Cutlers' Company Apprenticeships

Guildhall Library Mss 7146/1-36 are 36 parchment rolls containing wardens' accounts 1442-1498 (with a few gaps). Though they contain only the bare names of apprentices and their masters, they have been included in this work. The roll for 1452-3 (GL Ms 7146/6) is largely illegible and has been omitted. Several other rolls are far from perfect, and have several illegible entries. The rolls for 1456-7, 1459-60, 1464-5, 1465-6 (GL Ms 7146/8, 10, 13-14) do not contain any of these fines. The roll for 1458-9 (GL Ms 7146/9) gives the name of the master but not the apprentice and has been omitted. In the early years, the master paid 1s 6d per year for each apprentice he had. From the 1460s, he seems to have paid 6s 8d at the beginning of the apprenticeship.

The next earliest record which has been included is GL Ms 7159/1 which contains apprenticeship bindings 1565-1604 and 1618-27. The binding and catalogue list the starting date as 1575, and indeed this is when the record appears to have been kept from. However there are one or two earlier entries recorded. The volume has been damaged and a few entries have been lost. Furthermore, in the latter section a few pages have been inserted in the wrong order, presumably at the rebinding.

GL Ms 7147/1 contains wardens' accounts 1584-1622 (though labelled 1586-1621); entries of apprenticeship are given. In early records only the surnames of the parties is given; sometimes from 1609 both surnames and christian names are given. This volume has been used to augment the record, reading names illegible or missing in the other sources for this period noted below.

GL Ms 7159/2 contains apprenticeship bindings 1604-18. The volume has been badly damaged and though repaired some entries are lost and others defective. In the repair one or two pages have been bound in out of chronological order. The damage has, to some extent, been made up from the first volume of Court Minutes (GL Ms 7151/1) which covers 1602 to 1670 (although its binding labels it as ending in 1667). This volume, however, only rarely gives full details and sometimes does not even give the christian names of the parties; it does however give turnovers, not in GL Ms 7159/2. It also only lists a small proportion of entries in the apprenticeship books. The basis of selection is not discernible.

From the end of the record in Ms 7159/1 (1627), entries have been taken from the Court Minutes. As stated above, however, only the bare names are recorded, and for some periods the record may well be defective. Certainly, the number of apprentices recorded in very low. The Cutlers' Company Ms 7151/2 contains court minutes 28 May 1670 to 25 Sep 1706. Though all entries have been noted, details are not give until 1677. The Cutlers' Company Ms 660/1 contains court minutes (with apprenticeship details) 1687-90 and purports to contain a similar record for 1712-19. However, on careful examination it became clear that this latter period was a record of the Clockmakers' apprenticeships for this period. As this manuscript was the basis of Fothergill's list at the Society of Genealogists, the error was perpetuated in that list. The record has been continued with GL Ms 7151/3 which continues the court minutes to 1730. Ms 7159/3 contains apprenticeship bindings 1718-1826. Ms 7159/3 records no entries between 18 May 1781 and 15 Jan 1789. Entries continue in the Orphans' Tax book (GL Ms 7160/1), which is, however, not completely legible, but entries have been completed and corrected from the Court Minutes (GL Ms 7151/5-6) for the period.

The earliest records have been conflated. A few entries, from which no useful information can be obtained have been omitted altogether. Sometimes, it has been possible to supply various information. The christian name is sometimes very likely, when only the surname is given, the month may sometimes be very likely from surrounding entries, and a parish may be assigned to a township, etc. All this editorially supplied information is in square brackets. A cutler who frequently takes apprentices at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century is 'Oliver Plucket', presumably in fact a member of the Plunket family of whom one Oliver became a archbishop, though the name is (almost) consistently spelled 'Plucket'.

There are 5,752 apprenticeships recorded in this index, 17,487 names have been indexed. I am grateful for the permission of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers and of the Corporation of London, Guildhall Library for their permission to publish this work. I am also most grateful to Mr Hinde, clerk of the Company for his encouragement during the course of this work and for permission to publish.