The vast majority of the documents held by Tyne & Wear Archives date from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. We add to our collections all the time and it’s always fascinating when something unusual turns up. I was therefore delighted when we recently received a small deposit of much older records relating to the Incorporated Company of Tailors of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Incorporated Company of Tailors is one of Newcastle’s old trade guilds. The members of these trade guilds were responsible for the regulation of individual trades or crafts and supervised matters such as prices, wages, the hiring of apprentices and the quality of workmanship. The guilds sought to protect their interests from outsiders (or ‘foreigners as they often described them). The Archives holds records for many of Newcastle’s guilds and general details of these are available in a user guide on our webpages.
The oldest document in the new deposit is a register of apprenticeships (TWAM ref. GU.TY/57) kept by the Incorporated Company of Tailors. This rare and unexpected survival, dates all the way back to 1576 and covers the period up to 1625. The entries follow a standard format and are name rich, which makes them of real value for family historians. They tell us the name of the apprentice, his father’s name and the name of the master he was apprenticed to. A typical example is this entry from 1588, a famous year in British History, which saw the launch of the Spanish Armada.
A rough transcription of this entry (without modernised spellings) would be:
“This Indentur maied the xxixth daye of September in the xxxth yeare of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Ladie Elizabeth by the grace of god queen of England Fraunce and Irelande queen defender of the faith etc Between Fraunces Richeson laiet sonn of Robarte Richeson of harte in the Countie of Durham yoman deceased bindes me apprentes with John Shorte of The Towne of Newcastell uppon Tyne Tayllor for the space of Seaven yeares And beinge bounde from the daye of the dayte as a foersaied untell the full end and Tearmes yeares And in the Tyme of Mr Rogger Nychollby beinge maioer Mr George Farnabe sherrefe in Anno Domini 1588″.
The style of handwriting shown here is known as ‘secretary hand’. It can take a while to get used to but help is available online, including the National Archives website.
If one of your ancestors worked in a trade in Newcastle upon Tyne then maybe you should consider searching the guild records we hold. Details of our location and opening times can be found on our website.
Lastly, I’d like to add a big thank you to the depositor of the records, Michael Foggin. His generosity in placing these documents with us is greatly appreciated. If any other freemen hold historical records that they would like to see preserved then I would encourage them to contact us. We would be delighted to hear from them.