Market Lavington Museum

A tailor’s apprentice


Today, we were delighted to receive a new item for our museum collection. Surprisingly, it was sent from Lincolnshire, but has a definite connection to

It is an indenture for an apprenticeship. We have seen a couple of these legal documents before, concerning An Apprenticeship Indenture for four years from 1932 and An Apprenticeship Indenture for five years from 1919. They were for learning to be a motor engineer and a carpenter. Our new acquisition dates from 1835, in the reign of KIng William IV, and relates to a seven year apprenticeship in tailoring.

Richard Hopkins, a fourteen year old lad from Erlestoke, a few miles away, was to spend the next seven years learning the art of becoming a tailor and habit maker. He was to be taught by William Halfpenny, a tailor in Market Lavington.

Richard’s father, John Hopkins, was to provide board and lodging, wearing apparel and other necessities whilst the master, William Halfpenny, agreed to pay Richard increasing amounts of money after his first year. This would build up from a shilling a week in his second year to six shillings a week in his seventh and final year as an apprentice.

We would love to find out more about William Halfpenny. Unfortunately, the 1841 census for Market Lavington has not survived. That would have given us a street location for him. He does appear in local directories in 1842 and 1844, as a tailor and draper in East (Market) Lavington. However, he is not listed in an 1848 or any subsequent directories we have consulted. We have not found any Halfpenny burials at Market Lavington Church. The 1861 census shows a widow, Jane Halfpenny,a lodging house keeper, aged 70 living at Townsend, Market Lavington. We do not know what, if any, relation she was to William the tailor. If anyone has family history information on him, please add a comment to this blog.

Grateful thanks to the donor for contacting Market Lavington Museum and returning this document to its place of origin.