Bristol History, Gloucester History, Oxford History, Worcester History

Bromsgrove apprentices 1540-1663

Bromsgrove apprentices 1540-1663

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

From 1540 to 1663 apprentices from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire appear in the apprentice registers at Bristol, Oxford and Gloucester. This article follows those apprentices and endeavours to learn their story. Bromsgrove is a town in the northern end of the County of Worcestershire. It is about sixteen miles north-east of the county town of Worcester and about thirteen miles south-west of Birmingham. Bromsgrove was first mentioned in the early ninth century. After the Norman Conquest the area became the property of the King and had attached to it thirteen salt pans at Droitwich.

In 1200 the market was confirmed by a royal grant. In 1317 a Tuesday market was granted with a three day annual fair in August. In medieval times the local economy was woodland and arable farming. From about 1500 the wool trade grew in importance.[1]

Apprenticeship

The origin of the apprenticeship system is unknown. The term apprentice appears as early as 1261 in a London ordinance and Bristol was one of the first cities after London to make enactments for apprentices. By the fifteenth century other towns and trade guilds followed with their own laws. Parliament soon got involved to regulate the different bye-laws which had developed across the country. Various Acts of Parliament were issued which culminated with the statute of 1563 which made apprenticeship compulsory for all who wished to enter a trade. It was not until the reign of George III that this legal obligation was repealed though it had become a dead letter long before then.[2]

The development of apprenticeship, during medieval times, from a private contract between a master and his pupil, into a universal, recognised state system suited all concerned. To the master it gave complete control over a pupil while the latter benefited from good training. For the trade guilds, the system regulated the flow of new entrants and so prevented over-supply of the market and with consequent cutting of prices and wages by traders. It also prevented inferior workmanship. The town corporations also earned money by charging 6d to enrol an indenture, and collected a further 4s 6d for granting an apprentice freedom to trade in the borough. The state also earned money from a good tax-paying group while keeping the feudal rights of the principal government ministers from collapse.[3]

St_John_the_Baptist_Church_Bromsgrove_May_2015

Church of St. John the Baptist at Bromsgrove

1540 at Bristol

The earliest apprentice from Bromsgrove that is recorded in the three cities was that at Bristol in 1540. Yet the connection between Bristol and Bromsgrove went back further than 1540. In about 804 Aethelric, son of Aethelmund, held land at Bromsgrove and at Westbury, just to the north-west of Bristol.[4]

On 5th February 1540 Gilbert Barnsley, son of Nicholas Barnsley, gentleman of Bromsgrove, Worcester, became apprentice for ten years to Thomas Launsdon, haberdresser of Bristol (the word grocer was crossed out), and Elizabeth his wife.[5] The Barnsley family had interests in Bromsgrove in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They owned Barnsley Hall until the late seventeenth century. In 1771 the old hall was taken down.[6]

On 12th November 1544 Gilbert Barnsley had his apprenticeship changed. His new master was Roger Jones, grocer of Bristol, and his wife Elizabeth. The new apprenticeship was for seven years or roughly the remainder of his term with Thomas Launsdon.[7] Roger Jones was still operating as a grocer in 1572 and taking on new apprentices. His new apprentice was Roger Barnsley, son of Gilbert Barnsley of Bromsgrove.[8] In October 1574 Roger Jones made his will.[9]

It was often the case that a master would look for an apprentice in the geographical area that he came from or that an apprentice would travel to the bug city to meet a master that had previously come from his own area.[10] On 3rd December 1550 Nicholas Carter, son of Thomas Carter, tailor of Bromsgrove, was made apprentice for ten years to Gilbert Barnsley, grocer of Bristol.[11]

1543 at Bristol

On 27th April 1543 William Roberts, son of David Roberts, husbandman of Bromsgrove, became apprentice for nine years to Francis Woseley, merchant of Bristol, and Margery his wife.[12] Francis Woseley was the son of William Woseley, merchant of Bristol, and in 1533 was apprenticed to William Spratt, merchant of Bristol.[13] Francis Woseley imported wine and exported hides, cloth and Manchester cotton from Bristol.[14]

1550 at Bristol

On 19th August 1550 Simon Barnsley, son of Nicholas Barnsley, husbandman of Bromsgrove, became apprentice to Richard Morse, merchant of Bristol, and his wife Joyce for twelve years.[15] No further information could be found about Simon Barnsley or Richard Morse.

STC138922

STC138922 Map of Bristol, from ‘Civitates Orbis Terrarum’ by Georg Braun (1541-1622) and Frans Hogenberg (1535-90) c.1572-1617 (coloured engraving); by Hoefnagel, Joris (1542-1600) (after); Private Collection; The Stapleton Collection; Flemish, out of copyright

Map of old Bristol

1552 at Bristol

On 6th April 1552 Geoffrey Barnsley, son of Nicholas Barnsley, husbandman of Bromsgrove, became apprentice to Henry Manning, merchant of Bristol, and his wife Elizabeth for nine years.[16] In December 1550 Henry Manning imported to Bristol 31 tun of wine and in May 1551 he exported out of Bristol twelve pieces of cloth and three old organ pipes.[17] Henry Manning took on another apprentice in November 1552 but he seems to disappear from the records after that.[18] On 28th July 1553 Geoffrey Barnsley changed his apprenticeship to serve under Richard Maunsell, merchant of Bristol, and his wife Agnes for ten years. During that time Geoffrey Barnsley was to serve one year in Spain.[19] Richard Maunsell was also involved in exporting cloth from Bristol in the 1550s and importing Welsh cloth.[20]

Bromsgrove was a centre of the wool trade from about 1500 and a flourishing trade in narrow cloth and friezes continued until the end of the 18th century.[21] Learning the trade of buying and selling textiles from Henry Manning and Richard Maunsell would have greatly benefitted Geoffrey Barnsley and his home town of Bromsgrove. Another citizen from Bromsgrove arrived in Bristol in the same year as Geoffrey Barnsley to learn the textile trade. On 8th June 1552 Robert Johmuner, son of John Johmuner, weaver of Bromsgrove, became apprentice for eight years to John Smyth, weaver of Bristol.[22] From his father’s occupation Robert Johmuner had a head start in his learning. In many cases apprentices often learnt different trades to that of their father.

1559 at Bristol

On 19th June 1559 Nicholas Chans, son of William Chans, deceased of Bromsgrove, was given as apprentice for ten years to Richard Fownes, merchant of Bristol, and his wife Joan.[23] On the same day (19th June) Gilbert, son of William Chans of Bromsgrove, was given as apprentice for twelve years to William Jones, merchant of Bristol, and Mary his wife.[24] We are not told the trade of William Chans but clearly he had hopes for his two sons to see the world beyond Bromsgrove and northern Worcester and Bristol was the commercial centre of the west of England. Richard Fownes exported cloth (continuing the Bromsgrove textile story), and imported wine and figs.[25] William Jones imported wine, figs and olive oil and exported cloth.[26]

1562 at Bristol

On 15th July 1562 Michael Hill, son of John Hill of Bromsgrove, became apprentice to Philip Jenkins, grocer of Bristol, and Alice his wife for nine years.[27] It was not the best of times to settle in Bristol as a bad dose of the plague hit the city in 1564-5 and still lingered in 1568.[28] It is not known if Michael Hill survived the plague, his master certainly did. In 1566 Philip Jenkins took on William Lawse of Ilchester, Somerset, as apprentice and around the same time took on Henry Skurfield of Hereford.[29] Philip Jenkins was the son of Jenkin Banner of Brecknock in Wales and learnt his trade in 1546 from Roger Jones, grocer of Bristol; the same Roger Jones who taught Gilbert Barnsley of Bromsgrove.[30] Philip Jenkins was still accepting apprentices in 1572.[31]

1563 at Oxford

Michael Hill of Bromsgrove was the last apprentice from there to go to Bristol in the apprentice registers so far published. There may be other Bromsgrove apprentices in the unpublished manuscript registers.

In 1563 a new location for Bromsgrove apprentices presents itself for the modern historian. On 12th March 1563 Thomas Shreve, son of Humphrey Shreve, husbandman of Bromsgrove, became apprentice for seven years to George Phylbye, currier of Oxford. At the end of the term Thomas Shreve was to have 13s 4d and double apparel.[32] George Phylbye took on his first apprentice as currier in November 1549 when Robert Pearson, son of John Pearson, husbandman of Iffley in Oxfordshire, came into his household.[33]

Oxford St Mary Magdalene church

St. Mary Magdalene church at Oxford

George Phylbye took on other apprentices in 1552, 1554, 1558 and 1566.[34] By 1578 George Phylbye was living in the parish of St. Mary Magdalen, in the suburbs of Oxford, with his wife Alice. Sometime before December 1583 George Phylbye died and his widow, Alice, reassigned their apprentice, John Feryman of Tewkesbury, to her son Richard Phylbye, currier of Oxford.[35] Richard Phylbye had originally trained as a tailor (1569) but later changed his occupation to that of currier, like his father.[36]

Thomas Shreve does not appear in the later Oxford apprentice registers and it would seem that he didn’t operate his business there. He could have returned to Bromsgrove or gone on to the third location. There is a reference to Thomas Shreve, pipe-maker, living in the parish of St. Thomas at Oxford in 1723 but it cannot be said with any certainty if he was any relation to the Thomas Shreve from Bromsgrove.[37]

1625 at Gloucester

In the seventeenth century Gloucester provides the third location for Bromsgrove apprentices to learn a trade. It is possible that people from Bromsgrove went to Gloucester before 1595 but the records before that year no longer exist. On 5th June 1625 Humphrey Edwards became apprentice to Henry and Anne Hockham (Hookam), butcher of Gloucester. Humphrey Edwards was the son of William Edwards, cooper of Bromsgrove, Worcester. The length of the apprenticeship was seven years with 40s payable at the end of term.[38]

Records show that Humphrey Edwards was born in 1591 and so was thirty-four when he became an apprentice. This seems very old to start a new career but family circumstances may have played a part. In 1622 Humphrey Edwards had a son called William baptised at Bromsgrove but the child died after only a month. In February 1625 Humphrey Edwards had a second child called Henry but this child died within a week or so of his birth.[39] This double loss may have played on Humphrey’s mind and he left Bromsgrove to begin a new life.

The master of Humphrey Edwards was Henry Hookam who first appears in Gloucester as an apprentice master in 1619 when he took on Nathanial Hookam, son of John Hookam of Lea in Wiltshire.[40] It is possible that Henry Hookam came from Lea or somewhere nearby.

On 25th December 1622 Henry and Anne Hookam, butcher, took on as apprentice John Howlett, son of Anthony Howlett, deceased pre February 1621, butcher of Gloucester. The term was for eight years with 5s payable at the end. This must have been a nice Christmas present for the Howlett family. On 2nd February 1621 John’s brother, Anthony Howlett, was made apprentice for eight years to Richard Kirke, pewterer of Gloucester.[41] The Howlett family also had connections with Lea in Wiltshire as on 25th May 1608 Anthony Howlett, butcher of Gloucester, and his wife, Anne Howlett, took on as apprentice Henry Hawcome, son of John Hawcome, shepherd of Lea.[42]

250px-Gloucester_Skyline

View over Gloucester 

1663 at Gloucester

On 21st February 1663 Thomas Baker, son of Thomas Baker, yeoman of Bromsgrove, Worcester, was made apprentice to Edward Clayfield, tanner of Gloucester, and his wife, Anne, for eight years.[43] A child called Thomas Baker was born in 1639 to Thomas and Martha Baker but it is unclear if this was the same person as our apprentice.[44]

The master of Thomas Baker was Edward Clayfield who was the son of Samuel Clayfield (deceased by 1631), clothier of Bisley, Gloucestershire. On 8th October 1631 Edward Clayfield was made apprentice to William Lugge, tanner of Gloucester, and Eleanor, his wife, for an eight year term.[45] In 1639-40 Edward Clayfield was made a freeman of Gloucester.[46] In February 1645 Edward Clayfield took on his first apprentice and was married to Alice.[47] By 1659 Alice Clayfield had died and Edward had remarried with Anne Clayfield as his new wife.[48] In 1669 Edward Clayfield was still married to Anne and worked as a tanner. In the same year, his son, Edward Clayfield junior and his wife, Katherine, took on their first apprentice, Robert Stone of Bromsberrow, Gloucestershire.[49] For apprentices from Bromsberrow in the seventeenth century see = https://niallbrn.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/bromsberrow-apprentices-in-seventeenth-century-gloucester/

It would seem that Thomas Baker didn’t settled in Gloucester after qualifying as a tanner and possibly returned home to Bromsgrove or went to a third location. His disappearance from the records ends the search for Bromsgrove apprentices that started in Bristol back in the days of King Henry VIII when that king used to grant the manor of Bromsgrove to his many wives.[50]

Concluding comments

In all ten apprentices from Bromsgrove are known in the published apprentice records for Bristol, Oxford and Gloucester. Of these only one, Robert Johmuner (1552 at Bristol), followed the trade of his father and became a weaver. The largest number of apprentices, four (1543, 1550, 1552, and 1559 at Bristol), became merchants, while two others became grocers (1540 and 1562 at Bristol). Two other apprentices went into the textile trade as a tanner (1663 at Gloucester) and a currier (1563 at Oxford) while a third Bromsgrove apprentice became a butcher (1625 at Gloucester) to help get the hides for the two others.

These people from Bromsgrove saw the world far beyond their parish and the county bounds of Worcester. They went to three far away cities to train in various trades. The six merchants and grocers could be said to have a longer vision with the buying and selling of goods from faraway places. Future research may find more information on the ten apprentices but for the moment our story concludes.

 

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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromsgrove accessed on 25 June 2016

[2] Denzil Hollis (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part 1, 1532-1542 (Bristol Record Society, Vol. XIV, 1948), p. 3

[3] Denzil Hollis (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part 1, p. 6.

[4] Nicholas Orme & Jon Cannon, Westbury-on-Trym: Monastery, Minster and College (Bristol Record Society, Vol. 62, 2010), p. 6

[5] D. Hollis (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part 1, MS. p. 167

[6] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp19-33 accessed on 25 June 2016

[7] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora M. Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part II, 1542-1552 (Bristol Record Society, Vol. XXXIII, 1980), no. 311

[8] Margaret McGregor (ed.), Bristol Apprentice Book 1566-1573 (Bristol and Avon F.H.S. no date), p. 26

[9] Edward A. Fry (ed.), A calendar of wills proved in the consistory court of the Bishop of Bristol 1572-1792 and also a calendar of wills in the Great Orphan Books 1379-1674 (British Record Society, 1897), p. 127

[10] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester 1595-1700 (Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, Gloucester Record Series, Vol. 14, 2001), pp. xxiv, xxv

[11] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, part II, no. 1537

[12] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, part II, no. 86

[13] D. Hollis (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part 1, MS. p. 20

[14] Susan Flavin & Evan T. Jones (eds.), Bristol’s trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601 (Bristol Record Society, Vol. 61, 2009), pp. 304, 384, 573

[15] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora M. Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book, part II, no. 1460

[16] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part II, no. 1767

[17] Susan Flavin & Evan Jones (eds.), Bristol’s trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601, pp. 564, 596

[18] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, 1552-1565 (Bristol Record Society, Vol. XLIII, 1992), no. 11

[19] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, no. 121

[20] Susan Flavin & Evan Jones (eds.), Bristol’s trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601, pp. 564, 569

[21] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp19-33 accessed on 25 June 2016

[22] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part II, no. 1772

[23] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, no. 894

[24] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, 1552-1565, no. 895

[25] Susan Flavin & Evan Jones (eds.), Bristol’s trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601, pp. 709, 714, 729

[26] Susan Flavin & Evan Jones (eds.), Bristol’s trade with Ireland and the Continent 1503-1601, pp. 568, 569, 616

[27] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, no. 1255

[28] Rosemary Hatherly & Olive Johnson, ‘Bristol 1567-1568’, in Notes on Bristol History, No. 4, edited by E. Ralph & P.V. McGrath (University of Bristol, 1980), p. 10

[29] Elizabeth Ralph (ed.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part III, nos. 1329, 1509

[30] Elizabeth Ralph & Nora Hardwick (eds.), Calendar of the Bristol Apprentice Book 1532-1565, part II, no. 618

[31] Margaret McGregor (ed.), Bristol Apprentice Book 1566-1573, p. 26

[32] Alan Crossley (ed.), Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602 (Oxford Historical Society, New Series, Vol. XLIV, 2012), no. 547

[33] Alan Crossley (ed.), Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602, no. 259

[34] Alan Crossley (ed.), Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602, nos. 309, 365, 433, 649

[35] Alan Crossley (ed.), Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602, no. 966

[36] Alan Crossley (ed.), Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602, nos. 708, 833

[37] Rev. H.E. Salter (ed.), Cartulary of Oseney Abbey, volume II (Oxford Historical Society, vol. XC, 1929), p. 525

[38] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 1/342

[39] http://www.dustydocs.com/link/41/37131/124510/baptisms-1590-1874-archersoftware.html accessed on 25 June 2016

[40] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 1/279

[41] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, nos. 1/300, 1/322

[42] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 1/169

[43] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 2/294

[44] http://www.dustydocs.com/link/41/37131/124510/baptisms-1590-1874-archersoftware.html accessed on 25 June 2016

[45] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 1/407

[46] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, p. 272

[47] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 1/570

[48] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, no. 2/235

[49] Jill Barlow (ed.), A Calendar of the Registers of Apprentices of the City of Gloucester, nos. 3/23, 3/24

[50] http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/worcs/vol3/pp19-33 accessed on 25 June 2016

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