Joseph Kerfoot (1880-1962)

Joseph Kerfoot was born in 1880 and on 7th July 1896, aged 15 was apprenticed to the firm as an iron moulder. Today, the wording and thus the intent or implication of the apprenticeship indenture[1] appears both archaic and draconian stating that:

Joseph Kerfoot a Minor of the age of Fifteen years and upwards Son of James Kerfoot of Number 108 Paget Street Loughborough in the County of Leicester Iron Moulder with the consent of his said Father (executed by his executing these presents) doth put himself Apprentice to Walter Chapman Burder of Loughborough aforesaid Horticultural Builder Engineer and Founder (hading with others in Partnership under the name or Firm of “Messenger & Company”) to learn his Art and with him (after the manner of an Apprentice) to serve from the day of the date of these present until the Twenty fourth day of September One thousand nine hundred and one such term to be fully complete and ended. During which term the said Apprentice his Master faithfully shall serve, his secrets, his lawful commands everywhere gladly do; he shall do no damage to his said Master nor see to be done of others, but to his power shall tell, or forthwith give warning to his said Master of the same. He shall not waste the goods of his said Master nor lend them unlawfully to any; He shall not commit fornication, nor contract matrimony, within the said term; He shall not play at cards, dice tables, or any other unlawful games, whereby his said Master any have any loss. With his own goods or others, during the said term, without license of his said Master he shall neither buy nor sell; He shall not haunt taverns, or playhouses, nor absent himself from his said Master’s service day or night unlawfully; but in all things as a faithful Apprentice he shall behave himself towards his said Master and all his during the said term.

And the said Walter Chapman Burder in consideration of such service and of the sum of Ten pounds paid to him on the execution hereof, by the Trustees under the Will of the late Mr. Joseph Clarke, (being Public Charity Money) his said Apprenticeship in the Art or Trade of a Moulder as practised by the said Firm of Messenger & Company by the best means that he can, shall teach and instruct, or cause to be taught and instructed the said James Kerfoot finding unto the said Apprentice sufficient meat, drink, Clothing Washing Medicines and Medical and surgical Attendances and Appliances lodgings, and all other necessaries during the said term.

James Kerfoot was to be paid a weekly wage incremented by one shilling every six months on the 24th of March and September. His initial wage was 9 shillings (45 pence) per week rising to 19 shillings (95 pence). In return James committed to a 57-hour work with paid overtime “at the current rate of his wages for the time being”. Wages were paid on Saturday’s and the first was made on 11th July, four days after the indenture was signed by Joseph, his father, Walter Chapman and witnessed by George Herbert, clerk to Leicester-based solicitors, Macaulay and Bennett.

In 1905, he married Kate Sylvester, born in 1883 in Loughborough to parents Harry and Ellen. The family lived ‘just around the corner’ from the Kerfoot’s, at No. 119, Leopold Street[2] and had done so from around 1897[3].


Nos. 118-9, Leopold Street, Loughborough

In 1911, the couple were living at No. 70, Station Street, Loughborough with their 2-year-old daughter, Gladys. Two years later[4], they had moved four doors away to No. 74, next door to John Henry Frederick Cunningham, another of the firm’s employees. By 1921[5], they were living at No. 119, Leopold Street, where Kate was brought up; her father having died in 1919, aged 58. It appears that her brother, Thomas Sylvester was, in 1921, living next door at No. 118[6]. He was still there twenty years later[7], with a Mrs. Sylvester, presumably his mother, was still living in the family home next door[8].

No. 70, Station Street, Loughborough

Joseph Kerfoot died on 10th January 1962, aged 81 and Kate, some thirty years earlier in 1930, aged 47.


No. 74, Station Street, Loughborough


  1. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/265.
  2. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory for 1904.
  3. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory for 1987.
  4. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory for 1913.
  5. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory for 1921.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Wills’ Loughborough Almanac & Street Directory for 1941.
  8. Ellen Sylvester died in 1943, aged 81.