Apprentices

There were three paths to be coming a member in a livery company; Patrimony (you were born into the trade), redemption (you could buy your way in) and apprenticeship.

In 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed in England. This statute was in effect until 1814. It said masters could not have more than 3 apprentices. Apprenticeship lasted for 7 years, typically beginning at age 14. People could not be hired into a trade without first being an apprentice. [1] It would not be typical for women to be in the Grocer’s trade, unless they married into it or were born into it.

In 1611 an act of the Common Counsel set down statutory rules for appearance and behavior.

For Women:
That none should wear on her head any lawn, cambrick, tiffany, velvet lawn, or white silk wires, either in any kerchief, koyfe, crest cloth, or shaddow, nor any linnen cloth therein, saving such linen cloth only, as should not exceed 5s. the ell, nor any lace or edging upon the same or any part thereof: nor any band, neckerchief, gorget, or stomacher, but only plain ; nor any ruff exceeding 4 yards in length before the gathering or setting in thereof, nor 3 inches in depth within the setting in thereof; nor any lawne, velvet, tiffany, cobweblawne, nor white silk cipres at all, other than about their neck or otherwise ; nor any linnen cloth but of the price of 5s. the ell, or lace or edging whatsoever, but plain hem and one stitch ; nor any stomacher wrought with any gold, silver, or silk, or with any kind of stuff made of or mixed with silk ; nor wear any gowne, kirtle, waistecoat, or petticoat, old or new, of any kind of silk stuff or stuffs mingled with silk, nor other stuff than of 2s. 6d. a yard, nor any kersey more than 3s. a yard or broad cloth of 10s. the yard. Nor wear any silk lace or guard upon her gown, kirtle, waistcoat or petticoat, or any other garments, safe only a cape of velvet; nor any fardingal at all, either little or great, nor any body or sleeves of wire, whalebone or with any other stiffing, saving canvass or buckram only. The restrictions as to shoes, stocking &C are the same as those of the apprentices.”

For apprentices-
“nor any silk, worsted, or kersey stockings, but stockings only of woollen yarn or kersey ; nor Spanish shoes, nor shoes made with Polonia heels, nor of any other leather than neats leather or calves leather ; nor wear her hair with any tuft or lock, but cut short in decent and comely manner.” Breach of these regulations was to subject the apprentice to imprisonment in “Little Ease”1 for eighteen hours.

The like confinement was to be imposed on any apprentice who should be found in any ” dauncing schole or of fence, or learn or use dancing or masking, or should use dicing or any other play, or haunt any tennis court, common bowling-alley, cock fighting or brothel houses ; or which should, without his master’s knowledge, have any chest, press, trunk, desk, or other place, to lay up or keep any apparel or goods only in his master’s house, or with his master’s licence ; or should keep any horse, gelding, or mare, dog, or bitch, or fighting cock.“[2]

So what would this mean for Alesone? Having spent the last 5 years researching and experimenting with sugar paste (and various properties/formulas/structures), 4 years working with whole spices, 3 years working with various stages of boiled confections, and a few months creating comfits and candied seeds, there is quite a bit of knowledge accumulated. It is estimated, that Alesone would be 4-5 years into an apprenticeship, with 2-3 years left before being able to be a “freeman/master.” There is still a ways to go in the areas of  preserving and candying various perishable foods and confection creation.

[1] Apprenticeship in England, 1600-1914, Joan Lane
[2] – Some account of the Worshipful company of grocers of the city of London- BY BARON HEATH  (John Benjamin Heath)

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