Articles of clerkship

I recently found my signed copy of the six page formal “Articles of Clerkship” way back in January 1967 as part of my effort to become a qualified chartered accountant. Today this forced period of work is called ‘in-depth accountancy training’ or a training agreement, placement or internship.

After my A levels, my parents lived in Worthing. I was under 21 and I couldn’t do anything without the okay of a covenantor: my father to join the ICAEW. Covenantor with an ‘o’ in 1967 not with an ‘e’ as now: covenanter. So four year articles it was, with an accounting firm I will call Plumber Carton & Co. It still exists today though no longer in Liverpool Terrace, so I have changed the name to avoid them any embarrassment.

“He binds himself clerk to the principle to serve for the term of four years,” that’s me. This is the first and only time I have ‘bound’ myself to anyone. And then I promised to “to faithfully and diligently serve the Principle as his clerk…” Not just diligently but faithfully too! It was all so formal and dull.

I signed that I would “at all times readily obey and execute the lawful and reasonable commands of the Principle.”  How glad I was for the lawful part. They were not allowed to ask me to do anything unlawful.  And then, now look at this list, I would:

”not…. cancel obliterate spoil destroy waste embezzle spend make away with or otherwise deal improperly with any of the books…. (and then there is another long list covering six lines). All without punctuation. Breathtaking!

But probably most interesting of all, my salary, called a ‘payment’ in the document, was defined for each of for the four years: £5 per week the first year moving up to £7 per week the fourth year. A 40% increase how generous can you get, or into today’s worth, approximately £4500 per annum in year one!