Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Indenture of Apprenticeship

We’ve spoken before about the five different workshops located in the Central Refuge on Francis Street. These workshops; printing, shoemaking, tailoring, joinery and firewood were created to give the boys a skill and consequently a career for life. Documents of indenture were signed by the boys to a particular trade providing a contract between the apprentice and the Refuge. 


Indenture of Apprenticeship


We’ve recently come across one of these indentures in the archive, which gives a better understanding as to the stipulations agreed between each party. Most apprenticeships began when a boy was aged 13/14 and had finished compulsory education. A full apprenticeship lasted seven years until the age of 21.


The contract set various conditions;

  • The apprentice ‘shall not nor will at any time or times during the said term or after the expiration thereof directly or indirectly divulge, disclose, discover or make known any of the secrets, business correspondence or connections of the masters unto any person or persons whatsoever’.
  • Will not ‘waste, misspend, embezzle, purloin, damage or destroy any of the moneys, goods, property, books, documents, papers or writings of the Master’.
  • Will ‘well and faithfully account for all such moneys, goods and other things received by him’.
  • Shall ‘in all respects behave himself as a good and faithful apprentice ought to do during the whole of the said term.’ 


Terms of contract

In return the ‘Master’ (the Manchester and Salford Refuges and Homes) would ‘to the best of their abilities teach and instruct’ in the trade named. Of course it was not just the skills of a trade that the boys benefitted from. There was also the question of wages!

Wages Paid
As can be seen from the indenture above, the amount of money received by the apprentice increased each year of his term, up to thirteen shillings a week (£37 in today’s money) before the First World War. Unlike today however, the apprentice received no sick pay for long term absence. If you didn’t turn up for work you didn’t get paid!

Of course all this changed after the ‘Great War....’

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