless (1757) who paid £6.0.0. and Joseph Sheppard (1757) who paid £6.0.0.

John Gibbs, a Badsey baker, employed two Apprentices in 1781 and 1783. James Stanley was indentured in 1781, but registered in 1782, presumable both events being around the New Year, which occurred in March. John Darke was apprenticed in 1783. A John Gibbs was buried in Badsey in 1789.

William Hughes, a Badsey weaver, took on Apprentice John Jones in 1779. There is marriage record for William Hughes in the village in 1751.

Tom Locke – January 2018 (additional entries, December 2019)