Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Mystery of making shoes" An 1804 Indenture to a Shoemaker

This indenture recently came to the author's attention as part of current research on cordwaining. As of this writing, I have not been able to locate any shoes by Putnam or his apprentice, Joseph Verry, though there are numerous references to a shoe shop being part of the large Putnam family holdings (now administered by the Danvers (USA) Historical Society). It was occupied by Daniel Putnam and/or family members until the mid-19th century.

The document is printed as found in Fred Gannon, A Short History of American Shoemaking, 1912. Others may find this document as useful as I.

The indenture of Joseph Verry, apprentice 
to Daniel Putnam, Danvers, Massachusetts, shoemaker
March 16th, 1804

This indenture witnesseth that I, Daniel Verry of Danvers, in the County of Essex, Yeoman, Do put my son Joseph Verry, an apprentice to Daniel Putnam of said Danvers, Yeoman, to learn of his art or mystery of making shoes, and with him to serve after the manner of an apprentice from the day of the date hereof, for the term of five years and three months next ensuing: — During all which time the said apprentice is to serve the said Daniel faithfully, and obey all his lawful commands, he shall do no damage to his said master nor see any by others without giving him notice thereof. He shall not waste any of the said Putnams goods, nor lend them unlawfully to any person; he shall not play at cards, dice or any other unlawful game, whereby the said Putnam may be damaged; he shall not absent himself unreasonable time from his said masters service, neither by day or night; nor stay long at Ale-houses or Taverns; but in all things behave himself as a faithful and honest apprentice in the trade or mystery he now followeth. And I, the said Daniel Putnam, do on my part Covenant to and with the said Daniel Verry, that I will procure and provide for the said apprentice, sufficient meat and drink, apparil [sic], lodging, washing and mending, and other necessary things that he may want during said term. And when he, the said Joseph, has completed his apprenticeship, I, the said Daniel, do hereby agree to furnish him with a suit of furnish him with a suit of Clothes that shall be worth thirty dollars, or give him that sum of money, whichever he may choose. .And it is further mutually agreed that the said Joseph is to work half the said term at farming work.
And I, the said Daniel, do agree that the said Joseph shall have two months to go to school each of the next two winters; and if that should not prove sufficient to give him good learning, he is to have one month schooling the third winter; and I agree to pay him fifty dollars more besides the $30.00 above mentioned, after he has completed his apprenticeship. And for the true and faithfull performance of the said Covenant and agreement, we the said parties bind our selves each to the other firmly by these presents. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this sixteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and four. DANIEL VERRY. (Seal) And I, the said Joseph Verry above named, do hereby consent to the condition of foregoing indenture, and have hereunto subscribed my name. JOSEPH VERRY. (Seal.) Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of us. 

NB. the interlining of the fifty dollars after he had completed his apprenticeship, was~ interlined before signing.


  1. This may have been the Joseph Verry who was born in Danvers in 1790 and who died in 1855. That would have made him about 14 at the time of the indenture and 20 when his service was completed.

  2. There has been lots of tales and children's poems about shoes. This is the article which is remarkably useful for all. I have not been into the history of making shoes. This blog post is very informative.

    Baker Marine
    Men Shoes UK


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