How important was kinship in training? We know that many apprentices trained with people they do not seem to have been related to. This willingness to share skills outside the family seems like a distinctive feature of European history. But we can’t be sure whether apprentices were really joining unrelated masters unless we know about their extended families: if we have their mother’s maiden name, the names of their aunts and uncles, or their cousins, then we can spot connections that we might otherwise miss.
Where did apprentices go after they trained? We know that a lot of apprentices disappear from the records of the guild or town where they trained. Fewer than half seem to join the guild! So where did they go? Did they return home? Did they move elsewhere? If you have found your ancestor later on, maybe through a will, maybe through parish records, maybe some other way, then this will help solve a big puzzle in how migration worked in the past.
Who did former apprentices marry? It’s easy to imagine that – like Dick Whittington – they married their master’s daughter. But did that happen? Or did they look back to a girl back home? The answer to this helps us understand how families were formed and the balance between different reasons for marriage.