Warwickshire Parish Apprenticeship Records

Parish apprenticeship records are part of the valuable social records held in record offices and libraries under the title “Poor Law Records”.  All these documents written by the parish clerks, overseers and justices of the peace of English parishes from 1662-1834 form an incredible record of people, their occupations, social conditions, life styles and population movement during these years.  Some earlier records from Elizabeth I’s time are included, as are many issued following the great Poor Law Act of 1834, which sought to deal with the abuses of the apprenticeship system, trying to ensure humanity in its administration.

It is advisable for researchers  who are using these records to know of the background to parish records and to be aware of the inter-connection of all Poor Law documents.  Read widely about “Parish Chest” documents before plunging into name research.  Having found what would seem to be a record of “your” ancestor, it is wise to check the records of the parish named for other documents also relating to the apprentice or his parents. Check baptismal, marriage and especially burial records for that person, church warden accounts and whatever else remains for that parish.  Finding an Apprenticeship record likely to be for your family is very much the beginning of a search, not its triumphant conclusion!

The details found within this index have been transcribed over a period of twenty years,  mainly from records held in Warwickshire archives, plus some from the archives of neighbouring counties.  The original transcriptions, in alphabetical parish order, are held in loose leaf folders held by Coventry Family History Society.  Please be aware that this has been a ‘one-woman job’  and no entries have been double checked for accuracy.  It is inevitable that there will be errors of transcription; I apologise if the error is in your entry.  So always return to the original document and check for accuracy – in this way you may find further relevant records to help your research along.  Be aware that more records may have been deposited during and since the time of this transcription which are unrecorded in this index.

These parish apprenticeship records can contain varying amounts of information. You will find some of the following categories for each entry:

Name of issuing parish; date of apprenticeship certificate issue; name of apprentice; his / her age; name(s) of parent(s); occupation of father and his parish of residence / settlement; name of master, his occupation, his signature and place of residence / settlement; terms of apprenticeship and its length; names and signatures of parish officers of issuing parish.

Basically, a Parish Apprenticeship Indenture was assigned mainly to boys and girls from poor families in order to relieve the parish of the cost of their continued maintenance from parish funds.  It may have been that one or both parents had died or maybe the breadwinner was ill; there may have been too many other children in the family for the parent(s) to support them all; and poor harvests or lack of trade may have made a family destitute.  In many ways a family may have become reliant on the parish for clothes, food and money.

Use these records well.  Good luck in your research.

Barbara Robinson