Apprentice Boys: Charity Records Revisited

Here is an article by Wendy Pearse, published in the Society Journal No 30, 2015

In the latter part of the 20th century the long-established firm of Farrant and Sinden Solicitors of Chipping Norton uncovered a chest of documents relating to the Ascott Poors’ Estate Charity.

The chest’s contents were catalogued by the Oxfordshire Record Office (now Oxfordshire History Centre); brief summaries of the documents were typed on to catalogue cards, copies of which were handed to the Ascott Parish Council and the Charity Trustees. One set of copies is kept in the Tiddy Hall at Ascott-under-Wychwood. The Poors’ Estate Charity of Ascott-under-Wychwood helped the needy in several ways: during the second quarter of the 19th century one of its aims was to help with apprenticeships for poor boys.

These apprenticeship indentures cast some extra light on Ascott’s inhabitants at that time. Between January 1823 and July 1848 the Charity trustees arranged twenty-one apprenticeships for Ascott’s youths. Exactly what criteria were required to apply is unknown, but only eight families are represented, with two families having four sons apprenticed and two families having three.

The first Indenture was made in 1823 for Luke Quarterman, who was sixteen and apprenticed to the trade of shoemaker. In fact, sixteen of the applicants were bound to training as shoemakers, including in 1841 another Quarterman, William, and later the two sons, Israel and George, of Sarah Quarterman, a young widow. They were both thirteen at the time of their Indentures in 1846 and 1847. Sarah’s family lived in High Street, then known as Upper Street, as compared to Lower Street (Shipton Road), which was nearer the river. With the consent of his father William, Luke of the earliest Indenture was to be bound to John Parrott of Charlbury, Shoemaker, for five years from 14th January 1823.

The Trustees of Ascott Charity – James Ansell (solicitor), Thomas Chaundy, James Hyatt, John Chaundy and John North (all farmers) and C. R. Henderson (solicitor) – signed the document in consideration of the sum of £14. Half the sum was paid to John Parrott at the binding and half two months later, while another £2 was paid to Luke’s father at the time of the binding to be laid out in clothes for his now-apprenticed son. Among the earlier Indentures the consideration sum varies between £12 and £14 (later rising to £16), but in three cases it is only half that. This smaller sum may partly be explained by the situation concerning George Venville, one of the three apprenticed sons of Hannah Venville, a widow living in one of the References 1. Oxfordshire History Centre, A. S. P. E. C. I/1/I and I/1/ii. 2. Written alongside the text at the beginning of the document.

Charity properties in the vicinity of Church Close. William, the eldest, had been apprenticed in 1833, aged sixteen, to a mason at Burford, when Hannah, already widowed, was aged thirty-two. In 1834 Charles, aged apparently only nine, had been apprenticed for seven years to a pipemaker in Burford. George himself was apprenticed at sixteen to George Groves of Kingham, shoemaker, in 1843. William and Charles’s considerations were for £12, whereas George’s was £16 for five years. Two years later, however, George was reapprenticed to John Adbury of Adlestrop, shoemaker, for £6 for three years and two calendar months. Presumably George Groves died and the Trustees made other arrangements.

A number of Indentures are for six or seven years. Apart from shoemakers, two boys were bound to blacksmiths, two to tailors and one to a mason. I know the ages of only twelve of the applicants, which vary from twelve to seventeen years, Charles Venville being an exception. It is to be hoped that his lot was not as dire as we might imagine for a child taken from his home so young. At least Charles was only in Burford, whereas some of the others went to Witney, Eynsham, Faringdon, Hook Norton and Bourton-on-the-Hill. Only two of the youths were able to sign their names on the Indentures, but, surprisingly, Hannah Venville signed all her sons’ Indentures despite the boys’ inability to make more than a mark.

There is one unusual case when in 1833 a £7 consideration was arranged for William Baughan for a five-year apprenticeship to a cordwainer (shoemaker) in Bristol. It appears, however, that his mother, Mary, was living in Bristol; perhaps William had been born in Ascott and therefore qualified for a certain amount of assistance.

I can follow only one boy in Ascott into later life. Two of the sons of Richard Weaver of Upper Street were bound to apprenticeships: Charles in 1844 to a shoemaker in Eynsham and John in 1848 to a cordwainer in Hook Norton. Charles actually returned to Ascott in the 1850s to ply his trade. He married Mary Ann, from Somerset, and together they produced a family of six, living at the eastern end of Upper Street until at least the 1880s.

Copies of the Wychwood History Journal, Number 30 (2015) are available to buy: £3.50 [ How to Buy ]

Articles include: Brasenose Leases; “All Christians for Evermore”: the Ascott Village Charity; Apprentice Boys; A Study of the Vegetable Gardens in Shipton and Milton View as PDF here