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Artificers, statute of

Artificers, statute of, 1563. A regulation of labour, which sought to banish idleness, advance husbandry, and yield ‘a convenient proportion’ of wages. Growing concern at the number of masterless men, increasing vagabondage, and escalating crime underlay the outline of terms and conditions of service between masters and servants, in an effort to reduce notorious discord. All unmarried persons below 30 who had received craft training could not refuse to serve if requested, those between 12 and 60 compellable to serve in husbandry were defined, and unmarried women between 12 and 40 could also be made to serve. Wage rates were to be set yearly at the Court of Chancery, after receipt of local recommendations, and then proclaimed in every county. To control undue mobility, anyone failing to carry letters testimonial was punishable for vagrancy. Regulations for apprenticeship concerned eligibility, age, duration, and grievance; refusal to be bound was punishable.

A. S. Hargreaves

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