Practice seems to be established by the 13th century in various towns.
Earliest recorded apprentice in Southampton is in the 15th century. Masters
usually had to be married men, native born, and householders; apprentices to
be unmarried, native born, and of parents above a certain limit of property
or status. Became a nationwide system in 1563, but open only to craftsmen in
towns and the children of townspeople. Apprenticeship was for a minimum of 7
years, and did not terminate until apprentice reached age of 24.
The apprentice's family had to pay the master a sizeable premium. The master
had to give instruction, and often a set of tools at the end of the term.
Southampton apprentices were paid a nominal salary of a penny a year in the
17th century. In the 16th century vagrant children of either gender could be
compulsorily apprenticed. In 1609 an 8 year old Margerie Lee was apprenticed
to a joiner in Southampton for a 10 year term.(at that age she would be too
young to be a YAC member today, let alone begin carpentry lessons!) It is
thought that most of the girls were destined to be servants, but some were
taught a trade.
most of the above culled from Soton Record Series vol 12 'App Registers for
1609-1740' by AJ Willis, 1968.
Probably be govt policy again soon!