City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Wednesday, 28th February 1883.
2184. (Chairman to Mr. Warner.) I believe we have all read your paper with care. I do not desire to contest questions with you, but merely to draw out, as far as I can, your own views. If I understand rightly, your view is that except as regards a very small proportion of the property of the Company they are under no legal obligation to dispose of it in any particular way?—Yes, I should say that is the case. Of course, I should admit a moral obligation.
2186. But you would not admit, if I understand you rightly, that there is more moral obligation on the part of the Company than on the part of any large possessor of income to dispose of it in any particular way?—I think a little more than that. I think we must look to the original constitution of the Company, which was that of a benevolent, religious, and social fraternity. The objects of that constitution still remain, and, I imagine, still have to be observed in the disposition of the property.
2187. When you say that, do you mean that the Company could be compelled to observe them, or that, merely a matter of good feeling, they would observe them?—That is a very difficult question to answer. It is possible, I think, that the members of the Company might have some sort of right to enforce them, but I do not think there can be any other right except as between members of the Company.
2190. And the extent to which you consider there is any legal obligation is about 500l.?—Yes, about 500l.; I do not think quite so much, if we exclude the fixed payments of 315l. a year mentioned in the statement.
2192. You are aware, I daresay, or I will ask you whether you are aware that that is a claim that is very much in excess of that made by any other particular Company?—I believe we stand quite alone in that respect. Of course the Commission is aware that the Company has got rid of very many of their trusts by the middle class schools scheme under the Endowed Schools Act.
2193. As I understand, your view is that the Company received land originally with some trusts attached to it?—In some cases; in others it was an absolute devise and gift to the Company with no trust at all.
2195. That then that property, or large portions of it at all events, was parted with and regained by the Company without the conditions; is not that your view?—That would apply to the particular portion of the Company's property which was regained by the Company, and the re-acquirement confirmed by the Act of James I.
2197. And that considerable portions, though saddled originally with conditions, have now become, by the events that have taken place, free from those conditions in the hands of the Company?—The conditions that have been got rid of in that way were connected with trusts which have been appropriated by the middle class schools scheme or else with superstitious uses. I think there are no others.
2198. Do not I understand from the paper you have handed in that there was a getting back of some considerable portion of the property from, I think, Edward VI.?—That applied to so much of the Company's property as was devised for or in connexion with superstitious uses.
2199. That was parted with, and then got back from Edward VI. free from those uses; is that so ? —I think it was not parted with. It became the property of the Crown under an Act of Henry VIII. and was afterwards regained by the Company.
2203. I understand you also to say that the Company, and I suppose you would say other companies too, but I confine you to your own, has nothing to do with the Corporation of London, and is no part of the Corporation of London?—Certainly it is no part of the Corporation of London. That was decided by Lord Chief Justice de Grey in Plumbe's case.
2205. The members and Livery of the Companies as such form part, do they not, of the Corporation?— I should say not. The livery form part of a particular branch of the Corporation, the Common Hall, but only for very limited and special purposes.
2208. I will put it as low as possible, for I do not want to dispute with you but merely to draw out your view. It performs some function in connexion with the Lord Mayor, does it not?—Yes, I should say a ceremonial function.
2209. It may be so now, but at one time, I presume, it was a real election. Is it so entirely ceremonial now?—Have there not been instances of aldermen being passed over within recent times?—That I cannot answer of my own knowledge. If there has been any such case I should think it was only by arrangement.
2210. Arrangement with the Common Hall do you mean ? However, it is enough to say that they do still perform a function now (you may call it ceremonial, I will not dispute with you) which is essential to the election of the Lord Mayor?—Yes.
2213. My question was intended to be accurate. The members of the Company as such perform a function (which, if you please, you may call now ceremonial) in relation to the head of the Corporation of London, do they not?—Yes, if your Lordship would allow me to say "some of the members of the Company as such."
2215. Do you think that that which has now become (I adopt your own phrase for I do not want to dispute) ceremonial, was in former times entirely ceremonial?— I really have not information enough to answer that.
2217. Be it so, but you do not doubt, I suppose, that some considerable time ago the Common Hall was performing an important function in the municipal system of the City of London, do you?—I think the importance of the function must always have been very much limited from the fact of the members from whom they could elect being previously limited in number.
2218. We know what the function was. We need not dispute about it. By what process is it your view that the livery of the Grocers' Company became part of the Common Hall—was it by Royal Charter?—Not that I am aware of.
2220. You could not, I suppose, question that the existence of the Companies as corporate bodies depends upon charter?—There are authorities to the contrary. The learned authors of "English Gilds" hold that English Gilds were not established by Charter at all, and that a charter was unnecessary to their incorporation.
2221. I do not at all wish to dispute, as I have said all along; but how can a Corporation exist except by charter?—There is no question that by the civil law no charter or Act of the Sovereign was necessary to constitute a Corporation.
2226. You might have said so. They may have been created by charter. Is it your view that a body created by charter (I do not wish to dispute, I merely wish to get your view) is in exactly the same position as to its existence, and as to its property as a private individual?—I believe that there is no doubt that a Corporation, quâ Corporation, can hold land exactly as a private individual.
2228. Is there not in this charter, as well as in all others, certain terms upon which the charter is granted; I will not say terms upon which it is granted, but conditions which are imposed upon the Corporation at the time of its creation?—I think that in the case of the charter of the Grocers' Company, the incorporation of the Company is not accompanied by or subject to any conditions.
2229. I have got before me an extract from the charter of Henry VI., which states that the King grants That the wardens and commonalty of the said mystery may acquire lands, tenements, and rents," and so on, of a certain value, "to have and to hold to them and their successors for ever towards the support as well of the poor men of the said commonalty as of a chaplain to perform Divine Service daily for our condition while we live and for our soul when we are dead, and also for the condition and souls of all persons of the said mystery and commonalty, and of all the faithful deceased according to the order," and so on. You are aware that at that time the grant of the Crown to hold in mortmain was necessary, was it not?—Yes, no doubt.
2230. You will correct me, if I am wrong, but it would seem that the license to hold in mortmain was, at all events, if not made subject to these conditions, accompanied with these conditions?—I think it was originally. But when the Act of Henry VIII. made the superstitious uses absolutely void, the courts of law held that as the amount of rent given for the support of the poor of the Company could not be distinguished from the amount given to superstitious uses, the whole was forfeited to the Crown. Then, under the Act of James I., the whole was re-acquired by the Company with a Parliamentary title for good consideration.
2232. Your position, as I understand it is, that their being a portion of the Common Hall does not make them at all a part of the municipality of London; that the superstitious uses having come to an end they are discharged from all trusts upon lands that were held for such purposes; and that except to the extent of 500l. a year, the property of the Company is absolutely private property, subject to no control except that which the good feeling of the members of the Company may impose?—Subject to the moral obligation which has always been held to apply to it for 500 years or more.
2235. Do you mean that there is an obligation to administer the property for religious, social, and benevolent objects ? — I should say there is, undoubtedly, a moral obligation; whether it is an obligation which could be enforced in a court of law or not I am not prepared to say.
2236. But, as I understand, in your view there is no legal objection to the Company meeting and dividing their lands and property to-morrow except to the extent of 500l. a year?—There may be no legal objection possibly, but such a thing I should regard as impossible. When I say there is no legal objection, I will add that under the Reform Act there may be some sort of inchoate right in the sons of the freemen of the Company to become freemen and liverymen, with a right to vote, and that might possibly prevent the Company being put an end to legally.
2237. (Viscount Sherbrooke.) Granting, for the sake of argument, that you have these things by Act of Parliament, and that you have a right to them, do I understand you to contend that under no circumstances whatever Parliament might alter or do away with that which it has originally given?—Parliament is omnipotent.
2238. So I thought. Then I do not exactly understand the force of this insisting so much upon law, if, after all, there is something above the law that can alter it. I do not see exactly what the bearing of it is ? —I understood Lord Coleridge to be asking me questions as to the legal position of the Company's property.
2239. Just so. I mean to say this, that there is a great deal said about law, but, after all, has not Parliament repeatedly taken away again things which were given by law; has it not been constantly done in this country, and, therefore, is not the question rather whether it is desirable or expedient to do it than whether there is a law to do it?—I was only answering questions put to me.
2240. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) I should like to ask you upon which charter you consider the Company now rests, and which charter guides or properly influences its course of action. Four charters are set out in the return you have made. Do you consider the last as most operative, or is there any other?—I think the larger portion of the last charter was operative.
2241. (Mr. Firth.) The charter of William the Third, do you mean?—The charter of William the Third. The whole of that charter is not operative. It is impossible that the Crown could without authority from Parliament compel persons to become members of the Company.
2242. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) I will put it in this way, so far as the last charter is operative in the present state of the law do you consider that that is the charter which should control and bind the action of the Company?—I consider that all the charters must be read together. The last charter confirms the first, and makes that charter of the same value and importance as the last.
2243. Then reading all the charters together which have not been repealed or which have not been annulled by any law of the land, may they all be taken as indicating the purposes and objects of the Company now?—I should say the original purposes were indicated by the first charter, the charter of incorporation; certain purposes may have been to some extent superadded afterwards by later charters.
2244. You do not think it right that the Company should rest upon that part of the latest charter which is still operative, that is to say, not at variance with the law of the land?—So far as the last charter and the first agree, the Company would rest upon the two.
2245. Now may I call your attention to the first charter, No. 1 of Henry the Sixth, 1428, on page 3 of the first return, "By this charter the Company became a body politic by the name of 'Custodes et communitas mysterii Groceriœ Londini'"; does not that point to its being a Grocers' Company; that is to say, a Company having a trade and a craft. Does not the word "mysterii" mean craft?—I think it is a larger word than craft.
2249. That is all you say about that in your return. Then does not the third charter contain these words, "It incorporates the freemen of the Mysteries of Grocers and Apothecaries of the City of London by the name of the wardens and commonalty of the Mystery of Grocers of the City of London, or (in one instance, possibly by error) the wardens and commonalty of the Mysteries of Grocers." Does not the word "mystery" twice repeated imply that it was a trade society?—No, I think not.
2251. Would you please explain what you think to be the distinction between the old word "mystery" and the word "craft"?—I think "craft" probably means something like a handicraft, and would properly apply to trade gilds; "mystery" would apply to all gilds.
(fn. 1)2252. To bring you to modern times, do you know the City indenture which is not in use, I believe, in all, but certainly in some, of the halls of the companies. Does it not contain these words, "You shall teach the said (stating the name of the boy apprenticed) the art and mystery" of whatever it may be?—I do not know. I should be quite willing to take your account of it; I am not acquainted with it.
2255. Now we come to charter No. 4, dated 1640, The wardens and commonalty of the mystery of the Grocers of the City of London are incorporated and empowered to take and hold lands." Does not the word "mystery" govern that sentence and the word "Grocers"?—I do not know that there the word "mystery" means anything more than the wardens and commonalty of the body of Grocers. It was the common word used at that time for all corporations in the nature of gilds.
2256. May I still take it from you that, in your opinion, it did not really at that time mean the craft of the grocers?—I think it certainly did not mean the craft, because we know there were members of the Grocers' Company then who had nothing to do with the craft.
2257. Now I take the charter No. 5 of William and Mary, dated 1690. "Upon the petition of the wardens and commonalty of the mystery of Grocers, and for the good government of that society, it is declared that all persons who now exercise, or who shall ever hereafter exercise the mystery or art of Grocers, and the several arts or mysteries of confectioners, druggists, tobacconists, tobacco cutters, and sugar bakers, or refiners of sugar in the City, or within three miles round it, are, and shall be, part of the body corporate and politick of the aforesaid wardens and commonalty of the mystery of Grocers of the City of London." Now, looking at the manner in which the word "mystery" is used in connexion with all those trades, does it not seem to you that at the time that sentence was written the word "mystery" implied trade uses?—In connexion with the words "or art," I think it undoubtedly does mean "mystery or art of Grocers."
2259. Does not that strictly imply that the petitioners, the wardens and commonalty to whom the charter is granted, apply for it for trade purposes, and direct that all persons in the trade shall be mem- bers of their company?—Yes; but it is equally clear, I think, that it was ultra vires of the Crown to grant anything of the kind.
2260. Is it ultra vires now for an association of persons to combine themselves together and say we will not have anybody but grocers, or any other particular business; may they do that now?—Undoubtedly they may.
2262. But you may make it the rule of the society that only certain persons shall belong to your society; is it not the custom now-a-days to make it a rule of clubs that only certain persons holding certain opinions shall belong to certain clubs, and this is a rule that only persons in a certain trade or company should belong to a particular craft?—That was not so. Freedom by patrimony was introduced into the Company so long ago as 1460.
2263. Did not the Company accept that charter; they were the petitioners for it?—Yes, but they never enforced it; in fact there is an entry in the minutes of the court at the time pointing out that they never regarded it as a compulsory power at all.
2265. They petition for a charter in these words and they get it?—They petition that everybody exercising that particular craft or art shall be made a member of the Company, but not that the Company shall consist only of persons exercising the particular craft or art.
2266. Will you turn to the third line of page 11 of the statement which you read the other day. "The Ordinances of the Grocers' Company of 1376 expressly ordain that no one of any other mistery shall be admitted into the Company without the common assent, and should pay for his entry 10l." Does not that imply that it is the mystery of Grocers, but that other persons may be admitted by consent upon payment to a fund to which those who belong to the trade are not subject?—That is to say, that it was not from its beginning an exclusive mistery.
2267. Those in the trade were members, I presume, and those who paid their fine were honorary members?—I do not think there is any trace whatever at any part of the history of the Grocers' Company that a member of the trade could as such become a member of the Company, or that the Company was confined to members of the trade.
(fn. 2)2268. I will pass from that point. Are apprentices bound at your hall now?—They are.
(fn. 2)2269. Are they bound under the City indenture the same as the apprentices of other Livery Companies ? —Mr. Ruck tells me that they are, according to the usual form; I suppose it is the City form.
(fn. 2)2270. Mr. Ruck will help you probably in answering this question. Is there not a covenant in that indenture, first that the apprentice shall be taught the art and mystery of grocers, and is there not another covenant that the master shall provide board and lodging for the apprentice in sickness and in health, and that he shall see that he does not play at dice and other things?—And not marry without leave I think.
(fn. 2)2271. As a matter of fact are the lads so apprenticed at your hall apprenticed to persons who are grocers ?—No, certainly not; not grocers by trade.
(fn. 2)2272. Then how do they perform the covenant as to teaching the boy who is apprenticed in the face of your court, the elders of your Company, the art and mystery of a grocer?—I should say that the art and mystery of a grocer in those indentures means the art and mystery of the original Company; that is to say the religious, social, and benevolent objects.
(fn. 2) 2273. Then do I understand you to say that this apprentice is not a trade apprentice at all?—Not in these days certainly. I do not know that he ever was.
(fn. 2)2274. Then for what object and purpose is he apprenticed at the hall?—In order to keep up the body.
(fn. 2) 2275. But the body may be kept up, may it not, by redemption and patrimony?—Not by redemption; we have no redemption.
(fn. 2)2276. By patrimony?—Yes; by patrimony.
(fn. 2)2277. Then do I understand you to say that, in order to keep up the body, persons who are not grocers take boys and undertake to teach them the art and mystery of the trade of a grocer, and yet do not intend to do anything of the kind?—It is the "art and mystery," is it not?
(fn. 2)2278. Yes, those are the words, "art and mystery of a grocer"?—I do not think it is the "trade."
(fn. 2)2279. But there is no intention to teach them the art and mystery of a grocer is there?—To make him a good member of the Company is to teach him the art and mystery.
(fn. 2)2280. You say the Company is not a grocers' Company; how is the boy to learn the art and mystery of a grocer ? Now may I ask you whether you do not think that that part of the duties of the Livery Companies, which are not now trading companies, had better be given up, and that they should not enter into contracts, which those companies which are not now trading do not perform, and do not intend to perform?—So far as the Company is not a trading company I see no objection to the contract being entered into. The difficulty arises from the use of the words "art and mystery of the trade."
(fn. 2)2281. Surely where the Company is a trading company and a member of the Company bonˆ fide intends to teach the art and mystery, that is an apprenticeship which should be rather cultivated than given up, is it not?—The Grocers' Company I say is not a trading company.
(fn. 2)2282. You are aware, I presume, that some of the companies are still trading companies, and that the apprenticeships are just as bonâ fide as they were when they were originally instituted, for instance, those of the Stationers' Company?—I would rather not speak about other companies, as to which I have not accurate information.
2283. Can you tell me whether it is the practice of your Company to grant leases of all their property at rack rents, or is it sometimes the practice to grant at lower rents taking a premium?—We never take a premium.
2288. That, I presume, you consider is the proper way of dealing with them?—I should say so, but on the other hand I see no difficulty in taking part of the capital for charitable purposes if required, as in the case of the London Hospital.
2289. I presume you would not see any difficulty at all in taking any part of it, because you consider that the Company holds it just as any private individual would hold property?—I think we should be very unwilling to diminish the general amount of the Company's property; for instance, in the case of a large gift, such as the gift to the London Hospital of 25,000/., the amount probably would be made up by savings in other years.
2290. And having the absolute control of your own property you, of course, consider that a proper discretionary use of it?—I do, in the case of such a gift as that, undoubtedly, provided that it is made up in subsequent years.
2292. Having regard to the views held by some persons that the whole of the property of the Livery Companies is the property not of any section, but of all the members of the Company; should you think it more wise and fair that the court should be elected by the general body of the Company, namely, the livery? —I should say it would certainly not be wise that that should be the case.
2293. As the property belongs to the livery as well as the court, how do you give them the representation or control over it unless you give them the power of electing the court?—The property belongs to the Company as a corporate body subject to the terms of constitution. By the terms of constitution the Court of Assistants elect into their own body.
2291. Have not the court absolute power over the the property, as regards selling and dealing with it in any way that they, in their discretion, think fit. Of course, I refer to the corporate property?—Yes.
2295. Would you think it unfair to ask that the members of the Company—the livery, the general body—should elect those who have absolute control over their property?—I do not know that it would be unfair; I think it would be unwise.
2296. Do you think it would be wrong of the livery to expect that they should have a voice in appointing those who are to have absolute control over their property?—That I am not prepared to say. Of course I do not admit that it is the property of the livery; it is the property of the Company.
2297. Are not the livery the larger number of the Company?—The freemen are the larger body; the property is the property of the Company subject to the terms of the Company's constitution, and one term of the Company's constitution is that the members of the Court of Assistants shall elect into their own body as they elect on to the livery.
2300. In the last paragraph but one of your statement, on page 24, you say, "It may be a fair question for consideration whether the Company should pay a composition equivalent to succession duty on their corporate property;" do you mean an annual sum which being a per-centage on their annual income may be regarded as equivalent to the succession duty payable by ordinary holders?—That is what is intended.
2303. Was anybody associated with that small committee of the court in the production of this document?—Two or three persons, officers of the Company, assisted; the senior warden, a member of the committee, gave very valuable aid.
2304. I will put the direct question at once. It appears to me that this has been prepared by a professional man; by a lawyer. Is not that the case?— Well, I am a professional man, though not in practice at the bar; it was prepared by myself as a member of the court simply, not professionally at all.
2306. Are you clear about that; I do not know in the least?—I believe, as a matter of fact, it is the practice of the Company not to admit any man on the livery who has not taken up the freedom of the City, and a freeman of the City who is a liveryman of one of the companies is a member of the Common Hall.
2307. That is a very marked tie, is it not, with the Corporation of the City. Does not that connect you very intimately with the Corporation?—I am disposed to think that the Common Hall is an institution of the past, and that election by the Common Hall is a little more than a ceremonial election. I should compare it to a congé d'élire more than anything else; it is a survival of old custom.
2309. Then the chairman asked you something with reference to the origin of your Company and other companies, too, but of your own in particular. Would you repeat again what you understand to be the origin of your Company; what called it into existence?— That is mentioned very fully in the statement.
2310. Yes, it is, but it is rather obscure there, I think. You seem to trace your origin, do you not, to a body which did not exist very long, called the Pepperers?—They existed certainly as long back as the year 1180.
2311. Yes, 1180, undoubtedly; but it was not of very long duration as a body, was it?—No, the bankruptcy of the Italian merchants in 1345 seems to mark the date, after which we hear nothing more of the Pepperers.
2313. Then you connect yourself, do you not, with the Pepperers through a link which was a religious fraternity, that of St. Anthony; then the religious fraternity of St. Anthony are transformed ultimately into the Grocers' Company as we have it now?—Yes.
2314. How do you think that this recital of the Pepperers and the religious fraternity of St. Anthony strengthens the case of the Grocers' Company as against the reformers of the day?—It possibly is more a question of antiquarian interest than anything else.
2316. But the Pepperers undertook other business or connected themselves with other business than that of spice and trade, did not they; they were canvas makers, and also had to do with the adjustment of weights, had they not?—It appears so.
2317. But you do not think your case rests strongly upon your connexion with the Pepperers?—No, the reference to the Pepperers was inserted to explain why the original founders of the Company in 1345 are so called; they are mentioned there as Pepperers.
2318. You did not insert that part of your state ment relating to the religious fraternity in order to attempt to show that the Grocers had no craft, did you?—No, it was not inserted with that intention. The description of the foundation of the Company, which we have in the records, undoubtedly shows to my mind that there was no craft originally.
2320. And there is only a very small portion of that I think you say that is charitable property?— Yes, it may be regarded, as I have said, as being about 500l. a year; but, of course, we are concerned, if I may say so, with schools and other institutions which involve a very large outlay, and which must be kept up.
2322. Then is it your contention with regard to this very large property that the Grocers' Company have just the same rights as persons owning private property?—I should say so, subject to the undoubted moral obligation which has always governed our Company.
2329. And, so far, your case is very like the case of a private owner; do you say that you have no advantages conferred upon you by the law, by the State, or by the charters, that private persons have not got with respect to this property ?—Of course we could not hold land at all without a licence in mortmain, which involves a charter.
2333. You talked a little time ago of the property of the Company when Sir Sydney Waterlow was asking you some questions with regard to the livery. Now, what is the Company, what is it composed of; do you exclude the livery ?—No, the Company is the whole body of liverymen and freemen.
2335. Did not you say that you thought it would be better that they should not interfere in any way with the administration of the Company's affairs ?— Not so: for the members of the court are liverymen and represent the livery. I stated my opinion to be that the present mode of election by the court into themselves is the best, having regard to the constitution of the Company and the application of the income.
2336. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) A great deal has been asked you with reference to the right of the livery going into Common Hall, and as to whether it did not make you a part of the Corporation of the City of London; do not the livery go into the Common Hall more as freemen of the City of London; and in accordance with the ancient right of freemen than of liverymen?—I think it is put in our statement that they go as freemen who have the status of liverymen of the Company.
2338. The beadle of your Company passes them through the gateway, knowing them to be Grocers, but they go as freemen into the Common Hall, and he admits them because they possess the united office or powers of freemen and liverymen too ?—Undoubtedly.
2341. (Chairman.) You do not mean to assent to that, do you; they cannot go unless they are liverymen, can they ?—They may go, I imagine, as freemen, but whether they would be admitted to vote unless they were liverymen, I cannot say.
2345. With regard to the apprenticeships of the City of London, Sir Sidney Waterlow has made much of that point with you, but you know that to apprentice them to a member of the guild is more an honorary apprenticeship than an actual intention of training him to the craft or mystery of your business, or any other business; is not that the case?—Of course it is never regarded as a trade apprenticeship at all; it is not a trade company, and there could not be a trade apprenticeship.
2346. It is done in order that when he attains his majority he may come on to your company at a less fee than that at which he would otherwise be allowed to join you, is it not so?—It is done to recruit the Company.
2347. Then with regard to the election to the court you have very properly said that the court elects its own members from the livery. In course of time if the court died off fast enough, and the members of the livery lived to a sufficient age each member of the livery would become a member of the court would he not ?—Possibly.
2350. But putting it as an extreme case in the course of time every member of the livery would come on to your court, if they could live long enough and there were vacancies enough, that would be so would it not ?—That might happen.
2352. Much has been said about the inequality; but when a man joins a company and takes up his freedom, and takes up his livery, he lives in hope hereafter of becoming a member of the court by the accustomed mode of election, does he not ?—Perhaps it will explain the matter to the Commission better, if I say that the work of the Court of the Grocers' Company is so heavy, and there are so many charities to be attended to that we have to select men carefully to administer them. It is a very doubtful point whether it is an advantage to a man to be on the court or not; it is doubtful whether it is any social advantage to a man; it is certainly no pecuniary advantage.
2353. I am going more to the facts as regards election, and keeping to that as near as possible; I want to put upon the minds of the Commission, through your answers, this fact, that the members of a City guild are all co-equal; if not to-day they might be to-morrow ?—Yes.
2354. And you yourself think the present mode of election from the livery to the court by the court is the best mode that could be followed?—I think under the circumstances and the constitution of the Grocers' Company, it is undoubtedly the best for that Company.
2355. Then I think the Charity Commission have a high opinion of this Company. Mr. Hare says, "The Grocers' Company decline to exhibit any statement of their property not specifically charged by the respective founders of the charities. It has not been an uncommon circumstance in the case of the other City Companies that charitable funds given them are not found at present set apart in any definite form of investment, whilst the Company generally admit their liability and pay the interest on dividends from their general property. There can be no doubt that in the case of these ancient, wealthy, and liberal bodies the funds are practically "secure." Then he submits the circumstances to the Board ?—Yes, that was his report.
2357. The Grocers' Company have given away to charitable objects more than 200,000l. out of their corporate income in the last 10 years, have they not? —Yes, we give upwards of 22,000l. a year to charitable and educational purposes.
2360. Any other ?—There is the first grade school at Oundle and the middle class school at Hackney; schools at Witney and Colwall, the London Hospital, and the great London hospitals and charities generally.
2362. Some few years ago you were very wide apart from the Corporation of London; I think there was quite an ill-feeling between the guilds and the Corporation, was there not ?—Ever since I have been a member of a City Company I have considered that there was no kind of relation between the two.
2363. Then "after the great fire the Company became extremely poor, owing to the destruction of their hall, almshouses, and house property. They mortgaged their whole estate in order to provide for the support of their charities. The then members also subscribed a very large sum for this purpose out of their own pockets. This transaction amounted, in the judgment of the Company, to a second foundation. Their present estate represents the subscription raised after the fire; and, for this reason, in addition to that of the law being on their side, the Company contend that they have a moral claim to treat their whole estate as private property" ? — Yes, I consider that that is a fair representation.
2365. "It has been judicially decided that the Company have a right to sell and divide; not that they really wish to do this, or would think it right. This has been done in the case of innumerable provincial guilds." Is it a fact that "there are several towns in England where there are rich guilds, e.g., Bristol, where the Merchant Adventurers own all Clifton, and have 20,000l. a year; Sheffield, with its Cutlers' Company, which has a hall and a considerable revenue" ?—I am not well acquainted with this: I believe the Cutlers' Company of Sheffield has a hall and a revenue.
2368. (Mr. James.) You stated in the statement which is before the Commission that your Company entirely endorsed the letter which was sent to the Commission by the clerk to the Mercers' Company on the 14th of December 1882 ?—I think the expression is that we "adhere to the views expressed generally in this letter."
2370. I believe it is the case that at the time of the appointment of this Commission, or shortly before, there was every wish expressed by the members of your court that the fullest information should be given to such inquiries as the Commission might think proper to address to them ?—Yes, we were always willing and thought it right to give any information in our power.
2372. I believe you were extremely anxious that there should be no supposition whatever on the part of the public hereafter that any charges of any sort or kind made against the Company should be made without receiving on your part the fullest explanation and the fullest answer ?—That, undoubtedly, was the wish of the court.
2373. Then I will ask you one or two questions with regard to the charters which are set out in the commencement of your returns. Take, for instance, Return B., Part I., will you kindly tell me how the committee of your Company, which you referred to in reply to a question from Mr. Pell, decided what portions of these charters should form part of your returns—what should be included and what should be omitted?—I am responsible for that. I believe the returns state fairly everything. They were intended to state most fairly everything that is material in the charters.
2376. In the returns of those charters have you everywhere, where you have been able, inserted merely the recitals of the charters or have you taken the operative part of the charters?—In the case of the charter of James I., for instance, the return undoubtedly recites the operative part.
2377. Would you mind looking at page 4 of your return where you refer to the first charter of James I. You mean that this is the operative part "to have supervision, correction, and governance of all persons carrying on, exercising, or using the mystery of Grocers and the art of Apothecaries, and power and authority to punish all delinquents unduly or unsufficiently carrying on or exercising the mystery or art of Grocer or art of an Apothecary" ?—I think the fact that in the preceding words the charter incorporates the freemen of the mystery of Grocers and Apothecaries, and so on, clearly shows that what you have read forms a portion of the operative part of the charter.
2378. Was the same course pursued with regard to all the other charters ?—I believe so. I really cannot tell you, for it is so long ago now, but I will gladly obtain for you any information on the subject.
2380. Perhaps it is a question relating rather to the historical part of the question, but it bears somewhat upon the immediate purposes of the inquiry; I suppose towards the end of the 17th century, that the companies were in a very destitute and shattered condition ?—That is so; bankrupt in fact.
2381. And that the great wealth of the companies has been acquired chiefly by the great development that has taken place in the value of metropolitan property in comparatively recent times ?—Yes, but it was the money subscribed by members of the court of the Grocers' Company which restored the Company to its position.
2382. I do not want to dispute with you, because we have entered into the question of its being a trading community; you do not consider it a trading community; you say that it was a social community originally, and that that social community afterwards became connected with the Corporation ?—Yes, so far as it ever became connected with the Corporation.
2383. And then at a subsequent period that connexion seems to have become gradually less ?—For the last 200 years there has been no connexion at all that I am aware of, except only that the livery might attend in Common Hall for the election of Lord Mayor, and, I believe, one or two other officers.
2384. Was it not the case that at certain periods the Corporation made demands upon some of the companies for pecuniary subventions for the purposes of the Corporation ?—I am not aware of that in the case of the Grocers' Company, or, indeed, at all. I believe the Corporation on some occasions collected money for the Crown by demand upon various companies.
2386. Then, so far as this connexion between the relations of the court and the Corporation is concerned, I dare say you are familiar with the Report of the Municipal Commissioners of 1834 ?—I am not very familiar with it.
2388. Would you allow me to read you just one or two extracts from it. It is signed by John Blackburne, Francis Palgrave, D. Jardine, T. F. Ellis, junior, and J. E. Drinkwater Bethine. It says, "No one can become a freeman of the Corporation but by previous admission into these companies, except in some cases in which the honorary freedom is presented by a formal vote of the Corporation"?— That is incorrect. Whether it was so at that time or not I am not quite sure, but certainly at the present time a man can be free of the City without being free of any company.
2389. How can a man become free of the City without being free of a company?—Through the Chamberlain's office. I think the change was made in 1835, and if so, that report would be correct at the time it was written.
2390. Then it goes on to say, "the freemen, therefore, may be considered as divided into two classes, the one comprehending such as are, and the other such as are not, liverymen in their respective companies." Then again it says, "the principal privileges of the freemen consist in their right to take part as electors in the concerns of the Corporation, in their exemption from certain tolls in the City and elsewhere," and so on. The Court of Common Hall consists of such freemen of the Corporation as are liverymen of the several companies, does it not ?— Yes.
2391. That is still the case at the present moment, is it not ?—I understand that to be the case, but I am informed by Mr. Alderman Cotton that it is not so; he has stated that all freemen can attend.
2396. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Therefore at a Common Hall for the purpose of electing a Lord Mayor, practically, no man can come to be of any use except a liveryman ?—Not to exercise the power of voting, but I believe the power of voting to be a mere form.
2398. Have you in the records of your Company any accounts which show the expenditure and the income of the Company at different periods of your history?—Yes, to some very considerable extent, I think.
2399. Do you think that in the present day the proportion for social and the proportion for benevolent and educational purposes would bear a fair proportion at all to the proportion existing at those different intervals ?—At what intervals would you make the comparison ? But perhaps it would save you trouble if I say this, that undoubtedly the proportion of the money given to educational and charitable purposes has very largely increased.
2401. I hope you will not think that I put the question in a way that would be at all offensive to you, but looking at Return H., at the end of page 42 of your returns, if I take some of those items with regard to your expenses for entertainment, I see from items of the "tradesmen's bills" (and there are numbers of items you will see below there which relate mainly, if not exclusively, to matters connected with your entertainments) that in the year 1879 you spent nearly 7,000l. for the purposes of entertainment, and barely 6,000l. were expended on education. The object of my question in the first instance was to know whether you think that in the early days of the Company the amount that was expended for education and the general improvement of the youth of the Company, that is to say, for purposes which would be in those days analogous to what educational purposes are now, would bear a fair proportion to the large sum given for entertainment ?—I think you would find the entertainment bore a larger proportion in former days.
(fn. 3) 2402. You think there was a larger proportion then ?—Yes, at present, if the Company's expenditure is put at 35,000l. a year, and is divided into five parts, you will find a little more than one fifth is expended in the maintenance of the hall, salaries of officers, court fees, rates and taxes; considerably less than one fifth on hospitality, and more than three fifths on education and charity. This does not include outlay, wholly or partly, on capital account, such as the gift of 25,000l. to the London Hospital, and 28,000l. at Oundle School.
2403. And I think about 10 per cent. goes exclusively for the purposes of managing; is not that so ?— I suppose so, taking management to include court fees, and the salaries of officers and servants; but I do not like to answer that off-hand. Of course I ought to look into the figures.
2404. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Those figures only refer to the corporate estate, and have nothing to do with the trust estate ?—The trust estate is, for this purpose, practically of little importance; it is only about 500l. a year. But the expenses of management include management of trusts.
2405. (Mr. Burt.) With regard to the school at Oundle to which you pay so much, it is a middle-class school, is it not, entirely ?—No, it is a first-grade school. It is a good classical and mathematical school, but the future of the school is under consideration at the present time, and possibly it may be made more of a commercial school, but that is uncertain.
2409. You state on page 22 of your statement that you pay large sums for technical education; may I ask how much you expend ?—We are giving 2,000l. a year. Of course you will understand it is an annual gift; we do not bind ourselves to give it, but it has been given the last two years.
2413. Does that apply to general public objects as well ?—I should call the large London hospitals public objects. The same thing with the Mansion House funds; those, I suppose, would be called public objects.
2415. Is there anything equivalent to that now ?— There are large gifts for the poor; large sums of money are given to the poor, of course indirectly, through hospitals, dispensaries, magistrates' poor boxes, and other similar means.
2416. And is that distributed generally, or is it restricted to the members of the Company and their connexions?—Not at all; it is given for the poor generally. You will understand that we also provide for our own poor members. That is a distinct matter.
2417. At present the Company has not any real connexion with the grocers?—Not the least. The meaning of "Grocer" as applied to the Company is totally different to "grocer" as commonly used in connexion with trade; it scarcely seems to be the same word.
2418. Of course formerly the connexion really existed, and it was part of the duty of the Company to look after adulteration, and so on, was it not ?— Yes. I do not know whether you would quite call that connexion with trade. Undoubtedly the Company, as a very important body in the City of London, had certain powers of trade superintendence.
2419. And at that time it was incumbent upon them to make provision for their old members, and so on ?—Yes; I think provision for the poor members is one of the original ordinances of the Gild as long back as 1345.
2420. (Mr. Firth.) You say in this statement that "the Company respectfully submit that this action on their part shall not be considered as an admission in any sense of any special jurisdiction of the Crown over the Livery Companies, or of the right of the Crown without the authority of Parliament to institute an inquiry into what has been judicially declared to be private property"; and on the last page you state that you "are not aware that they are in a different position to any other of Her Majesty's subjects." Are you aware that the Crown has already instituted, upon two previous occasions, inquiries of this kind ?—Do you mean Royal Commissions?
2421. Inquiries of this kind. I draw your attention to the first one; it is on page 36 of Herbert. Have you read the letters mandatory which were sent out in the 12th year of Richard II., as to which Herbert says: "By letters mandatory of his twelfth year he enjoined the Mayor of London to make proclamation—That all and singular masters and wardens of Gilds and fraternities within the City of London and suburbs of the same, should deliver in to the King and Council, in the Chancery, a full, distinct, and proper account in writing of the manner and nature of their several foundations, their beginning and continuance, together with the rules of such fraternities: the manner and kind of oath to be taken by the community or assembly of brothers and sisters and others, and all other particulars appertaining to such Gilds; as likewise respecting their liberties, privileges, statutes, ordinances, usages, and customs. Moreover, an account of all lands, tenements, rents, and possessions, whether mortgaged or not mortgaged; and of all goods and chattels whatsoever belonging to the said Gilds, in whosesoever hands they might be holden for the use of such Gilds; and to return with the answers to these queries the true yearly value of the same; and whatsoever in any manner or form concerned, all and singular the premises, together with all other articles and circumstances whatsoever touching or concerning the same, under penalty on neglect to forfeit for ever such lands and other things to the King and his successors; also that the said master and wardens should have before the King and his Council at the same time whatsoever charters and letters patent they possessed, from any grants of the King or his predecessors to the said Gilds and fraternities, under further penalty of having all such grants and privileges contained in them revoked and annulled." Have you read that ? —I should think the legality of that is extremely doubtful.
2424. Is it not a fact that various London Companies, including the Grocers' Company, have been compelled by almost all the English Kings and Queens down to William III. to pay them money on precept ? —Not all the companies I think. Some of the companies did so, in the time of the Stuarts particularly.
2426. Yes, but we are examining into the companies now. Is it not a fact further that you obtained from all the Sovereigns new charters ?—Not from all, not from Henry VIII., or from Elizabeth, or from Henry VII. I think.
2428. Well, but I am bound to draw your attention to this, that on page 3 of this statement you say that these difficulties have arisen from the imperfect acquaintance which we have with the early history of the present management of those Trusts. I would now ask you, are you not aware that both in the reign of Philip and Mary and Elizabeth your Grocers' Company's charters were renewed and confirmed ?—No, I am not aware of that. Of course you will understand that in the case of charters extending over a period like this of 400 years, it is very difficult to vouch the contents of each individual charter, but I believe that to be the case.
2429. You have prepared a list of charters and have not inserted a number of charters; for example, I put it to you that the charter of Philip and Mary, and the charter of Elizabeth, are not inserted amongst others ? —Then we have not them in our possession. I think the question addressed to us was what were the charters in our possession, or of which we had knowledge.
2431.—I think this charter of Queen Elizabeth is in Herbert. You had new charters granted, as you admit, I think, by James I., Charles I., Cromwell, Charles II., and James II., is that so ?—Would you repeat them ?
2436. Just let me read you a quotation from your journals. "In 1605 a new charter was read to the Company by the clerk, when the whole of the Company with one voice and free consent gave great "approbation and allowance thereof." Now are you prepared to meet the contention (if so, how) that every Sovereign down to William III. granted you a new charter ?—I believe it not to be the case.
2437. I understand you here to say that you are not in any way subject to the right of the Crown, and that, therefore, these questions of precedent are not in point. I should like to ask you one more question of precedent. At the time of the quo warranto when the Grocers' Company's Charter was given up, the Grocers' Company never carried the quo warranto, as you know, into a court of law. They did not resist to the point of having a decision upon it. Are you aware of that ?—I believe that is so, but I think other Companies did, and they probably waited to see the result as in Plumbe's case.
2438. At present I am dealing with the Grocers' Company. I do not concede your proposition. Did you in your Company proceed to surrender your charter by petition?—I do not know; I should think it very likely.
2439. Surely you must know, however you do not know, therefore you cannot tell me. I read from Herbert, and ask you whether that is correct. It is at page 215, "The surrender of their charters was in most of the Companies preceded by a petition stating their having been chartered and incorporated by former royal grants, which conferred on them divers immunities, privileges, and franchises. That his sacred Majesty having in his princely wisdom thought proper to issue a quo warranto against them they had reason to fear they had highly offended him, and they therefore earnestly begged his pardon for what was past, and to accept their humble submission to his goodwill and pleasure, and that he would be graciously pleased to continue their former charters." After that you surrendered your charter ? —Yes.
2440. At the time you surrendered your charter did you ask the King to give you such powers as he should think "most conducive to the government of the said Company, and with and under such reservations, restrictions, and qualifications as His Majesty shall please to appoint" ?—What page of Herbert are you reading from, may I ask ?
2441. I am reading from a note at the bottom of page 216. Are you prepared to say whether that is or is not correct ?—I cannot say of my own knowledge of the Company's records, but I think it is likely to have been the case. Of course the quo warranto was a very arbitrary proceeding altogether.
2442. Do not let us misunderstand the fact. Is it not the fact that immediately they obtained the writ the assistants of your Company were called together and soon resolved upon their duty; and that without one dissentient member they agreed that a humble address should be presented at His Majesty's feet?— That is so stated in Herbert.
2444. Still you contend that you are not in anyway subject to the jurisdiction of the courts?—The whole proceedings under the quo warranto, as you are aware, were afterwards declared to be illegal and annulled by the Act of William and Mary, and it became unimportant to look at it.
2445. You see I put to you your voluntary action. The very point was that you did not contest the quo warranto by an action. Now, with respect to the next part of your statement, you say that you could not appear before the Commission of 1833 without admitting yourselves to be a Municipal Corporation. Is it your suggestion then that all the companies that did appear before the Commission of 1833 admitted themselves to be Municipal Corporations ?—That I cannot say. It would undoubtedly have been dangerous to have appeared, because it would have seemed like admitting ourselves to be a municipal corporation.
2451. Have you any member who is free of your Company who is not also free of the City ?—That I cannot tell you; but to become free of the City is a separate act and a subsequent act. A man becomes free of the Company before he becomes free of the City; therefore if he does not take up the freedom of the City subsequently he remains free of the Company without being free of the City.
2452. You recollect that in your reading the converse was formerly the case. Under the articles of Edward III., which governed the City for centuries, no one could be free of the City unless he were first free of a Company; are you aware of that ?—I believe that was so up to the year 1835. I am speaking of the present time.
2454. Are you not aware that many persons came before the Commission of 1834, and complained that they were compelled to take up their freedom in various City Companies, the Grocers' amongst the rest, before they were allowed to trade ?—I do not see how that could have been correct.
2455. As to the election of City officers, it is the sheriffs, the bridge masters, and the auditors, in addition to the Lord Mayor, who are now elected by the livery, is it not?—I really do not know as to the sheriffs; as to the bridge master it is so I think.
2456. Down to the time of the Reform Act is it not the fact that the livery of London were the only electors of the members of Parliament ?—After what I have heard read by Lord Coleridge, I must say so.
2458. Yes. I should like to ask you afterwards,— if so upon what ground ?—I should say that it is desirable that it should be continued, and I think upon this ground among others that the Livery Companies are freeholders in the City of London and that their freehold interest is to some extent represented by the livery vote.
2462. Freedom is obtained by purchase, and then there is freedom to the livery which gives a vote; is not that so ?—It is correctly stated in your own book. Will you allow me to read an extract from it.
2463. Yes :—"The Reform Acts of 1832 and 1867 regulate the electoral body voting fcr Members of Parliament. The former restricted the liveryman suffrage by confining it to liverymen who were also free by birth or servitude, and who resided within 25 miles of the City." That is correct, I believe, except that the qualification of residence within 25 miles was fixed by the Act of 1867, not by the Act of 1832.
2465. I ask you whether in 1559 (one of many cases) the Mayor of the City on behalf of the City did not send precepts to the various Companies commanding them immediately to collect and pay money for civic purposes ?—I have no knowledge of that.
2466. Are not you aware that in subsequent years the City imprisoned, and claimed the right to imprison, those that did not pay, you are not aware of that ?— Not at all. Of course I speak only as regards my own Company.
2467. I am speaking of your own Company, I am quite keeping to that. Now I want to ask you a question with respect to the Mayor and the control of the City, and then I will leave this subject of the Municipal Corporations. Was it not the fact that the Lord Mayor down to Sir John Wilmot in 1742 was always a member of one of the 12 great Companies ?— I believe that to have been the case.
2468. Are you not then aware that if the alderman elected as Mayor, was a member of a minor Company he was required to join one of the 12 great Companies ?—There seems to have been some such custom, but whether it was binding or not I should not like to say.
2470. Then I put to you a note on page 316 of Herbert, and ask you whether you have ascertained that it is or is not, true that the City claimed the right. "An Alderman being next to the Mayoralty and declaring his purpose to take the Company of Drapers and that Company refusing they were enjoined to receive him," so that there was the action of both sides. Did not the Corporation compel the Company to receive the alderman ?—I have no information except from this note in Herbert.
2471. Now I will go on with your statement for a moment if I may do so. We, you say, were imperfectly acquainted with the management of the guilds. Was there any document from which an acquaintance with that management could be obtained until you made your return ?—I do not know that there was any public document except, possibly, some returns to the Commission of 1835.
2473. Are you aware that there has been very great complaint amongst liverymen of your own Company of the want of information as to the way in which it was managed ?—I am not aware, and I believe that that is not the case. The clerk of the Company says that he has never heard of anything of the kind.
2474. I find, leaving many of these matters, that you come to some observations with respect to what Mr. Beal said about Keble's Trust, beginning on page 5 and going on to page 7, and you say that you could not have a better instance of the worthlessness of some of the charges made against the Companies ?— Yes.
2475. He sets out the fact that you receive 9l. 2s. a year from certain property in Old Jewry, that is the sum which you yourself in your return set out as the amount you have received ?—Oh no; that is set out as the amount that we are bound to pay to the charity.
2477. Then I understand the observation to which you apply these strong terms is that the site of Grocers' Hall ought also to be brought under Keble's Trust ?— No, I think not more than to the observation charging the Company with breach of trust, namely, the statement "The entire income was given to be divided in certain ways," (that is what I particularly object to) and I say, as a matter of law," (which would be quite correct) "that every shilling of that property to whatever it may amount, must be used for the same purposes. Keble's case I take to be a sort of test."
2480. Are you aware that in a book called "the Endowed Charities of the City of London," published in 1829, the same statement is contained that Sir Henry Keble devised to the Grocers' Company certain premises, and it says the premises are Old Jewry and a messuage called Grocers' Hall ?—Yes; it is all taken from the mis-statement in the inquisition copied word for word. If we consider the matter, it is quite clear that at the time Sir Henry Keble made his will Grocers' Hall was an important building. Keble describes accurately the houses left by his will, and it is impossible that he could have called Grocers' Hall simply a messuage like the other houses. I think the charge of breach of trust against the Company is a most serious thing.
2485. I should like to have a copy. It says, according to your statement, "that the Company should with the rents provide a chaplain, pay 6d. a week to seven poor freemen, and keep a yearly obit with a gift over if the Company should make default." Do these two properties, Warnford Court and Old Jewry, under Keble's will, bring in the former something over 6,000l. a year and Old Jewry 3,300l. You do not return anything as the value of the Grocers' Hall site?—Because that is not included in the will. There is little doubt, I think, that the Warnford Court property was not included in the will either, that is beneficially.
2488. How much was it over 9l. 2s. ?—It would depend upon how much property is comprised in the will, and whether the Warnford Court property is comprised or not. I am disposed to think that Sir Henry Keble, as to the Warnford Court property, was a bare trustee.
2489. Do you consider that you are, with respect to this property, fulfilling what Sir Henry Keble, if he were here, would call the intention of the benefactors, and that you are carrying out your moral obligation. Do you consider Sir Henry Keble contemplated the present state of things in which the poor should have 9l. 2s. and that you should have 10,000l. a year ?—But you have not read the statement; we explained to you that we give 4,000l. a year to the poor of the Company. We give as much to the poor of the Company as is good for the poor of the Company, and as can be properly applied.
2491. Then I come to what you say about some observations of mine on page 9. You say, "Nothing could be more baseless than the imputation made by Mr. Firth." Now let us see what imputation this is. On page 8 there is this statement. "Mr. Firth says, 'It is not without a certain aptitude that one recognises the motto of the Company, 'God grant grace.' " As you have put that in I will ask a question upon it. Is not that statement in "Municipal London" made after your letter to the Municipal Commissioners of 1835 ?—I will look and see.
2492. Well it is so, I should like to ask you whether you have a copy of the letter you sent to the Commissioners of 1835, because you see the suggestion is that this was a graceless act. However, you have nothing to say about that ?—What act do you refer to ?
2493. I mean your declining to give evidence before the King's Commission in 1835. Now we come to the rest. "It would have been interesting to know how the Grocers do dispense their vast trust property" ?—You say the "graceless Grocers."
2495. Then let us have the letter. However, we will go on. "It would have been interesting to know how the graceless Grocers do dispense their vast trust property. For example, in 1636 one William Pennefather by his will gave 233l. 6s. 8d. to buy land of the yearly value of 11l. 13s. 4d., such sum to be divided yearly amongst seven poor almspeople. How much does the land bring in, and how much is paid over ? So a house given to the same Company to provide 4l. a year for an iron and glass lantern to be fixed in Billingsgate, and 6l. 10s. to the poor. If the house brings in (as it probably does) 300l. a year, how much is given to the poor ?" Are those imputations do you consider ?—Clearly.
2497. Then we come to the fact that Pennefather (according to Herbert) left this money to be divided amongst the poor,—the whole of it. Is a single farthing of it now divided amongst the poor ?—A very much larger amount than he left is divided amongst the poor.
2499. But just let me point out that in this very statement you say that you have appropriated it to the middle class school scheme, hence my question ?—Of our corporate property we give to the poor at least that amount, and very much more.
2501. If a question then is asked which you regard as an imputation as to how much of the Company's property is given to the poor you are not prepared to show that any of it is. So with respect to the next, —Wardall. In Wardall's case the surplus was specifically given to the poor, you say that you have put it in a middle class school scheme ?—It is all explained in the statement.
2506. (Mr. Firth.) Wardall's gift was to the poor almsmen or the Company's poor almsmen; do you say members of the Company?—I should think so. I do not know for certain that they were, but I believe they were members of the Company and lived in the almshouses in Grocers' Hall Court.
2507. With respect to this question of the poor the charter of 7th Henry VI. gives the power to purchase land to sustain poor men of the community; were any such poor men carrying on any business, except that of grocers; were they not all poor grocers ?—No, I think not. The Company at that time consisted of other persons besides grocers.
2509. Have you any evidence of any persons being admitted who were not members of the Grocers' Company ?—Not the actual names in the case of poor members, but I think you must assume that there were poor members who were not members of the trade.
2510. I see you state in your report that there is only one list that you have of the Grocers, which is in 1795. That is in your first report. Are not you aware that there are several lists of Grocers in Herbert ?—Not lists of the whole Company, freemen as well as liverymen.
2511. Are you aware that the whole of the managing body and the bulk of the members of the Company when all these bequests were given for the poor were grocers ?—They were Grocers as members of the gild but not grocers by trade, I believe.
2513. You have a contention here on page 11 that this was not a craft guild. I do not quite understand from your answer to Sir Sydney Waterlow, what you mean by a craft guild ?—A craft guild is a gild which, as you state in "Municipal London," consists exclusively of members of the trade. That is one of the leading tests of it.
2516. You say there were two clerygmen in the year 1348; the Company of Grocers was not in existence in 1348, was it ?—I should say the Company of Grocers and the fraternity of St. Anthony were one and the same. It was not in existence by that particular name.
2518. I am speaking of the Company of Grocers. You say here on page 11 that there could not be a craft of general merchants; therefore there was no craft. That is because of a complaint made in 1363 you say. Are not you aware that that was a petition against the Grocers' Company, or, at least, against a body of men for collecting various goods, and keeping them until they became dear ?—Yes, so it was alleged.
2521. If they did not do so they might be punished by imprisonment, and the Grocers then became a separate body ?—I think more information is wanted about that Act of Parliament. It is a very doubtful question. The Grocers could hardly be included in the term "artizans."
2523. Are you aware that at that time the oath taken by the wardens and members of the Company was that you shall swear to truly oversee the craft, and so on; perhaps you are not aware of that?—No, I am not.
2524. I should like to ask you a question or two more about that. Do you admit that your Grocers' Company had a weight and oversight over many articles for a long series of years ?—Yes, but they have not exercised the power since the great fire.
2526. Then you come down later to 1564. Do you recollect that the Physicians' Company obtained a charter, and that your Company contested it, because they said it would interfere with your rights in your trade ?—Yes, that is very likely, as regards contesting the charter.
2527. Then we come down lastly to the question as to this charter to which allusion was made of William the Third. I was hoping that Sir Sydney Waterlow would have read the end of it, but I must read the end of it to you. The end of your quotation is this, that the "confectioners, druggists, tobacconists, tobacco-cutters, and sugar bakers, or refiners of sugar in the City, or within three miles round it, are and shall be part of the body corporate and politick of the aforesaid wardens and commonalty of the mystery of Grocers" (it does not say "art and mystery" in that part of it) "of the City of London, and that every person now or hereafter exercising or using any of the said arts or mysteries who is now free of any other society or mystery in the City, shall and may be able to be made free of the society or mystery of Grocers of the City of London." What do I understand you to say is your construction of those words; do you say they are perfectly innocuous or ultra vires ?—Perfectly ultra vires.
2529. Then I may take it that in your opinion a mandamus would not go to the Grocers' Company to compel them to admit a grocer under that charter ?— Yes. Perhaps you will allow me to read the minute of the Court of Assistants of the 25th of July 1690; that is just contemporaneous with the grant of the charter, and clearly shows the Company's own view about it, and that the view of the court at that time was that the charter was not compulsory. "The Court being informed that His Majesty having been graciously pleased to incorporate the sugar-bakers, and make them a part of this mystery, and that the byelaws are again pursuant to the order of the assistants prepared and approved of so as to include them in the regulation and government of the members and mystery, and that several of them seem willing to comply with the charter and ordnances of the Company, provided they may be admitted into the fraternity on easy terms; to the end, therefore, they may have all due encouragement, and that the wardens and assistants may omit no opportunity of advantage to the Company, it is wholly referred to the wardens to treat with any persons relating to that affair, and to make their report to the Court of Assistants of their opinion therein that they may make such further order as may be for the public good of the fellowship and the members of it."
2531. And all the charters under which you hold lands (if there is any exception, I should like to have it) contain conditions that you shall teach the trade, and maintain the poor?—Certainly not. The first charter does not say a word about it.
2533. We shall have them in full, and shall see. Then on page 15 you say, "These charters were abolished, and annulled by the Act of 2 William and Mary, session 1, cap. 8, which gave a parliamentary sanction to the status of the Company as it existed before the judgment on the writ." Do you contend by that paragraph (which is somewhat obscure) that you are in a stronger position now than you were before William the Third ?—I consider that the Act of William the Third places the Company in the same position as if the writ on the quo warranto had never been issued, and that it recognises by a Parliamentary title, I think I may say, the previous status of the Company.
2535. The exact words were, that all and every of the companies should stand and be incorporated by such name and names and in such sort and manner as they respectively were at the time of the said judgment given. Therefore you rest your case upon your old charters ?—I do not admit that entirely.
2538. You state that that is a work which has been published; has that work ever been published ?—I do not know whether it could be publicly bought. There is a copy in the library of the Reform Club, if you desire to see it. I sent one there myself.
2539. When ?—Many years ago the club possessed a copy of the first edition, which I afterwards exchanged with the consent of the library committee for a copy of the third edition, which is more perfect.
2542. Perhaps you have not heard that that decision is one that is held to be of doubtful authority ?—I should have thought that the Lord Chief Justice and four judges being unanimous it could hardly be of doubtful authority.
2543. That did not give the assistants the election of Common Hall, if I recollect rightly, it is many years ago since I read it in the Guildhall library ? —No, but it is important; the words are important.
2545. (Chairman.) Is there a report of this case to be found anywhere but in Heath ?—It refers to Payne's "Treatise on Municipal Rights," and also to the London Magazine for July 1775. The Lord Chief Justice de Grey says, "Thus far we know, that the constitution of the City of London does not contain these companies, I mean originally and from their charters, and all prescriptive rights; it is by subsequent accident that they came now to bear the relation they do to their companies as livery. The livery are not formed out of their corporate body; for whatever their constituent parts, their obligations, duties, powers, customs, and rights are, either as altogether, or as individuals, they are no part of the City customs or rights, but a subordinate, detached, and independent body, I mean independent with regard to the original constitution."
2547. (Mr. Firth.) Have you before you Herbert on the City Livery Companies in 1635, in which he says, there is no doubt they are a branch of the Corporation ?—Yes, but I think Herbert is full of mistakes.
2548. Still he was the City librarian, and one must get a standard somewhere. The quotation you give in answer to what Mr. Beal read, and in answer to my question, was in connexion with a petition to the Crown ?—Yes.
2549. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) And the City in their petitions to the Crown all through last century and through this century have treated the livery companies as being part of the Corporation of the City, has it not ?—The City has treated the companies so ?
2551. (Mr. Firth.) There is only one question that I should like to ask you further upon this statement, that is on page 24, you say that you sold your Irish estate. I notice in the Irish Society's accounts for last year there is a 20l. quit rent still payable to you; is that in respect of the land? —I am informed that the purchaser pays that 20l. a year to the Irish Society under covenant with the Company.
2554. With respect to the Company's balances, I should like to ask you a question. I find that their very large balances are thus carried forward from year to year. They are on page 39 of your first report, "a return of the balance of monies, 11,969l., 8,272l.," and so on. Are they carried forward or divided amongst the members, or what is done with them ? I cannot trace out what is done with them from these accounts. It says, whether they can be considered as unappropriated is at least doubtful, but the balance remains to meet the demands upon the Company ?—They are simply carried forward to the income of the following year.
2556. You must have done; you give us your income under various heads, and none of them are in that. "Rents, dividends, &c., Irish estate, Vintners' Company, interest on Irish mortgages, Forden, fees, and fines, miscellaneous." That is the reason of my question ?—Mr. Ruck, the clerk of the Company, explains to me (but I will look into the matter) that the balances are excluded from the gross amount received for rents. (fn. 4)
2557. I should like to ask you some questions on a point that Sir Sydney Waterlow questioned you about; that is, as to the apprenticeships. You have apprenticed about 180 people in 10 years; has any one of those been apprenticed to a grocer ?—Do you mean a grocer by trade ?
(fn. 5)2560. Then leaving that question, do I understand that in your company a boy with all the form and solemnity of oath, and so forth, is apprenticed to a member, they do not live together and never have any connexion the one with the other, notwithstanding that the one has undertaken to teach the other the art and mystery of a grocer; is that so ?—Mr. Ruck tells me that no oath is taken. (fn. 6)
(fn. 7)2561. Well, a declaration; it used to be an oath ? —1 should say for myself and other members of the Company that we should consider it our duty to look well after our apprentices. If I took an apprentice I should consider myself responsible for him.
(fn. 7)2562. Would it not be competent for your son to be apprenticed to a clergyman in Yorkshire under the arrangement of your company ?—If I thought fit, and the clergymen consented, it might possibly be so.
(fn. 7)2563. And he could live in London ?—That might happen if his master allowed it; I should not do it.
2564. I want to ask you what the use of your livery now is. From a statement on page 29 of your report I find that they have three functions, first, a parliamentary vote; secondly, four dinners in the year, with a box of sweatmeats; and third, a municipal vote; is there any other purpose for which they exist ?—They are the body from whom the court is recruited.
2567. Have the livery of the Grocers as a body ever seen the accounts to this day ?—Certainly not as a body, not within my knowledge. I should add that the livery have never asked to see the accounts within my knowledge.
2570. Will you tell me on what principle they are selected, is it a matter of simple patronage ?—Certainly not. The Master and Court of Wardens look very carefully indeed into all the circumstances of each person.
2571. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Referring to the question last asked with reference to pensions, are the persons qua grocers by trade or qua grocers as members of the Company ?—Qua grocers as members of the Company.
2572. Did I understand you to say in answer to a question that a gentleman may be free and have the livery of your Company without being free of the City ?—I believe we make it a condition precedent to his being a liveryman that he shall take up the freedom of the City.
2573. Is it not a fact that having taken up the freedom of the City he has to go to the Guildhall to get the freedom of the City before you grant him the livery of the Company ?—I believe that is the practice of the Grocers Company.
2574. Then as a fact you do not admit a man to your Company until he has become, to a certain extent, a member of the Corporation of the City of London ? —Oh, yes, he is a member of the Company as soon as he is a freeman.
2575. Then you do not admit a man to be a liveryman of your Company until he has first, as a condition precedent to his admission, become a member of the Corporation of London by becoming a freeman ?—That is the practice, I believe, of my Company.
2576. Then upon that same question are you aware that in all the processions of the Corporation to the judges at Westminster when they come to claim their rights annually they are always attended by a certain number of the members of the Livery Companies in coaches, such members being appointed by the Companies themselves ?—The Grocers' Company certainly never take any part in that.
2578. Then passing from that, may I ask you if premiums are paid on the apprenticeship of apprentices at your Hall, that is to say, are premiums ever paid to the master who takes the apprentice ?—No premium is paid, so I am informed by Mr. Ruck.
2579. Then did I understand you, in answer to a question, to say that, as far as you know the history of your Company, the Corporation have never levied sums of money upon it ?—I am not aware of any compulsory levy.
2580. Did not the Corporation levy the sum 4,200l. between the years 1608 and 1610 for the purpose of paying for the colonisation of the province of Ulster? —I think it was rather the Crown that levied it in that case. The Corporation was the hand that received the contributions from the Companies, but the contribution was called for by the Crown, as I understand
2581. Was it not that the Corporation entered into a contract with the Crown, and not having the money themselves levied it from the Companies, each of the twelve Companies paying their share or finding their share ?—I believe it was one transaction, but I have no very accurate knowledge of the circumstances.
2582. Did not your Company receive, in consideration of their contribution towards the expenses of colonisation, a portion of the contiscated lands which formed your Irish estate, but which you sold ultimately ? —Undoubtedly.