City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1. Originally published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1884.
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Wednesday, 14th 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 Sydney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Pell, M.P.
Mr. W. H. James, M.P.
Mr. J. F. B. Firth, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
Deputation from Goldsmiths' Company.; 14 March 1885.
Sir Frederick Bramwell, Mr. Walter Prideaux, sen., and Mr. Walter Prideaux, jun., again attended as a deputation from the Goldsmiths' Company.
2854. (Chairman to Sir Frederick Bramwell.) Have you anything that you wish to add to the evidence that you gave before the Commission last week ?—Yes, there is one matter that I should like to clear up with your Lordship and the Commission. In answer to Sir Sydney Waterlow's question which took me by surprise touching what the Goldsmiths' Company had done with reference to the procession on Lord Mayor's day, and also touching their treatment of the orders, as I understood, to admit persons to the freedom of the Company, I may say that I was in America last Lord Mayor's day, and could not speak therefore from my own knowledge, but I have caused inquiry to be made since, and I have here before me the following "Memorandum as to the Company's non-attendance in the procession on Lord Mayor's day on the 16th of October, 1882. Mr. Sheriff Savory being a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company wrote as follows: To the Prime Warden, Wardens, and Court of Assistants of the Goldsmiths' Company. Gentlemen, I beg very respectfully to petition that you will kindly grant me the usual complimentary attendance of the Company in the procession from Guildhall to Westminster on Thursday the 9th of November." Mr. Savory had previously asked the Company to lend him the use of their hall for the Sheriffs' Inauguration banquet. To these letters the clerk was directed to reply, and he did reply on the 18th of October, 1882, as follows: "Dear Sir, I laid your letters of the 4th and 16th instant before the Court of the Goldsmiths' Company at their meeting to-day, and with reference to your letter of the 4th instant, I am directed to inform you that it gives the Company pleasure to accede to your request that they will grant the use of their hall, and ornamental plate, on the occasion of the Inauguration dinner of the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex. With reference to your letter of the 16th instant, I am to say that the Goldsmiths' Company have for a great many years past ceased to take any part in the procession on Lord Mayor's day, and that they regret that they must decline to do so on the present occasion. Signed Walter Prideaux." Then with respect to the other matter. "At a Court of Assistants held on the 17th of October, 1781, is the following entry: Then appeared Mr. Wright Turnell, and produced an order from the Court of Aldermen for his admission to the freedom of the City of London by redemption in the Company of Goldsmiths, and requested that by virtue thereof he might be admitted into the freedom of the Company, and this Court having taken the same into consideration, a motion was made and the question put that Wright Turnell be not admitted into this Company by redemption by virtue of the order produced from the Court of Aldermen; the same was resolved in the affirmative." Those are two matters, my Lord, upon which I desire to supplement my former statements.
2855. (To Mr. Prideaux.) I have read, and I think the Commissioners generally have read, with care your statement. Is there anything you wish to correct or supplement in that statement before any questions are asked you ?—In the returns ?
2856. No, in the statement. I presume, that that is drawn up by you; it is signed at the end "Walter Prideaux" (handing a document to the witness). Yes; that is the letter of November. I have nothing to add, excepting a reference to a case. The case is the case of the Attorney General against the Grocers' Company, instead of the Attorney General against the Fishmongers' Company, and I have mentioned it in the observations of Sir Frederick Bramwell and myself which we have addressed to the Commissioners.
2857. That is in Sir Frederick Bramwell's statement ?—"Mr. Prideaux desires to make a correction at page 31 of the letter." (It would not be the same page as that which your Lordship has, because that is a different print.) The case referred to there, is the Attorney General against the Grocers' Company and not against the Fishmongers' Company, 6 Beavan, p. 520."
2858. Then there is nothing that you yourself desire to add ?—Nothing whatever, nothing beyond what we have stated in the observations that we have addressed to the Commissioners.
2859. As to the general legal position of the Company and the members of the Company, I take it that you agree substantially with what Sir Frederick Bramwell has said ?—I do.
2860. Do you find the number of the Court of the Company at all excessive for the transaction of business ?—No, our Court is a very much smaller Court than it was even at the commencement of this century. There were at that time 38 members of the Court, there are now only 25, and I think 25 (21 members of the Court, and four wardens) is not too numerous an assembly.
2861. In what numbers do they attend? I think the average would be from 18 to 19 at the General Court of Assistants.
2862. Do you find 18 to 19 a convenient number for the transaction of business?—I think so. Then from the number of the Court a standing committee is appointed of four wardens and nine members, making a body of 13, who do the greater portion of the business of the Company, who meet every other week on the general business of the Company, and every other week on the business of the Assay Office.
2863. The principle of election, as I understand is that you elect by yourselves ?—Yes.
2864. What is the principle of selection ?—I should say the principle of selection is to look out for the persons, who are members of the livery (they are all selected from the livery), who appear to the Court of Assistants to be most likely to conduct the business of the Company with ability and sustain the reputation of the Company.
2865. A merit interest?—A merit interest. I may say at once that I have never known a case in which two relations have been members of the Court of Assistants at the same time.
2866. The expenses of management seem large ?— About 10 per cent.
2867. That is large, is it not ?—I do not think so. We have a very large quantity of property to manage. Then again there is a great deal of other work to be done; I do not mean with the Assay Office, for the Assay Office is kept quite apart. At the same time the clerk and assistant clerk whose salaries are charged all have a great deal of work to do in respect of the Assay Office. I think the amount paid to the courts and committees is exceedingly moderate. Then my son has just mentioned to me that that includes the whole of the management of our 57 charities. Nothing is charged to the charities.
2868. What is the fee for attending at the Court ?— The fee for attending at the General Court is three guineas, and at a Committee of the Court two guineas.
2869. Can you give me a notion of the sort of business done at a General Court. For example suppose you were to meet to day as a Court what would you have to do?—I think I can give you a very accurate idea. In the first place the minutes of all the proceedings of the committees are read over and submitted to the Court for consideration and approval, and for confirmation if they think proper. Those minutes very often occupy a considerable time in reading, they relate to a great variety of matters, everything in point of fact connected with the general business of the Company. The Court of Wardens is held once every month, the minutes are read over and those minutes also are submitted to the General Court for their consideration and approval. All matters are brought forward on notice of motion, which is required to be given at a preceding Court. Then if any member has given a notice of motion he moves it. If two or three members have given notices of motion they move them according to their seniority, and the matters are discussed.
2870. Without at all wishing to penetrate into secrets, I do not for one moment suggest that there are any secrets to penetrate, give me a notion, if you do not mind, of what sort of motion is brought forward and discussed, conceal any name you like, but give me a notion ?—We will take one thing. Some time ago Sir Frederick Bramwell brought forward a motion that we should give 1,000l. in aid of the endowment of chemical research, that was opposed, some of the members thought that we had nothing to do with chemical research; others thought that we had a great deal to do with it.
2871. Forgive me for interrupting you, but for Sir Frederick Bramwell to give notice of motion to vote 1,000l. must be a little out of the way; it is not an ordinary matter of business, I suppose?—I think so.
2872. You have not many notices of motions from Sir Frederick Bramwell to vote 1,000l., have you ?— There are other notices given of a similar character.
2873. Of that sort ?—There are various other things. A motion, for instance, that you should admit a man to the freedom by redemption.
2874. That is what I want to know, a motion to admit a man by redemption?—That would come forward in the ordinary course of business. Then there are motions connected with educational subjects, and with all these various subjects with which we are connected, and in respect to exhibitions.
2875. How long on an average does a sitting of the Court last ?—A sitting of the Court lasts a little over an hour.
2876. And you say about 19 habitually attend ?— I should think that would be about the average.
2877. Sir Frederick Bramwell mentioned last week that 32l. was the extreme limit of a regular pension ? —Yes, 32l.
2878. He mentioned that there were sometimes donations of a larger sum; now it has been suggested, and I should be glad to know how far that is true, that these donations are practically continued?—With respect to the persons who apply for relief by petition, and who are not pensioners, we have a rule not to entertain an application until the expiration of one year after the preceding application has been entertained; and we often find that when persons apply to us for relief their infirmities and their wants continue, and that we really do have a great many applicants. We cannot have them all in the same year, but supposing that the application was made as soon as possible, there would be a period of about a year and three months before the applicant would get another donation. There are many cases of that sort.
2879. Does he practically get another donation at the end of the time ?—If we find nothing unworthy; an inquiry is made on every occasion.
2880. Supposing there is nothing against the man, he gets it renewed?—He does. For instance, I remember a case a very short time ago in which a man who was a skilful and hardworking workman became lunatic. He was under the age to become a regular pensioner, but we have always given him a regular donation ever since.
2881. That comes, in fact, to a pension?—That would almost come to a pension.
2882. That would come to a pension, averaging the years, of a great deal more than 32l. would it not ?— No, I think not.
2883. If it is 100l. voted every 13 months, it must be so?—I have got all the facts here as to the donees. In the year in which this return was made there were four liverymen who were donees; two received 100l. each, and two received 50l. each. There were 16 freemen, of whom one received 35l., one 30l., three 25l., nine 20l., one 15l., and one 10l. Then there were 24 widows of liverymen and freemen, of whom one received 50l., seven 30l. each, seven 25l. each, eight 20l. each, and one 15l. Then of daughters of liverymen and freemen (which are a very numerous class) there were 59, of whom one received 100l., one 80l., five 50l. each, ten 30l. each, nine 25l. each, 28 20l. each, four 15l. each, and one 10l.
2884. My point was this, and it is sufficiently plain, in every case where there was more than 64l. granted, and it was habitually renewed, the pension would be practically more than 32l. That is the point, and it is obvious enough ?—I do not quite understand.
2885. Wherever the sum voted is more than 64l., and it is voted habitually after the expiration of a year, the pension would be practically more than 32l.; it follows, does it not ?—Yes, of course, it would be so.
2886. I suppose no member of the Court of Goldsmiths' ever received a pension ?—Never in my time.
2887. Have you made any estimate of the prospective increase of your income, can you give it me at all roughly?—No, I have not made any estimate; it would be excessively difficult to do it.
2888. It has risen very largely in the last 50 years, has it not ?—It has risen very largely in the last 50 years, there is no doubt.
2889. Allow me to ask this general question, is the property from which it is derived constantly rising in value ?—I do not know that it is rising in value now. I think the general opinion of surveyors in the City of London is that City property has now reached its highest limit. Our surveyor tells me that he finds that he could not obtain quite as good rents now as he could four years ago, but still, as we pointed out in our returns, there is no doubt that some leases of our property are let on ground rents and they will fall in.
2890. Therefore the probability is that the income of the Company will increase rather than the reverse ? —That we have distinctly stated in our Return.
2891. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Can you form any idea or give the Commission any figures which would guide them as to the proportion of property held by the Goldsmiths' Company which consists of property formerly held for superstitious uses, and which was purchased by the Company from the Crown in the reign of Edward the 6th as compared with property derived from other sources?—Yes, I made a calculation upon that very point. I had it all taken out, and I find that 28,681l. represent the rents of property of that description; that is the property which we bought back from the Crown that became forfeited in consequence of the superstitious uses.
2892. What proportion does that bear to the income arising from other property ?—It is 28,000l. to about 54,000l.
2893. Are you referring to corporate property ?— No, I am referring to the whole income of the Company.
2894. Corporate and trust ?—Corporate and trust.
2895. But setting the trust aside could you give any idea of what proportion of the corporate income is derived from the property formerly held for superstitious uses ?—Yes, the trust property amounts to about 10,000l. a year, therefore it is 28,000l. to 44,000l. or 45,000l.
2896. The Company are very generous benefactors, are they not, in the way of giving exhibitions at Universities ?—We give a very large number of exhibitions.
2897. Do you happen to know how many ?—It is 75.
2898. (Chairman.) At the two Universities ?—Yes, equally divided between the two.
2899. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Between Oxford and Cambridge?—Between Oxford and Cambridge; it is all set forth at very considerable length in the return.
2900. Will you tell the Commission how you elect those who are to have the benefit of these exhibitions ?—By merit. They apply, and after the applications have been received, and a day is fixed closing the time when they are to apply, a list is sent to Oxford and to Cambridge, to two examiners at each University, who hold an examination and send us a report, and we act upon that report. I think it is best expressed in the language which I have used here as to the exhibitions. "A student who desires to become a candidate for one of these exhibitions must have been in actual residence at his college one term, and if at Oxford must have passed the responsions, or the examinations accepted by the University as equivalent to the responsions, before the time appointed for the return of the petition, and his income arising from preferment at college or elsewhere must not amount to more than 70l. a year, exclusive of the Goldsmiths' exhibition." Then we have stated here, in another part, that it is chiefly done by examination. We say: "They are tenable for 16 terms at Oxford and 12 at Cambridge, and are awarded solely by competition modified by consideration of the necessities of the student and his parents or friends. For instance, if A.B. stand above C.D. in the examiner's report, and his father have an income of 800l. a year, C.D. being dependent upon a father in straitened circumstances, C.D. would be preferred to A.B., who would probably not be elected at all. These exhibitions are open to the whole University. A student related to a member of the Company has no preference whatever." Nor do I ever remember any exhibitioner who was related in any manner to any member of the Company.
2901. I believe they are given the chance irrespective of religious denomination ?—Entirely.
2902. Can you tell us whether any students to whom you have granted exhibitions have taken any honours ?—A very large proportion. I am sorry I have not the document that I prepared the other day for the Court. I thought it would be exceedingly pleasing for them to know that three-fifths if not four-fifths of our students took honours.
2903. I may take it then that this part of the expenditure of the Company has given great satisfaction to the Court?—Great satisfaction.
2904. Sir Frederick Bramwell gave the Commission some information in relation to the funds appropriated to the relief of poor freemen and members of the Company. Have the Company found that the property left for that particular purpose is growing, if anything, rather larger than is necessary ?—Undoubtedly.
2905. Has it been a constantly improving property ? —I think I may say constantly improving.
2906. And is any part of it property which is likely still further to improve in the course of a few years ?—I think so; I think that that property is particularly likely to improve.
2907. I think I understood Sir Frederick Bramwell to say the Company were considering an application to the Commissioners for a scheme which would enable them to appropriate a part of these funds in some other direction, probably cy-près to the original object?—We have done more than that.
2908. Will you tell the Commission how far you have progressed ?—When the return was sent in to the Commissioners, there was the following remark in a note attached to it:—"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 it will be seen by the accounts that the annual amount expended for the relief of poor freemen and poor widows and daughters of freemen is considerably in excess of the income applicable to those objects, a large number of the freemen of the Goldsmiths' Company belong to the artizan class, and become objects of the bounty of the Company in consequence of sickness, age, and want of employment. 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. 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. The income derived from Perryn's estate, after providing for the fixed payments directed by the will, may, in accordance with the trusts of the will, be applied for educational purposes." At the time when this was written I was not aware that there were certain properties falling in, certain increased rents accruing to the Company from a Charity property of a very large amount, at least I was not aware of the extent to which this was so, and very shortly afterwards I found that the income of the Charities trust property, was more than sufficient to satisfy all the claims upon it.
2909. May I ask you whether, without disclosing secrets of the Company, you could give the Commission any idea of the objects and purposes to which such surplus, as it might arise, would be applied, would it be applied do you think to technical education ?—We actually applied to the Charity Commissioners for a scheme last year. I think at the beginning of last year, and they in reply said they were not disposed to entertain any application for a scheme so long as this Commission was sitting, and of course we were stopped, and we have now a considerable sum of money which we know not what to do with. With respect to technical education, I think that we should not ask to apply it to that. I think we have determined to apply so very large a portion of the income of our general corporate property to technical education that it would not be necessary or desirable that we should do so. The scheme that we proposed in the application that we sent to the Charity Commissioners was this, "With this in view, and for the purpose of simplifying our accounts, I propose to apply to the Charity Commissioners for an order enabling the Company to consolidate all their Charities founded solely or partially for their poor, providing that the whole of the revenues applicable thereto shall be carried to the credit of one account with an appropriate heading, and that all payments for the benefit of poor freemen, widows, and daughters of freemen, whether by way of pension or donation, shall be debited thereto, the balance, whenever there shall be a surplus, to be carried to an accumulation fund, the application of such fund for some charitable object, such as the founding a Convalescent Hospital, establishing additional pensions for the blind," (that we have very much at heart at the present time) or the advancement of education, to be decided on, with the consent of the Commissioners of Charities, so soon as it shall amount to 10,000l."
2910. Passing from that subject, you told the chairman just now that your Court consisted of 25 members. Do you find from your long experience that a Court of 25 members is sufficient to practically conduct the affairs of a Company like yours ?—I do, I think it is a very convenient number.
2911. As a matter of practice, are the Court generally elected from the Livery by seniority, or is it rather more by the choice of those whom the Court think would be the most eligible men of business ?— Certainly not from seniority; we might have by that means very unfit persons. It is really the persons whom we think are the best men of business and persons of the best station.
2912. Then as a matter of fact some are passed over and others are selected ?—There is no doubt about it, and there have been no complaints from our livery.
2913. You told the chairman, at least I understood you to say to the chairman, that you had no case where there were two relations, members of the same family, on the Court ?—None whatever.
2914. From your experience, would you think it an objectionable course to have four or five members of the same family on the Court ?—No, I do not know that it is objectionable, in fact I have known certain cases in which there are persons of the same family on the Court, and in which, I believe, the business is remarkably well managed.
2915. Sir Frederick Bramwell told the Commission last week something about the system of apprenticeship. May we gather from what was then said, and from you, that the Goldsmiths' Company will not admit any one to the Company by servitude unless there is a bonâ fide apprenticeship for seven years and a bonâ fide learning of the trade ?—Undoubtedly. The old words that are used by the clerk of the Company, addressing the master of the apprentice on his applying to be admitted, are these, "Mr. A.B. upon the declaration you made when you were admitted to the freedom of the City of London, has C.D., who now presents himself to take up his freedom in this Company, served you faithfully and truly after the manner of an apprentice and according to the covenants contained in his indentures for the full term of seven years."
2916. (Mr. Pell.) Are the exhibitions at the University entirely open; is there anything of a nomination to begin with?—None whatever.
2917. They are open to the whole world then?— They are open to the whole world in fact.
2918. Only you make some little distinction, after the examination is over, in favour of those who are very needy ?—We take that into consideration. I think if the parents of the man who was first on the list really were in a very good condition, say that the father had an income which we thought did not justify him in applying for an exhibition, we should not give it him.
2919. I suppose you have power to increase those exhibitions if it were the will of the Court to do so? —We have done it. I think you will find, in the paper that we have sent in that we have given an account of the way in which we have increased them from time to time, with the annual increase of our income.
2920. I think you said in answer to a question put by Sir Sydney Waterlow that you thought the charity fund of the Company was now rather in excess of the needs of its object ?—There is no doubt about it, and we made this application of which I have spoken to the Charity Commissioners in consequence.
2921. In the account of the expenditure for the year ending 1880, have you not got an item of an addition to the trust funds ?—Yes.
2992. Amounting to 3,135l. ?—Yes, that is the fact; the increase has taken place since then. Since the last account was sent in this increase has taken place.
2923. Then am I to understand that now it would not be your practice to add anything to the trust fund out of the corporate property ?—It is not necessary now at all. On the contrary we have a balance that we do not know how to dispose of in consequence of the hesitation of the Charity Commissioners.
2924. Then you really have reached a stage at which you are embarrassed with income that has to be devoted to charitable objects ?—We have now a surplus which ought to be applied in charity, but to some other object.
2925. What is the annual income of the trust funds now that should be devoted to charity under the wills of the donors ?—I think it will be about 1,500l. a year more than it was when the return was made. I think we have at the present time a balance of nearly 1,000l.
2926. I see in the printed list of the objects of the donations in 1880, the Bishop of London's Fund church collection; how do you explain that term ?— Simply this, the vicar of our parish church, in which the Hall is, preaches a charity sermon for that object, and that is merely the sum which the beadle is ordered to put into the plate.
2927. The beadle is sent to the church then with a ten pound note in his pocket ?—The beadle attends the church, and I attended the church for a long time, and very often did it myself. As I lived at Goldsmiths' Hall during a portion of the year it was my parish church.
2928. What is the "City Kitchen," 30l. a year ?— It is called the City Kitchen, but in reality it is a coal club, and it is an extremely useful charity; a charity which is distributed from the Goldsmiths' Company by tickets to poor residents in the neighbourhood. The object is to lighten the price of coal to them.
2929. But accompanied with some contributions from the persons who receive your charities; it is in addition to their own effort, is it not ?—I think very few of the pensioners get it, because the pensioners do not necessarily reside in our neighbourhood. It is really a local charity in the City, and it is given very much to those people who are within a certain radius.
2930. My idea of a coal club is that of a number of poor people subscribing during the year a sum of money, in order to get their coals, in the winter, to which some charitable person, or institution, adds money, is that what is done in this case ?—It is not done in that way. The ticket is given to them, and when they go for the coals they have to pay half the cost.
2931. It really comes to the same thing?—It really comes to the same thing.
2932. They give nothing?—They give nothing; but they have to pay half the cost.
2933. In this long list, can you tell me whether there is a single object entered in which the poor who are helped, are called upon to be doing anything for themselves, or are all these institutions which you assist entirely supported by voluntary contributions ?— Without going through the whole of them it is exceedingly difficult to say. They are nearly all of them great public charities, such as the Royal Naval School and the Consumption Hospital.
2934. I have looked them through, and perhaps it would be better for me to put it in this way: has the Court considered it desirable in the distribution of its charities to attempt to encourage thrift ?—Most decidedly, and I may say as to the reports made to the Court that the officer is instructed to make minute inquiries as to whether the applicants have been thrifty persons, or unthrifty persons.
2935. I am talking of institutions ?—I thought you were talking of persons.
2936. I am pretty well acquainted with the charities of London, and I do not myself see a single institution entered here in this list, in which those who are recipients of the charity are called upon to do anything for themselves; the Provident Dispensary, the Metropolitan Dispensary, I think that is entirely supported by voluntary contributions?—I think it is. What would you say to the Goldsmiths' Benevolent Institution and Goldsmiths' and Jewellers'?
2937. Where is that?—We make subscriptions to them, and to the Clock and Watchmakers' Asylum; they are all contributed to by us.
2938. That is another list altogether. I am talking of the donations which added up come to 5,492l., the first two lists?—Is that the first year.
2939. Yes, the first list on page 55. I did not look at the subscriptions, I kept to the donations ?— The subscriptions appear to be on the same footing.
2940. I daresay they are, but I kept to the particular institutions entered in that list. Can you point out any single one of those to which the persons who receive the benefit of your charity contribute at all themselves ?—Yes, the third, the establishment for gentlewomen in Harley Street.
2941. Do the gentlewomen there contribute ?—They pay a considerable sum, and are aided by the charities of the Company.
2942. I am very glad to hear that ?—The Ladies' Work Society is another.
2943. I think you subscribe to the Charity Organisation Society ?—Very largely.
2944. Do you make use of their office in inquiring into any of the cases ?—We do, and they make use of ours. We have very close relations with the Charity Organisation Society; I may say that my younger son is the honorary secretary of the City branch.
2945. Then probably in the case where you have applicants for your charity, and the inquiry is made by the official whom you call the beadle, he would be likely to consult the officers of the Charity Organisation Society ?—Yes, he has constantly done so; and I may say, with reference to some remarks that were made on the last occasion, that I thought it desirable to have that officer here, and he is in the other room, and in point of fact, if you like to see him you will see what class of man he is. He is a most dutiful and trustworthy and conscientious officer.
2946. Is that the officer of the Company that you are referring to, or the Charity Organisation officer ? —No, the beadle. I mention that with reference to some remarks which you made on the last occasion.
2947. I think it is stated in the abstract here that you find the number of applicants for these charities diminishing ?—They are very much diminishing, and since I was here the other day I made a note which I will give you. In 1863 there were 116 men pensioners and 143 widows, and in 1880 there were 68 men pensioners and 117 widows only.
2948. Do you think the numbers have been diminishing owing to the greater care taken, and the more thorough inquiries that you have instituted into the position of these people ?—I have taken very great interest in this matter from the beginning, for I always, from the commencement of my duties as clerk, took it to be a part of my duty carefully to watch the administration of these charities, and I have come to the conclusion you suggest. I know that a great number of persons have been assisted with temporary relief, who have never come to the Company again, and never made another application, and have been able to go on to the end of their days afterwards without our assistance.
2949. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Do you not think that the amount of 150,000l., given away annually by the City guilds in pensions, donations, and charitable purposes, causes a saving to the pockets of the ratepayers of a very large portion of that amount ?—I do not think so. I think they are of a different class. It certainly would, to some extent, if these people went to the workhouse; there is no doubt that that would fall upon the ratepayers.
2950. Do not you think it would do so to a very great extent ?—Well, it is very difficult to say. What occurred in a parish in which I lived in Sussex was this : The parish doctor spoke about the present state of the poor now, compared with what it was in the days when there were no resident gentry. I said, "What became of them then?" He said, "They died." That was his answer.
2951. Would not very many of those persons go to the union if they had not your pension or donation? —Some would, no doubt.
2952. That would be, to that extent, a saving to the ratepayers ?—To that extent it would, no doubt.
2953. Do you think that those charities conduce to the good, or to the debasement of the recipients ?—I can only speak with reference to the charities of the Goldsmiths' Company, and I can say most emphatically that, having watched over the administration of those charities for over 30 years, I feel satisfied that they have done, I was going to say, almost unmitigated good.
2954. I think I understand you to say that the balance in hand in favour of the charities is about 1,000l. ?—I think it is about 1,000l. at the present time.
2955. (Mr. James.) With regard to the distribution of these charities I will ask you just one or two questions with regard to the discrimination which you make between the deserving and the undeserving; are you able to discriminate between the deserving applicants and the undeserving ?—I really think the best way to answer that question would be to have in the person to whom I alluded, who makes these inquiries, to have his reports in, and to interrogate him, to show exactly what takes place. I may say the course is this: he is directed to make minute inquiries; he not only goes to the people to whom the applicants refer him, but he also applies to other people. He tells me it very frequently happens that people will refer to persons whom they are sure will give a favourable report, but he inquires what their antecedents have been; he finds out, for instance, for whom a man has worked, and he always goes and makes application to that person. He then has always come to me first, and has gone over his report with me, and stated to me what inquiries he has made, and has asked me whether I consider they were sufficient. I have very often found that they are not sufficient, and I have ordered him to make further inquiries. When the inquiries are complete, then the case is presented to the committee and the applicant is directed to attend. The members of the committee make such inquiries as they think proper, and I must tell you that a very large number of applicants are refused altogether. When we find that a man has been of intemperate habits, and, in fact, that his poverty arises from want of thrift, or from drunkenness, or any other act of bad behaviour, his application is refused.
2956. Nothing, I am sure, could be more clear or satisfactory; but I would like to press you a little further. You are referring now, I think, to the beadle, are you not, to whom Sir Frederick Bramwell alluded on the last occasion. The person who makes these inquiries is the beadle of the Company, is he not ?—Yes; he has been 20 years in our employment.
2957. How many cases has he to inquire into in the course of the year ?—Over 100 certainly, 130 or 140.
2958. There are many cases of people who may stand upon your list whose circumstances may have changed, into whose cases he would not think it his duty to make inquiry ?—Fresh inquiry is made every time.
2959. But surely you must have more than 120 or 130 persons receiving assistance ?—The cases of regular pensioners are not inquired into again. I am speaking of the donees; the persons, who are not regular pensioners.
2960. Not more than 120 or 130 ?—I think it would be about 130; he has his books here, and I will get his books.
2961. That is quite sufficient. I think you said in reply to the chairman that about three guineas was the payment made for attending a Court, and two guineas for a Committee ?—Exactly, that is so.
2962. And a very considerable part of the duties of Company consists in the distribution of the funds of the Company in educational, philanthropic, and charitable objects ?—A large portion.
2963. Could you tell me any society, or any body in the country, by which those duties are discharged, and in which those who discharge those duties receive a pecuniary payment ?—I do not think they are analogous cases. When I say that it is a large portion of their duties, I mean, that it occupies a large portion of the time of every Court, and every Committee; but there is a vast deal of other business attended to. There is the management of all this very large property; there are the surveyor's reports, and all those matters, and it would be a difficult thing to separate the labours of the Court, in the matter of the distribution of their funds, from their other labours with respect to the management of their property generally.
2964. But are there not a great many institutions in the country, the property of which requires considerable management, and the philanthropic part of which also involves a great deal of time and trouble, but the managers of which receive no pay whatever ? —I am not aware; I do not know.
2965. Are not you aware of it?—I am not.
2966. The governors of St. George's Hospital, for instance ?—That is a purely charitable institution.
2967. There is one other question that I want to put, which relates to an entirely different matter; it is with regard to the Assay Office of the Goldsmiths' Company. The management of that office is entirely in the hands of the Company, I believe ?—Entirely.
2968. Are the expenses of the office charged in any way upon the revenue of the Company ?—No, all that is regulated by an Act of Parliament, the 12th George II. chapter 26; we take fees for assaying and marking plate, and we are prohibited from making a profit; but we take enough to pay the expenses of the office.
2969. Why should not the Goldsmiths' Company pay for the expenses of the office ?—I think that would be a most objectionable thing; that would be a bounty to the London silversmiths, and the effect of it would be to destroy the trade in Birmingham, Chester, Sheffield, and those other places.
2970. But you give bounties to silversmiths in other forms, do you not ?—We give prizes.
2971. And the benefit of charitable institutions ? —Yes.
2972. Is that anything else except a bounty ?— Yes, I think so. Those institutions are for the benefit of the poor. They are not all members of the Company, but a great many of them are. Those institutions are institutions for working goldsmiths, supported by the trade, to which the Goldsmiths' Company think it right to contribute largely.
2973. Would your Company think it would be an objectionable arrangement that the expenses of the Assay Office should be defrayed out of the funds of your Company ?—I have never heard it suggested, and I have never thought of it until you mentioned it, but on your mentioning it, it certainly did at once occur to me that that would be most objectionable, and I think that the Birmingham manufacturers would object to it very much indeed. The effect of it would be to remove all the trade to London.
2974. (Mr. Burt.) Have the Company recently spent a large amount on the Hall?—They spent a large amount on the Hall about six or seven years ago.
2975. Do you consider that a necessary and useful expenditure ?—I think it was partly necessary, and certainly very useful and ornamental; the fact was this, that no great repairs had been done to the Hall since it was built in the year 1835, and the whole of that very fine entrance Hall was lined with stucco, and demanding constant repair. It was suggested, and it was thought a desirable thing, to remove the stucco, and to line the Hall with marble. Of course this was an expensive operation at first, but we felt that by so doing we should prevent the constantly occurring expenses of painting and plastering, and that we should do a very beautiful work; a work in point of fact that would be creditable to the metropolis.
2976. Is it the fact that the trade of the silversmiths is now in a very depressed condition ?—I think if you look at the report of the Select Committee of 1879 and 1880 the whole thing was very fully gone into. Ever since electro-plating came in, there is no doubt that the trade has been depressed; but at the present time it appears to be reviving. We judge of it by the amount of duty paid at the Goldsmiths' Hall, and during the last year or 18 months there appears to have been a considerable revival of trade.
2977. Are many of the best workmen going to America ?—I have not heard of that.
2978. Can you state at all the cause of the depression ? —My impression is that it arises almost entirely from the use of electro-plate.
2979. Is it due at all to taxes and to the trade being hampered ?—There is a tax of 1s. 6d. upon silver; little gold is made; no doubt if that tax were removed it would lead to some increase in the manufacture of plate. That is a matter with which the Goldsmiths' Company have nothing to do. They are obliged by the Government to receive this duty. We are perfectly indifferent whether the duty is maintained or taken off.
2980. I should like to ask you about the practice of breaking up artistic and other plate that is below the standard ?—Are you alluding to plate that has come from India; is that the particular thing?
2981. Yes?—I think it is desirable, as the matter passed entirely through my son's hands, that he should explain that matter to you, because a correspondence has taken place upon that subject which he has conducted. The whole matter has been before the Treasury, and I may tell you that the Treasury are perfectly satisfied that what the Goldsmiths' Company did was only what they were obliged to do.
2982. On a specific point you can perhaps inform me as to the practice, which I understand prevails, of breaking up the whole set in consequence of a single faulty article ?—Yes.
2983. That is the case, I believe ?—That is the case undoubtedly; we are regulated by the Act of Parliament of 12th George II.
2984. Do not you think that that is a practice injurious to the trade?—I do not see very well how you could avoid it. A man sends a parcel of plate; scrapings are taken from each article, and then the whole is assayed; and if his work turns out to be bad we are, according to the Act of Parliament, to break it, unless a sufficient excuse can be given. A man will sometimes come and say, "I suspect that the fault must be in a particular article; I shall feel obliged to you to assay that particular article, and ascertain whether it is not so." It often has happened that we have assayed that particular article, and we have found that the fault did exist there; and if the workman has been able to show that this particular article got into his work by accident, or that there was some other sufficient excuse, then we have frequently allowed him to take that article out, have it broken, and we have assayed and marked the remainder; but I think you will find in the letter which I wrote, on behalf of the Company, to the Commission in November, that the whole matter is there gone into in the following passage:—"Reverting to that part of the evidence of Mr. E. J. Watherston in which he complains that if one article in a parcel of plate is defective the whole parcel is broken, the answer is that the power to do this is not exercised unless there is reason to believe a fraudulent intent or a want of care. As a matter of fact, the care of the honest manufacturer, and the influence exercised on the less scrupulous by the action of the Goldsmiths' Company, has had the effect that only about 75 of one per cent. of the gold plate (or 9 ounces in 1,200 ounces) and 25 of one per cent. of the silver plate (or 3 ounces in 1,200 ounces) offered for assay is broken."
2985. In the printed statement that you have been good enough to supply the Commissioners with, you mentioned that Mr. Watherston has not been able to carry the trade with him in the reforms that he has suggested ?—That is undoubtedly so.
2986. Do you mean the Company or the trade generally ?—The trade generally. I believe you may say that Mr. Watherston stands aloof from all the leading men in the trade. I will give you an instance of it. At the time that the Select Committee was moved for about 1879, Mr. Watherston, then representing himself as the master of the situation, you may say, all the leading men in London, Messrs. Garrard, Messrs. Hunt and Roskell, Thomas Hancock, Barnard, Mr. Lambert, Mr. Dobson, Elkington, Savory, and others representing four-fifths, I think, of those who paid the duty to the Government, had a meeting with which the Goldsmiths' Company had nothing to do, and which was called by some members of the trade, and they passed a resolution unanimously entirely opposed to those propositions which Mr. Watherston himself was endeavouring to set forth.
2987. Are you aware that the trades of Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow have, almost unanimously, petitioned in support of the reforms ?—I have heard that at Glasgow they have, but I think certainly not at Birmingham, I have never heard of it, and we have such intimate relations with the Birmingham Hall that I think Mr. Martineau, the clerk of the Guardians, would have informed me of it, if it had been so, but we know nothing of Glasgow.
2988. I suppose you do not at all question that there is a great deal of public support of Mr. Watherston ?—I really cannot tell you what that support is. He talks of being at the head of a Goldsmiths' and Jewellers' Free Trade Association. Whenever he has been asked who the members of this association are, he has never given a reply, but at all events I can tell you that no one of the persons who are known to the public at large as goldsmiths and silversmiths in London belong to that association.
2989. I suppose it is not at all a singular thing for a trade not to want to reform itself?—My impression is that the trade know best what is to their advantage.
2990. Are you aware that several societies, including the London Chambers of Commerce, the National Chamber of Trade, the Financial Reform Association, the Social Science Association, the Chambers of Commerce of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, have all memorialised the Government in support of the Resolutions put forward by Mr. Watherston ?—Is that with reference to abolition of the duty, or with regard to hall marking ?
2991. To hall marking ?—I am certainly not aware of it. A Committee of the House of Commons sat in 1879 and 1880, and you will find in their report that they recommended that the compulsory hall marking should be maintained. The report is a very voluminous one and a very exhaustive one.
2992. Is it not a fact that all the London newspapers and nearly all the Provincial newspapers have also advocated reforms, and that scarcely any paper has supported the trade in their policy of "Let well alone," as they suggested at the meeting they had in St. James' Hall, some time ago ?—I am afraid I cannot answer that, I do not know.
2993. In your opinion would it be correct to say that many workmen of the actual working silversmiths would be afraid to let it be known that they are connected with a society to carry out these reforms ?—I should think it very unlikely. I do not know the workmen; I only know from my position at Goldsmiths' Hall generally. I am not acquainted with what takes place between the workmen and their employers, but I should think it very unlikely that it is so.
2994. (Mr. Firth.) With reference to the accounts which I put some questions about to Sir Frederick Bramwell last week, I have sent you a copy of those accounts, and in a letter you have been good enough to send me you say you find the separate items are generally substantially correct, but with regard to the gross receipts of 567,000l., you say that 67,000l. of that is not income. That would leave your income according to that letter at 500,000l. In respect to the current expenditure, do you object to the way in which this is arranged ? I put charities in pursuance of wills 94,378l., to same charities in excess of income of estates 11,133l., total 105,511l., Voluntary gifts Donations 69,588l., University Exhibitions 25,508l., Church 18,441l., Subscriptions 10,853l., Technical Education 8,658l., Three Schools 7,137l., Almhouses 7,405l., Annuities 2,257l., total 149,847l.; then under the head of "Maintenance and Management":—Courts and Committees 14,344l., Entertainments 43,231l., Wine 16,817l., Housekeeping 14,822l., Salaries 37,530l., Clerk Special 2,000l., Beadle 1,683l., making the expenditure on members 129,427l. Then expenditure on fabric : Repairs 22,309l. and 10,950l., Rates and Taxes 16,669l., Law 4,385l., Gas, Coals, and Water 2,808l., Printing 2,239l., Furniture 7,491l., Sculpture 2,114l., Plate 1,236l., Insurance 584l., total 70,785l.; Miscellaneous 6,000l., making the total expenditure of 540,000l. Do you object to that classification; is that your objection ?—Yes, I object to the classification, because you represent by this that the cost of management in ten years has been 129,000l., instead of, as I make it in the same period, 54,000l.
2995. But the items you admit are correct ?—Your items are substantially correct, I have gone over them.
2996. With respect to your return A, Landed property, I find that the amount of the reserved rent is 35,555l., and the amount of the rateable value is 65,556l. Does the difference which is about 30,000l. represent the value of your reversion, it represents a valuable reversion does it not ?—It represents a valuable reversion undoubtedly.
2997. One word with respect to your poor. I find that the Charter to which you draw our attention recites amongst others one of your earlier Charters of Richard II., which I presume therefore is still in force, and which says this: "Know ye whereas Edward our grandfather late King of England at the suit of the goldsmiths of our City of London suggesting to him how that many persons of that trade by fire and smoke of quicksilver have lost their sight, and that others of them by working in that trade became so crazed and infirm that they were disabled to subsist, but of relief from others; and that divers of the said city compassionating the condition of such were disposed to give and grant divers tenements and rents in the City to the value of twenty pounds per annum to the Company of the said craft towards the maintenance of the said blind, weak, and infirm, and also of a chaplain to celebrate Mass amongst them every day for the souls of all the faithful departed, according to the Ordinance in that behalf to be made, did by his Letters Patents for the consideration of a fine of ten marks, for himself and his heirs, as much as in him lay, grant and give license to the men of the community aforesaid that they might purchase tenements and rents in the same city of the value of twenty pounds per annum, and not above, of the men of that City, for relief and maintenance of such blind and infirm and of such chaplain as aforesaid. To hold to them and their successors of the same society for ever for the purposes aforesaid; the statute workman or any other statute or ordinance to the contrary thereof notwithstanding, as in and by the said Letters Patents more fully and at large it may appear." Can you tell me how much of the money which is now given to the poor of your Company is given to the poor of a trade ?—I think I have stated that in the Returns, but I think I can give it you now. The number of freemen pensioners who are or have been connected with the trade or craft of Goldsmiths or Silversmiths is 34.
2998. The proportion of the payment is what I should also like to know ?—I cannot tell you that.
2999. Now turning to your major return, if I may so term it, at page 2 I find you state : "Return D. We are not aware of any decrees of Court, acts of the Court of Aldermen or of the Court of Common Council founding, regulating, or affecting the Company." In your statement you object to my proposition that the Companies are subject to the control of the Corporation. Are you aware of various precepts for various purposes sent by the Corporation to your Company ?—I am aware of precepts having been sent from time to time, as for instance, notably in the case of the precepts sent to the Company in the year 1770 to attend Common Hall.
3000. I will come to that afterwards if I may. Beginning rather earlier, say 1485, you had a precept from the Mayor and Chamberlain to provide 24 persons to ride out to meet King Henry VII. at Blackheath. Rather later you had a precept from the City to raise money. Then you had a precept from the Mayor and Warden to provide people to attend at Guildhall (I am putting it in answer to your statement here) and certify to the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall, and you have repeatedly made answer to precepts from the Lord Mayor to provide money; are you aware of that ?—I know that in ancient times it was the custom for the Lord Mayor to issue precepts, and it was the custom for the Company to attend to them, but whether they were obliged to attend to them or not is another matter. I know that in later times the Company have absolutely refused to attend to all precepts to the Company to summon their livery to Common Halls unless for election purposes.
3001. In 1665, which is a later period, you received a precept from the Lord Mayor to contribute to the poor suffering from the plague, and again a precept to provide chaldrons of sea coal; you say that it is since then that the change has been made ?—You will find in the report of the Municipal Corporation Commissioners of 1837 that they state that the Corporation's control of the companies is little more than nominal, those are their very words.
3002. That you have given us in this statement ?— Yes, I have.
3003. You contend that you are no part of the Corporation ?—Not an integral part, I have taken your own words. They are certainly not an integral part, and if the Commission desire me to do it, I am perfectly prepared to go into that question. The case came prominently before the judges in the case which I have mentioned in this statement, which you have probably read.
3004. (Chairman.) Is that the Lord Chief Justice de Grey's judgment that you are referring to ?—That is Lord Chief Justice de Grey's judgment.
3005. I think we are all familiar with Lord Chief Justice de Grey's judgment, is there anything beyond that. If you found yourself (and you have a perfect right to found yourself) upon the judgment of the Chief Justice, that speaks for itself, and we can deal with it. If there is anything else you wish to say to us by all means say it ?—I will merely say generally that I presume what is meant when it is stated that the Livery Companies are integral parts of the Corporation is, that the one could not exist without the other. Now it is quite clear.
3006. Then you see we get into such curious questions, do we not. I, for one, should not at all accept "integral part," and the impossibility of existing without being an integral part as synonymous?—If that be your Lordship's opinion I am content, but I find the point stated in "Kyd on Corporations," and I will just mention that, if you will permit.
3007. I really only interpose to save time, but can we get further than this, that everybody who has taken the trouble to read anything about it is aware that the Common Hall exists for certain purposes, that the Common Hall consists of those freemen of the City of London who are also liverymen, or if you like to put it so, such liverymen as are also freemen (I care not which way you put it), and that that body, which is still an existing body, elects certain persons who are members of the Corporation. But we might argue to all eternity as to whether that did or did not constitute the Common Hall an integral part of the Corporation. There is the fact, and we cannot make the fact different by any amount of argument?—There is no doubt that they are the electoral body at the present time for certain purposes. But what I would say is this, that they have not always been so; changes have been made from time to time.
3008. I mean that persons may very fairly differ as to what is the true effect of that upon the Corporations and the Companies, but the fact is indisputable, is it not ?—Certainly.
3009. (Mr. Firth.) Are you aware that the city have always contended the contrary?—I think it is pretty clear that they contended the contrary because they fought the question with the Goldsmiths' Company in the year 1775.
3010. I do not admit that. I was going to ask you whether your attention has been drawn to the case of Wannell against the Chamberlain of the City of London in 1726 ?—No.
3011. Where the Chamberlain returned that London has time out of mind been a Corporation and consists of several societies, guilds, and fraternities. This is a case in which a joiner not a member of the Joiners' Company sent a mandamus to the Chamberlain to admit him to the freedom of the City; the Chamberlain on behalf of the Corporation of the City, made return, and that return was held good. The return was this, that London has time out of mind been a Corporation consisting of several societies, guilds, and fraternities of the City, and no person could ever be a freeman of the City until he was a member of one of the fraternities. Then the Chamberlain goes on to say the plaintiff was a joiner, but not free of the Joiners' Company ?—What court decided that?
3012. It was a mandamus, and therefore in the King's Bench; you are not aware of that case, you say ?—I think I remember the case now. The return was held good, and the mandamus did not go.
3013. The case is reported in 1 Strange, page 667. It is very short, and is as follows :— "Mandamus to admit George Wannel to his freedom of the City of London, setting forth that he was bound apprentice to one Samuel Vaureyven of London, merchant taylor, for seven years; that he had served out his time, and been admitted into the Merchant Taylors' Company, and in due form presented to the Chamberlain, who refused to admit him to his freedom. The Chamberlain returns : That London has time out of mind been a corporation, and consists of several societies, guilds, and fraternities of freemen of the City, and that no person could ever be a freeman of the City till he was a member of one of those fraternities. That time out of mind there has been a Company called the Joiners' Company. Then he returns a power to make byelaws, and that 19th October, 6 William and Mary, a bye-law was made reciting that several persons not free of the Joiners' Company had exercised the trade of a joiner in an unskilful and fraudulent manner, which could not be redressed whilst such persons were not under the orders and regulations of the Company, therefore it enacts that no person shall use that trade who is not free of the Company, under the penalty of 10l. That the plaintiff did exercise the trade of joiner, and that at the time of his being presented to the Chamberlain he was not free of the Joiners' Company, and therefore he does not admit him to the freedom of the City. Upon this return the question was, whether this bye-law to oblige a member of one Company to be admitted in another Company, was good or not? And to prove it naught, the case of Robinson v. Groscourt 5 Mod. 104 was relied on, where a byelaw to oblige all persons using music and dancing to be free of the Company of Musicians was held void; and even there it did not appear that the person was free of any other Company, as it does in this case. On the other hand it was said, that this was a very reasonable bye law, since it tended to prevent frauds in trade. And of that opinion was the Court, it being properest for such a person to be under the regulation of that Company who understand the trade best. That the case of Robinson v. Groscourt, was adjudged upon the foot of a dancing master's not being a trader; and there was no inconvenience to an honest man, in being free of this Company, rather than another. But the Chief Justice stated a difficulty, whether the plaintiff having served a merchant taylor, could oblige the Joiners' Company to admit him, it not being so stated in the return; and without that be taken for granted, the byelaw will be void. To which it was answered by Fortescue Justice: That the imposing the penalty of 10l. for not taking up his freedom, is the strongest implication that they are bound to grant it. Per cui ulterius concilium. It was argued a second time in last Trinity Term by Mr. Reeve and the Solicitor General, much to the effect of the former argument. And now this term Raymond Chief Justice delivered the resolution of the court: We are all of opinion that this is a good byelaw, being made in regulation of trade, and to prevent fraud and unskilfulness, of which none but a Company that exercise the same trade can be judges. This does not take away his right to his freedom, but only his election of what Company he shall be free; it is only to direct him to go to the proper Company. As to the objection, that it does not appear the Joiners' Company are bound to admit him, we are all of opinion that it being said he shall take up his freedom in that Company under the penalty of 10l. he will be entitled to have a mandamus to prevent a forfeiture. Per curiam. The return must be allowed." The plaintiff was a joiner, and was not free of the Joiners' Company, and he said that no one could be admitted a freeman of the City until he was a freeman of one of the City Companies, and it was held that was a good return ?—"Kyd on Corporations" says, "that the gilda mercatoria in England was something distinct from the corporate body vested with the local government of the place, receives confirmation from the actual state of the Royal Boroughs in Scotland. In most of these, there are several incorporated companies of trades, and a gildry, which is also an incorporated company, but distinct from the others, and the magistracy of the town is composed of members partly taken from the gildry and partly from the trades."
3014. Are you aware that the Goldsmiths' Company made a return to the House of Commons in 1774 ?—No, I am not. At the present moment I have forgotten it at all events, if I have seen it.
3015. I suppose such a return will be in the archives of your Company?—No doubt we should find it in the records.
3016. With respect to Plumbe's case, I see you contest the construction which I put upon it ?—It is exactly the reverse of the construction which you have put upon it.
3017. Have you got the report of the case?—I have. I may say that Alderman Plumbe's case was tried by a special commission. I believe that is the reason why it is not reported in the general reports. It was a special commission which was usually issued to try writs of error from the Lord Mayor's court, and it was composed of five judges. One of the judges, I think, had retired before the judgment was given. The judgment in the case was delivered by Lord Chief Justice De Grey and the three other judges, and it was unanimous. It reversed the verdict of the Lord Mayor's court in 1773, and decided that the warden of the Goldsmiths' Company was perfectly justified in disobeying the precept.
3018. Have you got a copy of the report ?—I was going to say that I applied to the town clerk to ascertain from him whether he had got a copy. He said he had not got the proceedings, but that there was a book in the Guildhall library, which had been printed by order of the Court of Common Council, which contained a report of the judgments of the four judges, and therefore I take it from that that it must have been perfectly authentic.
3019. Perhaps I may be permitted to say this. I see that in this statement you impeach what Mr. Beal said about it ?—Most decidedly.
3020. You are not aware that Mr. Beal presented that book to the Corporation, are you ?—If he did, all I can say is this; that what I thought he had perhaps stated inadvertently, he must have actually misrepresented to his own knowledge.
3021. That is to say, if your construction of this case is correct ?—I think you had better ascertain whether it is correct to say that Mr. Beal presented that book to the Guildhall library; I very much doubt it.
3022. Very well. You have not set out any part of Lord Chief Justice De Grey's judgment which proves what you state ?—Indeed I have.
3023. There is nothing in the judgment of any one of those judges which says that the Companies are not bound to attend to the precepts of the Lord Mayor? —In the report of the judgment it is distinctly stated.
3024. Allow me to read from Lord Chief Justice De Grey's judgment a passage which you have not set out. Your quotation begins, if I may draw your attention to it, in the middle of a sentence. the first part of which sentence is rather material, I will read it to you, "I think a body might possibly suppose a case in which the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and livery as such, might have some business upon which they might think proper to address the Crown, and if they did so, if such precept was issued to the warden, it would be his duty to obey it, there it would appear to be, I cannot say a corporate purpose, but a legal business to be transacted legally, and if a warden was to disobey such an order as that, he would offend as warden, there is no doubt about that, but the question is, what is to be done where it appears the subject of their meeting is not the particular business of that body, nor even the particular business of the City, but relates to supposed national grievances, but it has nothing to do with the corporate capacity of the City . . . . consequently it is as clear as the sun they could not meet upon this subject corporaliter " ?—I perfectly agree with that, because it is quite clear that if the Lord Mayor had desired the Warden of the Company to summon the livery for an election purpose, he would have been bound to attend to the precept. But what the Lord Chief Justice does say is this, these are his very words : "Thus far we know."
3025–6. That is the middle of the sentence. Will you begin the sentence, if you please ?—Yes, I am perfectly willing to begin the sentence if the Lord Chief Justice will allow me. The sentence is a somewhat long one, "But I never did hear nor can I find and I should be very sorry to find that I am bound to take judicial notice which of these companies are for instance incorporated, and which not, because I have no means of knowing which of them have a livery and which not; the sub-division of their powers among themselves; in whom in each subordinate Company the power of making laws to regulate their own Company lies; the authority of the Masters, Wardens, and Assistants, these properly make no part of the customs of the City of London, because, 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 action that they came now to bear the relation they do to these companies as livery. The livery are not formed out of their corporate body, some of them are supposed to have existed immemorially. They are not created by the King, but if it was a grant from the King, they are not essential to the constitution, but might exist independently of it, therefore, 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, but a subordinate, detached, and independent body I mean independent with regard to the original institutions." Now, I put to you the proposition as to the decision in this case, as I understand it; the warden was disfranchised by the Mayor's Court in 1773 ?—By a verdict in the Mayor's Court.
3027. And that was upheld afterwards. Then they went to the Court which sat in Serjeants' Inn, where there were four judges, Ashurst, Aston, Smythe, and De Grey ?—I am not aware that they went to Serjeants' Inn.
3028. That is where they sat?—It is not stated so in that book; it is called the Court of St. Martin's le Grande.
3029. That is the name of the Court?—I know this, that it was a Special Commission.
3030. That Court reversed the sentence of disfranchisement ?—Yes, certainly.
3031. Are you aware that that Court did it upon the ground that the precept which was sent to the warden was not within his corporate duty ?—No, it was not simply upon that ground. But that is not what you said. You state here in your book, " And although now only called together for election purposes, there appears but little doubt but that it might be convened for other business." That is what you said after having stated that the Companies are an integral part of the corporation of the City, and this is your note: "This would seem to have been finally settled "; finally settled mind you, " in the case of the trial of the refractory Companies in 1773, when the warden of the Goldsmiths' Company was successfully prosecuted in the Mayor's Court for inattention to a summons to Common Hall on other than election business." So that in point of fact that which you state is directly the reverse of what is true; it was not finally settled.
3032. But I am drawing your attention to what Lord Justice De Grey himself says, that for corporate purposes it would be called together ?—That was not the effect of the decision.
3033. We will have the decision in. I have nothing more to say about that. I think nothing is more clear. As a matter of history, are you aware that the Companies were called together by the Lord Mayor for other than election purposes in a number of years, subsequent to this decision ?—I have no doubt that it is possible that they may have been; but I do know this, that the Goldsmiths' Company passed a resolution, immediately after this case was decided, which was to this effect: That for the future the wardens of the Company should not obey any precept received from Guildhall for any other purpose excepting for election purposes, unless the matter were brought before the Court of Assistants, and they were permitted to do so; and I do know this also, that from that time to this we have never obeyed a precept of that sort.
3034. Did not you obey the precept of the Lord Mayor in 1872 when a committee was appointed to correspond with committees of counties to obtain a more equal representation of the people ?—I feel satisfied we did not, because, following the Resolution passed in the year 1775, I found that there was no instance in which the wardens had thought it right to consult the Court of Assistants generally as to whether they should obey a precept for summoning the Livery or not.
3035. In your statement, page 3, you set out as against one of my propositions an Act of the Common Council of November 4th, 1651. Are you aware that that Act of the Common Council was never acted upon, and that in the following year the Lord Mayor issued his precept, as usual, for the livery to assemble ? —I am not aware of it.
3036. You would like to know the authority from which I am quoting, I may tell you that it is from a report to the Common Council presented on the 19th December, 1833, by a Committee appointed to consider the expediency of applying to the Legislature for the repeal of 11 Geo. I. c. 18, for regulating elections within the city. They say with reference to this Act, which you quote as of importance, "This ordinance was ordered to be printed and a copy to be sent to the Common Council of every ward, and it has never been repeated, but it does not appear to have been acted upon, for in the following year the Lord Mayor issued his precept as usual for the Livery to assemble for the elections." Now I wish to ask you a question or two as to the occupations of the Court of Assistants; I have a list here, and should like to ask you whether it is right. Mr. Hayter is a private gentleman, and Mr. Banbury a banker ?—Mr. Hayter is a retired silversmith; he and his father before him were manufacturing silversmiths.
3037. This list is supplied by Mr. Watherston ?—I daresay.
3038. It has been sent to me, and I am just asking you about it. He says, as a fact, that Mr. Hayter was never in the trade at all, is that true ?—No, it is not.
3039. Mr. Banbury is a banker ?—Mr. Banbury is a banker.
3040. Mr. Watherston is a goldsmith by servitude? —I think he was admitted by servitude.
3041. That is the gentleman with whom you seem to have some difference. Mr. Gadesden is a sugar baker ?—He is not now; that was his business at one time; he is, except that he is a Director of the London and Westminster Bank, retired from business.
3042. Mr. Gray is a commission agent, is he not? —Mr. Gray was formerly an exporter of plate and plated wares, and has all his life been well acquainted with the manufacture of plate.
3043. Mr. Cattley is a Russian merchant, is he not? —He has retired from business.
3044. And Mr. Wilson is in the silk trade ?—Mr. Wilson was never in any business at all.
3045. Mr. Matthey is an assayer ?—Mr. Matthey is an assayer, metallurgist, and manufacturer of the precious metals.
3046. Mr. Brand is a merchant ?—Mr. Brand is a merchant, a member of the firm of Harvey, Brand, and Co.
3047. Sir Thomas Gabriel is in the timber trade ?— Sir Thomas Gabriel is in the timber trade.
3048. Mr. Pixley, a bullion broker ?—Mr. Pixley is a bullion broker.
3049. Sir Frederick Bramwell a civil engineer, Mr. Copeland a porcelain manufacturer, Mr. Norbury a stockbroker, Mr. Fleming a merchant, Mr. Thomas a retail silversmith and dealer in old plate ?—I do not think you could say that he is a dealer in old plate; Mr. Thomas's shop in Bond Street is very well known.
3050. It is not a term of reprobation surely ?—He is one of the leading men in the business.
3051. I do not suppose it is intended to use that expression offensively. Mr. Holland is in the linen trade; Mr. Page is a provision dealer ?—He is a merchant.
3052. Mr. Smith manufacturing silversmith, Mr. Trotter a stockbroker, Mr. Lambert a retail silversmith and dealer in second hand plate, Mr. Lucas a builder ?—Mr. Lucas is more than a builder, he is the great contractor.
3053. Mr. Hoare a banker, Mr. Pym a banker and a member of Coutts'?—Yes, a partner in the firm of Coutts & Co.
3054. (To Mr. Walter Prideaux, junior.) Mr. Burt desired to put to you a question about the plate, but he has had to go away. The question is with respect to Messrs. Fry and some Indian plate. Are these the facts of that case. On the 19th of September, 1881, the writer of the letters I have here says, "I paid the sum of 24l. 9s. for Customs Duty on 326 ounces of silver plate ex Peshawur from Bombay on the 28th of September, 1881, in conjunction with Messrs. Fry and Company. I sent the plate to the Goldsmiths' Hall to be assayed and stamped as required by law before the plate is sold. On the 5th October, 1881, I was informed that the same was under standard, and must be broken up. I forthwith made application to the wardens of the Hall that the silver might be exported under bond, but the application was refused, and on the 22nd October the plate was returned broken up. I was also informed that the duty could not be repaid by the Goldsmiths' Hall authorities, and that I must apply to the Customs to whom I had paid it. At the same time I was furnished with a certificate that the silver had been broken up. On the 31st October, 1881, I petitioned the Board of Customs for a return of the duty, and placed the above-mentioned certificate before them. They replied that " they could not 'return the duty, because the plate had been taken 'out of the charge of the officers of their department.' I then petitioned the Honourable Board of Inland Revenue, and on the 10th February, 1882, received notice that the Lords of the Treasury sanctioned the repayment of the duty 'on the condition that the 'officers of the Customs who examined the plate on its importation were satisfied as to its identity.' In reply, I addressed the Honourable Board of Customs, showing that the plate had been entirely smashed, not a handle, foot, or body left whole, and that identification was in the documents only." And he wishes attention directed to these points; he says, "the loss actually incurred was about 100l., as the goods were 'finished;' had they been of English manufacture they would have been sent to the Hall in the rough state, and, if broken up, the loss would not have amounted to one half that sum." Then he says, the duty was returned," and he says, "no method exists whereby an importer can get a return of the duty in the simple manner accorded to the English manufacturer." Then he says in a subsequent letter : I did all in my power to prevent the plate being broken. I offered a bond for double the value of the plate, and applied that it might be repacked in the Hall;" and then he says, "I further pointed out that the intention of the law was that no plate of inferior quality should be sold in England, and that if my request were entertained such intention would be fully carried out. The reply was, that the law requiring all plate below standard to be smashed applied equally to manufacturers and importers.'" Then he submits, that "when those laws were passed, the importation of silver plate was probably non-existent" ?—As the letter has been read to the Commission. I should like to mention this fact. Mr. Fry, who, I presume, writes this letter, is not a silversmith at all, he is a mere commission agent.
3055. The letter is written by Mr. Wood ?—I was not aware of that, but it makes no difference; Mr. Wood is not a silversmith, and his statement is very inaccurate.
3056. (Chairman.) That makes no matter it seems to me; a gentleman has a right to sell plate if he sells honestly, and if he brings to your hall plate below the standard you find out that it is below the standard and under the Act of Parliament you break it up. That is hard upon him, but if it was below the standard that was not your fault?—I would make this one remark, when Mr. Fry came to Goldsmiths' Hall and informed me that there was this large parcel of plate at the customs from India, knowing the silver from India to be very much below the standard, I strongly advised him on two occasions to have a private assay made before he sent the plate to the hall, telling him that we should have no alternative but to break it up if he sent it, and it proved to be below the standard. He disregarded that warning, told me that the plate had been made expressly for importation to pass the hall, that he was quite sure it would be all right, and he persisted in sending it. When we came to assay the plate, instead of its being made of rupee silver as he states (which is about two pennyweights worse than the British standard) there was no single article in the package less than 7½ pennyweights worse, and the great bulk was as much as 15 pennyweights worse than the British standard, so that it was not even made of rupee silver. I merely wish to mention this, as he was twice warned and recommended to have a private assay.
3057. (Mr. Firth.) The question Mr. Burt would have put would have been this : is that a state of things that is calculated to benefit or restrict the trade ? —I think as long as the British manufacturer is obliged to send his plate to be marked up to a certain standard it would be very hard upon him if a foreigner could import such rubbish as that, which was 15 pennyweights worse than the British standard.
3058. (Chairman.) I do not want to argue that out, the difference is that it has not got your mark upon it, That is a very obvious difference. The buyer who buys without your mark knows that he is buying something without your mark upon it ?—The British manufacturer cannot sell without his plate having our mark upon it.