Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Are you tracing ancestors in Scotland? If your answer is in the affirmative, you may find valuable information in Frances J. McDonnell’s compilation, ROLL OF APPRENTICES, BURGH OF ABERDEEN, 1622-1796, THREE PARTS IN ONE VOLUME, 1622-1699, 1700-1750, 1751-1796. To appreciate fully the importance of these records, knowledge of Scottish apprenticeships during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is helpful.

     In medieval and early modern Scottish burghs (towns and cities), economic and social power lay in the hands of a self-perpetuating small group of men known as burgesses. Rights to operate a business and to vote were limited to these burgesses. In order to maintain their privileges, these men operated what today would be described as a “closed shop.”

     A man could become a burgess of the city of Aberdeen in four ways: be the son of an existing Aberdeen burgess, marry the daughter of a burgess, buy the right, or serve an apprenticeship under a craftsman or merchant in the burgh. If an apprentice did not qualify under the first three circumstances, it was of paramount importance that his apprenticeship indenture be recorded to ensure he would be entitled in due course to apply to become a burgess.

     Originally published as three separate booklets, McDonnell’s compilation was extracted from Aberdeen’s Register of Indentures covering the period from 1622 through 1796. Entries for each person furnish the names of the apprentice and his father, his place of origin, name and trade of the burgess to whom he was apprenticed, length of apprenticeship, and the date the record was entered in the register. Additional details may include whether a fee was involved and obligations (supply bed and board or clothing, for instance) of the burgess to the apprentice.

     A typical entry is that of Andrew GRAY, who was “son to Archibald Gray in Mondurno, apprenticed to Alexander Gray, cooper, 5 years and 1 year from 2 Jun 1642.” Another example is the entry for James BOOTH, “son of John Booth, blacksmith in Aberdeen, apprenticed to Alexander Booth, merchant, 5 years from 7 Sep 1787.” The master was to pay five pounds for the last year of apprenticeship.

     Most Royal Burghs maintained a Register of Indentures. Very few, however, have been transcribed and presented in a printed format. McDonnell is to be commended for making the material easily accessible to researchers by publishing ROLL OF APPRENTICES, BURGH OF ABERDEEN, 1622-1796, THREE PARTS IN ONE VOLUME, 1622-1699, 1700-1750, 1751-1796.

     Divided into three sections, the paperback has a total of 110 pages. It includes an introduction to each section and several illustrations. Names of the apprentices are arranged alphabetically. An index to the names of the parent and the person to whom the individual was apprenticed would have been useful and added value to the work.

     To the book's price of $16.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #8356) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website )

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