3 top websites to find apprentice ancestors


25 July 2017
The-Young-Apprentice-60590.jpg The Young Apprentice
Trying to find your ancestors who were apprenticed? Discover our 3 top websites & start exploring today.

Trying to find your ancestors who were apprenticed? Discover our 3 top websites & start exploring today.


Almost every occupation had apprentices – there were all kinds of smiths, weavers, dairymaids, milliners, tailors, lawyers, shopkeepers and more – so it’s highly likely that your ancestor would have been apprenticed, whatever social and economic class they belonged to.


You may not be able to find your ancestor’s apprenticeship agreement (called an indenture) but don’t despair; there are other ways to find out about him or her if you know where to look. In addition, by examining some of the indentures online, you can gain a good idea of the terms upon which your own ancestor was apprenticed – and build up a better picture of their early working lives.


If you think your ancestor was a city or borough freeman, and followed a skilled trade or craft, you should enquire of the borough, city or county archives to see what records are held.


At the other end of the social scale, from 1597 the Elizabethan Poor Laws, giving the responsibility of parish relief to the overseers, enabled them to put pauper children out as apprentices and require parishioners to take an apprentice. Pauper indentures up to 1844 may be found with parish records in local archives.


Others may have had charity apprenticeships, organised via organisations such as The Foundling Hospital, or been privately indentured.


Some records can, of course, be increasingly found online, and professional genealogist Christine Wibberley suggests three great places to start exploring on the internet to learn more about your apprentice ancestors:

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1 London Lives

The free London Lives website is a mine of information for finding more on London pauper apprentices with explanations, suggestions for further reading and original documents in its section of Researching Apprentices.


2 The Society of Genealogists

You may find surviving private indentures in family papers or employer/company records. The Society of Genealogists has some in its Crisp and Clench Collection.


3 Findmypast 

This subscription family history website has several collections online relating to apprenticeship, some place specific and some relating to particular occupations, as well as transcriptions of Stamp Duty Registers (held by The National Archives), which are also searchable here at Ancestry.co.uk (1710-1811).


We hope this has been a helpful introduction to how to start tracing your apprentice ancestors, but you can find out more in the September 2017 issue of Family Tree, available now from our store.