Guilds like the London Livery Companies were founded during the medieval period, and there's a free online database of apprentices and freemen where you can check for your ancestors' names. Companies included at present are the Clothworkers, (1545-1908), Drapers (c.1400-1900), and the Mercers (1339-1900), with some data from the Goldsmiths' Company (1600-1700).
Thousands of children worked during Victorian times: they worked as domestic servants, on the land, in coal mines, factories, and in metal manufactures, to name just a few. Many were apprentices, compulsorily bound to a master by the parish authorities.
began work depended on the date; the 1944 Education Act raised the school leaving age to fifteen (an earlier attempt was forestalled by WW2).
In the September issue of Discover Your History, I discussed agricultural labourers, bakers, cotton workers, dockers, dyers and engineers. My feature in the new October issue explores the world of fishermen, gas workers, haberdashers, half-timers, hawkers, iron workers, jewellers and joiners. You'll have to buy the magazine to find out more!
Images from the author's collection:
Carpenters and joiners at work. French engraving, c.1820.
Whitby fishermen, Punch, 23 September 1882.
Retorts at a Lancashire Gas Works. Lancashire Industrial & Commercial, 1935.