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any of the fraternity may, according to his circumstances and freewill, devise what he chooses to the common box for the better supporting the fraternity and their alms. In 1348 it was ordained by common consent that widows of members should remain members, and as such be assisted by the fraternity and come to the dinners, but should lose their privilege by marrying out of the fraternity. In 1373 there were 124 members of the Company, and in that year the style of the fraternity appears for the first time in the records as the Grocers. In 1376 the ordinances required that there should be four meetings in the year, 'principally to treat of the common business of the mystery; also that for the relief of the poor members of the Company who shall become impoverished, and for establishing other alms, every one of the Company shall give to the common box tenpence,' and that no one of any other mystery should be admitted into the Company without the common assent, and should pay for his entry ten pounds at least. There are also provisions for attendance at the dirge or funeral of deceased members, and for payment by the Company of the funeral charges of indigent members.
The date of the foundation of the Drapers' Company is not known, but the charter of earliest date, 1364, speaks of the mystery as already established, and the earliest ordinances of which the Company possess any record purport to be a revision of an earlier set made in 1322. The association from which it derives its origin appears to have partaken of the nature of a social and religious as well as a commercial guild. Henry FitzAlwin, Lord Mayor 1189–1212, appears to have been a member.
The origin of the Fishmongers’ Company is lost in remote antiquity. It is unquestionable that it existed prior to the reign of Henry the Second, 1154, and originated in an association or brotherhood of persons combined together and contributing to a common fand, and having for their objects mutual protection, especially in their trade as fisbmongers, the enjoyment of social intercourse, and the making provision for indigent members, their widows and children; but this company lost the greater part of the earlier records, books, and muniments in the great fire of London.
The Goldsmiths' Company is mentioned in the year 1180, when it appears to have been a voluntary association. It doubtless had its origin in a combination of goldsmiths for their mutual protection, and to guard the trade against fraudulent workers. In the
1300 the existence of the Company is recognised by a statute, viz. 28 Ed. I. c. 80, which provides for the standards of gold and silver, and enacts that all articles of those metals shall be assayed by the wardens of the craft, to whom certain powers of search are also given ; but though it thus appears that the Company was at first a voluntary association, and had for its chief object the protection of the mystery or craft of goldsmiths, it was also evidently formed for religious and VOL. XVI.-No. 89.
social purposes and for the relief of the poor members ; for in the very earliest records we find entries of sums paid for superstitious purposes, such as the keeping of the obits of deceased members, the providing wax lights which were used in celebrating the obits and were held by the almsfolk during such celebration, for ringing bells on St. Dunstan's Day, and for the vestures of the chaplain whose duty it was to say masses for the souls of deceased members, St. Dunstan being their patron saint and the Company having a chapel of St. Dunstan in St. Paul's Cathedral. We also find in the early records entries of payments for feasts and of payments made to the poor.
The Skinners' Company are not possessed of any document which states either the date or the circumstances of their origin. It is, however, probable that, like other traders who came to London in early times, men following the trade of skinners were assigned some separate locality in the town, and associated together for the purposes of a guild, the guild baving a governing body, consisting of the most capable men of the fraternity, which framed rules for the benefit of members of the trade not only in commercial matters, but for the whole fraternity in religious and social matters. There is no evidence that even in the earliest days of its existence the guild was confined to men working in the trade of skinner.
As to the Merchant Taylors, although the precise date of the foundation of the Company is not known, one of the earliest civic records mentions the Taylors as a separate craft, and narrates their dispute with the Goldsmiths in 1267. In 1299 Edward the First granted them his license to adopt the name of Taylors and Linen Armourers of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist,' and on St. John the Baptist's Day 1300 we find that a master and four wardens were chosen, the master being called the pilgrim,' as travelling for the whole company, and the wardens 'the purveyors of alms or quarterages, plainly showing that the guild was originally a charitable as well as a commercial fraternity.
It has been surmised that the Haberdashers were originally a branch of the Mercers, and formed a trade association for the protection and general supervision of the trade carried on by the haberdashers and milliners. They are mentioned in the City records as existing in the year 1372. There can be little doubt that the Company was originally established for trade purposes, and as little doubt that charity and social intercourse were included in their arrangements. Their charters allude to a livery for the use of the brethren and sisters of the fraternity, and to their keeping their feast or dinner as oft and whensoever they should think good in a competent place of meat and drink.?
The Salters' Company and the Ironmongers' Company were evidently voluntary associations of a like kind, and from the earliest
times there seems to have existed a fraternity or company of the mystery of vintners of the City of London by the name of the Wine Tunners of Gascoigne, consisting of vinetarii, or wine merchants, and tabernarii, or tavern keepers, having one common fund for meeting any claims which might be made against their brethren of the craft.
The Clothworkers' Company, the last of the twelve great companies, represented in early times by the fullers and sheermen, were, like the other livery companies of the City, originally a self-constituted association for the mutual help and benefit of its members.
Mr. Hallam describes the old guilds as “fraternities by voluntary compact to relieve each other in poverty and to protect each other from injury,' and adds, “Two essential characteristics belonged to them, the common banquet and the common purse. They had also, in many instances, a religious, sometimes a secret ceremonial, to knit more firmly the bond of fidelity. They readily became connected with the exercise of trades, with the training of apprentices, with the traditional rules of art. From what has just been stated as to the origin of the several companies, it is pretty clear that this description by Mr. Hallam of the guilds is applicable to the companies. London was no doubt in these early days a great manufacturing town, in or near which cloth-working, the smelting of iron, the making of arrows and bows, the working of silk and leather, the manufacture of the precious metals, and other industries were practised with much success; and the several trades appear to have had in such early days their recognised quarters in the City, and, owing to their localisation, they formed themselves into guilds or companies for mutual protection, and as such no doubt they undertook to regulate the trades whose names they bore; they appointed overseers to inspect the wares produced and sold, and umpires to adjudicate in cases of disputes between masters and workmen. But it should always be kept in mind that from very early times the several companies consisted largely of non-craftsmen; from time immemorial the privileges of membership bave been hereditary, one mode of admission having always been by patrimony, which causes the right to the freedom to descend to all the lineal descendants, and from time immemorial a system of apprenticeship has entered into the constitution of the companies, under which the members, irrespective of whether they were or were not members of the trades the names of which were borne by the companies, were privileged to receive apprentices. Thus it came to pass that as early as 1445 of the Skinners' Company there was only one skinner by trade a member, and that in 1560 of the five persons named as master and wardens of the Cloth workers' Company, only one was a clothworker, and that in still earlier times the governing body contained scarcely any clothworkers. And it must also be kept in mind that from time
immemorial the common banquet and the common purse bave always formed an integral part of the constitution of these voluntary associations. They were, as the municipal Commissioners of 1834 say in their report, after stating their relations with the several trades, also in the nature of benefit societies, from which the workman, in return for the contributions which he had made when in health and vigour to the common stock of the guild, might be relieved when in sickness or when disabled by the infirmities of age. They were also in the nature of clubs. They were institutions in which members of the same class and their families assembled in social intercourse. No doubt these companies contained among their members most, if not all, of the leading merchants and traders, men who would also share in the government of the general body of citizens. But whatever part the companies may have taken, or whatever influence they may have had in introducing some form of popular government, it is difficult to justify the conclusion arrived at by the majority of the Royal Commissioners in their report which bas just been issued (a conclusion which forms one of the principal bases of their subsequent recommendations), that the companies, before the time of their being incorporated, might be regarded as having in effect become a municipal committee of trade and manufactures.'
The earliest charters granted to any of the companies were granted in the reign of Edward the Third, and after the election of Thomas fitz-Thomas as mayor in opposition to the aldermen or other magnates in the reign of his predecessor, but they were granted not as a matter of state policy, but at the desire of the companies themselves. The guilds or fraternities of London' (as is stated by the Mercers' Company in their returns) 'about this time appear to have thought it desirable that they should be incorporated by charter from the Crown, probably, among other reasons, because the authority of the citizens to form corporations had recently been denied, and because they were unable to hold land, and wished to be able to possess a hall or place where they could meet to transact the business of the Company and hold their feasts.' And we may add that one main object of the incorporation, and of the grant of power to hold land in mortmain, was the maintenance of almshouses. The terms of the charters thus granted are, as would naturally be expected, obviously founded on the old ordinances which had been from time to time framed by the several companies themselves—ordinances relating as a matter of course to the regulation of the several trades, the regulations as to the hours of labour, the processes of manufacture, the wages of workmen, and the settlement of disputes which may be called “industrial,' and also religious ordinances, such as those for insuring the attendance of members at the service of the church, for the promotion of pilgrimages, and for celebration of masses for the dead, and social and charitable ordinances as well, relating to common meals and
the relief of poor brethren and sisters. For instance, the preamble of the Mercers' charter of 1393 is as follows: 'In consideration that many men of the mystery of mercery of the City of London did frequently, by misfortunes at sea and other unforeseen casualties, fall into so great poverty and want as to leave little or nothing whereon to support themselves, unless through the bounty of other faithful in Christ pitying and assisting them from a motive of charity.' By the charter of 1428 the Grocers' Company was empowered to acquire and hold lands in the city of London and the suburbs thereof to the value of twenty marks per year towards the support as well of the poor men of the said commonalty as of a chaplain to perform Divine service. A like permission is to be found in the Fishmongers' cbarter of 1433 to hold lands in mortmain for the sustentation of poor men and women of the said mystery and commonalty. And the Goldsmiths' charter recites that many persons of that trade by fire and the smoke of quicksilver had lost their sight, and that others of them by working in that trade became so crazed and infirm that they were disabled to subsist but of relief from others, and that divers of the said city, compassionating the condition of such, were disposed to give and grant divers tenements and rents in the said city to the value of twenty pounds per annum to the company of the said craft towards the maintenance of the said blind, weak, and infirm.' And the charter of Richard the Second expressly recites their power to accept charitable donations to purchase estates to retain a chaplain to celebrate mass amongst them every day for the souls of all the faithful departed according to an ordinance in that behalf made. The State, no doubt, by these charters recognised the existence of the companies, and confirmed their ordinances, and, especially in some of the late charters, assumed to enlarge their powers; but it seems very difficult to say with the majority of the Commissioners that the companies, after incorporation, became an institution in the nature of a State department for the superintendence of the trade and manufactures of London.' How far, then, are tbe objects for which the companies were originally founded now being carried into effect—voluntary association for commercial purposes, common worship and other religious duties, hospitality and charity, these three being, as we have seen, their three original functions? As to the first, it is quite true that certain statutable duties are still performed by some of the companies -eg. the Fishmongers, the Goldsmiths, the Apothecaries, the Founders, the Gunmakers, the Scriveners, and the Stationers. And the Fishmongers, relying on their charters, but without authority by statute, appoint and pay fishmeters, who attend at Billingsgate Market. The Vintners, too, by ancient custom still exercise certain privileges, and the Vintners and Dyers, also by ancient custom, are associated with the Crown as joint protectors of the swans in the Thames; but their decay as trade organisations had certainly