Apprentices left to fend for themselves

Twice in 1425, apprentices came forward to the London authorities to ask to be released from their apprenticeship contracts with masters who had gone into sanctuary for debt at St. Martin le Grand without leaving any provision for their trainees.

Laurence Smith asked to be freed from his obligations to the grocer Thomas Mason, and John Qwyntyn similarly asked to be freed from service to the brewer Adam Smyth. On the one hand, from the point of view of many London merchants and artisans, sanctuary for debt at St. Martin’s and Westminster was very disruptive, and it is not surprising that London City officials railed against it.

On the other hand, though, as the dean of St. Martin’s would later point out, most of the sanctuary’s debtors were in fact citizens of London, and on occasion the same folks who complained about sanctuary would later themselves take the privilege when they landed in a spot of trouble. Hmmm, who knew that politicians could be hypocrites?

CPMR, 4:180, 203.

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