The very first Carnival of Feminists is up and running.
Cool. Will there be a bearded lady?
Off-topic to the carnival but possibly on-topic to feminism: I ran across this case yesterday while rummaging through the OBSP database. It’s a 1763 arson prosecution in which a 16-year-old girl was accused of setting fire to her master’s house in a fit of pique, but the prosecutor called her his apprentice rather than maid. Was it usual at that time for tradesmen to take female apprentices, and were there any trades in which it was particularly common? (The prosecutor in the case at issue was a bookbinder.)
Well, it was pretty rare, as proper ‘craft’ apprentices. Women were excluded from many trades; I don’t know about book-binding. (You might have to find whether there was a guild and what rules it had…) But it’s possible, and maybe more likely, that she was a ‘pauper apprentice’ (or parish apprentice) – overseers of the poor would persuade/force local households take in pauper children for some years, bound by a similar sort of indenture as craft apprentices, and with some obligation to keep them and (supposedly) train them either in the master’s trade or husbandry (usually the boys) or household work (the main area for girls), but they were very likely to be exploited as cheap labour. Mind you, she might be a bit old for that if she’d only been with him for a year or so, since the children apprenticed in that way were often as young as 7 or 8.
There are a few pages on this in S Mendelson and P Crawford, Women in early modern England, and I’ve found a reference to an article by Pamela Sharpe on poor children as apprentices in Continuity and Change 6 (1991), if anyone wants to find out more. (My mentor would know a lot more, since women’s work is one of his specialities, but I don’t know if he has time to come by here very often at the moment…)
Thanks for the references. Wouldn’t 16 be old for a first-year apprentice even in a regular craft?
Could be; I’m not sure without looking it up. By the way, I forgot my own bibliography on this topic (although my main interest was in servants, it has several works on apprentices)…
No short-term memory. Sheesh.
Thanks for the link, and by the way, I was just wondering if you’d mind if I adapted your guide for history carnival hosts for this one …. don’t want to plagiarise!
On the female apprentices, that seems late for one, but they were rare but not unknown particularly in medieval and early early modern London and particularly in the silk trade.
There’s a whole book about medieval London women in trades (including a bell caster – although she was a widow not an apprentice). Since it is 3.30am I won’t look up the reference now, but I’ll try to get to it over the weekend. (Actually it may be Medieval London widows, 1300-1500 , edited by Caroline M. Barron and Anne F. Sutton (Hambledon, 1994) – but not absolutely sure of that.)
But one reference that comes to hand is “The London Silkwomen of the Fifteenth Century, The Economic History Review Vol 4, 1932-34, Marian K. Dale, pp. 324-335. (Although I suppose that’s of little relevance to the 18th century.) Just a topic I’m rather fervent about!
Feel free to use the guide. If I remember, I’ll email you the latest version today.
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