The practice of sending a child away from home, to live with a host family for a number of years, usually at a very tender age, had been customary among the great English families from the medieval period onwards. Such arrangements were not apprenticeships, although in concept and implementation they were very similar. Slowly this system of free service in return for board and instruction reached downwards in society, so that the professions, trades and crafts took advantage of it to train their children in other men’s houses and to receive other adolescents into their own to instruct. Apprenticeship was roundly condemned by foreign visitors, who saw it as firm proof of English hardheartedness towards their offspring. However, by the Tudor period, apprenticeship was generally accepted as a means of technical training across a very wide range of occupations but still restricted to relatively small numbers of children. By the seventeenth century it expanded downwards, as a means of social control for the children of the poor, and also upwards, through economic necessity, as gentlemen’s sons became merchants, manufacturers, attorneys and medical practitioners.