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An Act establishing a General Apprentice Law, and defining the obligations of Master and Mistress and Apprentice.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, That it shall be lawful for any minor to be bound as an apprentice, by his or her father, mother or guardian, with their consent, entered of record in the office of the Clerk of the county of which the minor is a resident, or without such consent, if the minor, being fourteen years of age, agree in open Court to be so apprenticed; Provided, There be no opposition thereto by the father or mother of said minor.

Sec. 2. It shall be the duty of all Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace. and other civil officers of the several counties of the State, to report to the Judge of the County Court of their respective counties, at any time, all indigent or vagrant minors, within their respective counties or precincts, and, also, all minors whose parent or parents have not the means, or who refuse to support said minors; and thereupon, it shall be the duty of the County Judge to apprentice said minor to some suitable and competent person, on such terms as the Court may direct, 'having particular care to the interest of said minor.

Sec. 3. All indentures of apprenticeship shall be approved by the County Judge, and entered of record in the office of the County Clerk of the county of which the minor apprenticed is a resident; and the County Judge shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all causes of action growing out of the relation of master or mistress and apprentice.

Sec. 4. The term of apprenticeship of every minor, under this Act, shall be until the minor attains the age of twenty-one years, unless sooner married; Provided, that in all cases where the age of the minor cannot be ascertained by record, or other satisfactory testimony, the Judge of the County Court shall fix the same.

Sec. 5. It shall be the duty of the County Judge, upon making the order of apprenticeship, to require the master or mistress to give bond, in such sum as he may direct, with one or more good and sufficient sureties, payable to the County Judge and his successors in office, conditioned that he or she shall furnish said minor sufficient food and clothing-to treat said minor humanelyto teach or cause to be taught him or her some specified trade or occupation-to furnish medical attendance in case of sickness, and for the general and faithful compliance with the terms stipulated in the indentures as to education, &c.; and, in default of the master or mistress to comply with the stipulations of his or her bond, suit may be instituted by the father, mother or guardian of the minor, or by the County Judge, upon the same, for all damages sustained; and such damages, when recovered, shall be applied to the use and benefit of the apprentice, under such regulations as may be prescribed by the County Judge.

Sec. 6. That in the management and control of an apprentice, the master or mistress shall have power to inflict such moderate corporeal chastisement as may be necessary and proper.

Sec. 7. That if any apprentice shall run away from, or leave the employ of his master or mistress, without permission, said master or mistress may pursue and recapture said apprentice, and bring him before any Justice of the Peace of the county, whose duty it shall be to remand said apprentice to the service of his master or mistress; and, in the event of a refusal on the part of said apprentice to return, then the Justice shall commit said apprentice to the county jail, on failure to give bond for appearance, at the next term of the County Court; and it shall be the duty of the County Judge, at the next regular term thereafter, to investigate said cause, and, if the Court shall be of opinion that said apprentice left the employment of his master or mistress without good and sufficient cause, to order him to receive such punishment as may be provided by the vagrant laws then in force, until said apprentice agrees to return to his employment; Provided, That the Court may grant continuances, as in other cases; And further provided, That if the Court shall be of opinion that said apprentice has good cause to quit said employment, the Court shall discharge said apprentice from his indentures of apprenticeship.

Sec. 8. That in case any master or mistress of any apprentice may desire, he or she shall have the privilege to summon his or her apprentice to appear before the County Court of the county in which the parties may reside, and, on good and sufficient cause being shown to said Court, and on proof that said apprentice will not be injured thereby, shall be released from all liability, as master or mistress of such apprentice, and his bond canceled.

Sec. 9. It shall not be lawful for any apprentice, bound under the provisions of this Act, to reside out of the county, in the office of which, the terms of indenture are required to be recorded, without the written order of the County Judge, entered of record in the Clerk's office of the County Court of such county; when such leave is obtained, a certified copy of the order, authorizing the same, shall be filed for record in the office of the Clerk of the County Court of the county wherein the residence is to be; and the County Judge of that county shall have plenary power to hear and adjudicate all causes of action between the said master or mistress and apprentice, as fully as the County Judge of the County wherein the indentures of apprenticeship were originally recorded.

Sec. 10. Any apprentice who shall be removed out of the bounds of the county having original jurisdiction of the same, by his master or mistress, or with his knowledge or consent, without leave first obtained from the County Judge, and shall be retained thereout for a longer period than thirty days, shall not be held liable for a further compliance with his indentures, and can only be retained by the master or mistress at the pleasure of said apprentice.

Sec. 11. Any person who shall, knowingly and willfully, entice away an apprentice, or conceal or harbor a deserting apprentice, shall, upon conviction thereof, pay to the master or mistress, five dollars ($5 00) per day, for each day said apprentice is so absent, or concealed from his master or mistress, and shall likewise be held liable for all damages proved to have been sustained by the master or mistress, on account of such willful concealing, harboring, or enticing away, to be recovered by suit, before any Court having jurisdiction of the same.

Sec. 12. The County Judge shall have power to hear and determine and grant all orders and decrees, as herein provided, as well in vacation as in term time; Provided, That, in all applications for apprenticeship, ten days' public notice, as in case of guardianship, shall be given, and no minor shall be apprenticed except at a regular term of said Court.

Approved October 27, 1866.

  Extracted from Gammel's The Laws of Texas