This record from 1718 caught my eye.
The original source for this record is a register of duties, or taxes, paid to the Board of Stamps in London by master trades- and craftsmen for the indenture of apprentices. When a master took on a new apprentice, he was paid a fee, usually by the parents of the apprentice. This fee was taxed at the rate of 2.5 percent, or 6 pence for every 1 pound.
Reading the entry, we can see that “John Casball of Meldreth Cambridge Cordwainr” had an apprentice named James Sharbolt. The entry contains three dates, and I’m not completely sure what they mean. The first date, Friday, December 12 (far left) seems to be the date that the duty was recorded or received in London. The second date, October 29, might be the date the duty was paid. The third date, September 29th, is the day the indenture (the formal apprenticeship agreement) began. Following the third date are the words “Comon Indr & Counterpt.” I believe these refer to the documents presented when the tax was paid: common indenture (the apprenticeship contract) and counterpart (a second copy of the contract). These would have been presented as proof of the apprenticeship and the amount paid to the master. The next column shows the term, or duration, of the apprenticeship: “7 yr fr 29 Sept ult,” meaning “seven years from last September 29.”
The columns on the far right show, first, the apprenticeship fee, with separate columns for pounds, shillings, and pence; and the tax paid against that fee, also in pounds, shillings, and pence. In this case, John Casball received a fee of four pounds to serve as James Sharbolt’s master, and he paid the tax of two shillings (equivalent to twenty-four pence).
The real reason this record caught my eye was the name, John Casball, and his occupation, Cordwainer. Casball is one of the many early versions of the surname that eventually settled down to become today’s Casbon (see my post “What’s in a Name?”). Being from Meldreth, John Casball is some sort of ancestor, although possibly not in my direct line. (My post, “Stuck on John,” explained why I haven’t been able to trace my ancestry back any farther than Thomas Casbon, born in 1743.)
What was a cordwainer? In simple terms, a cordwainer was a shoemaker. The etymology of the word is interesting: it comes from Old French cordewan, “of Cordoba (Spain).” Originally, cordwainers used the finest goats’ leather from Cordoba, known as cordovan, to make their shoes. Cordwainers made shoes from new leather, as opposed to cobblers, who used old leather to repair shoes.
We know from his occupation and the fact that he took on an apprentice that John Casball was a master craftsman. What else do we know about him? This is where the going gets tough, in genealogical terms. Based on the fact that he signed an apprenticeship contract in 1718, he must have been born sometime in the 1600s, most likely in the latter half of the century. A likely candidate would be John Catsbold, the son of William and Ann, who was baptized in Melbourne in 1672.
However, in nearby Fowlmere, just another mile or two down the road from Melbourn, John Casbourne (son of John and Anne) was baptized in 1674. Either of these two men could plausibly be the cordwainer of the 1718 apprenticeship record.
The first mention we have of John living in Meldreth is the baptism of “Anne the daughter of John Cassbell and of Anne his wife” on June 29, 1712. (She was buried the next day.) Several other children were born (or buried) to John and Anne over the next several years. Although John’s occupation is not indicated in these records, there is no indication that another person with that name was living in Meldreth at the time, so he is probably our cordwainer. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the marriage record of John and Anne, so I don’t know her maiden name, nor when they were married.
As a skilled craftsman, John should have been on a higher social standing than most of the Casbon ancestors, who were agricultural laborers. However, it apparently did not mean he was on a higher economic status, as evidenced in the wording of his burial record: “John Cassbell, a poor shoemaker was buried in Woolen / March the 26th 1727.”
His widow, Anne, was buried in Meldreth just five years later, in 1732.
As to the young apprentice, James Sharbolt, I have some ideas about who he was and where he was from, but no proof, so I will leave his history for someone else to discover.
 England, Board of Stamps, Register of apprenticeship duties, p. 153 (penned), 12 Dec 1718, item 1, John Casball (master) & James Sharbolt (apprentice); imaged as “UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811,”Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1851/GB1337-02184 : accessed 10 May 2018), 1715-1719 >image 1170 of 2631; citing The National Archives, IR1, piece 6.
 “England Apprenticeship Indentures 1710 to 1811,” FamilySearch Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/England_Apprenticeship_Indentures_1710_to_1811 : accessed 10 May 2018), rev. 6 Sep 14, 17:53.
 “England Trade Apprenticeship Records (National Institute),” FamilySearch Wiki (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/England_Trade_Apprenticeship_Records_(National_Institute) : accessed 10 May 2018), rev. 8 Sep 14, 21:07.
 Jon Casbon, “Stuck on John,” 17 Feb 2017, Our Casbon Journey (https://casbonjourney.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/stuck-on-john/ : accessed 11 May 2018).
 “Cordwainer,” Oxford Living Dictionaries (English) (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/cordwainer : accessed 11 May 2018).
 “Welcome to the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers,” The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (http://cordwainers.org/ : accessed 11 May 2018).
 “What is a cordwainer,” The Honourable Cordwainers’ Company (http://www.thehcc.org/backgrnd.htm : accessed 11 May 2018).
 Parish of Melbourn (Cambridgeshire, England), Parish Register, n.p. (previous page heading “Baptizings 1668”), record for John Catsbold, 1 Jul 1672; browsable image, “Parish registers for Melbourne, 1558-1877,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567610?i=585&cat=210722 : accessed 10 May 2018), image 586 of 684; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,540, item 11.
 “England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWDS-8V4 : accessed 11 May 2018), John Casbourne, 4 Dec 1674; FHL microfilm 6,035,580.
 Parish of Meldreth (Cambridgeshire, England), General Register [1682–1782], n.p. (baptisms 1707–12), Anne Cassbell, 29 Jun 1712; accessed as “Parish registers for Meldreth, 1681-1877,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/film/007567609?cat=210742 : accessed 29 August 2017), image 102 of 699; citing FHL microfilm 1,040,542, item 2.
 Ibid (burials 1704–13); image 47 of 699.
 Ibid (burials 1726-9), John Cassbell, 26 Mar 1727; image 50 of 699.
 Ibid (burials 1729-31), Anne Cassbel, 9 Mar 1731/2; image 51 of 699.