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doubt, their chief concern was to collect the fees levied on new members, but the register also served police purposes 1. Moreover, when apprenticeship became the avenue to citizenship, the practice of enrolment was a natural precaution against fraud. It enabled the authorities to ensure "that all covenants be surely kept ", and at Ipswich the apprentice whose indenture had not been sealed could not claim the freedom of the town2. At the same time the system of enrolment militated against open evasion of the gild regulations fixing the length of service, the number of apprentices and the details of their character and status. In practice, however, it was found extremely difficult to compel enrolment, though the attempt was renewed from time to time and enforced by the infliction of penalties, sometimes on the masters, but more commonly on the apprentices 3.
The system of apprenticeship can be traced as far back Rapid spread of as 1260, and before the thirteenth century had come to a apprenclose it had become part and parcel of the economic life of ticeship. the London craft gilds 4. We can readily grasp the reasons that account for its rapid spread through every industrial centre in England, where the craft gilds brought together in a compact body all who followed a common calling. It
Fox, Guild of Weavers in Bristol, 41. (iv.) Leicester: Records, iii. 177. (v.) Southampton: Hearnshaw, Leet Records, 10, No. 36; Oak Book, i. 149. (vi.) Colchester: Red Paper Book, 25. (vii.) Worcester: Green, ii. App. lvi. (viii.) Exeter: Smith, English Gilds, 316. (ix.) Ipswich: Bacon, Annals of Ipswich, 195. (x.) Chester: Morris, 443; enrolment within six months. The more usual period of a year was reduced to three months at Norwich in 1512: Records, ii. 108. The view that the system at Coventry (Leet Book, ii. 553) was exceptional, and due to a sinister design on the part of the drapers to get the control of industry (M. D. Harris, Old English Town, 1898, p. 241), is thus disproved; the system of enrolment was a normal practice.
1 This may be inferred from Letter Book B, 241: Whereas a great number of misdoers. . . lie hid among the good men of the city" a register was to be made of masters, apprentices and servants to inquire into their" conduct and behaviour" (1297).
2 Bacon, Annals of Ipswich, 195.
3 The system was disregarded, for example, at Norwich (Records, ii. p. xlvii), Canterbury (Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Rep. part i. App. 173) and Reading (Records, i. 452). For penalties on masters, see Letter Book B, 146. For penalties on apprentices, see Letter Book D,66; Smith, English Gilds, 316.
Riley, Liber Custumarum, i. 78: the London gild of Lorimers. The freeman's oath shows the establishment of the institution in London at an early date: Letter Book D, 195. It also existed in Norwich before 1293: Hudson, Leet Jurisdiction in Norwich, 42.
was a field of technical training, a school of specialized knowledge, in which the artisan learnt the mystery of his craft and was taught the ideals of good workmanship and sound quality, upon which the reputation of the gild depended. At the same time it protected the qualified workman from unskilled competitors, while later it developed in the hands of exclusive gilds into an instrument of monopoly. But although apprenticeship became a universal feature of industrial life in the later Middle Ages, it is erroneous to suppose that it was everywhere made obligatory upon those who wished to set up in the gild as journeymen or masters. This no doubt was the common practice, and occasionally we find instances where the system was definitely made compulsory either in gild ordinances or in parliamentary statutes1. None the less the journeymen did not invariably have to pass through a term of apprenticeship. The ordinances of the London gild of Pewterers (1348) admitted into their body any one who had served as apprentice, or was "otherwise true workman known and tried among them "2. Examples among the London crafts can easily be multiplied. The ordinances of the Cutlers (1380) speak of the journeyman "who has not been apprenticed in the trade": the Founders (1389) ordered the unskilled journeyman to "be ousted therefrom, if he will not become an apprentice": the Bladesmiths (1408) forbade any one to "teach his journeymen the secrets of his trade, as he would his apprentice "3. Even as late as the sixteenth century (1561), the Tailors of Bristol were willing to accept "for a reasonable fine any honest person being a good workman, although he hath not been an apprentice to the same craft" 4. Similarly at York, among the ordinances of the Painters no mention is made of apprentices, and strangers could be employed if they proved competent 5.
After completing his term of training the apprentice was
1 Examples of compulsory apprenticeship are: (i.) Weavers of Bury, 1477: Hist. MSS. Comm. 14th Rep. App. viii. 135. (ii.) Coopers of London, 1488: Firth, p. 21. (iii.) Norwich Shearmen of Worsted, 1496: Statutes, ii. 5772 Welch, Pewterers' Company, i. 3.
Riley, Memorials, 439, 514, 570. 4 Fox, Merchant Taylors of Bristol, 43.
5 York Memorandum Book, i. pp. xliv, 164 (early fifteenth century).
now free to become a journeyman or wage-earner, and seek Journeyemployment in the capacity of a hired workman. We hear men. very little in England of the "wanderings" of emancipated journeymen analogous to those of continental apprentices, although it was usual for apprentices of the Merchant Adventurers of Newcastle 1 to fare abroad in search of wider experiences and a more cosmopolitan training. Still there is evidence to show that a journeyman did not always set up in the town in which his apprenticeship had been served, and must often have travelled about from one place to another 2. As a rule, however, he was expected to remain with his master for a year after his period of probation had ended, although he was now paid wages. In the first half of the sixteenth century a proposal was put forward in London to compel apprentices, after completing their term, to serve their masters as journeymen for three years before admittance to the freedom of the city: to the intent that they may have something of their own" 4. This was apparently the practice among the Carpenters and Paviors of London, for no one was allowed to take an apprentice until three years had elapsed after the end of his apprenticeship 5. The Goldsmiths of Chester also established the rule that no apprentice should be accepted as a master, unless he had first served as a journeyman for three years. If, as sometimes happened, the apprentice had contracted liabilities and was in debt to his master, he could not leave his service until he had requited his obligations. "No one ", ran the ordinances of the London Hatters (1347), “shall receive the serving-man of another to work, so long as he is in debt to his master; but he is to remain
1 Merchant Adventurers of Newcastle, ii. p. xxiv.
2 At Beverley (1496) journeymen were required to be examined as to their competence, unless they had served their apprenticeship in Beverley : Hist. MSS. Comm. Beverley, 95. The Tailors of Bristol admitted members who had served their apprenticeship in any place, and not in Bristol only, provided they adduced proof by showing their indentures or in other ways: Fox, Merchant Taylors of Bristol, 43, 47.
3 Indentures often stipulate for a year's service as journeyman: Records of Leicester, iii. 29 (1531); Rogers, Agriculture and Prices, iv. 98 (1451). 4 Guildhall Journals, xiv. fo. 14 b.
5 Jupp and Pocock, Carpenters, 403; Welch, Paviors' Company, 12. • Morris, Chester, 443.
in the service of his master until he shall have made satisfaction for the debt which he owes him "1.
Every journeyman looked forward to the day when he would cease to be a wage-earner and would take his place among the masters of the gild as a fully qualified craftsman, sharing in the common life of the town, bearing its burdens and participating in its privileges. Sometimes he was required to furnish a "master-piece", though this was more common in the seventeenth century than in the fifteenth. Among the Pewterers of London the journeyman was examined as to his "honesty and behaviour", and he had then to produce a sample of his work before the wardens 2. It was usual in any case to test the competence of the craftsman before he was set to work. The apprentices of the London Pouchmakers were examined whether they were "expert or cunning in the craft "3; while among the Founders every journeyman was to be "tried and proved by the masters as to whether he is able to work in such trade as a journeyman or not "4. Again, the Tailors of Bristol were required to approve themselves "lawful" workmen, "full perfect" in their craft and "of good conversation and living "5; and the Weavers of Bury refused to let any one set up looms in the town unless they had served their apprenticeship to the craft and had "sufficient cunning and understanding in the same, and so be examined and admitted by the wardens as able men". These regulations were intended to protect the skilled craftsman against the competition of untrained workmen. To this extent they were designed in the interests of the producer, but they were equally to the interests of the consumer. This was recognized in the ordinances of the London Coopers, who were forbidden to put any stranger to work until the wardens had brought him before the mayor and aldermen
1 Riley, Memorials, 240. Similarly the Heaumers, ibid. 238.
2 Welch, Pewterers' Company, i. 201 (1559). For the 'master-piece', cf. O. J. Dunlop, English Apprenticeship and Child Labour (1912), 214.
3 Black, Leathersellers' Company, 123 (1501).
4 Riley, Memorials, 514 (1389).
5 Fox, Merchant Taylors of Bristol, 47.
Hist. MSS. Comm. 14th Rep. App. viii. 135. Similarly, York Memorandum Book, i. 242.
to be examined "whether he be able workman to serve this city well and truly or not "1. Whether the journeyman who had not served an apprenticeship could set up as a master is uncertain, but probably he was allowed to do so. Among the Fullers of York no one was to set up as a master, unless the searchers had testified before the mayor that he was fit for his occupation; the qualification for mastership is here not apprenticeship, but general proof of competence 2. Two or three years at least necessarily, and perhaps sometimes compulsorily 3, elapsed before the journeyman was in a position to claim entry into the inner circle of the gild, and the interval afforded a breathing-space in which he could accumulate sufficient capital to set up in his own workshop. But capital played, as a rule, a subordinate part in mediaeval industry, and his tools and technical skill were the resources upon which the master craftsman was content to rely to gain a livelihood. The market was limited, rapid fluctuations of supply and demand were practically unknown, and speaking generally there were few fields in which the skill of the entrepreneur could find an opening. The craftsman usually worked on materials supplied by his customer, and did not need an extensive stock to cover his boards. In the early days of industrial development no impassable gulf separated the master from his workmen, and the masters were themselves artisans drawn from the ranks of the labouring class. We need not idealize early industrial conditions to recognize that there was between the employer and his men an identity of purpose and a sympathy of outlook, which brought together on the same social and economic plane all three classes of the gildbrethren to combine their forces for the common good.
The primary purpose of the craft gild was to establish Functions a complete system of industrial control over all who were craft gild. associated together in the pursuit of a common calling. It enveloped the life of the mediaeval craftsman in a net
1 Firth, Coopers' Company, 14 (1440).
2 York Memorandum Book, i. 71.
3 Supra, p. 293
4 Tailors usually worked on cloth furnished by the customer; e.g. Smith, English Gilds, 321: for other examples, infra, p. 298.