Carmens' Company apprenticeships

The Carmens' Company dates its origins from 1516, when the Fraternity of St Katherine the Virgin and Martyr was formed to give Carmen the monopoly of plying for hire in the city. However, it was only in 1668 by an act of the Common Council that they became an independent fellowship.

The archives of the Company are deposited at the Guildhall Library. A small number of apprentices for the year 1668 are recorded in Guildhall Library Ms 4919, but without details, and the systematic record does not begin until 1678, when starts an appenticeship binding book which continues to 1776 (GL Ms 4914/1), followed by another which contains bindings from 1776 to 1848 (GL Ms 4914/2). As usual abstracts have been made here only to the end of 1800.

Ms 4914/1 has been bound incorrectly, and there is therefore some chronological confusion. In particular, there are now gaps between an entry in May 1686 and one in October 1691 and between November 1691 and June 1692. There is also a gap after May 1696 until July/August 1697. These cannot be filled from the court minutes (GL Ms 4907/1) which runs from 1668 to 1800, as this does not give any apprenticeship details. However, the last gap can be filled with the names of the parties only from an Orphans' Tax book (GL Ms 4913/1) which runs from 1694 to 1773. Since no dates are given in the latter it is not clear whether this is a complete record of the gap, but it would seem so. This book augments the record on odd occasions afterwards.

From about 1709 to the 1760s, quite a number of entries are annotated with 'dead' or similar notes. It is not certain when they were added, but they are reproduced in this index. Some notes in the 1730s and 1740s are in pencil and very difficult to read; they probably would be invisible, and certainly illegible, on microfilm.

Widows of masters are sometimes described as 'consort of the fellowship of carmen'. It is noticeable that in this company, widows took apprentices in more frequently than normal; presumably women were able to carry on this trade more easily than most. Female apprentices, however, are as rare as in most companies.

The records of 2,444 Carmens' apprenticeships have been abstracted.