Where to look?

Where can you find records of apprentices?

Britain has some of the most detailed registers of apprentices of anywhere in the world. They survive in large numbers from the sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century. There are good detailed guides to these lists published by the Society of Genealogists and on the National Archives website. The websites and books listed below are just a few of the major sources.

The Stamp Duty Registers

From 1711 until 1804, apprenticeship premiums were taxed. The records of these mostly survive and cover the entire country. They have been published for a few counties and are digitized and available on ancestry.com. Remember: not all apprenticeships involved premiums (only a third to a half did), so you may not find your relatives here.


London was the biggest centre for apprenticeship in early-modern England. The records of its guilds have been the focus of an enormous amount of work by Cliff Webb in recent decades, and his transcripts can be searched on findmypast. Indexes for a number of important guilds are searchable at The Records of London's Livery Companies Online. Others, including the Merchant Taylors and Haberdashers, are now published by the British Record Society.


A major site for training with detailed records and ‘The Bristol Apprentice Books’ for the period from 1532 to 2009 are now digitized and available for the city through the Bristol and Avon Family History Society.


J. Barlow, ed., Calendar of the Registers of Gloucester, Bristol and Gloucester Arch Soc, 2001 (v. 14), 1595 -1700 & v. 20 (1700-1834)

Great Yarmouth

P.P Moore, A calendar of Great Yarmouth apprenticeship indentures, 1563-1665, Norfolk & Norwich Genealogical Society Vol 11, 1979.

Kingston upon Thames

A. Daly, ed.,  Kingston upon Thames register of apprentices, 1563-1713, Surrey Record Society, 28, 1974


Rising and Millican, ed., An Index of the Indentures of Norwich Apprentices enrolled with the Norwich Assembly, Henry VII-George II, Norfolk Record Society, 29, 1959.


Crossley, ed., Oxford City Apprentices 1513-1602, Oxford Historical Society, 2012.

M. Graham, ed., Oxford city apprentices, 1697-1800, Oxford Historical Society, ns, 31, 1987


A. J. Willis & A. L. Merson, ed., A Calendar of Southampton Apprenticeship Registers, 1609-1740, Southampton Records Series, 12, 1968.