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Networks in the Premodern Economy: The Market for London Apprenticeships, 1600–1749

  • Tim Leunig (a1), Chris Minns (a1) and Patrick Wallis (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 06 June 2011

We examine the role of social and geographical networks in structuring entry into premodern London's skilled occupations. Newly digitized apprenticeship indenture records for 1600–1749 offer little evidence that personal ties strongly shaped apprentice recruitment. The typical London apprentices had no identifiable tie to their master through kin or place of origin. Migrant apprentices' fathers were generally outside the craft sector. The apprenticeship market was strikingly open: well-to-do families accessed a wide range of apprenticeships, and would-be apprentices could match ability and aptitude to opportunity. This fluidity aided human capital formation, with obvious implications for economic development.

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