An Apprenticeship Indenture

When a youngster was bound apprentice, the seriousness of the commitment was emphasised by the legal nature of the apprenticeship document.

At Market Lavington Museum we have been pleased, recently, to receive such a document dating from 1919.

Apprenticeship indenture binding Stephen Coleman of Market Lavington to Hopkins - 1919

Perhaps we should start by saying that this indenture lays far less stringent constraints on the apprentice as compared with similar documents from the mid 19th century. The terms, though, may have seemed daunting to the young man being bound apprentice here. He was Stephen Henry John Coleman. Stephen was born in 1905 so he was a mere 14 when he entered this apprenticeship.

His employers were William Hopkins and Sons, (builders) – (Samuel and J E Hopkins).

Young Stephen was committed to serve his master faithfully, keeping his secrets and causing him no harm in any way. Nor should he waste the goods of his master. In exchange, Samuel and John Ernest Hopkins agreed to instruct Stephen in the art, trade and business of a carpenter, using the best methods he could and finding the apprentice all such tools as he would need.

The term of the apprenticeship was for five years. Young Stephen was to be paid six shillings (30p) per week for the first year, rising by two shilling (10p) increments so that in the fifth year Stephen was on fourteen shillings (70p) per week.

The document was signed by Stephen, his father, also Stephen and by Frederick Chapman of High Street, Market Lavington.

The signatures on the indenture

Stephen completed his apprenticeship, married in 1926 and worked for local builders throughout his working life.

We recently featured his roof angle gauge, which was made for a specific job, probably on a housing estate in the area.


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