Indentures | State Library of New South Wales


After receiving a basic education and training at the Orphan School, boys were apprenticed until they reached the age of 21 or older. A formal indenture was drawn up for each apprenticeship, signed by the Apprentice, the Master to whom they were assigned and the Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands Corporation including the Reverend Samuel Marsden.

The Apprentice pledged to ‘faithfully...serve, in all lawful business, according to his Power, and Ability; and honestly, orderly, and obediently, in all Things, behave himself towards his said Master, during the said Term’. He was also required to abstain from ‘Inns, Taverns, or Ale-houses’ and not to 'play at Cards, Dice, Tables, or any other unlawful Games’.

For his part, the Master agreed to train the Apprentice in the ‘Art, Trade and Mystery’ of being a servant, labourer or whatever trade had been assigned, and to provide sufficient ‘Meat, Drink, Apparel, Lodging, Washing, and all other Things necessary and fit for an Apprentice’.

The Library holds indentures for a number of orphans whose names appear in the Male Orphan School roll book, 1819-1848, which is also held by the Library. Some of the apprenticed include:

James Lees, the first name recorded in the Male Orphan School roll book, was ten years old when he entered the orphan school on 1 January 1819. He was apprenticed to the institution as a carpenter in 1822, assigned to Thomas Bowden, who was Master of the School at the time, and discharged in 1825. His records also state that he later died of bowel disease.

Joseph Bridge was one of five brothers, the children of convicts, aged between six and thirteen when they were admitted to the Orphan School in 1825. Joseph was apprenticed as a servant to John Oxley, Surveyor General of NSW, in 1827, ‘to dwell and serve him’ until 1833. His brothers were all apprenticed as servants, except the youngest, William Bridge, who absconded from the school.

Thomas Welsh, aged seven when he entered the Orphan School in 1826, was apprenticed to Edward Llewellyn (of Liverpool) to work as a baker in 1831. He is described in the roll book as having freckles, dark eyes and hair.

Irvine Johnstone, was apprenticed in 1833, at fourteen, to Mr Robert Jones to work as a sailor. Described as having a good looking face and an Irish accent, he entered the Male Orphan School as an eight years old in 1825, along with his older brother James who later absconded from the school.

>Find more Orphan School indentures, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link 

>Find the Statutes of the Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands in the Colony of New South Wales, 1826, via the Library's online catalogue catalogue link 



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