City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Wednesday, 7th March 1883.
The Right Honourable LORD COLERIDGE, in the Chair.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G.
The Right Hon. Viscount Sherbrooke.
The Right Hon. Sir Richard Assheton Cross, G.C.B., M.P.
Sir Nathaniel M. de Rothschild, Bart., M.P.
Sir Sidney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Pell, M.P.
Mr. Walter H. James, M.P.
Mr. Joseph Firth, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
The following gentlemen attended as a deputation from the Goldsmiths' Company :—
Sir Frederick Bramwell, F.R.S., and Mr. Walter Prideaux.
2583. (Chairman to Sir Frederick Bramwell.) I understand you attend on behalf of the Goldsmiths' Company, and that you desire to offer some observations on their behalf?—I do, in company with Mr. Prideaux. Those observations your lordship has also in print, I believe.
2584. Yes, I have read them.—We desire and trust that they may be taken as having been given here as oral evidence.
2585. Have you anything to add to this statement ? —Nothing has occurred to me since that was drawn up. I do not know whether anything has to Mr. Prideaux.
2586. You will understand me as wishing my questions not to take the shape of cross-examining you, because I do not wish to do so; I have no desire to do more than to possess the Commission and myself of exactly what I understand to be your contention; as I understand, you contend that the great bulk of the property of the Goldsmiths' Company is absolutely their private property; is that so ?—Yes.
2587. And that it is subject to no legal restraint whatever ?—Yes.
2588. And might, if the Company chose, be divided amongst the members of the Company to-morrow ?— Legally, I presume it might be. I have not in the slightest degree suggested that anything of the kind would be done.
2589. Neither do I suggest it; I only say that it might be so, according to your view.—I hardly like to talk law to your lordship, but certainly that is our view; and I am fortified in that by the opinion of the Lord Chancellor, with whom I had the honour of attending the Commission on a former occasion.
2590. I suppose your legal position, in your view, would be the same if the Companies, or your Company, had 10 times or 20 times the amount of property that they now possess ?—That is so.
2591. Or if they owned half England ?—Or if they owned half England. It does not appear to me that the fact that I have got something which is doubly coveted, makes it doubly the property of somebody who would like to get it.
2592. And in your view, the State would be guilty of spoliation, as I understand ["confiscation," I think, is the expression that you make use of], or something approaching to confiscation, if in the general interest it interfered with the holding of property on the part of any one, however exaggerated and large that holding might be ?—I should certainly think so. It is the first time I ever heard it suggested that there should be a limit to the property held by an individual
2593. I suggest nothing.—I will not say that your lordship suggests it. It is a new proposition to me that there should be a limit to property held in one person's hands.
Deputation from Goldsmiths' Company. 7 March 1883.
2594. Even when those lands are mortmain ?—I believe so; but as these are legal points, I should prefer your lordship would allow Mr. Prideaux to break in and give answers upon these matters.
2595. I only want to know what is the extent to which you push your view.—The extent to which I push my view is that which your lordship has stated, viz., that the property is legally ours, except that part of it on which there are direct trusts.
2596. And that the right of the State to interfere, is neither more nor less in the case of very large properties held in mortmain than it is in the case of very small properties held in the hands of private persons ? —Upon that point I should be glad if your lordship would allow Mr. Prideaux to answer. So far as I am competent to express an opinion, I should say "Yes" to that, but if Mr. Prideaux might answer it I should be glad.
2597. (Sir Richard Cross.) As I understand, you consider that it is the origin of the property more than the size of it which you have to look at, that is to say, how you got the property ?—How we got the property. It appears to me to be a somewhat dangerous doctrine to say, "I will consider whether this property is large or small, and if it is small you may keep it; if it is not I will consider whether it shall not be taken from you."
2598. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Do you know what proportion of the property held by the Goldsmiths' Company consists of property formerly held for superstitious uses, and which was purchased by the Goldsmiths' Company from the Crown in the reign of Edward VI., and the holding of which was confirmed by the present Act of 4 James I. ?—I know it by referring to the Returns. But if you will be good enough to allow Mr. Prideaux to speak upon that point, he can do it with more particularity than I can.
2599. May I ask you whether your Company has, since the establishment of the Charity Commission, applied to the Commissioners for any scheme of alteration of the administration of your settled charities ?— I know as a matter of fact that they have, but again I would refer to Mr. Prideaux for the detail.
2600. Now I turn to another subject. In your observations you state that at the commencement of this century the income of the Company was very small. Can you inform us what it was at any earlier period, say five or six centuries ago?—I cannot; but again I refer you to Mr. Prideaux.
2601. May I ask you whether you consider that there is, or is not, a very close connexion between the Livery Companies and the Corporation of London ?— I should have thought it but a remote connexion.
2602. You are probably aware that as late as the 14th century the Livery Companies appointed the common councilmen, each Company sending so many ? —I was not aware of that; I am speaking of the present connexion.
2603. Then as to the present connexion, you are aware that the Livery Companies appoint the Lord Mayor, I suppose?—I am aware that they vote, I think, for two aldermen, and the Court of Aldermen from them appoint the Lord Mayor.
2604. Is it not that they can vote for any two aldermen of the 26, although custom has led them to select two in rotation?—I believe so, but it is not in their power, as I understand, to appoint which of those two shall be Lord Mayor.
2605. No; they must select two from the 26, must they not ?—Yes.
2606. And the aldermen must elect one of the two ? —Yes.
2607. Then practically they appoint the Lord Mayor, do they not ?—Yes; but in my judgment they do not do that as liverymen but as freemen, that is to say, suppose a man is a liveryman of a Company and not a freeman of the City of London, he does not appoint, and that is why I say the connexion is a remote one. My opinion is subject to correction, but I believe that if a man be a liveryman of a Company and not a freeman of the City of London he has no voice in the election of Lord Mayor.
2608. Precisely so, but as a matter of fact are not 99 out of every 100 freemen of the City of London as well as liverymen ?—That I cannot tell you. I cannot say what the proportion is, but I do know of instances where there are men who are liverymen of Companies, who are not freemen of the City of London.
2609. Precisely, but is it not a fact that unless they are free of the City of London they cannot exercise the privilege of voting as liverymen in the Parliamentary elections ?—I do not know how that is. I am not aware that that is so, but I am speaking now in reference to the voting for the election of Lord Mayor.
2610. Then will not that lead you to the conclusion that the large majority of the liverymen are free of the Corporation of the City of London ?—I think the large majority probably are.
2611. And that they have the sole right of electing the Lord Mayor ?—In the manner I have mentioned.
2612. And the sheriffs ?—I believe so.
2613. From all qualified persons ?—I believe so.
2614. And the Chamberlain and Treasurer of the City of London ?—I do not know whether they have the right of electing the Chamberlain, but the bridge masters, I believe, they have.
2615. Have not the Court of Aldermen as a part of the Corporation a very large power of control over the persons who are admitted to the Companies as liverymen ?—I was not aware that they had any.
2616. Have you not known orders made from time to time directing that persons should be regarded as members of particular companies ?—Not to my knowledge.
2617. I have here three extracts from the proceedings of the Court of Aldermen. The first is, "Upon the application of William Charles Woollett, who was bound apprentice to Frank Singer, citizen and grocer, and duly served him seven years, but having contracted matrimony within the term, could not obtain the freedom of this city, and therefore prayed to be admitted into the Company of Grocers; it is ordered that he be admitted into the freedom of this city by servitude, and in the said Company of Grocers." Is it not a fact that these records occur at almost every Court of Aldermen ?—That I do not know, and I do not know even if they do how far they are operative. I am perfectly aware that by the custom of our Company when a man has contracted matrimony during his apprenticeship there is no objection to his being made a freeman of the Company, but I am informed there is an objection to his being made a freeman of the City; which objection the Court of Aldermen has power to do away with; but although it may be competent to them to order that he shall be made a freeman of the City, I do know that it is not competent to them to order that he shall be made a freeman of the Goldsmiths' Company.
2618. I will not trouble you by reading any other extracts, but you may take it from me that I have many others, and that the same thing occurs in all of them ?—I take it that the Court of Aldermen are in the habit of making such resolutions, but how far they are operative in that part which relates to the Companies I must leave to those who know more of the subject than I do. It certainly is new to me in respect of the Goldsmiths' Company.
2619. Looking at the fact that the liverymen of the City of London appoint these important officers of the Corporation, the Lord Mayor and the others, do not you think that that shows a close connexion ? —No, that is what I call a remote connexion. I should like to explain precisely what I mean by it. As I understand it they only appoint if they are, as I have said, freemen of the City; and it appears to me perfectly reasonable, and that the Corporation may have said, "We have a number of freemen—we will not have the whole of those as electors, but we will have so many of them as happen to be liverymen of companies, as giving them a status." But that does not appear to me to be a very close connexion. I believe that is the only connexion, and that does not appear to me to be a very close one. If I may put this illustration; I am a visitor of the Cooper's Hill College. The authorities of Cooper's Hill College choose that I and certain other gentlemen shall be visitors of that college; but I do not think that that gives me a close connexion with Cooper's Hill College.
2620. May I put the proposition the other way. Instead of liverymen appointing the officers of the Corporation, suppose the Corporation appointed the master and wardens, the accountant, the beadle, and the clerks of the livery companies, would not you think that a very close connexion ?—Yes.
2621. Is it not a fact that the liverymen appoint the lord mayor, the sheriffs, the treasurer, and the other officers similarly ?—No; to my mind certainly not, because I have given you this reason, they do not appoint as liverymen but they appoint as freemen, which to my mind is a great distinction.
2622. May I call your attention to what the chairman has already referred to. They do not as liverymen meet in Common Hall, but is it not a fact that lists are furnished to the beadle to see that none other than liverymen enter the Hall, and is it not the rule also that none other than liverymen shall enter the Hall ?—But, Sir Sydney, you appear to overlook that which I point out as a great distinction that although it may be the fact that none other than liverymen shall enter the Hall, it is equally the fact that liverymen who are not freemen shall not enter the Hall. That is what I am pointing out.
2623. Because a liveryman who is not a freeman is not a perfect liveryman ?—That I cannot assent to for one moment.
2624. He has not all the rights and privileges, has he ?—Yes, he has all the privileges of a liveryman according to my view.
2625. He cannot vote as a liveryman if he is not free of the city, can he ?—He can do all that a liveryman need do within his own company, but he has not the right to vote because he is not a freeman of the City of London.
2626. You admit that he cannot vote ?—He cannot vote; that is not one of his privileges as a liveryman, but one of the privileges of a liveryman who happens to be a freeman, which is a very different thing.
2627. Do you consider that the Livery Companies and the Corporation have kindred rights and privileges in common, which they hold by charter or by prescription from the Crown ?—I am not able to answer that question, because I do not know what the rights of the Corporation are. I should think it is very likely they may be different interests, and not interests in common, but I am not able to say. That is the short answer.
2628. Is it not a fact that three or four of the liverymen, sometimes more and sometimes less, proceed with the Corporation of London periodically to claim from the Crown all the rights, privileges, and immunities of the City of London ?—That I would rather not answer, I not being able to tell you.
2629. I will call your attention to the last occasion, the 9th of November last, do you think it possible that the Goldsmiths' Company could have appointed a deputation for that purpose without your knowing it ? —I do not know to what you allude. I do not know what deputation you speak of.
2630. Have you not appointed a deputation to join with the Corporation in claiming the rights, privileges, and immunities of the City ?—I have not sufficient information upon the matter to answer you. I leave that to Mr. Prideaux.
2631. Then I will disclose more clearly what I mean. I have in my hand here an account of the proceedings of the 9th of November last, and I find, among other companies, that the Goldsmiths' Company attended on that occasion by their master, their warden, the clerk of the Company, the beadle of the Company, members of the Courts of Assistants in carriages, and their banners, to form part of the procession proceeding to the Barons of the Exchequer to join with the Corporation in claiming from the Crown the rights, privileges, and immunities of the Corporation of the City of London ?—I do not know what it is that they claim from the Crown at that time, or whether they join in that claim at all. That they join in the procession may be the fact, but that may be done to do honour to a person or a body of persons without being associated with that body.
2632. Is not the legal object of the procession to claim the legal right, privileges, and immunities ?—I do not know; that I leave to Mr. Prideaux. The "legal object" I do not know. I thought the object of the procession was to keep up an old custom which was very much liked by a good many people.
2633. Is it the custom for apprentices to be bound in the presence of the master and wardens at the hall of the Goldsmiths' Company to members of the Goldsmiths' Company ?—Yes.
2634. Are the persons who take the apprentices, as a rule, goldsmiths by trade ?—Not as a rule; but very many of them are. They all are in the sense, of course, of being freemen of the Goldsmiths' Company, but if you mean goldsmiths by trade—
2635. I mean goldsmiths by trade ?—Then, certainly not, but very many of them are.
2636. Should you think one fifth of them are ?— Yes, more I should say.
2637. More ?—Yes, I believe so.
2638. Then some of them are not?—Some of them are not.
2639. Do they bind the apprentices under the ordinary form of the City indenture ?—I do not know what the form of the City indenture is.
2640. Mr. Prideaux has it in his hands ?—I was bound, but it is a good many years ago, and I have forgotten the form of my indenture. (A document was handed to the witness.) "This indenture witnesseth that (—) doth put himself apprentice to (—), a citizen and goldsmith of London, to learn his art of" so-and-so.
2641. That, I think, is delivered under seal, is it not ?—Yes, I believe so.
2642. And is witnessed by the clerk of the Company ?—Yes, I presume so.
2643. Then in the case of persons who are not goldsmiths, how does the Company get over being parties to a document under seal which they sanction by their presence and which it is impossible for either party to perform ?—I do not see any impossibility; the obligation is not that he is to teach him the art of a goldsmith.
2644. Yes, surely it is ?—I beg your pardon; the obligation is that he shall teach him the particular art that he himself follows.
2645. Is it not the "art and mystery of a goldsmith "?—Certainly not.
2646. Then do you say that a person who may be a tallow chandler and a liveryman of your Company, if he takes an apprentice, is to teach him the art and mystery of a tallow chandler ?—A freeman of our Company.
2647. May he take an apprentice and bind himself to teach only the mystery and art of a tallow chandler ? —Yes.
2648. Then do I understand, as to the apprentices taken at Goldsmiths' Hall, that the parties who take them are in a position to teach them that which they undertake by indenture ?—Yes, and we never allow a man to take an apprentice unless he really bonâ fide intends to teach him the particular business that he himself carries on.
2649. I am very glad to hear it, because the last witness we had on this subject gave entirely different evidence?—Not with respect to the Goldsmiths' Company.
2650. No. I know there are other companies in a similar position to yours; at the same time we know there are others in a very different position ?— Certainly.
2651. Some of the representatives of companies who have attended before the Commission have verbally, and some of them in documents laid before us, expressed an opinion that it would be fair for the Livery Companies to pay succession duty in some form or other, either by an annual payment or by some compensatory payment in a form to be agreed upon. May I ask whether, speaking for yourself, or for the Company, you coincide with the opinion which has been expressed by the other companies in that respect ?—We do.
2652. And looking at the fact that the property descends in the Livery Companies partly by patrimony, and sometimes to strangers, should you consider that half the duty payable by strangers would be a fair amount to take, or would you rather not express any opinion as to the amount ?—I would rather not express any opinion as to the amount. I have not studied the details of the question, but the principle I think would be fair that something as representing succession duty should be paid.
2653. It has been suggested before the Commission that it might be advantageous, and that it might not be objectionable if the Livery Companies filed accounts of their corporate property with some Government office, the same as Fire Insurance Companies file their accounts, and for the same reason, because every Company, although they hold their property by the same rights as private individuals according to their own claim (which I do not wish to dispute at present), hold it also in trust for those members of their body who come after them. May I ask whether, under those circumstances, you would think it objectionable if they had to file a copy of their accounts with some Government office ?—I should think it undesirable and unnecessary. I am not asked to file a copy of my accounts for income tax. People take my word for it. If I make a false return I get into trouble; and in the case of succession duty also, it appears to me it might very well be that the Company should make their own return with the liabilities which attach to a man who makes a false return as to his income.
2654. Then in fact, you think it would be sufficient simply to give the same kind of return as that which is given to the Income Tax Commissioners now ?—I should have thought so.
2655. (Mr. Pell.) You state I think in the returns of your Company that the trust funds applied to charitable purposes amount to something like 10,000l. a year ?—Between 9,000l, and 10,000l. a year.
2656. We will take them at about 10,000l. The application of those funds I suppose is limited to persons who are in some way connected with the Company ?—I am not quite sure that that is so in every instance, but of course it is limited to the class of persons designated in the trusts.
2657. Could you at all say what the number of persons is to begin with among whom this 10,000l. a year is distributed by way of charity ?—You have the actual returns of the numbers. I can refer to the returns.
2658. I tried to make it out from the return, but I could not ?—A matter of minute detail of that kind, if you please, I would rather leave to be answered by Mr. Prideaux.
2659. If you could give it me within a score or even within a hundred I should be glad ?—I could only do it by referring to the return. I do not keep it in my mind.
2660. It appears from the return to be about 326, at all events may we take this as an answer, that this sum of 10,000l. a year is distributed among persons who are directly connected with the Company as freemen's children, it does not go beyond that, does it; the charities are not general, are they ?—No, generally not. They are generally the poor of the Company; but I think you will find in certain charities, especially the Blind Charity, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Prideaux will correct me if I am wrong, that it is not confined to the poor of the Company.
2661. You do something for the Blind Charity I know ?—I mean for individuals; I do not mean in donations towards the Blind Institution or anything of that kind, but pensions to individuals.
2662. I do not know who prepared this abstract of the tables of your Company, but I suppose it is taken from your own returns. I am reading from that abstract which is taken from the returns of the Company, and it is stated there that "the advantages of membership consist to freemen in the prospect of charitable assistance"?—I think it states something more than that.
2663. "For themselves, their widows, and daughters"?—Yes, that is a paraphrase. I have got the actual return before me.
2664. I will ask you this question, do you consider that to be an advantage to a man starting in life, to select his line of life with reference to the prospect of receiving at some period of it a very large amount of charitable assistance ?—Yes, I certainly do, and I should like to give my reason for that answer. If a man falls into poverty unless he gets relief of this kind, or unless he has got relatives who can relieve him he has nothing but the poor law to fall back upon. Now you cannot have a first and second class poor law, and to my mind there is nothing so shocking as the position of people who have been better off, and who are left to the relief which must expose them, if they go into the workhouse, to associations which in themselves are simply terrible to people of this kind. I will put it in this way, a man falls into trouble who has a brother in a good position; what would be thought of that brother if he did not help him ? He would be thought very badly of, all political economy apart. Another man falls into trouble who has got no brother. What is the objection to the last one being dealt with as though he had a brother and raised up ? I know that people say it tends to cause habits of carelessness and things of that kind. I do not think that for one moment, and I do not think for one moment that when a man comes into these Companies he comes into them for purposes of relief, and if it is not taking up the time of the Commission too long I should like to give two instances where the establishment of a means of relieving members has been found to be a necessity. I belong to the Institution of Civil Engineers, a body that is 65 years old. For a long time they had no benevolent fund. I do not want to arrogate to myself the credit, but it is a fact that 17 years ago I got that fund established. It has existed now for 17 years, and the result is that we give secret relief to our members. We enable them to tide over their difficulties. No one except the Committee knows who has had the relief and it has been of the very greatest benefit. But I think I may refer to Lord Coleridge, when I speak of another profession, and one of which he is an ornament, the members of which some years after the establishment of the Civil Engineers' Fund found it necessary to institute the very self-same kind of fund in connexion with the Inns of Court. I look upon this as one of the things which is of a most desirable character.
2665. I want to call your attention to the advantage stated to consist in the prospect of charitable assistance. Now I will ask you to direct your atten tion not so much to the end of a person's life as to the beginning. I suppose that which stimulates human beings very largely to exert themselves is the knowledge that unless there is some interfering agency of this sort they will suffer for it at the end of their lives if they do not do the best they can for themselves ?—Well, it is a low stimulus; however, it may be a stimulus.
2666. Is it not, at all events, a natural stimulus ?— It is one, but I should hope that the absence of it would not prevent a man from doing his duty, to use the words of the catechism, in that station of life in which it has pleased God to place him, but one has a better chance under such circumstances.
2667. I ask you whether it is not a natural stimulus; one that is inherent in all men ?—Yes, it is one, no doubt. I should like, if you please, to have the exact words of our return which do not appear to be in the paraphrase which you have there. May I read them ?
2668. By all means ?—"A freeman of the Company has no advantages, as such, except that if he be a deserving man and in need of pecuniary assistance he is eligible to receive, and would certainly receive, aid from the Company, either by pension or donation." I must say that when I took up my freedom I did not do it with the object of at some time obtaining pecuniary relief from the Company, and I trust I may never have occasion for it.
2669. I suppose you would admit, would you not, that a great many members do connect themselves with a Company with that view ?—No, I do not believe it. If you will let me put it to you I would do so in this way : he cannot connect himself with a Company unless he be eligible to take up his freedom from patrimony, eligible to take it up from servitude, or else that he is sufficiently well off to purchase it.
2670. I think you state in your returns that the Company is under some apprehension as to the effect of this enormous sum which is spent in this way, and the probabilities of its increasing very much ?—Would you be kind enough to refer me to the statement to which you allude ?
2671. It is page 14 of the Return of the Company, you say "An examination of this Return will show that four fifths of the income of all the charity property vested in the Goldsmiths' Company is applicable to the poor of the Company"; and then, furthermore, it is stated that an addition is made to that. I suppose out of the corporate fund, as if that was not quite sufficient; and then, "No deserving member of the Company, no deserving widow, or unmarried or widow daughter, of a freeman falls into poverty or decay without receiving on application to the Company pecuniary assistance." Then further, I think you, or the Company, or whoever wrote this for you, say, "The number of persons applying for pecuniary relief, however, diminishes year by year, and the time may probably come, when the improved annual value of the Company's trust property and a diminution of the number of persons requiring relief, will render it desirable for the Company to take into consideration the expediency of applying some portion of the income of the trust estates under a scheme to be approved by the Charity Commissioners, in a manner different from that provided by the wills of benefactors." Do you agree with that ?—I agree with that, certainly.
2672. Does not that imply some apprehension in the minds of the Company, or whoever wrote this, that some mischief, if it has not already come to the society by this distribution of money, may come either by the funds that have to be applied to this purpose becoming so very very much larger, or by the number of applicants becoming fewer ?—I do not see any apprehension whatever. We have certain Trust funds which at present very nearly satisfy the demands upon them. The applicants it appears are becoming fewer and thereupon we say when that stage of things arrives, we will go to the Charity Commissioners for a scheme for the appropriation of such funds as we have not applicants for according to the present scheme; I should have not applied the word "apprehension" to that, I should apply "foresight" or "forethought," or any other term indicative of good management.
2673. The number of applicants who receive relief if I understand you, I do not know whether I gather that from this return, would depend upon the character that they bear ?—The number does not depend upon the character; that is to say if you have a sufficient number of good character and sufficient funds to relieve them, and also the other conditions as to age; but we make the strictest possible inquiry into the character of the applicants by personal visits and examination of every kind and description, and no person not of good character gets relief or keeps a pension, for these are only given during pleasure.
2674. Therefore this relief does not go to the poor of the Company generally, but to so many of the poor of the Company as the Company thinks have a sufficiently good character to entitle them to receive it?—Quite so, it is not lavished upon unworthy objects. It is lavished upon those of good character who need it, or rather not lavished but spent.
2675. With reference to the old term with which we are so familiar "the deserving widow" and "the deserving poor," I am curious to know what is the standard of a deserving person in your Company and how you arrive at the test you apply ?—Here is a book (producing same) which comes before the Court when the matter has to be considered, and if you will be good enough to open it anywhere you will find the amount of information that we insist upon having before any relief whatever is given.
2676. I will take the first case ?—Here is another book of men's cases (producing same).
2677. "Fanny Wall age 56, the unmarried daughter of a freeman, and she is at present residing in Wales with her friends and dependent upon them and the donation from the Company." Did she come up from Wales to satisfy you or those who examined her as to whether she was deserving or not ?—I do not know that she came up from Wales, but you will see by the reference there that that must have been not a first application.
2678. I took this quite by chance ?—Quite so, and you see the words "and the donation from the Company." It is clear, therefore, that she had applied on a previous occasion.
2679. May I ask has that woman ever been seen, has she ever been up to London to give any account of herself, or how did you ascertain that she is deserving ?—I cannot tell you whether that particular woman ever came up. Those who reside in London certainly are seen, and in many cases we pay their fares to come up to London, but one is content to take a good deal of evidence from the parson of the parish and persons of that character.
2680. You fall back upon the clergymen ?—Yes.
2681. Is his opinion invariably taken with reference to these people?—I do not know about "invariably taken," but if I get a recommendation from a clergyman of the Church of England, or any other minister, I think I have a very good foundation to start from.
2682. That a person was deserving?—I say I think that, if I have got a recommendation from a clergyman or any other minister, I have a good foundation to start from. But we should not limit ourselves to that. We should not say at once that having got the recommendation that precludes all inquiry; on the contrary we make every inquiry.
2683. Supposing the father of this woman had been an improvident man, and she herself had perhaps not done the best that she could have done for herself, would that be taken into consideration, would that affect her character as a deserving person ?—As far as her own conduct was concerned, unless there had been reform, that would be taken into consideration as affecting her character. As far as the sins of the parents are concerned we should not think of visiting them upon her.
2684. You do not visit the sins of the parents upon the children ?—No.
2685. Now as to the deserving widow, take a case of that sort—suppose the husband had been an improvident man and had made no provision for the widow, what view would you take of such a case as that ?—We should inquire into the character of the woman herself, and if we thought that she was doing all that she could and struggling to keep herself, as these poor creatures do, trustworthy, honest, sober, and respectable, we should not visit her husband's sins upon her.
2686. You would not go so far as to inquire whether she, during her married life, had tried to check her husband ?—No; I should think that those are details which one could hardly go into. All I can say is, that we make a very exhaustive inquiry.
2687. As long as she is a deserving widow you are content; if she had not been a deserving wife it would not be a matter of so much importance ?—I cannot help thinking that that is a technical criticism. As long as she was a deserving woman and in a state of widowhood, we should relieve her. If she had been a very unsatisfactory wife, and there was no great change since, we should not relieve her. I should like to put this case to you. I will not mention names, because these reports are printed, but in my young days you could not take up a pack of cards without seeing the name of a particular card maker upon it, a man in very good business indeed, who was a freeman of this Company. That man died, his business fell away, he left children without any sufficient property; the little that they had dwindled year by year, and at the present moment one of his daughters (who, I should think, is 75 years of age) is living, having been brought up in the better middle class with all its associations and surroundings; and there is nothing but this Company between that unhappy lady and the workhouse. Now that is my notion of a deserving case, and such as that these companies very properly relieve.
2688. Where does that unhappy lady live now. Does she live in England ?—Yes.
2689. What part ?—In London.
2690. In the City ?—No; she cannot afford to live in the City; she lives in the suburbs.
2691. Has she no one to lend her a helping hand ? —She has no one to lend a helping hand. Every one who would have done so has died off. I know the family.
2692. Is that very creditable to the community in which we live ?—I think it would be very discreditable to the community it the work which is done by bodies such as these companies (which is very often difficult work) were left to be done by private individuals.
2693. I think there are about 1,000 freemen, are there not, in your Company ?—It is a matter of estimate by an actuary, but that is what is supposed.
2694. About 1,000 ?—Yes.
2695. And out of that number does it not appear from this return that you have something like 300, or more than 300, persons in receipt of charity which, as far as I understand you, is required to find the necessaries of life, because I understood you to say with respect to this widow (which we take as an example) that it was not for any little luxury or any little amenities of life that these charities are formed, but absolutely to keep her from the workhouse ?—To keep her from the workhouse.
2696. And to provide her with bread ?—30l. a year, which I think is about the very outside amount that we give, will not provide very many luxuries even for one woman.
2697. Does it strike you that there is an unusually large amount of destitution in connexion with this number of 1,000 and odd freemen, something under 1,100 ?—I do not know that there is, having regard to the fact that they belong to the artisan class, they have kept themselves during their lives without being able to save much, and then they have come to us in old age, some of them paralysed and blind, and otherwise incapable of work.
2698. Have not you in that answer made a great reflection upon, and one that is most damaging to, your own craft, namely, that these people have been employed, as I understand you, by goldsmiths, and have received such inadequate wages that they have not been able to lay anything by for future sustenance ? —I cannot help it if that is the course of trade. I am not here to state what is the course of trade.
2699. Surely it must be so; either the employers of these people have been paying proper wages (I am talking of the whole craft. I am not going to take one particular case), and those who have received the wages have been improvident, which, I think, is not unlikely with the temptations held out before them by these charities, or, on the other hand, that your craft themselves who are goldsmiths have been paying inadequate wages in the hope that the charities of the Company will at the end of life make good that which ought to have been supplied by the employers in the beginning ? —To begin with, your fraction is entirely wrong; you put down as the numerator of the fraction of which the denominator is the whole number of freemen, all the wives, widows, and daughters as well as the actual freemen themselves. Now if you will but eliminate those and take the number of freemen receiving relief as the numerator, you will see that your fraction is a very different one indeed.
2700. Perhaps I am not well informed ?—We have no free women.
2701. I thought the daughters were begotten by freemen ?—They do not count among the 1,000. You have a numerator and a denominator. The denominator is 1,000. I say that you make use of a numerator which is not the true numerator; you import into the numerator persons who do not belong to the class of the 1,000.
2702. The freemen themselves, I think, are given here ?—And do not amount to 300.
2703. Still these are the daughters of the freemen ? —Yes.
2704. And the freemen, you would admit, are bound to make provision for their children ?—If they can. I have felt it my duty to do so.
2705. Do you imagine that in other businesses or other employments—we will not go so low as the agricultural labourer—that this is the condition of the workpeople generally in England, because it is a very sad picture, that they require such enormous sums of money to enable them to terminate their days in anything short of destitution ?—I cannot compare. I know that I belong to a profession which has 4,000 members belonging to their institution, and I know that their case is a very bad one, but, as I say, we have not the fraction before us of the 1,000 freemen who thus receive relief.
2706. Now let me go back to the sort of examination that these people undergo, because it is an enormous sum of money, it appears to me, that is distributed either right or left. I do not say that offensively ?—I cannot agree with you in that view, I think, when we find that we are not distributing more than 30l. a head. The fact that we have a large number of worthy recipients may be a matter to be deplored, but not a matter to be complained of.
2707. Will you tell me the course which is pursued before one of these persons gets on to the relief list. Who do they speak to first?—They apply to the office of the Company.
2708. They do not appear in the first instance, they petition ?—They petition.
2709. They send in a written petition ?—Yes.
2710. Can we see the form of that petition, is there a printed form for that purpose ?—No.
2711. Then what takes place next ?—It is read at the next court; it is then ordered or not according to the opinion of the court (and they almost always order these cases for examination) to be referred to the Committee.
2712. Is that the Committee which deals with the charity ?—It is a committee of the court formed of 13 members, four wardens and nine members of the Court of Assistants. They, if they think well, direct inquiry to be made; then it comes up at the next court for confirmation. An inquiry is personally made by the beadle of the Company in all cases where he can obtain access to the person to be relieved.
2713. The first direction of the Committee is that the beadle should inquire into it ?—It follows as a matter of course; it is his duty to do it.
2714. Does the beadle inquire into the moral character of these people ?—Yes.
2715. Is he a good judge of morality?—He is not the judge, he is the person who makes the inquiries, we are the judges.
2716. Does he judge of the morality of these people by their appearance or by their dress, or what takes place. I want to know exactly what takes place ? —He makes the usual inquiries that a prudent man would make whose business it is to ascertain the facts, and the answers to those inquiries having been written are read out to us, and if we do not think them sufficient we order further inquiries to be made.
2717. Still keeping the beadle as the inquiring officer?—Still keeping the beadle as the inquiring officer.
2718. He takes the statement of the applicant, I suppose ?—He is furnished with the petition; he then goes and makes full inquiry into the circumstances. As to how the beadle inquires into the circumstances, I should say that I presume he does it very much in the way one of us would do it if we were sent.
2719. And when does the clergyman come in ?— Never.
2720. I thought in one earlier case you stated that probably in such a case as that the clergyman would come in?—I thought you meant the chaplain of the Company. The clergyman comes in when we want corroboration that we may not be able to get by personal inquiry, but it need not be of necessity that of a clergyman. It may be a magistrate or any person of position, a person whom you believe to be a gentleman, and whose word you would trust.
2721. Are any of these recipients of charities Dissenters?—I do not know. We do not inquire into their religion. We inquire into their moral character.
2722. Does it come to this, that the beadle is the person who inquires into their moral character, and who lays the facts before the court, and that the court are the persons who judge of the facts ?—Yes.
2723. But you get the idea of morality strained through the beadle, and the facts of the case ?—The beadle makes inquiry, and then the applicant comes before the court before the donation is given.
2724. And through the intermediate agency of the beadle 10,000l. a year goes out to the deserving poor, deserving in the view of the beadle ?—You can put it in that way if you please. I know that the word beadle has become a sort of joke, that the beadle is a man in a cocked hat and with a staff in his hand, and so on, but I do say that we have a competent and intelligent person. It is the particular duty of his office, as a competent and intelligent person, to collect the facts, those facts are brought before the court, and are weighed, and if they are not thought to be sufficient, others are asked for, and finally the applicant himself or herself is seen.
2725. I do not wish in any way to make any reflection upon the beadle, and I will use another word. I know the office of beadle has been connected with Oliver Twist and all sorts of things, and I do not wish to treat it in that way for a moment. I have no doubt that your beadle is a well-paid man and an efficient man, but may I ask another question ? In the selection of the beadle,—I will come to that,—do the Goldsmiths' Company endeavour to obtain a man who shall be a judge of morals, and a judge of nature and character, because that seems to me to be very important ?—We endeavour to obtain a man who shall be a man of very considerable intelligence, as a matter of fact, the man that we have got at present was master of St. George's workhouse.
2726. Which St. George's ?—St. George's, Hanover Square, I believe, a position which we thought was not a bad training for a man who was required to discriminate between imposition and non-imposition.
2727. You are surely aware that the master of a workhouse has nothing to do with inquiring into the character of people, but has merely to receive the result of the inquiries made by the relieving officer ?— I should think he must have very great experience, from the class of cases coming before him, as to whether there is imposition or there is not; however, be that as it might, we thought it not a bad training, and the man is besides a man of great ability and character.
2728. Then we have got this, that the officer of the Goldsmiths' Company, to whom is deputed the duty of reporting to the Company whether people are morally deserving or not, is the ex-master of St. George's Workhouse?—Yes, he was master of that workhouse very many years ago before he joined us.
2729. I think you said in most cases this official, or this officer, inquired personally into them, but that into some he does not inquire personally?—I believe that he does in every case where they are sufficiently near for him to reach, certainly in all metropolitan cases; of that I have not the slightest doubt.
2730. Getting away from the question of morals, do you require him to prove to you, as far as he is able to prove it, that those persons are not in receipt of either charitable or poor law relief?—We do.
2731. Does he make it his business to see the relieving officers of the union to know whether they are in receipt of relief ?—He would do so no doubt where there was any suspicion.
2732. Only if he has suspicion ?—You know a man must use his discretion.
2733. He is not instructed by you as a sine quâ non that he is to inquire whether these persons applying for relief are in receipt of relief from certain sources, the poor law and the City and parochial charities among others ?—He is instructed to inquire, but I do not know of any binding regulation calling upon him to test the accuracy of the information; to some extent that is left to his discretion. The final decision is left to the discretion of the Court, who hear the report read.
2734. Do you suggest any improvement upon this method of inquiry into these cases, or are you content to rely for the future upon this officer; I will not call him the beadle ?—I am content to rely upon the prior practice of the Goldsmiths' Company.
2735. Do not you think that this system is one that is productive of lying, before all things, when you come to morality ?—I do not.
2736. Do not you think that it is an enormous temptation to a poor woman, when visited by a person of this character, to conceal facts from that person with a bribe held out before her, I think you said, of 30l. a year ?—I say that that is the maximum amount. (fn. 1)
2737. That amount being within her touch, within her grasp, and such a person as the ex-master of St. George's Workhouse coming to her and putting his feeble questions to her, do not you think that it is a great inducement to that woman to make extremely false statements in order to get it; I am coming now to the deserving part, because you have dwelt largely upon morals ?—I think it is no more an inducement than there is an inducement for a person in need to take a handkerchief out of another person's pocket. If you suggest that that need is so great that it will cause lying, that is equally true in a vast number of instances. If you leave out of consideration the desire of telling the truth, there is still the apprehension that they may be found out, then their hope of relief would be gone for ever, that is absolutely certain.
2738. Gone for ever from what ?—As far as we are concerned.
2739. Are there not other charities in the City of London ?—I am speaking of our own Company; but if there be other charities, then the temptation to lying in order to get the pension from the Goldsmiths' Company becomes less; but you were putting here the one thing, the temptation to lie in order to raise the person from poverty, and, I say, upon that there is the fear that if the deceit be attempted, and found out, that person's hope from the Goldsmiths' Company is gone.
2740. The question I put to you pointed to the beginning and end of life. I should like to be clear upon that point. You do not agree with me in the suggestion that I made, that the prospects that the Company say they hold out of charity at the end of life do mischief and injury to the class to which they are offered, and, further, I understand you to say that you do not agree with me in what I have suggested, namely, that your sysem of distributing relief conduces to duplicity, and lying and deceit ?—I do not agree with you that the prospect of relief being needed at the end of life does do anything to lower the character of those who originally become freemen, because that is the point we start from.
2741. I never suggested that it would lower their characters ?—I do not agree with you in the suggestion that the prospect held out of relief at the end of life, does do injury to the possible recipient, and my reasons for it among others are these. The time when a person becomes a freeman is usually when he is young. He either acquires his "freedom" immediately after his apprenticeship, or as soon as he becomes 21, by patrimony, or else he purchases it, and he purchases it at a considerable sum of money, and at that time, certainly, would not belong to a class who contemplated relief. If he derives it otherwise than by purchase, I think it is pretty evident that if he has been an apprentice he became an apprentice with an honest desire to work at his business and to learn his craft, and not with the object of being a reliefreceiving freeman in his old age; and I do not believe at the time the freedom is taken up that this prospect of relief is held in view or that it is a temptation to laziness throughout life.
2742. Although he can calculate upon it ?— Although he can calculate that if he comes to want instead of going to the workhouse he may get this relief. Then in answer to the latter part of your question, I do not agree that our system of distributing relief contributes to duplicity, lying, and deceit. I only know two ways of distributing relief. One is to make no inquiry at all; the other is to make inquiry; and to my mind the better way of the two is to make inquiry, to make it by intelligent persons, and to determine on the result of that inquiry by persons equally, if not more, intelligent.
2743. Are we to understand that that inquiry is made into these very difficult cases by the ex-master of St. George's Workhouse, do these people ever come up before the Court to be personally examined ?—I think I have said at least three times in the course of my answers to your questions that those persons are finally seen by the Court themselves.
2744. Seen by them ?—They come before us, we question them, and I do not know any more painful duty than that of sitting in the prime warden's chair and having to ask these poor wretched creatures about their previous life and condition.
2745. All of them who are within reach appear before the Court, you say?—They do. Occasionally we have cases of bed-ridden persons, and so on, whom we do not insist upon being produced.
2746. Do you hold the opinion that it is not desirable to apply for any scheme to regulate the administration of these large charitable funds, or to apply them in any other way ?—I hold that it is desirable to apply for a scheme to regulate those funds whenever they happen to be in excess of the objects for which they were originally designed, but with respect to the funds which have at present an object, I believe that we ourselves are perfectly competent and do quite properly administer those charities, and I am at a loss to see that, because persons happen to be in a particular Charity Commission, or anything of the kind, they are more competent than we are.
2747. You do not think the time has come yet at all events for any such scheme ?—I trust not; a scheme for applying surplus funds has been applied for since the Return was sent in. Mr. Prideaux will tell you more about it.
2748. That means the surplus beyond 10,000l. ?— I do not think it is 10,000l. Mr. Prideaux will give you the details of the scheme.
2749. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Much has been said about the properties of the Companies, and their ultimate distribution. Do you think that the property of your Company could be better administered or do more good if placed in other hands than your Company is now doing with it ?—I do not.
2750. You are in the habit of subscribing liberally to all schemes for the public good, and perhaps I might say that the other large Companies are in the habit of doing so ?—I know, as a matter of common report, that they are. I know in my position as the chairman of the Executive Committee of the City and Guilds of London Institute that they subscribe most largely to that, and with respect to my own Company I know, of course, its very large contributions to all matters of public utility.
2751. Much has been said as to the hospitality of the Company; I suppose it is a question that must come out, do you consider the hospitality of your Company to be beneficial in any view at all ?—I do. I think there is very great social benefit arising from it. I wish to say this; in answer to the chairman [ have already expressed my views, so far as they are worth anything, not being a lawyer, as to what our position is with respect to our property, and that, therefore, even if we had not used it well it is very doubtful to my mind whether we ought to be the subject of inquiry; but I should like to say this, and I say it boldly, that I believe we have used our property as creditably as ever property has been used by any private owner of property, and that we have done everything which a right-minded, high-minded private owner of property would have done, with the one exception that we have not used any part of it worth talking of (a wretched fifty guineas a year, or something of that kind) for ourselves.
2752. (Mr. James.) With reference to what has fallen from my friend, Mr. Pell, perhaps you are aware that there are some persons who say you cannot spend money badly, so long as you do not give it away. I suppose you are not one of those ?—There are persons who say that if you find a man lying in a ditch with a broken leg, you ought not to pull him out, because it may encourage others to fall into ditches carelessly.
2753. I suppose you would admit that in the distribution of charity, I do not wish to go too closely into motives, I only wish to speak in general terms; there are usually only two motives for distributing money, one to benefit the recipient and the other a certain amount of notoriety, cr affection (or whatever other term you may wish to describe it by), on the part of the donor ?—No, really I cannot assent to that proposition.
2754. Do you think that money is never given away rather with a view of increasing the importance and the self-satisfaction of the donor ?—I think the question you put to me previously was not that. I think your question was, are there not usually two motives. If you ask me do I think it is never given away for such a reason as that, of course my answer to you is that there may be occasionally some such unworthy motive as that.
2755. You think the general distribution of charity is usually from perfectly worthy motives ?—I do. I suppose that it is germane to your question to say that it is so with us.
2756. Do you think that those engaged in this matter usually put themselves to any personal trouble or make any personal sacrifice, or put themselves to any personal inconvenience when they desire to confer such a benefit ?—Yes. As I say, I know nothing more painful (and nothing but a sense of duty would induce me to do it) than to attend the courts on the days when these unhappy creatures come before us.
2757. No doubt that would be so in your case, but can you tell me within your knowledge of any members of your own court who have investigated any of these cases by making personal visits to the recipients of the charity ?—I cannot. I daresay there may be such, but I cannot tell you.
2758. You cannot speak of your own knowledge of any one single case ?—I cannot speak of my own knowledge in any one single case, but I think if you put the question to Mr. Prideaux that he can tell you.
2759. Are you aware that in those areas or in those districts where you find public charity prevails most largely, and there are the largest funds for the distribution of public charity, the number of poor relieved by the rates always enormously increases ?—I cannot say that I am not aware of some statements of that kind, but not sufficiently well to be able to answer your question.
2760. Have you ever entered into or examined those statements ?—I have never entered deeply into those statements.
2760a. Have you entered at all into them ?—Only superficially.
2761. If it could be shown to you, that wherever these charities are distributed in large sums, with the distribution of charity so you find an increase in the rates, would it at all shake the opinion and views that you have expressed to my friend on my left, Mr. Pell?—I should like to know something more than that very vague term "these charities." There may be charities and charities. It would not shake my opinion, I should look upon it as a coincidence. If in a particular district, where the unhappy widow or daughter of a man who had been better off was saved from the workhouse by 30l. a year, there was more poverty and more rates, it would not occur to me that the two things had any connection.
2762. No doubt we are all acquainted with cases in which a little charitable assistance is most advantageously bestowed and is of the greatest advantage, but we must look at these things in a more general way, I believe there is no part of England in which there are larger funds for charitable distribution amongst the poor than in the City of London Union ? —That I do not pretend to be able to tell you.
2763. Are you aware that the number of poor in the City of London Union enormously exceeds that of every other union in the metropolis ?—I am not aware.
2764. I do not happen to have the exact figures, but they are within reach. If these facts were placed before you would it alter the opinion you have expressed to Mr. Pell with regard to the distribution of charity? —With regard to the distribution of these charities, certainly not. The best answer that I can give is that which I have already stated, that according to my lights I was a busy man some 17 years ago in providing the Institution of Civil Engineers with the very thing that it had not got, and that the Goldsmiths' Company has got, that is the means of relieving its poorer members, and if you were to bring all the statistics from all the unions in England you would not persuade me that I have done a bad thing.
2765. You are speaking of the charities of the Institution of Civil Engineers: they are not by endow ment, but they are subscriptions from individual members of the society, are they not ?—We endowed ourselves. We subscribed a certain large sum of money, and have got now a capital of some 25,000l.
2766. Do not you think if it could be shown that in those particular districts, the distribution of charity had a mischievous effect, that the opinions which you have given in answer to Mr. Pell's questions must have a mischievous effect upon the whole community ?—If you could show me that the distribution of the particular charities about which I am here to speak have any mischievous effect, I should be obliged to accept that which you put to me, but until you do so I cannot accept generalities about charities, and apply them to the particular charities that we have to distribute and do distribute. As I state, acting upon my light or want of light, I did this for the Civil Engineers, and I know the members of the Inns of Court have done the same thing for their profession.
2767. I believe it was the wish of your Company when this Commission was first announced, to give every possible information it could to the Commission, and that every charge and that every fact should be brought under their notice ?—It was.
2768. Did you take any collective action or act individually as a company, speaking merely as a company ?—We acted individually.
2769. I suppose there have been some communications pass between you and the other companies ?—I do not know that there has been anything official. I can quite well imagine that a matter of this kind cannot be going on without there being very frequent opportunities of meeting each other.
2770. There must have been some inter-communications, because I see in your statement you refer to a memorandum sent to the Commissioners by the Merchant Taylors' Company with regard to Donkin's Charity ?—Yes, I had a copy of that sent to me by a friend of mine, a solicitor.
2771. You do not set out your charters at length ? —As to that, I must, if you please, refer you to Mr. Prideaux.
2772. I do not think you would object to reply to the point I was going to put to you; in your Returns you state that your Company had its origin as a combination of goldsmiths ?—Before we were a company it had its origin as a combination of goldsmiths; as an association of trade individuals, I think, we state.
2773. You state in your Returns that it "doubtless had its origin in a combination of goldsmiths for their mutual protection, and to guard the trade against fraudulent workers ?"—Yes; that being prior to any charter whatever; I think you will find it so.
2774. Recognised by statute in 28th Edward I. ?— Yes.
2775. That is carried down through a long series of years; then you go on to state the various Acts of Parliament, the last of which is the 18th and 19th Vict. cap. 60 ?—That, I think, relates simply to the assay.
2776. That is a point to which I was coming; can you tell me the cost of maintenance of the Assay Office ?—I have not the figures in my mind; Mr. Prideaux can tell you; but one item of our expenditure in a particular year I remember is 80l. The payments for assaying had not met the expenses of the office; the difference, the 80l., is the cost to the Company. The object is to make such charges for assay as shall leave no profit whatever, but just pay the expenses.
2777. Time is getting on, and I do not wish to detain the Commission by going into these matters in great detail or at great length, but can you tell me now whether at any time, instead of raising revenue from your trade by payments to the Assay Office, your Company having been formed as a company of goldsmiths, and through a long series of years having been closely connected with this trade, any proposals have at any time been made to relieve the trade of goldsmiths to some extent of those public burdens which are placed upon them in connexion with the marking of plate, and the charges which are made in connexion with the Assay Office ?—I am afraid I do not follow you. We raise no revenue whatever from the office.
2778. You raise no revenue for yourselves ?— No.
2779. Why should not you relieve your trade of some of the burdens placed upon them by doing so ?— I know of no burden except the duty upon plate, and the obligation to hall-mark, and I should be very sorry indeed to see that obligation done away with.
2780. I think we should all agree in that; but do not you think that that is a duty; that is to say, lightening some of the burdens upon your trade, which you might undertake with advantage ?—I hardly follow you. Is it your suggestion that we should charge ourselves with the 1s. 6d. an ounce on all the plate that comes to our office, and pay the Government the duty ? I presume you cannot go that length.
2781. No; but might you not do something in connexion with that office for your trade ?—In connexion with the Company we have done a very great deal; we have for many years past, at very considerable expense, done what we could in the way of technical training, and since then, indirectly, we benefit all trades by our Technical Institution. We subscribe also largely to the various trade charities, and many of our pensioners, you will find, to go back to that subject, are of the artisan craft, working goldsmiths and silversmiths.
2782. That may confer a certain amount of benefit, no doubt, upon particular individual members of the trade, but what have you done generally to benefit the trade of goldsmiths ?—One thing we have done is, that we have upheld its respectability and prevented fraud, and, to my mind, that is the very best benefit you can confer upon it, looking at the prevalence of fraud. I was shocked the other night when I was at the Society of Arts (I ought not, perhaps, to take up the time of the Commission in this way), when there was a question relating to agricultural machinery before us, to find that so great is the adulteration practised that one particular hay-compressing press was received with great favour by manufacturers and merchants, because the hay that was compressed by it was compressed in rope-like form, so that every part had to come to the outside, and that rendered it impossible to conceal in the compressed hay the various matters that were not hay or that were bad hay, and which would be concealed in it when the oldfashioned presses were used. That which has been done by this Company to secure the purity of that which is produced has conferred the very greatest benefit upon the goldsmiths' trade.
2783. Do you not think, turning to your corporate property and corporate funds, that it would have been better if you had done more for the trade and less for the indiscriminate objects mentioned in the Appendix, such as the London Hospital, the London Rifle Brigade, and so on. Do you not think that your trade has a much larger claim upon the funds, and that it would be a better way of using them than giving it in this somewhat indiscriminate way ?—I do not see that we could profitably employ more of our funds in benefiting the trade than we do, nor that the others are not very well expended. Take the Architectural Museum for instance. We look upon all that as somewhat cognate to our trade; we look upon matters of art as cognate to our trade. Take the case of chemical research. We gave 1,000l. to aid in chemical re search. We did that in our capacity as assayers.
2784. But there are a great number of objects which can have no possible connexion with it ?—No doubt there are a great number of objects, but there are a very great many on the other hand which have.
2785. Do you look upon your position as that of a private individual with regard to the distribution of your corporate funds or money ?—So far as legal obligation goes, not so far as moral obligation goes.
2786. You state in your letter that you do not think that out of your gross income 6,000l. a year is a large sum to spend in entertainments ?—I do not. I think those entertainments are of very great use indeed. They bring together different classes of society. I know that I, who have not very much opportunity of mixing with men of very high position, have that opportunity there: and there has been a certain amount of utility in it. I believe that these meetings really do very great good, and that if they existed elsewhere they would be found to do good in other countries I must put this to you. When a successful general comes home the first thought of the people is to give him a dinner. They give one at Willis's Rooms. They spend as much rateably upon that dinner as we spend upon ours. That is looked upon as perfectly legitimate, but if the same man is invited to come and dine at our hall, and the dinner is paid for out of our funds, some very hard words are used about it. Some witnesses who have been before you have said that which is not true about the unedifying scene at the hall, when visitors are leaving. All I can say is, that our members are a body of gentlemen, and I have never seen anything contrary to that character. I repeat that in the view of some people that thing which is right in itself when done by subscribing and entertaining at Willis's Rooms, becomes wrong directly it is done within a city hall. I cannot understand that.
2787. Do not you think that those things are very much matter of opinion ?—I think they are, but I think that my opinion and that of those who have got the property is quite as good as that of those who have not, but who want to take it. I think it is very like the case of a private individual being subject to the criticisms of a censor who might come, for instance, to me and say, "You keep very good books, Sir Frederick Bramwell. I have looked over them, and I see that you have so many dinner parties in a year, and they cost you so much."
2788. You look at it in that light ?—I do.
2789. You do not think that the goldsmiths of the United Kingdom are entitled to their opinion ?—I do, and I think that the goldsmiths of the United Kingdom have expressed their opinion pretty strongly; there might be one who wishes the Company disestablished, but, with that exception, I would appeal to the goldsmiths of the United Kingdom.
2790. Can you tell me the proportion of the cost of entertainments to the expenses of management ?— You have it in the returns.
2791. Do you know whether it is a sixth ?—It is more like one-tenth, I believe, or one-eleventh.
2792. (Mr. Firth.) You have told us that, subject to moral obligation, you think this property might be divided amongst the members of the Company ?—No, I did not; I beg your pardon.
2793. What did you say upon that?—I said I believed it was our own, and that might import that which you state, but I did not use those words.
2794. Are you aware that some of the companies have passed resolutions upon that question ?—No.
2795. Are you familiar with these accounts of the Goldsmiths' Company ?—Yes.
2796. I find upon analysis the gross income is 566,000l. in 10 years ?—Yes.
2797. I am going to ask you about the management afterwards. I find that the current expenditure is 442,000l., omitting the hundreds ?—I do not understand "current expenditure." Do you mean including all that we have given away for all purposes, for technical education, and so on.
2798. Yes, I am taking it from your accounts. I will give you the items if you wish, but I find that you have expended upon capital account about 98,000l., and have a balance in hand of about 26,000l., which makes the difference between 442,000l. and 566,000l. ? —I take the figures from you without referring to the Return.
2799. They have been carefully analysed; now with respect to this current expenditure; you answered my friend, Mr. James, just now with regard to the proportion for management. I make the cost of management 200,000l. out of this 442,000l., which would be 45 per cent. I will tell you how ?—I was going to say that I should like the details.
2800. Cost of courts and committees, 344,000l.; cost of entertainments, wine, and housekeeping, 73,873l. ? —I should not suggest that "entertainment" was part of management.
2801. I am putting under management, rightly or wrongly—That which is not management.
2802. No, I was going to say I am putting under management, rightly or wrongly, the total cost incurred by you in controlling the whole of this estate ?—But I demur to the cost of entertainments being used either as to management or control. If I do not take care we shall get it down on the notes that I assent to your statement that the management is 45 per cent. I do not assent to that.
2803. I do not wish to put to you anything more than to know if you assent to it ?—I do not assent to those things being management.
2804. The cost of buildings and maintenance of buildings, you do not think properly can be put under the head of management ?—I say certainly not.
2805. I find with respect to repairs of the buildings that you have expended on your repairs altogether 33,259l.; is the sum of 22,309l. of that expended upon a staircase ?—I do not remember the exact sum, but there was a time when the scagliola work having become shabby, we, from two motives, one artistic, and the other the desire for future economy of repair, took away all the sham and put in real.
2806. Would you include salaries or think them properly included under management, 37,530l. ?— Certainly. I presume those are salaries really of the Company and not of the Assay Office. I do not know whether they are separated.
2807. Yes. With respect to the Assay Office, I find in your account you only give us something over 600l.: that is what it has cost you as you told my friend ?— Yes, the effort is to make the Assay Office nearly pay for itself.
2808. It does not pay by about 600l. in 10 years I find ?—Yes.
2809. Then you would say that rates and taxes and insurance of buildings would not properly be included under management ?—I should not so class them.
2810. I find that in the voluntary gifts you have given altogether 131,406l., donations 69,588l., University exhibitions 25,508l., subscriptions 10,853l., technical education 8,658l., schools 7,137l., almshouses 7,405l., and annuities 2,257l.; that is outside the gifts and charities provided for by the wills of donors. Now with respect to technical education down to 1877, I see you did not give 500l., but since that time you have gone up to 2,400l. ?—In 1877, the Livery Companies (certain of them) came together for the purpose of establishing the City and Guilds Technical Institute, and the amount that our Company returns under this head prior to that date is that which was given for the support of that special technical education which we had ourselves instituted some years before, for the encouragement of our own craft in artistic design, travelling scholarships, and so on, but after 1877 when the Companies met together to establish the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Goldsmiths' Company determined to become one of the body, and then the contributions appear, and those contributions have very considerably increased since that date.
2811. There are four societies in connexion with your trade I think specifically mentioned. The silver Trade Pension Society, The Watch and Clock Makers' Asylum,. The Goldsmiths' and Jewellers' Annuity Institution, and the Goldsmiths' Benevolent Institution ?—Yes.
2812. To those four you have given 6,448l., 1½ per cent. upon your expenditure. Are you aware that they have made complaint about not having more ?—I do not know it, but I do know that without complaint we have very largely increased our contributions.
2813. These statements, in which you have done me the honour of referring to something I have written, were not submitted and explained to the Court of Assistants, I think ?—They were not.
2814. The accounts are not open to any, I think, of the Court of Assistants ?—Yes, to every one, emphatically every one.
2815. Has Mr. Watherston seen them ?—If he has not it is his own fault, but I have very little doubt that he has.
2816. I should like to ask you about this apprenticeship. Can you tell me how it is that this kind of apprenticeship has to be registered in the Chamberlain's office ?—So far as the Company is concerned it has not, but the probability is, that a man who has become free of the Company will desire to become free of the City.
2817. I want to call your attention to this. It says this indenture must be immediately enrolled at the Chamberlain's office in Guildhall ?—It is as if it went on to say if he wished to become a freeman of the City.
2818. This you say is now applied to cases where neither of the parties have anything to do with the craft of goldsmiths ?—Yes. If we have a freeman of the Goldsmiths' Company who is not a goldsmith, and he brings a person there to apprentice him to learn a trade, not being the trade of a goldsmith, we allow him to be apprenticed.
2819. Is this term of seven years generally served? —Always, invariably. We never admit a man to the freedom afterwards if he has not served it fully.
2820. Are you always careful that the business he is apprenticed to is one to which an apprentice can be put ?—Yes.
2821. Can you tell me how many of the poor of the Company whom you benefit are connected with the craft of Goldsmiths ?—I almost think it is in the return, but I would rather leave that to Mr. Prideaux.
2822. When you become a freeman of the Goldsmiths' you make a declaration that you will warn the wardens of every deceit in everything that belongeth to the craft of goldsmiths, and so on ?— Yes.
2823. Is that done, or is that intended for anybody except the craft of goldsmiths ?—It is intended specially for the goldsmiths.
2824. Have you ever warned the wardens of any deceit, if it is not too personal a question ?—I have never had occasion to do so. Any fraud in the goldsmiths' craft has never come to my knowledge, but if I had become aware of anybody endeavouring to sell plate with a false stamp upon it or anything of that kind I most certainly should have warned the wardens of it.
2825. Are the wardens, men skilled in the craft ?— One of them, as a rule, is always an actual craftsman, a man engaged in the trade.
2826. Always?—I say as a general rule; then they have their deputy, who is a man thoroughly well skilled; and the other wardens, I think, generally, are very competent to entertain a question of that kind.
2827. You are aware that under the charter you must elect from yourselves men best skilled in the craft. Have there not been many cases in the last 50 years in which no warden has been connected with the craft at all ?—I do not think there have been many cases; I do not say that there have not been some. I think on one occasion, during the time I was warden, it so happened, for one year, that there was no one of the four wardens connected with the craft. That is the only instance that I recollect, although, I dare say, there have been others.
2828. Then in that case the control of the trade would not be in skilled hands?—Yes, it would, the control of the court; it would be in the hands of men amongst whom are many craftsmen.
2829. How many ?—I think at the present time five or six, without counting bankers.
2830. A number of the leading firms in London have endeavoured to become members of your Court, I think, have they not?—No; we do not admit a partnership. You say leading firms.
2831. Leading individuals; say Mr. Hunt, of the firm of Hunt and Roskell; he has put up, I think, six times unsuccessfully ?—I do not know that. I do not remember.
2832. And that the Court preferred a stockbroker; was not that so ?—I have no recollection of that being the fact.
2833. Have not Messrs. Garrard ?—I have no recollection that they have.
2834. Or Mr. Hancock ?—I have no recollection that he has.
2835. You recollect Mr. Brogden?—This question applies, I understand, to the Court of Assistants.
2836. Yes?—I recollect Mr. Brogden, and another craftsman was elected instead of him.
2837. Who was that?—Mr. Smith or Mr. Lambert.
2838. Is Mr. Lambert on the Court of Assistants ? —He is.
2839. And Savorys have put up unsuccessfully, have they not ?—Not to my knowledge.
2840. I see in this paper you object to a statement which I have written as to the value of the membership on the Court of Assistants; that is not specially stated as to the Goldsmiths' Company; some Courts of Assistants are very valuable, is not that so ?—Not to my knowledge. Not what any of us round this table would call very valuable. I know that my Conrt is to me a source of loss, but I do not want to be relieved of it, because I like the position.
2841. I see afterwards you give us your belief as to an observation I made as to the question of the bank notes; you do not believe there is any foundation for that in any other Company?—No; I think it a most improper observation to have made at all. I must say so.
2842. It was made upon a series of facts with respect to several Companies ?—I should like to have the fact before me. Certainly nothing of the kind was ever done with us.
2843. You also state your belief with regard to the value of a seat on the Court of Assistants ?—I do.
2844. We have this, that in the Mercers' Company they divide for the Court of Assistants 8,760l. a year. Do you still hold to your belief?—I do not know the number who attend. I believe that Company is one in which the Livery are compelled to attend under certain circumstances, and that the Livery are paid as a body also for doing so. I think that is one of the reasons for the high expenditure.
2845. Supposing that turns out to be incorrect, would you hold to your belief ?—I believe the property being that of the Mercers, they are entitled to pay what they please for attendance.
2846. My question was, would you put your belief against a statement of fact ?—Certainly, because the suggestion in the work referred to, I think, is that the position was equal to 4,000l. a year. Now even assuming the expenses of the Mercers to be 8,000l. a year, unless you have not got more than two persons to partake of it there is no foundation for the remark that the position is worth 4,000l. a year.
2847. I do not wish to delay you very long, but I should like to ask you one question about a matter connected with the trade which has been put under my notice, and I suppose I ought to ask you a question about it; that is, with respect to some jewellery that has been sent to you from India as to which a man says that he lost 100l. Do you recollect that case ? What do you say about that?—I do not recollect it.
2848. He says that Indian silver was sent over, and that it was rather under the standard, and that it was all smashed by you?—I am told that Mr. Walter Prideaux, who is here, can answer as to the particular case alluded to. I cannot; but I presume if it were below the standard we could not legally pass it. I brought some silver over the other day from America, I tool care that it was standard before I brought it, and I have had it hall-marked.
2849. This is Indian silver ?—Yes, I took the precaution to find out that mine was standard before I brought it.
2850. (Chairman.) I should like to ask you one single question which your examination has suggested to me. I observed that you stated that 30l. was the maximum amount given as a fixed pension ?—I say in almost all cases.
2851. Are the Commissioners to take it that it is not practically exceeded in many cases?—They are to take it that it is not practically exceeded in many cases. It is exceeded in some cases, but not as a fixed pension.
2852. When you say a " fixed pension," is the donation made annually and not withdrawn ?—As a rule it is repeated, but it is not annual. I think you will find that certainly 13 months must elapse.
2853. Then the Commission understand that anything more than that is not fixed and is not a pension ? —Anything more than that is not fixed, and is an exceptional donation.
Adjourned to Wednesday next at 4 o'clock.