When guardians and parents chose a life-long career for their wards or children, certain factors were common in their selection, almost regardless of historical period or social status. Although such eighteenth-century writers as Collyer, Campbell and Defoe tried to explain to parents the importance of choosing apprenticeships so that children would be happy and spend their adult life in work suited to an individual’s “genius” and temperament, this particular consideration did nomt seem to have been paramount for the majority of parents. Of prime practical importance in selecting an occupation was its prospect of long-term security, both of work available and its earning potential, as well as the regard accorded to an occupation by contemporary society. The factor of employment security was particularly significant when the traditional apprenticeship restrictions applied, for adults might not practise a trade to which they had not been bound and to do so was a criminal offence.