Early tradesmen and women were organised into guilds. Today, there are over 100 guilds, each with its own crest and associated patron saint, a list of which can be found online. Some archives exist, consisting of information on apprentices, freemen, minutes of meetings and requests for help from petitioners. However, there is no central repository of their records; most are based in London at their guild headquarters. Some information, particularly on apprentices and freemen may be found locally. For Gloucestershire, we have two good books which contain transcripts on apprentices between 1595 and 1834 and their masters and one which lists freemen from 1641 to 1838. These records don’t necessarily relate to a Gloucestershire person – either the apprentice, the master or even the freeman could be from another county. An example of an entry in the Apprentices book is:
Ref: 1/549 1641 Nov 1
Draper, John son of Thomas, upholsterer, dec’d, of Gloucester to Plomer, Robert & Christian, 8 years, pewterer, 20s.
Check out my chapter on Apprentices and Freemen to find out more about guilds, apprentices, masters and freemen.