Rhiannon Sandy - Apprenticeship Indentures in England, 1250 – 1500

DEPT/SUBJECT AREA: Medieval History

SUPERVISORS: Dr Matthew Frank Stevens, Professor Deborah Youngs


THESIS TITLE: Apprenticeship Indentures in England, 1250 – 1500


Apprenticeship indentures offer an insight into fundamental relations between masters and apprentices.  My research uses extant indentures from 1255 to 1500, analysing their content and structure to produce a robust survey of the content of apprenticeship contracts, and their place in legal and economic history, to understand the conception and perpetuation of guild structures in medieval England.  I consider four key areas: the socio-economic experiences of apprentices and masters; the interplay between indentures’ form and content and the nature and aims of English craft guilds; the legal position of indentures and apprentices within the framework of common law; the diplomatic of indentures, aspects of composition, and possible temporal and regional developments.  This is original research which will make a valuable contribution to the existing academic literature on apprentices, guilds, and their legal and economic position in medieval England, and aims to place indentures within our current knowledge of medieval diplomatic.


  •  “What’s My Age Again: Unravelling the legal complexities of apprentices’ age of majority” – MEMS Festival, University of Kent (Canterbury), June 2018
  • “Female Apprentices and Female Masters: Evidence from apprenticeship indentures in medieval England” – Economic History Society Women’s Committee Annual Workshop, November 2017
  •  “Bad Reputation: Motivations for controlling apprentices’ behaviour in medieval England” – MEMS Festival, University of Kent (Canterbury), June 2017
  •  “‘He loved bet the taverne than the shoppe’: The use of indentures to control apprentices’ behaviour in medieval England” – Staff-Student Medieval Colloquium, Gregynog, February 2017


“The use of indentures to control apprentices’ behaviour in medieval England” – Gorffennol, 2017


I received a Postgraduate Bursary from the Economic History Society in 2016.  My research would not have been possible without this very generous bursary and therefore I feel it is important to acknowledge the EHS' contribution.