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Re: [NC] Apprenticeships/Bastardy Bonds

You forgot my website as well (or maybe you didn't know about it! hehe). The address to the main page is and specifically for apprentices, I transcribe the actual records, not just abstract, and there are only a fraction of the actual records I have here at home (photocopies of the original from the archives). It's a slow process transcribing them, but eventually I'll get more up. The ones I have up right now are for Craven County.

You are correct in these being a valuable source. In my research on free African Americans in NC before the civil war, I find that many died without leaving a will and before the 1850 census, apprenticeship and bastardy bond records are often the only way to show a connection.

One thing I'd like to address though, you state "Most People of Color were required to bound out their children at early ages" and I've found in researching laws regarding apprenticeships, that is actually not quite true. Yes, many free African Americans were bound as apprentices even as young as babies, but then again, so were whites. There are many factors for why children were bound out: b/c they were "bastards" (often, if they are in the bastardy bonds, you'll find them in the apprenticeship records as well), because the family was poor (this seems to be the case when the children are bound out very young I've found), they were an orphan (and back then, "orphan" meant only your father had died. your mother could still be alive even if you were an "orphan" and apprenticeship records are a great source to determine or narrow down when the father died), and for education. Laws in the 1700s and early 1800s required all apprenticeship masters to teach all their wards to read and write. For free African Americans during that time, it was often the only way their children could receive an education.

The only real difference I've seen with apprenticeship laws concerning race is that white children were to be bound out until age 18 for girls and 21 for boys. For African American children, all were to be bound out until age 21.

Apprenticeship records (and bastardy bonds) are located at the state archives in Raleigh. Each county (for the most part) has a record series on apprenticeship records. Bastardy bonds seem not to be quite as common, but there are many counties with them as well. If a county as both, they tend to combine them into 1 series "Apprenticeship bonds and records" or just "bonds and records" with sub series for each type. This site is the best to determine which counties have the records and what years they cover:

It's important to note that although all counties have a "Miscellaneous" series, some counties with large free African American population, such as Granville and Craven, etc. have a sub series under "misc." that is called "Slaves and Free Negroes". With counties that have that subseries, the records you are looking for with apprenticeships, etc. may be located in that section instead of the main "bonds and records" section. If a county has that subseries under miscellaneous for slaves and free negroes, check first under the "bonds and record" series. Confusing, no? :) This is all stuff I've found out in my own research.

Another great source, to go along with apprenticeship and bastardy records, are the guardian court records. If you find a record in the bastardy bonds, but not apprenticeships, you're almost guaranteed to find them in the guardian court records. The guardian records are often listed in the estate record series and sometimes with the civil court records (or both!).

Messages In This Thread

[NC] Apprenticeships/Bastardy Bonds
Re: [NC] Apprenticeships/Bastardy Bonds

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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