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Hallamshire Cutlers

Can anyone help me to decipher what exactly these entries mean in the directory of apprentices? Sorry for not being too bright on this!


John s. of John (or Jas), Dewsbury chapman; to Machon Henry, Colly Elms, c ; 8, 1678,

John 1 s. of John, to Taylor Rob., sh., F. 1729. (2). F. 1751 (3) s. of Thos, sh., F. 1791

Paul, son of John, sh ; to Twigg Joshua, c; 7, 1783.

Thomas, sons of John, sh. ; (1) F. 1755. (2) to Father, sh., 7, 1803.

Thomas, son of John. sh., dec. ; to Allison Edward, junr., egr, ; 7, 1788.

I have relatives
John Maxfield 1665-1712
John Maxfield b. 1705
John Maxfield b. 1730
Paul Maxfield 1769-1821
Thomas Maxfield 1732-1770
Thomas Maxfield 1774-1848

What exactly would they have done as apprentices?

Any help appreciated.

Tony Maxfield

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Hi Tony,

the abbreviations are at the very beginning of the Apprenticeship lists.

I am using one of your ancestors listing to try and explain.

"Thomas, son of John. sh., dec. ; to Allison Edward, junr., egr, ; 7, 1788."

Thomas son of John Maxfield shearsmith deceased to Edward Allison jnr. edgetool grinder for seven years starting 1788.

So...... he started his apprenticeship 1788 add the seven years = 1795 usually 21 when completed. That would give a birth year of approx 1774.

If you need further help just let us know.

Elaine in Ottawa.

Instant Messenger: Skype

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Thanks Elaine that's very helpful. I was a bit confused by the 3 different freedom dates for John and whether sons of John was a typo or whether I'm missing something. Have you any thoughts?


Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

My guess would be that they are three different Johns.
Probably served an apprenticeship with their father.

The Freedom requirements changed around 1800 that is why there was a large number
of requests made at that time probably long after their apprenticeship was over.

I am sure there will be others who have a better idea.

Elaine in Ottawa

Instant Messenger: Skype

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Thanks Elaine

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Tony, it looks like they were probably all your relatives. There were 2 Thomas's . Each was the son of a John and each of the John's was a shear smith.. They match your 2 Thomas's.
Not much time now. More later if you need it.

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Yes please Dave. Thanks.

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

The first apprentice John became a cutler. He was born about 1665. It is uncertain whether his father was John or James, but it is certain he was a chapman (trader) from Dewsbury. A good chance that apprentice John was born in Dewsbury.
John 1 was son of a John and born about 1707. He trained to be a shear smith with Taylor. John 2 was born about 1730 and probably trained with his father. If that was John 1 then he would be me a Shearsmith. John 3 was son of Thomas (shearsmith) and born about 1770. Probably apprenticed to his father.
Paul was born about 1769 and was son of John, a Shearsmith. Paul became a cutler with Twigg.
Already dealt with the first Two Thomases.
The last Thomas was born about 1774. He was son of John, a Shearsmith who was already deceased in 1788. This Thomas became a edge tool grinder with Allison.

Apprentices normally served to 21.and were not allowed to marry. When apprenticeship was completed that qualified them to obtain their freedom by paying to the company of Cutlers and getting a trade mark. They could then set up a business for themselves. However, they may choose not to. In particular, they may just continue to work for the master and not purchase their "freedom". This would be fairly common if the master was their father. There are many examples of a trade mark passing from father to son after the father died. In that case the freedom would be purchased when the father died, not when the apprentice became 21.

What did the apprentice do?
The master took on the apprentice and provided lodging and food. The master used the apprentice to help him, the master, make more items, because the master was paid by the number of pieces he made. This way the apprentice would start with simple tasks to aid the master to earn more money per day.. Over 7 or 8 years the apprentice would learn the whole set of skills.
Hope that is all clear.

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Thanks a lot Dave.

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Hi Tony!

If you look further down the message forum, you'll see that I have also queried these Cutlers entries - and several folk have done their utmost to help me out! But my problem then was to try to disentangle the meanings of the numbers at the end of each entry.

If you scroll up the lists to the very first page, you'll find a list of the abbreviations used which will help you out a lot

As I recall - not very good at getting on and off pages so daren't go back to the abbreviations right now ! - I would say that Henry Machon of Colly Elms was a cutler and my best guess is that John s/o John Maxfield would have been apprenticed to him for 8 years starting in 1678. I tentatively suggest John s/o John would have aimed to have finished his apprenticeship at the age of 21 (or thereabouts) so he might have been born roughly c.1665 so your relative 1665 - 1712 would fit here nigh on perfectly

The second line of Johns is a puzzle. I would maybe suggest that they have 3 different Johns here, with just maybe your John b. 1705 gaining his Freedom in 1728 - the John b.1730 gaining his Freedom in 1751 - and where the third John s/o Thomas comes in ....??? Pass!

Paul 1769-1821 would have been 14 in 1783 - perfect age for him to have been app. for 7 years and finished by the age of 21 Etc.

Incidentally - I've done some work on my cousin's husband's family for him and have got as far back as the marriage of Thomas Maxfield to Ann Whitaker at Sheffield St Peter's 1798. Their son Henry b.1805 married Ann Boocock at SSP 1831 and their great grandaughter Hilda Emily Maxfield 1904-1989 was Peter's mother. Any connection with your Maxfields I wonder idly ....

Anyway, I hope the page of abbreviations and the answers I received a month or so ago help you out.

Good hunting, HIlary

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

..... and now I see all the other answers you've had and feel a complete prat!

Sorry everybody!

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Not a PRATT at all.. Just need to scroll down to see what answers we gave him. lol.

But at least you helped.

Elaine in Ottawa.

Instant Messenger: Skype

Re: Hallamshire Book of Apprentices - but a different topic again .....


From memory (not as good as it was) around 1800 the role of the Hallamshire Cutlers began to change and a number of cutlers who qualified at some earlier date, chose to take up their Freedom to have there say in the operation and runing of the Company.

Which is why there were so many new cutlers appearing, shortly after this the Company ceased to regulate apprenticeships and became almost solely interested in maintaining Trade Marks.

Regards - Eric

Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Hi Hilary

Thanks for all the information. It looks like there is a connection. I have the same information for Thomas and Ann Whitaker. He is my 3rd great grand father and Henry is his son born about 1805 but this varies slightly in different sources. At the Sheffield Archives I found a marriage entry for him and Catherine Stillings who appears as his wife in different censuses. In my tree i have a Hilda Lillian Maxfield born in 1912 who is my first cousin once removed. Does this help you to make a connection?


Re: Hallamshire Cutlers

Thanks Dave for the information.

Re: Hallamshire Book of Apprentices - but a different topic again .....

Thanks too, Eric.