GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1990-08 > 0651078981
From: Kay Allen AG <>
Subject: Re: Age of competency
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 1990 08:16:21 -0700
> Kay Allen AG wrote:
> > Renia wrote:snipped.
> > But if he was as young as 10 the Plymouth council or court
> > would surely have appointed a guardian to act in his best interests.
> I don't know how things worked in early America, but in England, I'm not
> that was necessarily the case.
Plymouth Colony didn't always follow English law.
That would have cost someone a legal fee,
> and if
> he was an orphan, who would be willing to pay? Perhaps the master to
> whom he was
> apprenticed, I suppose. He would probably have been apprenticed in the
> place, to get him off someone's charge. That might not necessarily
> include a
But he wouldn't have done it himself. The parish council or the borough
council, depending on the jurisdiction, would have had jurisdiction over
his persona, which is the basic function of a guardianship, so in
England, he wouldn't have had to have had a guardian per se. That august
body would have bound him out.
But it does not appear that the governing body of Plymouth Colony did
the apprenticing, but that he did it himself. Ergo, he must have been
legally competent to bind himself to a contract. So the question is,
what is the youngest age at which a male person could have bound himself
by contract to a master under the law pertaining to the Plymouth Colony
in 1634? Or is my assumption that he would have been legally competent
an incorrect assumption?
Kay Allen AG
> > Or his home parish could have sent him to avoid his becoming a charge on
> > the parish, but again, there should have been some sort of certificate
> > or paperwork from the parish authorizing his being bound out.
> Any other such paperwork might simply be lost. (Or it might never have
> Any agreements could have been verbal to minimise costs.)
> > The copies of the records also do not seem to have the ususal
> > stipulations that the master should take care to educate him in reading
> > and writing which appear in the apprenticeship papers of young children.
> How usual was this? Penty of later apprentices I have come across, years
> their apprentices finished, could not read or write. Perhaps it was the
> custom in
> certain areas, at certain times, but not at all times.
> > This is one reason that I felt that he might be an older lad already
> > able to read and write. And there are cases of adults apprenticing
> > themselves to a trade for a longish period of time which would end after
> > the 21st birthday.
> I don't know. In this case, 11 years is so long, that it's more probable
> that he was a young apprentice, rather than an older one, in order that
> someone was financially responsible for him. (Is it possible, that the
> signature was that of his father, bearing the same name?)
> Doubtless, others will enter this interesting discussion with their
> > >
|Re: Age of competency by Kay Allen AG <>|