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.
Having completed my first book on ‘Victorian Prisoners in Gloucester Gaol’, I am now embarking on a new project to document the records available in the county for researching Gloucestershire ancestors. Having researched locally for twenty years now, I am obviously familiar with the main repositories such as Gloucestershire Archives, the Local Studies collections in the various libraries, the GFHS Family History Centre and the local history societies but want to produce as comprehensive a list as possible in the book so I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has found any funny, quirky or downright unusual sources of family information that could be included. Any references used in the book will be acknowledged.
I attended a wonderful workshop session yesterday, run by Averil Kear for the Friends of Gloucestershire Archives on tracing the history of a house.We had a presentation showing us the sort of things we should be looking for and then we spent an hour looking at individual documents that had come from the archives. Averil had chosen a large house in the centre of Gloucester, sadly no longer in existence, but one which we could follow back a couple of centuries. There were maps, street and trade directories, electoral registers, deeds, wills and inventories, books of leases, solicitor’s letters, census records and a large collection of maps of the centre of Gloucester over the years. We were recommended certain books, including Nick Barratt’s ‘Tracing the History of your House’ which has a companion Starter Pack to help you with your research.
The session was concluded with Averil going through the items that we had been looking at,putting everything into chronological order to produce the complete history. Although I had done some house history work before, I learnt a great deal – and, as a bonus, found a few more Gwinnetts as well!