In the larger English towns the trade guilds had filled a conspicious place, especially in London. In that city no one was permitted to cast a vote for municipal officers unless he had served an apprenticeship in one of the livery companies or crafts. This privileged exclusiveness made the mercantile and mechanical professions uniformly profitable. When there were three or four sons to be provided for by a father who was a country gentleman, it was customary to keep the eldest son at home. That is why the plantations were bequeathed in that order, to the eldest son, which caused the other sons to learn another profession and to emigrate to the colonies. This practice continued in the colonies for several hundred years.