Memorial XXXVII
Charters of the Company (1326-1465)

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Centre for Metropolitan History

Publication

Author

C. M. Clode (editor)

Year published

1875

Pages

188-198

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'Memorial XXXVII: Charters of the Company (1326-1465)', Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors: Of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London (1875), pp. 188-198. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=64135 Date accessed: 24 November 2014.


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XXXVII. CHARTER OF THE MERCHANT TAYLORS' COMPANY. (fn. 1)

(THE EIGHTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF HENRY VII.)

Recitals.

Henry 7 has inspected the Charter of Edw. 4.

Edward 4 has inspected the Charter of Hen. 6.

Who had inspected the letters of his grandfather Henry 4.

Who had inspected the letters of Richard 2.

1. The King, to all to whom, &c., greeting, We have inspected letters patent of Edward IV., of most noble memory, late of England, &c., made in these words: Edward, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come, greeting; we have inspected letters patent of the Lord Henry VI., in deed and not of right late King of England, among other things made in these words, Henry, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come greeting; we have inspected letters patent of the Lord Henry, late King of England, our grandfather, made in these words, Henry, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come, greeting; we have inspected letters patent of Lord Richard II., after the conquest late King of England, made in these words, Richard, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come,

Who had inspected the letters of his grandfather Edw. 3.

Who had inspected his own letters, as follows:

greeting; we have inspected letters patent of the Lord Edward, our grandfather, late King of England, in these words, Edward, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all to whom these present letters shall come, greeting; we have inspected our letters patent which we lately caused to be made under the seal which we then used in England, in these words:—

Edward the 3rd's Charter, 10th March 1326.

2. Edward by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, to all to whom these present letters shall come, greeting; the Taylors and Linen Armourers of our City of London, have besought us, by their Petition presented to us and our Council in our present Parliament, that as they and their predecessors of the same Misteries, in the City aforesaid, had always been accustomed hitherto from the time whereof there is no memory, to have and hold their Guild within the City aforesaid once a year, and in the same Guild to govern their Misteries, and to settle the state of their servants of the same Misteries, and to correct and amend the defects thereof, as well for the common weal of the men of the said City, as of those resorting thither and now for some time all those who have called themselves of the said Misteries, as well foreigners as others, have taken shops in the City aforesaid at their pleasure, and used the said Misteries, and through such irregularities of foreigners and their defects continuing uncorrected, a very many disadvantages have oftentimes occurred as well to many of the said City as to others, to the disgrace of the honest men of the said Misteries, we would ratify the said Guild, and confirm the same to the men of the said Misteries dwelling in the said City, to be holden by them and their successors of the same Misteries for ever, we, assenting to their petition in this behalf, do by the tenor of these presents accept and ratify the aforesaid Guild, willing and granting for us and our heirs that the men of the Misteries aforesaid in the said City aforesaid, and their successors, shall have and hold their Guild once a year, as it hath been anciently accustomed to be done, and in the same to settle and govern (fn. 2) their Misteries and the defaults of their servants aforesaid, by view of the Mayor of the City aforesaid for the time being, or of any one whom he shall have for that purpose appointed in his place, and to correct and amend the same by the more honest and sufficient men of the said Misteries, as may appear more advantageous for the commonalty of our people, and that no one shall hold a counter or shop of the said Misteries within the liberty of the city aforesaid, unless he be of the Freedom of that City, nor shall any one be admitted to the said Freedom unless it shall be testified by the honest and lawful men of the said Misteries that he is honest, faithful and fit for the same; in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent, witness ourself at Westminster the 10th day of March in the first year of our reign.

Exemplification Feb. 6, 15th year of the reign in England, and France the second.

3. We have also caused the tenor of our aforesaid letters to be exemplified under the seal which we now use in England, in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent, witness ourself at Langele the 6th day of February, in the 15th year of our reign of England, and of France the 2nd.

Richard the 2nd's Charter, 30th July 1390. Confirmation.

4. We, of our especial grace, ratifying and approving of all the aforesaid confirmation, intent and grant of our aforesaid grandfather, and all and singular other things in his said letters patent contained, and also the good customs touching the aforesaid Guild, which in the said letters patent are not expressed, which they have used and enjoyed in the aforesaid city, from time whereof there is no memory, do for us and our heirs as much as in us is by tenor of these presents, grant and confirm all and singular the premises to the aforesaid Taylors and Linen Armourers and their successors for ever.

Grant of other priviledges.

The Fraternity to have and make one Master and four Wardens, from among themselves, as often as they shall please or it shall be needful.; The said Master and Wardens may hold Assemblies, and have a feast on St. John's day, and to make Ordinances among themselves, as to them shall seem most necessary for the better governance of the Fraternity.

5. And moreover, of our more abundant grace, we have for us, our heirs and successors, as much as in us, is granted and given licence to the aforesaid Taylors and Linen Armourers, that they and their successors shall, in honour of St. John the Baptist, be able to have, hold and exercise the aforesaid Guild and Fraternity of the said Taylors and Linen Armourers, and of other persons whom they may be willing to receive into the aforesaid Fraternity, and shall be able to elect, have and make one Master and four Wardens from among themselves as often as they shall please, or it shall be needful for the governance and keeping and rule of the Fraternity aforesaid

for ever, in manner as they shall think best; and that the said Master and Wardens may give one livery (fn. 3) of a garment of one suit among the brothers and sisters of the said Fraternity in every year, and also may cause meetings and assemblies in places of the said City belonging to them, and there to hold and keep in an honest manner their feast of meat and drink on the said feast day of St. John the Baptist, and there to make ordinances among themselves as shall seem to them most necessary and fit for the better government of the Fraternity aforesaid for ever, as they have heretofore for a long time been accustomed to do; in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent: witness ourself at Nottingham, the 30th day of July, in the 14th year of our reign.

Henry 4th's Charter, 2nd August 1407.

6. We, therefore, ratifying and approving the grants and confirmations aforesaid, and all and everything in the letters aforesaid contained, do as much as is for us and our heirs accept, approve and of our especial grace do grant and confirm the same to our well-beloved Thomas Sutton, the now Master, and John Wenlock, Thomas Wylby, Adam Fereby, and Ralph Shoklach, the now Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, as the letters aforesaid reasonably testify.

That the Master and Wardens and the said Fraternity may be a perpetual Corporation by the name of the Fraternity of Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, London.Incorporation of the Master and Wardens and the Fraternity, as one body.; To have a Common Seal, and may sue and be sued by the above name.

7. And further, of our more abundant grace, and at the petition of the aforesaid now Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, we do will and grant for us and our heirs as much as in us is, that the said Master and Wardens and their successor may be perpetual and capable, and the said Fraternity may be of itself a sound perpetual and corporate Fraternity; and that the said Fraternity shall from henceforth be called and named The Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London; and the said Master and Wardens shall from henceforth be called and named The Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London, and we do incorporate them, the said Master and Wardens and their successors, and also the Fraternity aforesaid, to continue for ever, and we do make them as one body, and do declare, accept and approve of them as one body; and also we do hold them as one body, and that they shall have a common seal, and also that they shall be impleaded and implead others by the name of The Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London, for ever.

The said Master and Wardens to hold lands, heretofore granted by the above, or any other name.

To the use of the Company or Fraternity.

8. And moreover, we have, for us and our said heirs, as much as in us is, granted to the said now Master and Wardens, that they may have and hold to them and their successors aforesaid, all lands, tenements, annuities and other possessions whatsoever heretofore acquired by them or their predecessors, or by any other persons whomsoever, by the name of the Taylors and Linen Armourers, or by the name of the Fraternity, or by the name of the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, or by the name of the Master and Wardens and Brothers and Sisters of the Guild and Fraternity of St. John the Baptist of London, or by the name of the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist of London, or by any other name whatsoever, to the use of the Taylors and Linen Armourers or Fraternity, and shall enjoy the same for ever, without the occasion, impeachment or hindrance of us or our heirs, the justices, escheators, sheriffs or other bailiffs, or ministers of us or our heirs whatsoever; and we do ratify and confirm to the said now Master and Wardens and their successors, their possession of the lands, tenements, annuities and other possessions aforesaid for ever, the statute against putting lands and tenements in mortmain, or any forfeiture to us or our progenitors or predecessors in this behalf incurred, or because we are not informed thereof or any other statute or ordinance made to the contrary notwithstanding; in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent: witness ourself at Westminster, the 2nd day of August, in the 9th year of our reign.

Henry 6th's Charter, 24th February 1439, confirms to the then Master and Wardens, their rights, &c.

As before used.

9. We, therefore, ratifying and approving the aforesaid letters of such unrevoked liberties and franchises, and all and every thing therein contained, do for us and our heirs, as much as in us is, by the advice and assent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, in our Parliament holden at Westminster in the first year of our reign, approve and by tenor of these presents confirm the same to our wellbeloved John Locock, the now Master, and Nicholas Blome, John Stone, Thomas White and William Knotte, the now Wardens of the Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in our said City of London, and their successors, as the letters aforesaid reasonably testify, and as the said Master and Wardens ought to use the same, and they and their predecessors have always hitherto been accustomed reasonably to use and enjoy the said liberties and franchises from the time of the making of the letters aforesaid.

Further powers to make full search in and concerning certain defects and abuses in the trade.

10. And further of our more abundant grace, we have granted for us and our heirs to the aforesaid John Locock, the now Master, and to the said Nicholas, John, Thomas and William, the now Wardens of the said Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers, and their successors for ever, that they and their successors, the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid for the time being, may have and make full search in and concerning the misteries aforesaid, and concerning all those persons who are or may be privileged with the Taylors and Linen Armourers within our City of London and the suburbs thereof, and concerning such Misteries which they or any of them use or heretofore have or hath used, and may correct and reform all defects found among them according to their discretions, by the survey of the Mayor of our said City for the time being, and that no other persons or person shall in any manner make any search in and concerning the persons or Misteries aforesaid, but only the aforesaid Mayor or his deputies privileged of the aforesaid Misteries of Taylors or Linen Armourers, and in other way to be elected in default of the Master and Wardens aforesaid (if any shall be found in the same), in witness whereof we have caused these letters to be made patent: witness ourself at Redyng, the 24th day of February, in the 18th year of our reign. (fn. 4)

Edward the 4th's Charter, 28th August 1465.

Confirmation agreeably to the former Charter.

11. And now we, at the humble petition of our well-beloved John Stodard, the now Master, and Gilbert Kays, William Parker, John Swan and Robert Walthow, the now Wardens of the said Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John, in the City of London, ratifying and approving all and singular the grants and confirmations aforesaid, and also the aforesaid letters, and all and everything in the said letters contained, do for us our heirs and successors, as much as in us is, accept, approve, and of our especial grace, ratify and confirm to the aforesaid now Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, as the aforesaid letters reasonably testify; in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent: witness ourself at Westminster, the 28th day of August, in the fifth year of our reign.

Henry the 7th's Charter, 5th January 1502.

Confirms to the then Master and Wardens agreeably to the former Charters, and as they ought and are accustomed to use the same.

12. We, therefore, ratifying and approving the aforesaid letters of such unrevoked liberties and franchises, and all and everything therein contained, do for us, our heirs and successors, as much as in us is, by the advice and consent of the Lord's Spiritual and Temporal (fn. 5) in our Parliament holden at Westminster, in the first year of our reign, approve, and by the tenor of these presents confirm the same to our well-beloved John Locock, the now Master, and Nicholas Blome, John Stone, Thomas White and William Knotte, the now Wardens of the Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in our said City of London, and their successors, as the aforesaid letters reasonably testify, and as the said Master and Wardens ought and are accustomed to use the same, and they and their predecessors have always hitherto been accustomed to use and enjoy the said liberties and franchises from the time of the making of the aforesaid letters, &c. We, therefore, ratifying and approving all the aforesaid letters patent of such liberties and franchises, and all and everything in the same contained, do for us, our heirs and successors. as much as in us is, approve, and by the tenor of these presents, confirm the same to our well-beloved Richard Smith, the now Master, Hugh Acton, William Batyson, John Skevington and James Moncestre, the now Wardens of the Fraternity of Taylors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in our said City of London, and their successors, as the aforesaid letters reasonably testify, and as the said Master and Wardens ought to use the same, and they and their predecessors have always hitherto been accustomed reasonably to use and enjoy the said liberties and franchises from the time of the making of the aforesaid letters.

Name of incorporation changed to the Master and Wardens of Merchant Tailors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, London.

13. And moreover, as we have been informed, that the men of the Misteries aforesaid, in the City aforesaid, or at least the sounder part of them, have from time whereof the memory of man is not to the contrary, and daily do use, occupy and exercise in all quarters and kingdoms of the world, all and every kinds of merchandizes, to the renown, honour and benefit of our kingdom and subjects, and the great advantage of us and our progenitors formerly kings of England; and that the same men of the said Misteries have during the whole time aforesaid used, occupied and exercised the buying and selling of all and every wares and merchandizes whatsoever, and especially woollen cloths, as well wholesale as retail, throughout our whole realm of England, and particularly with our City aforesaid and the suburbs thereof, we of our especial grace, and of our certain knowledge and mere motion, have transferred and changed, and do transfer and change, the said Guild and Fraternity in the name of the Guild of Merchant (fn. 6) Tailors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London, and the said Master and Wardens of the said Guild or Fraternity, and their successors, into the name of the Master and Wardens of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London; and do from henceforth incorporate the aforesaid Guild by the name of the Guild of Merchant Tailors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London; and that the said Master and Wardens of the Guild and Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, by the name of the Master and Wardens of Merchant Tailors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London; and we do by these presents ordain and declare them to be called, accepted and reputed by the said names.

Power to the Master and Wardens to receive all persons into the said Fraternity of whatever trade.

14. And we do by these presents grant to the aforesaid Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, that they shall be able to augment and increase the aforesaid Fraternity, and to hold the said Fraternity of whatsoever persons, natives, whom they may be willing to receive into the same Fraternity, and to retain, have and enjoy, all and singular persons of the said Fraternity, or received into the same Fraternity, or from henceforth to be received into the same, lawfully and freely, without the hindrance or disturbance of any person or persons, of any other Art or Mystery of the City aforesaid.

To hold all lands, &c., and all privileges which they then had, or their predecessors, or the said Fraternity had possessed.

15. And that the said Master or Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, shall have, hold, possess and enjoy to them and their successors, all and all manner of lands and tenements, rents, reversions and services, and other hereditaments and possessions whatsoever and wheresoever, goods and chattels, and also all and all manner of liberties, franchises, privileges and grants which the Master and Wardens of the said Guild or Fraternity of Tailors and Linen Armourers of St. John the Baptist, in our City of London, had at the time of the making of these presents, or they and their predecessors have heretofore had, possessed or held, or were to them or any of them, or to the said Guild or Fraternity heretofore given or granted.

And may purchase, alienate, and receive lands, and plead and be impleaded, by the said last-mentioned name of incorporation.

16. And that the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, by the name of the Master and Wardens of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, in the City of London, may be able to purchase, receive, grant, alienate and lease lands and tenements, goods and chattels, and to plead and be im pleaded, and also to answer and be answered before whatsoever justices and judges in whatsoever courts, and in all actions, real, personal and mixed, and in pleas of assize, novel disseisin, and also in all pleas, suits, plaints, matters and businesses.

Power to the Master and Wardens to make statutes and ordinances for the good and wholesome governance, survey, search, and correction of the mystery aforesaid, and of the men of the said Fraternity, according to the necessity and exigence of the case, so often and whensoever it shall be needful, so that they be not contrary to the laws and customs of England.

17. And that the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors may be able, lawfully and freely to make, ordain and execute, statutes and ordinances for the good and wholesome governance, survey, search and correction of the Misteries aforesaid, and of the men of the said Fraternity and Misteries according to the necessity and exigence of the case, so often and whensoever it shall be needful, without the occasion, impeachment or hindrance of us, our heirs or successors, justices, escheators, sheriffs, coroners, or other the bailiffs or ministers of us, our heirs or successors whatsoever, so that the said statutes and ordinances be not contrary to the laws and customs of our kingdom of England, nor in prejudice of the Mayor of the City of London.

Power to search as to the said Mystery, and the punishment and correction of all natives, strangers and foreigners, using the said trade, for offences relating thereto.; According to the laws of England.

18. Moreover, we do will and grant for us, our heirs and successors, by these presents, that the Masters and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, and their successors, may for ever have, make and exercise, within the City aforesaid, the liberties and suburbs thereof, the full and entire survey, search, governance and correction of all and singular the men of the said Fraternity or Mistery, and also of natives, strangers and foreigners (fn. 7) using the said Misteries, or anything appertaining to the same Misteries in the City aforesaid, and the liberties and suburbs thereof, as well in the making, cutting and working of men's apparel, as howsoever otherwise using or exercising the same Misteries within the City aforesaid, and the liberties and suburbs thereof; and that they may have the correction and punishment of all natives, strangers and foreigners, in and concerning all matters appertaining or heretofore belonging to the said Misteries of the Merchant Taylors, or Taylors and Linen Armourers, for their offences therein, so often and when it shall be needful for the advantage and benefit of our liege people or others whomsoever, so that the correction and punishment of such natives, strangers and foreigners, and every of them so offending in the premises be exercised by the Master and Wardens of the said Fraternity for the time being, according to the laws of England, and the ordinances and statutes therefore made, and the customs of our City of London.

None to use the Mystery within the City, Liberties, and Suburbs thereof unless first admitted by the Master and Wardens.

19. And that no native, stranger nor foreigner, from henceforth do use the said Art or Mistery of the Merchant Taylors, or the Mistery of the Taylors and Linen Armourers, in the working, cutting or making of men's apparel within the said City, the liberties and suburbs thereof, unless he be first admitted thereto by the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid, or by their successors, Master and Wardens of the same Fraternity for the time being.

None to search or interfere with any freeman of the Company.

20. And further we will, and by these our letters do grant to the aforesaid Master and Wardens of the said Fraternity, and their successors, by these presents, that no officer, artificer, merchant, or any other person whomsoever, shall search, nor in any manner presume to search any leige subject of the aforesaid Fraternity of the Merchant Taylors, or the workmen, taylors, or makers of men's apparel within the City aforesaid, the liberties and suburbs thereof, or their goods or wares, woollen cloths, ells and measures, to the said Misteries belonging or appertaining, except only the Master and Wardens of the Fraternity aforesaid for the time being, so that nothing be suffered to the prejudice of the authority of the Mayor of our City of London for the time being, although express mention be not made in these presents of the certainty of the premises or any of them, or of any other gifts or grants heretofore made by us, our progenitors or predecessors, to the aforesaid Master and Wardens, or their successors, by whatsoever names they are called, or any other statute, act, ordinance, proviso, restriction made, published or ordained to the contrary thereof, or of any other thing, cause or matter whatsoever notwithstanding. In witness, &c. Witness the King at Westminster, the 6th day of January, the 18th year of our reign.

Footnotes

1 For discussion on this Charter, see The King v. Attwood, 4 Barn. and Adol., 495. This Charter (after the forfeiture of the City Charters to the King's Bench, in Trinity Term, 1682–3) was surrendered to Charles the Second by the Master and Wardens (the Assistants having previously surrendered their rights and privileges to the Master and Wardens) on the 16th April 1684, and a new Charter issued limiting the Court to 40 members, all being of the Church of England. Subsequently, in 1689, by the 2 William and Mary, c. 8, sec. 12, the original Charters were restored to the Company.
2 See Appendix A (3).
3 The 19 Henry VII., cap. 14, reciting that there were divers Statutes for the punishment of such persons that give or receive liveries, imposed a penalty upon any one giving any livery or sign to any person "other than such as he giveth household wages unto," but a proviso was inserted (sec. 11) that the Act should not extend to any livery to be given (inter alia) by any Serjeant-at-Law or by any executor at the interment of any person for any mourning array, or by Guild, Fraternity, or Craft corporate (Stat. Realm, vol. ii., p. 660). Scarlet and pink were adopted as colours for the livery and clothing of the Company, 25th September 1568, and blue (for gowns) appears to have been asked from the Lord Mayor in October 1624.
4 See the Protest of the Lord Mayor and Corporation against this Charter (p. 242). It was probably to carry out this that the 8th Ordnance was made. The Drapers, in August 1609, are said to have questioned the Company's right to make the search at St. Bartholomew's Fair, but on being reminded of a lawsuit with the Company, and of a usage for 160 years then past, the Drapers appear to have been satisfied (Book B, fol. p. 62). As to the Cost, see A, B, fol. 298 b.
5 "I will not say" (said Mr. Justice Taunton) "that this grant wanting the assent of the Commons is to be looked upon as a Statute, but if not a more binding it is a more solemn and considered instrument than a Charter granted ex mero motu regis." Proclamation, dated Michaelmas Term, the 19th Henry VII., for the Corporation to show cause against this grant was issued, and no cause being shown the grant was made.
6 This change of name was attributed to the interest of Sir William Fitzwilliam, then a Member of the Court (Cavendish Life of Wolsey [1825], p. 245).
7 The oath points to a prohibition against keeping foreigners, and in 1581 (April 18) a Proclamation, or Precept. was put out by the Lord Mayor, begging the Guilds to give quiet usage to the French then visiting England, and to appoint two of their members to see the order obeyed. The French and Dutch tailors who had come over for liberty of conscience appear to have been tolerated by agreement in October (14th) 1608. See p. 544.