Tailor made records of 16th Century working life in Newcastle, which have been gathering dust in a family attic, are now on show to the public
Michael Foggin had inherited his ancestors’ employment records and filed them away in a safe place in the family home.
But, as a Freeman of Newcastle, the 51-year-old realised their historical interest extended far beyond the immediate family and he decided to give the rare papers, making up a book of indentures, to Tyne & Wear Archives.
The papers, one dating back to 1576, are original copies of apprenticeship indentures in the tailoring industry, originating from The Incorporated Company of Tailors of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The tailor’s guild was founded in 1536, with the apprenticeship enrollment book dating from 1576 to 1625 and the family’s membership of it going back to 1789, when Michael’s ancestor William Foggin was admitted after completing his apprenticeship as a tailor to John Barrow.
Two of the three documents are minutes of guild meetings from 1682 which detail disputes between members, including reference to a meeting in August 1688 with colourful language and a description of a physical confrontation between a tailor, Henry Wallis, and John Shaftoe, a steward of the guild, over an unpaid fine.
Michael, who is father to Jack 23, and eight-year-old Joe, said: “The documents have been passed down through our family all these years and I would like to continue that tradition with my sons but, given that these documents are so name-rich, I thought they may be of interest to local historians and the wider public.”
They are available to view in the archives of Discovery Museum in Newcastle where, until now, the earliest surviving membership records for the Tailors Guild were from 1666. Archivist Alan Hayward said: “I am delighted Michael has brought these documents into the archives for us to preserve, but also for everybody else to enjoy. They are fascinating.”