‘Absconded’ Poster

Social History

‘Absconded’ Poster

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This notice from 1816 offering a reward for the return of a young woman apprentice to her ‘Master’ at Sithney is a stark reminder  that the selling of people for work was also practised here.’Parish apprentices’ were poor and often illegitimate children, probably from the workhouse and sometimes from distant areas, who were indentured to parish residents to work for them. Both boys and girls were apprenticed and boys might work in the full range of occupations. Girls however were generally apprenticed to ‘housewifery’, but with training in the occupation practised by the household where they were bound. In 1767 these apprenticeships were reduced from 24 years for boys, and 21 or marriage for girls, to a maximum of 7 years or the age of 21 for both. The young woman who ran away here was 17 and ‘carried away with her a spotted Gown and two spotted Bed Gowns’. Anyone helping or harbouring her would be prosecuted.