Link to Brentford High Street Project

Home and Search
Site Guide
Brentford Basics
Privacy Policy
Contact Families
Photos of people
Name indexes incl WW1
Lists, Documents, News
Occupations Properties: High Street
Properties: non-High Street
1909/10 Valuation Index
Pub Hub Seeking...
Mystery photos A-Z list History
Beach's Jam
Nowell Parr
Turner the Artist
Queen Victoria 1840
Brentford Market
80 High Street
Clitherow of Boston House
Four Croxford Brothers They Said
Books etc.
Web Links

Site Technology

Home and Search

Not Brentford


An ancestor who worked in a craft or trade during the 19th century or earlier may have served an apprenticeship. He, less commonly she, was probably aged 13 to 16 when they were 'bound' or 'indentured', but in certain circumstances and for some trades they may have been younger or older.

An Act of 1710 made stamp duty payable on indentures of apprenticeship and registers recording payment were kept from 1710 to 1811 (The Oxford Companion to Family & Local History). Records were made of the name of the apprentice, their master, term of apprenticeship, fees paid, location and, in some periods, the name of the apprentice's father and his trade.

A typical register entry follows for Jno Woods, whose master was Robert Paddon, draper of New Brentford. Paddon received a fee of £150, for providing a 5-year apprenticeship from 25 Aug 1790. The entry spans two pages in the register and Woods is the third apprentice recorded (find out more about Paddon's other apprentices).

Register of Duties Paid, showing first half of entry for Jno Woods
Register of Duties Paid, showing second half of entry for Jno Woods

Some online sources of apprenticeship records follow; at the end are links to free resources.

Records of London's Livery Companies Online (ROLLCO) (free)

ROLLCO (1) below: records of Apprentices and Freemen for 11 City of London Livery Companies between 1400 and 1900, searchable by name, occupation and place. The year, not the exact date, is given - fine for most purposes.

The link between the Company and actual craft or trade was lost over time: a Merchant Taylor was not necessarily a tailor, in a similar way that a freemason is unlikely to be a mason in modern times. Membership of a company conferred benefits: 'Membership of one was essential if you wanted to make your own way in life'. Checks of company websites suggest these now are primarily social and charitable organisations.

The 11 companies covered by ROLLCO follow in alphabetical order; the number in square brackets is the order of precedence in the list of 110 Livery Companies:

  • The Bowyers' Company [38]
  • The Clothworkers' Company [12]
  • The Drapers' Company [3]
  • The Founders' Company [33]
  • The Girdlers' Company [23]
  • The Goldsmiths' Company [5]
  • The Mercers' Company [1]
  • The Musicians' Company [50]
  • The Salters' Company [9]
  • The Stationers' Company 47]
  • The Tallow Chandlers' Company [21]
This leaves 90% of Companies not represented on the ROLLCO database: some examples that may be relevant to Brentford are the Company of Basketmakers, Company of Merchant Taylors and Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers.

More recently formed Companies are the Company of World Traders and Company of Information Technologists.

Summary of online apprenticeship records

These three subscription websites have record sets:Findmypast (FMP); Ancestry (Anc) and TheGenealogist (Gen). Each offers search facilities by name and date, sometimes by place too. In some cases the original register can be viewed, see final column in the table below. An entry may be split over two pages, as in the example above, so check the next page too

ProviderRecord SetNumber of recordsNotesOriginals?
ROLLCO (1) Apprentices and Freemen 1400 and 1900Over 100 for BrentfordNo
FMP (1) Country Apprentices 1710-1808Over 1 million288 for BrentfordNo
FMP (2) London Apprenticeship Abstracts, 1442-1850Over 480,000597 for BrentfordNo
FMP (3) Thames Watermen & Lightermen 1688-2010Nearly 100,0001,448 for BrentfordNo
FMP (4) City Of London, Haberdashers, Apprentices and Freemen 1526-1933Over 135,000Searchable by name but not placeYes
FMP (5) City of London Ironmongers' Company, Apprentices and FreemenOver 22,000Searchable by name but not placeYes
Anc (1) UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1811Over 1 million447 for BrentfordYes
Anc (2) UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910 Over 340,0005 for BrentfordYes
Anc (3) UK, Articles of Clerkship 1756-1834Nearly 50,00018 for BrentfordYes
Gen (1) Apprenticeship RecordsAs Anc (1)Yes
Gen (2) Merchant Navy Apprenticeship RecordsAs Anc (2)Yes

Findmypast has other record sets for specific places or trades, for example

  • City of York Apprentices and Freemen: over 100,000 records
  • City of London Ironmongers' Company, Apprentices and Freemen: over 22,000 records
and more: search 'All Record Sets' for 'apprentice' to see a list.


Links to free sites

Records of London Livery Companies online (ROLLCO) at has a free searchable database of records for 11 Livery Companies.

LondonLives has general information about apprenticeships at; it also has many other indexed and viewable records for the period up to 1820.

Carpenter and joiner apprentices and masters: more links available.

Inspiring City at has information about the history of the 12 most powerful livery companies.

The Oxford Companion to Family & Local History, several editions published since 1996 by the Oxford University Press, has a useful section on apprenticeship.

If you have any links to other apprenticeship records, please get in touch so they can be added.

Page published July 2021