Preface to Volume II.
In issuing the concluding volume of this work, the completion of which has
been unavoidably delayed, I would emphasize one sentence in the preface
to the former volume, to which I desire to draw attention and which I
now repeat in substance: Anyone who may propose to make use of this work
for purposes of reference or research is requested to be careful to supplement and correct
the text where necessary by the aid of the Addenda and Corrigenda. (See vol. I.,
pp. 225–234, 409–422: vol II., pp. 217–235.)
I have already acknowledged my indebtedness to the many gentlemen who have
given me valuable information and co-operation, to whom I must add the present Clerks
of the Drapers' and Haberdashers' Companies respectively, Mr. E. H. Pooley and
Mr. J. Eagleton, who have very kindly, when applied to, afforded similar aid to that
which I received from their predecessors.
Dr. Reginald Sharpe, Records Clerk at Guildhall, and Mr. Bernard Kettle, the
City Librarian, have continued their generous help in making notes and looking up
references for me in response to requests which, I fear, have been preferred with
unconscionable frequency and have often entailed heavier demands on their time and
attention than the mere fact of being engaged in work for the Corporation of London,
which they represent in their several departments, justified me in making.
Without the consciousness that I could never—'well, hardly ever'—wear out
the patience and disturb the equanimity which are marked characteristics of the longsuffering and learned Editor of the Husting Wills and Calendars of Letter Books A to L,
to whose labours every future student of the civic history of London will necessarily be
indebted in a pre-eminent degree, I could neither have undertaken nor continued to
carry on the researches of which these volumes are the outcome.
Mr. Kettle, as Librarian, has displayed, if it be possible, even more readiness to
facilitate my labours by sharing them, than when he was the lieutenant successively of his
two predecessors, to whom I tendered my grateful acknowledgments in the preceding
volume. His interest in the progress of the work and his eagerness to render it as
comprehensive and as accurate as possible could hardly have been exceeded, had he been
himself the author.
In now offering this inadequate expression of my sense of the Librarian's
unfailing courtesy and unstinted help, I must not forget to associate with him his
colleagues in the department, Mr. H. C. Welch and Mr. J. L. Douthwaite, the latter of
whom, in particular, has given me much valuable personal attention on occasions
when the Librarian has been absent on holiday or pre-occupied with Committee work
or other business.
My researches have also been much facilitated from time to time by the officials at
the Public Record Office, the British Museum and the Principal Probate Registry, and I
feel bound to record my special indebtedness to the late Mr. G. K. Fortescue, Keeper of
the Printed Books and to Mr. I. H. Jeayes, Assistant Keeper of MSS. at the British
Museum for their assistance on many occasions; also my thanks are due to the
Rev. Claud Jenkins, Librarian at Lambeth Palace, Rev. W. P. Besley, Librarian of
St. Paul's Cathedral, and to the Rev. Canon Pearce.
In the Historical Introduction, which I reserved for this volume instead of its
more naturally appropriate position, I have endeavoured to put together various notes
and comments on points of interest, which the general subject of the work suggested. I am
conscious that they may justly incur the criticism of being in some measure disjointed and
'scrappy,' and they are very far indeed from being exhaustive. But to summarise the
history of the Aldermen of London in all its aspects would require a separate treatise.
I am conscious of many defects in the execution of the work which I, perhaps, too
rashly undertook: competent critics may well detect others, for parental eyes are not
the quickest to discover the blemishes in the offspring. I am conscious, too, how little
claim so strict a censor of the writings of others can put forward for a lenient judgment
of his own defects. I can only plead in extenuation of any errors that I have overlooked
that I have taken some pains to detect them, and have bestowed more care on the
verification of my facts and dates than is apparent on the part of writers of greater
pretensions and in works of more serious importance than mine can claim to be.
Wherever I have discovered errors too late for correction in the original text
I have supplied emendations at the pages indicated above. My thanks are due to
Mr. Kemp (of the firm of Messrs. Eden Fisher & Co., Ltd.), who has superintended the
printing of these volumes, for his valuable co-operation in the work of correction and
for the patience and careful consideration with which he has dealt with, I fear, some
very troublesome and irritating 'copy.'
This work would, perhaps, to other eyes as well as to my own, have appeared more
complete had it contained lists of Mayors, Lord Mayors and Sheriffs of the City. But
inasmuch as for ordinary practical purposes these are obtainable from many (in the
main) trustworthy sources, I have thought it hardly worth while to make this addition,
unless on such a scale as would admit of including details, such as a record of occasions
on which persons elected to those offices,—which in the case of the Sheriffs are very
numerous,—did not consent to serve, the numbers polled at contested elections, the
names of Aldermen returned by the Livery at the Annual Mayoral elections but not
chosen by the Court, and other interesting addenda which have never been printed in a
collected form. For these the space at my disposal would have been inadequate. I hope,
however, in the near future to include these matters, together with extensively annotated
lists of the holders of other civic offices and positions, both existent and obsolete, for
which my collections are now practically complete, in a third but quite independent
I have in various places in the course of these volumes called attention to errors
in the works of writers who have preceded me. I have done so in no captious spirit,
but purely from the point of view of one who regards accuracy of fact and statement
as the first requisite of a writer on historical and biographical subjects, especially in
standard books of reference. That I have not been actuated by any motives of a personal
character should be apparent from the fact that I have written in commendatory terms
of some portions of the work of authors in whom I have found much to criticise
adversely, and that I have not hesitated to indicate (e.g.) some indubitable lapses of the
pen or of memory, as well as occasional inferences in which I am unable to concur with
him, occurring in the works of our greatest living authority on the subjects of which they
treat, whom, though 'Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,' I regard as my
'guide, philosopher and friend' throughout my studies of London civic history.
The higher the authority of any writer, whatever be his subject, the greater the
necessity for correcting his errors, which others are sure to copy—as I have shown by
a striking example on page liv. of this volume.
It is only right that I should add that, although this work is printed for and is
the property of the Corporation of London, I have had an entirely free hand in its
composition, and while I am, of course, responsible alike for the accuracy or inaccuracy
of its statements of fact and date, I am also solely responsible for any comments and
obiter dicta with which I have endeavoured here and there to lighten what are
necessarily, as is the case with all works of this class, somewhat dull pages. It may
be that the views I hold on various matters of historical, political or social interest may
not be in accordance with those of some of my readers, and the expression of them
may be out of harmony with their reasoned opinions or inherited prejudices. I can,
however, affirm with confidence that in neither text nor comment have I consciously
misstated or distorted any historical fact, and my opinions, whatever be their value, on
matters relating to English history and kindred subjects are at least the results of more
than half a century's continuous and careful study, involving a not very limited rauge
I am only surprised that the special subject of this book has not been dealt with
before, except in a fragmentary manner and on a limited scale. If the result of my
labours in its compilation is to afford some little assistance to any historical researchers
in the future, I shall be amply rewarded. It may be that the presence of the material
herein supplied may stimulate some present or future Aldermen to follow with regard to
their own Wards the excellent example which Sir John Baddeley has set in the case of
his municipal 'first love.' That is a 'consummation devoutly to be wished.'
December 20th, 1912.