Indentures of Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship Agreements of the late 19th century

During my time at Paxman three old apprenticeship agreements were found in a company safe. One was the Indenture of one of Paxman's earliest apprentices. Edward Blandon started his training with the Company in August 1869, just four years after it was founded by James Paxman and the Davey brothers. The Indenture is signed by all three of the Company's founders who agreed to teach and instruct their said Apprentice in the Art of Iron Founding and Moulding. The apprenticeship was for a term of six years with a starting wage of two shillings and sixpence (12½p) per week. Each year the rate of pay was to increase by 1/6d per week rising to the princely sum of ten shillings (50p) per week in the last year.

I have photocopies of the three Indentures. Transcripts of them can be viewed lower down this page. Each of the three is of around the same period and they were drawn up on printed forms bought from legal stationers. The forms would have been completed by the local solicitor's clerk with some of the printed terms being deleted and others inserted. Sometimes it was a bit of a squeeze to fit in all the additional wording which can make it difficult to decipher the complete document.

Many of the terms and conditions in the agreements appear to have been standard for engineering apprenticeships of that time. As expressed in late nineteenth century legal language they sound somewhat quaint to twenty-first century ears. 'The said Apprentice his Masters faithfully shall serve, their secrets keep, their lawful commands every where gladly do.' (How, one wonders, did Masters determine whether an apprentice had failed 'gladly' to do their bidding?) The apprentice was also bound by his Indenture not to contract Matrimony during his apprenticeship nor to play at Cards or Dice Tables or haunt Taverns or Playhouses. Neither was he allowed to absent himself from his Masters' service day or night unlawfully.

Edward Blandon's Indenture is particularly interesting as it differs in at least two respects from others I have seen. Firstly, it was normal practice for an apprentice to be under the age of twenty one when he started. That being the case the agreement had to be signed by a parent or guardian, as well as the apprentice himself and the employer, if it was to be legally enforceable. There is no reference to any parent or guardian in Edward Blandon's Indenture so he must have been twenty one or older when he started his apprenticeship.

The second interesting point is that he did not have to pay a 'premium' for the apprenticeship to James Paxman and his partners. When Ernest Francis Barton 'of the age of fifteen years and upwards' commenced his apprenticeship with the company in 1875 his father had to pay £25 for the privilege. Mr Barton senior was a Mess Master and £25 must have been a considerable sum for him to find. For the father of Thomas Barrell, a labourer, the premium demanded was 'Fifteen pounds in hand well and truly paid' when his eighteen year old son was apprenticed to the Sudbury firm of Barton and Unwin,Engineers and Millwrights.

What special circumstances led to Edward Blandon being offered an apprenticeship at well past the usual age and without the payment of a premium? We can only guess at the possible reasons but his granddaughter, Mary Blandon, does know that her grandfather worked for Paxman for over thirty years. The baton was handed to Mary's father who had at least two periods of employment with the company, the last spanning more than twenty eight years. Mary herself accrued thirty two years service with Paxman. It is an interesting story of one of several long established Colchester families whose links with the Company go back through generations.

Edward Blandon's apprenticeship papers, like others of that era, are impressive legal documents with their copperplate writing, and seals on special paper. But how many people know the origin of the term 'Indentures'? It goes back long before the period discussed here, when agreements were drawn up in duplicate on the same sheet of paper. After being drawn up the document was torn in half so that each party could have a copy of the agreement. Where the document had been torn apart a jagged or 'indented' edge was left on each copy. The two edges would match perfectly and provided an excellent method of confirming the authenticity of the document. The terms 'Indentures' and 'indenture' are still used in legal circles, but the days of tearing jagged edges in deeds and agreements are long gone.

The Apprenticeship Deed of Edward Blandon

This Indenture Witnesseth That Edward Hammond Blandon doth put himself Apprentice to Messrs Davey, Paxman and Davey, Engineers and Iron Founders, Colchester, in the County of Essex
to learn that Art and with them after the Manner of an Apprentice to serve from the twelfth day of February one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine unto the Second day of August one thousand eight hundred and seventy five
unto the full End and Term of six Years from thence next following to be fully complete and ended During which Term the said Apprentice his Masters faithfully shall serve their secrets keep their lawful commands every where gladly do He shall do no damage to his said Masters nor see to be done of others but to his Power shall tell or forthwith give warning to his said Masters of the same He shall not waste the Goods of his said Masters nor lend them unlawfully to any He shall not commit fornication nor contract Matrimony within the said Term He shall not play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful Games whereby his said Masters may have any loss with their own goods or others during the said Term without Licence of his said Masters He shall neither buy nor sell He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Masters' service day or night unlawfully But in all things as a faithful Apprentice He shall behave himself towards his said Masters and all their during the-said Term And the said Messrs Davey, Paxman and Davey their said Apprentice in the Art of Iron Founding and Moulding which they use by the best means that they can shall teach and Instruct or cause to be taught and instructed and the said Messrs Davey, Paxman & Davey shall pay as wages to their said Apprentice for the times he is actually at work For the First year the sum of Two shillings and sixpence per week For the Second year Four shillings per week For the Third year Five shillings and sixpence per week For the Fourth year Seven shillings per week For the Fifth year Eight shillings and sixpence per week & for the Sixth year and remainder of his time ten shillings per week

And for the true performance of all and every the said Covenants and Agreements either of the said Parties bindeth himself unto the other by these Presents In Witness whereof the Parties above named to these Indentures interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the twentieth day of February and in the Thirty second Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria by the Grace of God of the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland QUEEN Defender of the Faith and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and sixty nine

(signed)   Edward Hammond Blandon
C M Davey
James Paxman
H M Davey

Michael John Nichols

The Apprenticeship Deed of Ernest Francis Barton

This Indenture Witnesseth That Ernest Francis Barton of the age of fifteen years and upwards with the consent of his Father Charles George Barton of Colchester in the County of Essex Mess Master
doth put himself Apprentice to Charles Matthews Davey, James Noah Paxman, Henry Matthews Davey and Thomas John Balls all of Colchester aforesaid Engineers trading under the firm or style of "Davey Paxman & Co"
to learn the Art of a fitter and with them after the Manner of an Apprentice to serve from the day of the date hereof until the thirty first day of December One thousand eight hundred and eighty During which Term the said Apprentice his Masters faithfully shall serve their secrets keep their lawful commands every where gladly do He shall do no damage to his said Masters nor see to be done of others but to his Power shall tell or forthwith give warning to his said Masters of the same He shall not waste the Goods of his said Masters nor lend them unlawfully to any he shall not commit fornication nor contract Matrimony within the said Term He shall not play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful Games whereby his said Masters may have any loss with their own goods or others during the said Term without Licence of his said Masters He shall neither buy nor sell he shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Masters' service unlawfully But in all things as a faithful Apprentice He shall behave himself towards his said Masters and all their during the said Term And the said Charles Matthews Davey, James Noah Paxman, Henry Matthews Davey and Thomas John Balls in consideration of the work and service to be done and performed by the said Ernest Francis Barton and of the sum of Twenty five pounds upon the execution of these presents paid by the said Charles George Barton to the said Charles Matthews Davey, James Noah Paxman, Henry Matthews Davey and Thomas John Balls the said Ernest Francis Barton
their said Apprentice in the Art of a Fitter which they use by the best means that they can shall teach and Instruct or cause to be taught and instructed the said Charles George Barton Finding unto the said Apprentice sufficient Meat Drink Medicine Medical Attendance Lodging and all other Necessaries during the said Term And for the considerations aforesaid the said Charles Matthews Davey, James Noah Paxman, Henry Matthews Davey and Thomas John Balls do hereby agree with the said apprentice that they will pay him the wages following namely Two shillings and sixpence per week during the first year Four shillings per week during the second year Five shillings and sixpence per week during the third year Seven shillings per week during the fourth year Eight shillings and sixpence per week during the fifth year and ten shillings per week during the remainder of the said term but no wages are to be paid during the absence of the said apprentice from his employment
And for the true performance of all and every the said Covenants and Agreements either of the said Parties bindeth himself unto the other by these Presents In Witness whereof the Parties above named to these Indentures interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the twentieth day of July and in the thirty ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria by the Grace of God of the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland QUEEN Defender of the Faith and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and seventy five

(signed)   E F Barton
Charles G Barton
C M Davey
H M Davey
Thomas John Balls

Signed Sealed and delivered by all the before named parties in the presence of
Charles (illegible)
Clerk (illegible)
Solrs (illegible)

The Apprenticeship Deed of Thomas Barrell

This Indenture Witnesseth That Thomas Barrell of the age of eighteen years by and with the consent of his Father Thomas Barrell of Great Cornard in the County of Suffolk Labourer doth put himself Apprentice to Mainprice Barton and Alfred Joseph Unwin trading under the style of Barton and Unwin of Sudbury in the said County of Suffolk Engineers and Millwrights
to learn their Art and with them after the Manner of an Apprentice to serve from the Seventeenth day of March One thousand eight hundred and eighty four
unto the full End and Term of Four Years from thence next following to be fully complete and ended During which Term the said Apprentice his Masters faithfully shall serve their secrets keep their lawful commands every where gladly do He shall do no damage to his said Masters nor see to be done of others but to his Power shall tell or forthwith give warning to his said Masters of the same He shall not waste the Goods of his said Masters nor lend them unlawfully to any He shall not contract Matrimony within the said Term nor play at Cards or Dice Tables or any other unlawful Games whereby his said Masters may have any loss with his own goods or others during the said Term without Licence of his said Masters He shall neither buy nor sell He shall not haunt Taverns or Playhouses nor absent himself from his said Masters' service day or night unlawfully But in all things as a faithful Apprentice He shall behave himself towards his said Masters and all his during the said Term
And the said Mainprice Barton and Alfred Joseph Unwin in consideration of the sum of Fifteen pounds in hand well and truly paid to them by the said Thomas Barrell at or before the execution of these presents the receipt whereof the said Mainprice Barton and Alfred Joseph Unwin doth hereby acknowledge They the said Mainprice Barton and Alfred Joseph Unwin
their said Apprentice in the Art of an Engineer and Millwright which they use by the best means that they can shall teach and Instruct or cause to be taught and instructed Paying unto the said Apprentice weekly and every week during the first year of the said term the sum of Five shillings per week during the second year of the said term the sum of Six shillings per week during the third year of the said term the sum of Eight shillings per week and during the last year of the said term the sum of Ten shillings per week And the said Thomas Barrell finding unto the said Apprentice all necessary Tools and sufficient Board Lodging Clothing and all other necessaries
And for the true performance of all and every the said Covenants and Agreements either of the said Parties bindeth himself unto the other by these Presents In Witness whereof the Parties above named to these Indentures interchangeably have put their Hands and Seals the Sixteenth day of March and in the Forty eighth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Queen Victoria by the Grace of God of the united Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland QUEEN Defender of the Faith and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and eighty five

(signed)   Thomas Barrell
Thomas Barrell
Mainprice Barton
Alfred J Unwin

Signed sealed and delivered by the above named Thomas Barrell Thomas Barrell the younger Mainprice Barton and Alfred Joseph Unwin in the presence of
James C Mills
Clerk to Messrs Andrewes Canham & Andrews, Solrs, Sudbury


Page updated: 13 JUL 2016