Livery Company

The Livery Companies are 108 trade associations in the City of London,[1] almost all of which are known as the "Worshipful Company of" the relevant trade, craft or profession. The medieval Companies originally developed as guilds and were responsible for the regulation of their trades, controlling, for instance, wages and labour conditions. Until the Protestant Reformation, they were closely associated with religious activities, notably in support of chantry chapels and churches and the observance of ceremonies, notably the mystery plays.

Some livery companies continue to have a professional role today (for example, the Scriveners' Company admits senior members to that profession, the Apothecaries' Company awards post-graduate qualifications in some medical specialties, and the Hackney Carriage Drivers' Company is composed of those who have learned 'the knowledge' and are licensed London taxicab drivers). Other Livery Companies have become purely charitable foundations (such as the Longbow Makers' Company). Most Companies, particularly those formed in more recent times, are primarily social and charitable organisations. The active Companies play an important part in social life and networking in the City and have a long history of cultural patronage, and control of the City of London Corporation (which still functions as a local authority with extensive local government powers).

After the Fan Makers' Company was established in 1709 (and later granted livery status in 1809), no new companies were formed for over 100 years until the Master Mariners in 1926 (granted livery in 1932). Post-1926 Companies are often called modern Livery Companies.

Formed in 1999, the Company of Security Professionals became the 108th Livery Company on 19 February 2008 when the Court of Aldermen approved their petition for livery. Many professions, such as solicitors and chartered accountants, have established new guilds with an aim of ultimately being granted livery. Two bodies, the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks and the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, are recognised as City Companies but without the grant of livery for historical reasons; three further guilds (the Company of Educators; Public Relations Practitioners; and Arts Scholars, Dealers and Collectors) aim to obtain a grant of livery.

Contents

Governance

Livery Companies are governed by a Master (known in some Companies as the Prime Warden or Bailiff), a number of Wardens (who may be known as the Upper, Middle, Lower, or Renter Wardens), and a Court of Assistants, which elects the Master and Wardens. The chief operating officer of the Company is known as the Clerk.

Members generally fall into two categories: freemen and liverymen. One may become a freeman, or acquire the "freedom of the company", upon fulfilling the company's criteria: traditionally, one may be admitted by "patrimony", if either parent was a liveryman of the company; by "servitude", if one has served the requisite number of years as an apprentice of the company; or by "redemption", if one pays a fee. (The Company may also vote to admit individuals as honourary freemen.) Freemen generally advance to becoming liverymen by a vote of the court of the Company. Historically, only liverymen could take part in the election of the Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, and the other traditional officers of the City.

Livery halls

Grocers' Hall, in Prince's Street, the home of the Worshipful Company of Grocers.

Many Companies still operate a hall, where members and their guests can be entertained and company business transacted. Among the earliest Companies known to have halls were the Merchant Taylors and Goldsmiths in the 14th century, but neither their nor other Companies' original halls remain; the few survivors of the Great Fire of London, along with many reconstructions, were destroyed during the Blitz of the Second World War.

Today, only some forty Companies have halls in London, which are commonly available for business and social functions, such as commercial and society meetings and dinners; the oldest extant hall now is that of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, dating from 1672. Companies that do not have their own hall usually borrow another Company's for social occasions, or share premises on a semi-permanent basis, such as the Spectacle Makers' Company which resides in part of the Apothecaries' hall. One Livery Company (the Glaziers) has their hall on the South Bank of the River Thames at London Bridge, and is technically outside the City of London.

Precedence

In 1515, the Court of Aldermen of the City of London settled an order of precedence for the forty-eight Livery Companies then in existence, which was based on the Companies' economic or political power. The first twelve Companies are known as the Great Twelve City Livery Companies. There are now 108 Companies, so the Order of Precedence is sometimes reviewed.

The Merchant Taylors and the Skinners have always disputed their precedence, so once a year (at Easter) they exchange sixth and seventh place. This alternation is one of the theories for the origin of the phrase "at sixes and sevens", as the master of the Merchant Taylors has asserted a number of times, although the first use of the phrase may have been before the Taylors and the Skinners decided to alternate their position.[2]

List of Companies, in order of precedence

The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, whose hall is pictured, ranks fourth in the order of precedence of 1515.
Vinters' Hall is the home of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, ninth in the order of precedence.
The Worshipful Company of Gunmakers, which is positioned 73rd in the order of precedence, has been based at Proof House for over 300 years.
  1. The Worshipful Company of Mercers (general merchants)
  2. The Worshipful Company of Grocers
  3. The Worshipful Company of Drapers (wool and cloth merchants)
  4. The Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
  5. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths
  6. The Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors* (tailors)
  7. The Worshipful Company of Skinners* (fur traders)
  8. The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (sellers of sewing articles)
  9. The Worshipful Company of Salters (traders of salts and chemicals)
  10. The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers
  11. The Worshipful Company of Vintners (wine merchants)
  12. The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers
  13. The Worshipful Company of Dyers
  14. The Worshipful Company of Brewers
  15. The Worshipful Company of Leathersellers
  16. The Worshipful Company of Pewterers (tin craftsmen)
  17. The Worshipful Company of Barbers (and surgeons and dentists)
  18. The Worshipful Company of Cutlers (knife, sword and cutlery makers)
  19. The Worshipful Company of Bakers
  20. The Worshipful Company of Wax Chandlers (wax candle makers)
  21. The Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers (tallow candle makers)
  22. The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers (armour makers and brass workers)
  23. The Worshipful Company of Girdlers (swordbelt and dressbelt makers)
  24. The Worshipful Company of Butchers
  25. The Worshipful Company of Saddlers
  26. The Worshipful Company of Carpenters
  27. The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers (fine leather workers)
  28. The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers
  29. The Worshipful Company of Curriers (tanned leather dressers)
  30. The Worshipful Company of Masons
  31. The Worshipful Company of Plumbers
  32. The Worshipful Company of Innholders
  33. The Worshipful Company of Founders (brass and bronze workers)
  34. The Worshipful Company of Poulters
  35. The Worshipful Company of Cooks
  36. The Worshipful Company of Coopers (barrel makers)
  37. The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers
  38. The Worshipful Company of Bowyers (long bow makers)
  39. The Worshipful Company of Fletchers (arrow makers)
  40. The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths
  41. The Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers (wood craftsmen)
  42. The Worshipful Company of Weavers, the most ancient Company
  43. The Worshipful Company of Woolmen
  44. The Worshipful Company of Scriveners (court document writers and notaries public)
  45. The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers
  46. The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers (plasterers)
  47. The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers
  48. The Worshipful Company of Broderers (embroiders)
  49. The Worshipful Company of Upholders (upholsterers)
  50. The Worshipful Company of Musicians
  51. The Worshipful Company of Turners (lathe operators)
  52. The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers
  53. The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass
  54. The Worshipful Company of Horners (horn workers and plastic)
  55. The Worshipful Company of Farriers (horseshoe makers and horse veterinarians)
  56. The Worshipful Company of Paviors (road and highway pavers)
  57. The Worshipful Company of Loriners (harness makers)
  58. The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (medical practitioners and pharmacists)
  59. The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights
  60. The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers
  61. The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
  62. The Worshipful Company of Glovers
  63. The Worshipful Company of Feltmakers (hat makers)
  64. The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters
  65. The Worshipful Company of Needlemakers
  66. The Worshipful Company of Gardeners
  67. The Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers
  68. The Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights
  69. The Worshipful Company of Distillers
  70. The Worshipful Company of Pattenmakers (wooden shoe makers)
  71. The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers
  72. The Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers
  73. The Worshipful Company of Gunmakers
  74. The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers (makers of thread for uniforms)
  75. The Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards
  76. The Worshipful Company of Fanmakers
  77. The Worshipful Company of Carmen
  78. The Honourable Company of Master Mariners, the first of the 20th-century Companies
  79. The City of London Solicitors' Company
  80. The Worshipful Company of Farmers
  81. The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
  82. The Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders
  83. The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers
  84. The Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers
  85. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors
  86. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  87. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators
  88. The Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants
  89. The Worshipful Company of Launderers
  90. The Worshipful Company of Marketors
  91. The Worshipful Company of Actuaries
  92. The Worshipful Company of Insurers
  93. The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators
  94. The Worshipful Company of Engineers
  95. The Worshipful Company of Fuellers
  96. The Worshipful Company of Lightmongers
  97. The Worshipful Company of Environmental Cleaners
  98. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects
  99. The Worshipful Company of Constructors
  100. The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists
  101. The Worshipful Company of World Traders
  102. The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators
  103. The Worshipful Company of Firefighters
  104. The Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers (licensed London taxicab drivers)
  105. The Worshipful Company of Management Consultants
  106. The Worshipful Company of International Bankers
  107. The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers
  108. The Worshipful Company of Security Professionals

Note: *The Skinners' and Merchant Taylors' Companies alternate position once per year.

City Companies without grant of livery

  • The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks
  • The Company of Watermen and Lightermen

Both of these Companies will never apply for livery due to their ancient status and custom.

A guild which is recognised by the Court of Aldermen as a 'London Guild' applies to the Court to become 'A Company without Livery'. After a term of years the Company applies to the Court for livery status, at which point it adopts the name "Worshipful Company of ... ".

Other guilds aiming to obtain a grant of livery

See also

Neither the 'City Livery Club' nor 'The Guild of Freemen of the City of London' is recognised as a 'guild' by the City; they are merely social clubs.

References

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • livery company — n. any of the London city companies that grew out of earlier trade guilds, characterized by distinctive ceremonial dress * * * n any of the ancient City of London guilds (= associations of business people or skilled workers), each with their own… …   Universalium

  • livery company — UK US noun [C] ► a trade association in the City of London, especially one with ancient origins ► (also livery service) a company that rents vehicles …   Financial and business terms

  • livery company — n. any of the London city companies that grew out of earlier trade guilds, characterized by distinctive ceremonial dress …   English World dictionary

  • Livery Company — Bei den Livery Companies handelt es sich um 108 [1] englische Wirtschaftsverbände innerhalb der City of London. Nahezu alle tragen die Bezeichnung „Worshipful Company of“, gefolgt von dem Namen ihrer jeweiligen Wirtschaftsparte oder ihres… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • livery company — noun one of the chartered companies of London originating with the craft guilds • Hypernyms: ↑company * * * livery company [livery company] noun any of the ancient City of London ↑guilds (= asso …   Useful english dictionary

  • livery company — One of some eighty chartered companies in the City of London that are descended from medieval craft guilds. Now largely social and charitable institutions, livery companies owe their name to the elaborate ceremonial dress (livery) worn by their… …   Big dictionary of business and management

  • livery company — noun Date: 1766 any of various London craft or trade associations that are descended from medieval guilds …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • livery company — noun a guild of the City of London, some now incorporated and taking part in the local government of that place …   Wiktionary

  • livery company — noun (in the UK) any of a number of Companies of the City of London descended from the medieval trade guilds …   English new terms dictionary

  • livery company — noun (C) one of the guilds (=ancient trade associations) of London …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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