The Typographic Hub

Apprentices

3rd October 2010

Prints Past / The master’s duties toward his apprentice were to feed, clothe, and teach him

The master’s duties toward his apprentice were to feed him, clothe him, and teach him well and truly his art and craft. Failing the fulfillment of these duties the apprentice could, on complaint and proof shown before the Court of the Aldermen, have his indentures cancelled, or be turned over to another master. On the other side, the apprentice made oath to serve his master well and truly, to keep his secrets, to use no traffic on his own account, and to obey all lawful commands. Many of the apprentices were young men and strict rules were needed to keep them within bounds, and when they did break loose it was sometimes beyond the combined power of all the city authorities to restrain them. The Evil May Day, as it was called, in 1517, when the apprentices rose against the foreigners, ravaged the City, burning houses and killing many people. The day was long remembered by the masters with fear and by the apprentices with pride.