Observations which Sir Frederick J. Bramwell and Mr. Prideaux desire to address to the Commissioners on behalf of the Goldsmiths' Company.
Mr. Prideaux desires, in the first place, to refer to the
printed letter addressed by him on behalf of the Goldsmiths' Company to the Commissioners in November
last; he desires either to read that letter to the Commissioners, so that it may be embodied in his evidence,
or that it may be printed as an appendix to his evidence,
and as having been referred to therein by him.
He desires to make a correction at page 31 of the
letter. The case referred to there is the AttorneyGeneral against the Grocers' Company, and not against
the Fishmongers' Company (6 Beavan 520).
Sir Fredrick Bramwell and Mr. Prideaux desire to
refer to the returns made by the Goldsmiths' Company
to the Commissioners in answer to their inquiries.
Those returns they believe to be as full and as complete
as it would be possible for the Company to give to the
inquiries of the Commissioners; and the Goldsmiths'
Company desire, in referring to those returns, to rest
thereon their claim, not only not to be interfered with,
but to a favourable report on the part of the Commissioners upon the state of things regarding the Company
which by those returns is disclosed.
Evidence affecting the Goldsmiths' Company.
The evidence given affecting the Goldsmiths' Company in particular is of the most contemptible kind, a
great deal of it is absolutely untrue, as is shown by the
letter above referred to.
The witnesses against the Livery Companies in
general really appear to be only three persons, viz.:—
Mr. Beal, Mr. Phillips, and Mr. Gilbert.
Mr. Beal is certainly the chief assailant. He speaks
with the greatest confidence, appeals to Magna Charta,
and brings against the Companies charges of malversation of the grossest kind.
All three of the witnesses appear to have been writers
in the public papers, or in periodical publications,
through which they have endeavoured to create an
opinion prejudicial to the Livery Companies.
Mr. Beal says he is the writer of articles signed
"Nemesis," in the "Weekly Dispatch," and "Father
Jean," in the "Echo."
Mr. Phillips says he has written articles which have
appeared in various periodicals upon questions which
in this Commission are being considered, and that he is
the author of letters signed "Censor."
Mr. Gilbert states that he was consulted by some of
the guardians of one of the poorer parishes in the city,
and asked by them to write a pamphlet upon this subject,
and after he had done that he wrote some articles in
the "Contemporary Review," "The Fortnightly," and
"The Nineteenth Century," and a couple of books upon
Is Mr. Beak trustworthy?; His misrepresentations.
With regard to Mr. Beal, we think we may ask the
Commissioners to consider whether he is trustworthy.
We ask them to compare his statements with the returns
which have been made by the several Companies, and
thereby to ascertain whether these statements are
correct. The memorandum sent to the Commissioners
on the part of the Merchant Taylors' Company will show
how entirely he has misrepresented the case of Donkin's
Charity, and he has stated that the site of the Grocers'
Hall is included in Keble's Trust, meaning that it was
subject to the trusts of Keble's will, whereas it will be
found from the returns of the Grocers' Company that
Keble's will was made more than a hundred years later
than the time when the property was acquired by subscriptions from the members of the fraternity. These
are two of many statements which might be referred to
as examples of Mr. Beal's inaccuracies; others will
appear in the course of the observations which I propose
Mr. Philips: Lord Selborborne's correction of.
With regard to his evidence on the subject of the
invalidity of the charters of the Company, and of their
title to their general corporate property, we need only
observe that he has shown himself to be entirely ignorant of the law; and with regard to Mr. Phillips's
opinion thereon, whose opinion, considering that he is
a barrister, might appear to be of some value, we desire
to call attention to his misrepresentation of the effect
of the speech made by Lord Selborne in the House of
Lords in 1877, and to the correction which he received
from the Lord Chancellor, delivered to him on the 21st
June, 1882, in his Lordship's evidence before the Commissioners.
With regard to the evidence of Mr. E. J. Watherston,
a disaffected member of the Goldsmiths' Company, who
has informed you that he desired to disestablish the
Company, we will say no more than what has been
stated in the letter addressed to the Commissioners in
Recommended appropriation of the Corporate Property by
the State or some Public Body
The Commissioners have been asked by these witnesses, either directly or indirectly, to recommend the
appropriation by the State, or the transfer to some person or persons (it does not appear clearly whom) of the
general corporate property of the Company. And this
demand has been made entirely on the assumption that
the general corporate property of the Livery Companies
is impressed with a trust. This is an entirely unfounded
assumption. There is no ground for it whatever; in
proof of which we appeal confidently to the opinion of
the Lord Chancellor, given before the Commissioners,
and to the legal decisions which have been delivered
from time to time on the subject; consequently if the
assumption upon which the demand has been made is
unfounded and fails, the demand itself must fall to the
ground, and it is manifest that the property of the
Companies cannot be dealt with, or the revenues thereof appropriated, except by what would be tantamount
to an act of confiscation.
No endowment from the Crown. Property created by the subscription gifts and devises of members.
The Goldsmiths' Company received none of their
property by way of endowment from the Crown, or
from any person or persons outside the Corporation
itself. Its property was originally created by subscriptions and contributions from amongst the members
themselves, and from gifts and devises made to them
by members of their own body.
Purchase from Edward VI.
From the funds so acquired, a very considerable
portion of their property was purchased from the
Crown, after it had become vested in the Crown by the
statute of the 1st of Edward the Sixth, and there is no
more ground for interfering with it then there would
be for the State to dispossess those landowners whose
ancestors, after the abbey lands became forfeited, received grants of them from the Crown. If there really
be any question as to the right of the Company to deal
as it pleases with its general corporate property, the
Companies claim that the question be decided by a
court of law in the due administration of justice, and
not by the opinion of Messrs. Beal, Phillips, and Gilbert.
Original intention of Foundation.
The original intentions of the founders of the Company are shown by the Company's returns: the protection of their trade or mystery was one of them, but
there can be no doubt that there were other objects of a
charitable and social character. In point of fact it was
(to use the old name) a fraternity, and hospitality and
social enjoyment amongst themselves were amongst its
objects. It is clear that there has been, by an unbroken practice of at least five centuries, an indefinite
and arbitrary, but a substantial, portion of their income
applied to hospitality and entertainments. The expenditure in the year 1367 of 21l. 8s. 9d. upon a single
entertainment, the value of money and the amount of
the then property of the Company being taken into
consideration, is an outlay which may compare with
the costliest entertainment of modern days; and from
that time down to the present such an application of a
part of the Company's income has been habitual and
Upon the subject of the cost of these entertainments
there has been the grossest exaggeration; and, indeed,
the publications of the assailants of the Companies
which preceded the appointment of the Commission are
full of erroneous and prejudicial statements which never
ought to have been made.
'Municipal London: Incorrect statement in.; Especially as to subletting:
We will mention a few of them. In a book entitled
"Municipal London," published in 1876, we find it
stated at page 52 that "in those Companies where
admission to the governing body is a matter of
seniority, it is customary for members to enter their
sons on the rolls of the Company before they are
breeched, so that they may have substantial benefit
from it in their early manhood." This is manifestly
untrue, for no man can be admitted to the freedom and
enrolled a member of any of those Companies until he
is 21 years of age. Then at page 53 it is stated that
"no advantage is, as a rule, now offered to any member
of the particular trade who may wish to become a
member of the Company, but he would be required
to pay as much as anyone else." This is untrue as
regards the Goldsmiths' Company, for a member of the
trade or craft only pays half the sum paid by a person
who does not belong thereto. Then at page 56 it is
stated that "it is a matter of common repute that the
estates of Companies are often leased to members at
absurd rentals, enabling the lucky lessees to make
an excellent profit in re-letting them." Upon this
assertion we wish specially to remark.
The Commissioners, by their interrogatories, asked
us to give an account of our property and of the leases
under which it was held, with the name of the lessee or
occupier, and it was asked whether he was a Member.
After having read the passage last referred to in the
work entitled "Municipal London," we can now understand what induced the Commissioners to make this
inquiry. Now, although we cannot see any objection
to a lease being granted to a member at the market
value of the day, yet, as a matter of fact, in the case of
the Goldsmiths' Company, Mr. Prideaux, in his long
experience, does not know of any case in which any
portion of their property has been leased to a member;
and we believe the same may be said of the other principal Companies. The statement, therefore, is a very
and advantages of membership.
The author, in the same page, speaks of the advantages which a member of the court of a City Company
obtains. He speaks of the salary as if it was one of
a very large amount. Now, a member of the court of
the Goldsmiths' Company, if he be neither a warden
nor a member of the Committee, were he to attend
every court in a year, would receive under 50l.
The writer then says, "in addition to their salaries
they sometimes find a bank note delicately secreted
under their plates." So far as regards the Goldsmiths' Company, this is untrue, and we do not believe
there is any foundation whatever for it as regards any
He then says that relations may be educated in the
Company's schools and then accommodated with exhibitions in the University free of expense.
The Goldsmiths' Company have established 76 exhibitions at the Universities, which are given by competition and not by favour, and I never knew of anyone
who was related to, or connected with, a member of
the Court of the Goldsmiths' Company who held one of
Connexion with trade.
Furthermore, the writer says, at page 68, that "the
Charters of all the Incorporated Companies expressly
state them to be composed of working members of
the different trades or mysteries which they represent." This, again, is incorrect. At the time when
the later charters were granted, a great number of the
members of the fraternities were notoriously persons
who did not belong to the trades whose names the Companies bear, and at the date of the letters patent of
James I. of the 24th July 1619, by which the King
confirmed to the Goldsmiths' Company the possession
of all the property which they then possessed, specifying the houses and tenements in a particular manner,
neither the members of the Corporation nor of the
Governing Body were exclusively members of the trade.
Indeed, there is every probability that the majority of
the members were not connected therewith.
At page 73 of the same book, the writer says, speaking of the Goldsmiths' Company: "It is commonly
reported, with what truth we know not, the pension
of a decayed Goldsmith is in some cases as much as
300l. a year." An examination of the returns made
by the Goldsmiths' Company will show how utterly unfounded this statement is.
Again, at page 85, we find the following passage in a
note: "It is said that the Goldsmiths expend more
than 30,000l. per annum in dining, and the Fishmongers, Ironmongers, Clothworkers, Skinners, and
Grocers are not far in the background."
An examination of the returns of the Goldsmiths'
Company will show that the expenditure on entertainments, including, of course, wines, on an average of 10
years has been under 6,000l. a year, or about one eighth
part of the total income of the Company.
Many of these erroneous statements are repeated in
Mr. Gilbert's book, entitled "The City," published in
1877. This writer, moreover, quotes a letter from the
"Weekly Dispatch," signed "Nemesis," in which the
writer says of the Goldsmiths' Company that it has a
total assumed income of over 150,000l. per annum, of
which we have no account except as regards certain
properties which he specifies, and of these properties he
mentions the following: —
6 houses at Alb. Hay,
5 " at Halle, and
6 " at Malton,
of which houses or places we never heard, nor have we
the smallest idea to what properties he alludes.
Mr. Firth's Propositions.
In the work intituled "Municipal London," the
writer sums up his case against the livery companies
in nine propositions, all of which are, either partially
or entirely, unfounded, except so far as they contain
matter of opinion.
Connexion with Municipality.
Integral part of Corporation.
The first proposition is that "the Livery Companies
are an integral part of the Corporation."
This is directly contrary to the decision of the judges
delivered in a judgment in error in 1775, which reversed the disfranchisement of Mr. Alderman Plumbe
upon a prosecution of the common serjeant in the Lord
Mayor's Court, for refusing to summon the livery of
the Goldsmiths' Company, of which he had been at the
time prime warden, to attend at Guildhall to hear His
Majesty's answer to the humble address and remonstrance of the Corporation of London, in the mayoralty
of Mr. Alderman Beckford, on which occasion Lord
Chief Justice de Grey is reported to have said: "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 their original institutions." And in another part of his judgment
the Lord Chief Justice says: "Much less have we
judicial knowledge of the particular subordinate
rights of fraternities, companies, and guilds which
make a part of the city, though not a part of the
Corporation of the city originally, nor of their subordinate power, duties, and offices."
Misrepresentation of Mr. Beal.
Now, with regard to this matter, we have to make a
very grave complaint. It is this, that Mr. Beal in his
evidence before the Commissioners has actually represented that the judgment was in favour of the Corporation instead of the Goldsmiths' Company.
By question 824 he was asked by the hon. member
for Chelsea, "Have you read the decision in the case of
the Refractory Companies in 1775, when between
the Corporation and the Goldsmiths' Company the
question was contested?" to which he answered
"Yes." He was then asked, "What was the effect of
that decision?" to which he replied, "The Companies were found to be in the wrong, and that they
were an integral part of the Corporation, and it is
fully set out in your own book, 'Municipal London;'" and on referring to "Municipal London,"
page 43. we find in a note it is stated that in the case of
the trial of the Refractory Companies in 1773, "the
Warden of the Goldsmiths' Company was successfully
prosecuted in the Mayor's Court for inattention to a
summons to Common Hall on other that election
The truth is that an information of disfranchisement
was filed against Mr. Alderman Plumbe in the Mayor's
Court, and a verdict given for the plaintiff. The defendant obtained a writ of error, and the judgment was
reversed by a Court of Error on the occasion above
referred to. It is manifest that if Mr. Beal's evidence,
and the statement in "Municipal London," had passed
unnoticed and uncorrected the Commissioners might
have been entirely misled.
Position of Companies regards the municipality.
The fact is, that the liverymen have the right of
voting for some of the city officers (not all) if they are
also freemen of the city of London; but a citizen may
be a freeman and a liveryman of a company without
being a freeman of the city of London, and it is possible that none of the members of a company might be
free of the city. Some of the companies have no
livery, and that this was so, so far back as the middle
of the 17th century, is shown by the recitals in an Act
of the Common Council passed on November 4th, 1651,
which are as follow: "Whereas by the ancient
charters granted and confirmed to this city, the
election of the mayor, sheriff, and other officers of
the said city ought to be by the citizens or commonalty, whereby it is evident that the commonalty,
either personally (if without confusion it might be
done) or by their representatives chosen by them for
that purpose, were to have votes on all such elections; but of later times the masters, wardens, and
liveries of the several companies of this city have
used and taken upon them, with the exclusion of all
other citizens, to make the said elections, which
practice of theirs seems to be grounded upon an Act
of Common Council, made the 23rd day of September,
in the seveth year of King Edward IV., before which
time the same elections had been made by a certain
number of persons chosen out of every ward for that
purpose, as appeareth by an Act or Order of the
Common Hall, made in the 20th year of King
Edward III., whereby to avoid inconveniences which
happened before that time in general assemblies of
the citizens, the method of elections by representatives was appointed. Now, forasmuch as divers companies of the citizens of this city have no livery at all,
and so have no manner of vote in the elections by liveries,
and for that by the constitution of most of the other
companies, the liveries thereof are not chosen by the
whole brotherhood but by a few, as namely by the
wardens and assistants only, and thereby the greatest
part of the citizens, members of those companies,
are also excluded from having any vote, either in
person or representation in the elections before mentioned; and so that great privilege of choosing their
mayor, sheriffs, and other officers is wholly taken
away from them to their great great grief, occasioning
thereby their often complaining."
Before the year 1835 no person could be admitted to
the freedom of the city who did not belong to one of
the trade companies, but by a resolution of the Court
of Common Council of the 17th March 1835, this condition was repealed, and it is no longer necessary that a
freeman should be a liveryman, or a member of one of
the city companies.
This first proposition of the author therefore we maintain is entirely unfounded, and is directly contrary to a
legal decision cited by him in support of it.
Public Trust Property.
The second proposition is, that "The property is
public trust property, and much of it is available for
This we submit has been shown to be unfounded by
the remarks which we had the honour to address to the
Commissioners in November last, and by the preceding
London Tradesmen and Artizans.
The third is, "The companies are trustees of vast
estates of which London tradesmen and artizans
ought to be the beneficiaries, but such trusts are
This is untrue, for all the trusts reposed in the companies have been faithfully fulfilled.
Estates applicable to charitable uses.
The fourth proposition is, "The companies are also
trustees of estates applicable to charitable uses.
They fail to apply to such uses the funds fairly
applicable to them."
This, again, is untrue. With regard to the Goldsmiths' Company, we appeal confidently to the report
of Mr. Hare, which has been sent to the Commissioners,
a report made after an examination, at the hall of the
Company, into all the charities vested in the Company,
which examination extended over a period of upwards
of three months.
Connexion with Trade.
The fifth proposition is, "The companies were incorporated to benefit trades, to restrain artizans, and
to repress bad workmanship. They perform none of
The Goldsmiths' Company notably perform all these
functions at the present time. They are entrusted by
statute with the supervision of the trade, and they help
to train artizans by offering prizes for excellence in
the design and execution of works in the precious
Companies to be Members of Trade.
The sixth proposition is, that "The companies are
by charter to be composed of members of a given
trade in many cases, and are legally compellable to
admit members of it. They admit members irrespective of trade, and impose restrictions on those
who are admissable."
We know of no law which would compel the Company to admit any person a member of it, unless he
were entitled to become a freeman by servitude or
patrimony; and that they have admitted members,
irrespective of trade, from time immemorial, is notorious.
Companies subject to the control of the Corporation.
The seventh proposition is, that "The companies
are subject to the control of the Corporation; but as
the members of that body are members of the companies also, and are promoted in the latter concurrently with their advancement in the former, such
control is never enforced."
That some sort of control was exercised by the Corporation in ancient times there is no doubt. It has
long ceased to be exercised. The Municipal Corporation Commissioners, in their report of the year 1837,
say: "The Corporation possesses a very slight, indeed
hardly more than a nominal, control over the companies."
Companies subject to the control of the Crown.
The eighth proposition is, that "The companies are
subject to the control of the Crown, and their lands
and monopolous privileges were only granted on
condition that they performed certain duties. They
have ceased to perform the duties, but they continue
to hold the lands."
This is not true. The companies are not subject to
the control of the Crown. The Goldsmiths' Company
have stated in their returns, at page 58, that it is an
established principle of law that the Crown cannot
derogate from its own grant, and that when a charter
has once been granted, the Crown cannot afterwards
interfere with the operation of its provisions, or with
the privileges, rights, and liabilities incident to a corporation. This statement, we contend, is a true representation of the law; and, with regard to the assertion
that the companies continue to hold the lands granted
to them on condition that they performed certain duties,
we have to remark that it does not appear that any
lands were granted to the companies by the Crown,
excepting those for which they paid, and that the lands
that are held by the companies, and which constitute
their general corporate property, were, for the most
part, given to them by members of their own body,
either upon trusts which have been duly performed, or
without any trust for their general corporate purposes,
and many of these gifts and devises were made at times
when most of the companies had ceased to perform any
Lands in hands of Corporations.
The ninth and last proposition is that "The continuance of a large amount of land in the heart of
the city and in the north of Ireland in the hands of
corporate and unproductive bodies is a hindrance to
commerce and a loss to the public revenue."
Upon this we have to remark that there is nothing to
prevent a corporation from changing the investments
of their property.
If they were prevented from alienating their real
property there might be some ground for the opinion
here expressed; but they can sell in the same manner
as any private proprietor, As to the public revenue, we
have always considered that it would be right for corporations like those of the city of London to pay
succession duty at stated periods.
This ninth proposition having been stated, the writer
concludes with the remark that "if these propositions
are established by the report of such a commission,
there will not be much doubt as to what ought to be
done with the Livery Companies;" and so he dismisses the case, apparently with perfect confidence as
to the result.
Difference between France and England.
To refer again to the subject of expenditure made on
entertainments and hospitality, we wish to remark that
entertainments, such as those of the Livery Companies,
not only afford much enjoyment to the members of the
companies themselves, but that they do real good in
bringing together people of different classes and of
different opinions. They are, in point of fact, English
institutions; and the difference between the effect which
is produced amongst Englishmen by differences of
opinion, on matters of politics especially, from that
which exists in the nations of the Continent, especially
in France, may, we think, be traced to a great extent
to the habit which Englishmen have of meeting together
for purposes of good fellowship and conviviality. When
a man who has rendered great services to his country
abroad, returns to England, one of the first things that
Englishmen do is to give him a dinner, which affords
to a vast number of people an opportunity of seeing
and hearing him. The Livery Companies of the city of
London have enrolled amongst their members some of
the most eminent men in England in all the professions.
These men are frequently entertained with other persons at their halls, and it cannot be denied that these
entertainments give them an opportunity of exercising
an influence upon the community at large.
Opinions of Mr. Odillon Barrot and Mr. de Lesseps.
Mr. Prideaux remembers two eminent Frenchmen,
each of whom, on separate occasions, after having dined
at Goldsmiths' Hall, remarked to him how much he
regretted that there were no such institutions as these
companies in France. Those two persons were the late
M. Odillon Barrot and M. de Lesseps.
In mentioning these entertainments we feel constrained
to allude with indignation to a passage in Mr. Beal's
evidence before the Commissioners.
Mr. Beal says, in answer to question 726, "A dinner
at Goldsmiths' Hall is not a very elevating sight, and
I think that the emptying of the halls is a still less
This remark is gratuitously insulting. A dinner at
Goldsmiths' Hall is conducted with as much decorum
as any dinner of any body of gentlemen in the kingdom.
It is not likely that Mr. Beal was ever asked to a dinner
at Goldsmiths' Hall. Certainly he was never asked by
any member of the governing body. We can only
regard the above remark as a calumny of his own invention.
Before quitting the evidence of Messrs. Beal, Phillips, and Gilbert, we have to remark upon certain other
passages therein. Mr. Phillips states he is the author
of two articles in magazines, one in "The British Quarterly Review," the other in "Fraser." He is also the
author of articles in papers signed "Censor." In
answer to question 1470 he says: "Never in my life by
one word that I have ever written have I suggested
any dishonour to any single member of those companies."
This may be literally true. He has been too cautious;
for to have singled out and named a member and imputed dishonour to him would have rendered him liable
to the law of libel; but in one of his publications is the
following passage, viz.: "The conduct of the companies
has been such in their trusts as, if they had been private individuals, would have subjected them to be
treated as criminals."
And of the Goldsmiths' Company he says : "It would
be the easiest thing in the world to multiply instances
of this kind which show a dereliction of duty and a
meanness which is truly despicable."
If this is not imputing dishonour we know not what
One of the points made by the three witnesses has
been that what the Company have done in the promotion of objects of public utility, and especially of education, has been done of late years in consequence of the
agitation which was instituted by themselves, or the
persons whom they represent. In refutation of this,
the Goldsmiths' Company appeal confidently to their
Company poor at the commencement of the century.
At the commencement of this century the income of
the Company was very small. By good management
from that time to this it has gradually increased, and
the charities of the Company and their expenditure
upon objects of public utility, have, during the whole of
that period, been commensurate with the increase of
their income. As to education, it appears to have been
always a favourite object of the Company. The voluntary expenditure upon Stockport school from the year
1830 to the year 1859, and also that on the schools at
Cromer and Bromyard, as stated at page 56 of the
Company's returns; the establishment of 76 exhibitions
at the Universities, as also stated in the same return;
the aid given to the Society for the Promotion of the
Higher Education of Women, and the prizes for the
encouragement of technical education in the design and
execution of works in the precious metals, established
by the Company 12 years since, are evidence of this.
As it has grown richer has been more charitable.
The history of the Company's exhibitions furnishes a
striking illustration of my assertion that the expenditure of the Company in charity has grown with its
gradually increasing wealth. The first exhibitions were
instituted in the year 1822, when three of 20l. each were
established at each University. In 1828 the number
was increased to five, and the amount to 25l. per annum.
In 1829 the number was increased to six at each University. In 1834 it was resolved that a gratuity of 20l.
be given to every exhibitioner who shall have graduated
in honours. In 1837 three additional exhibitions were
established at each University, and the amount was increased to 30l. a year. In 1839 two more were established at each University. In 1846 one more at each
University. In 1849 five more were established at each
University. In 1855 an exhibition of 50l. was established for a scholar of the City of London School. In
1860 an exhibition was placed at the disposal of Mr.
Chase, the Principal of St. Mary Hall, for the encouragement of students at that hall. In 1865 the
exhibitions were increased to 50l. a year. In 1871 ten
more exhibitions were established at each University.
And in 1876 the like number; so that at the present
time there are 37 at Oxford and 37 at Cambridge,
besides an exhibition at St. Mary Hall, and one for a
scholar of the City of London School.
The Company have given the Commissioners what
they asked for in presenting them with a detailed account of the expenditure of the Company for ten years.
They would be perfectly ready to give such a statement
for the last 30 years; and such a statement if given
would show a gradually increasing charity expenditure,
made out of the general corporate property of the Company, which has been continuous and commensurate
with its increasing income.
In order that the Commissioners might have an
opportunity of judging for themselves of the value of
the expenditure upon general objects of charity and
public interest so made, the Company have given for
each year, as an appendix to their account, a list in
detail of their donations, and they feel that they can
confidently appeal to these details in proof of the care
and discrimination with which the objects of their
charity have been chosen.
Working classes benefited by the Company.
It has been the object of Mr. Beal and his friends to
try to represent to the industrial classes at those public
meetings of radical clubs which he has told the Commissioners he has frequented, that the working classes
of the metropolis in some way or other would be benefitted by the transfer of the corporate property of the
Livery Companies from the companies to some other
body or trust, and used in some way for their benefit.
We think, if the working classes listened to the counsels of a safer adviser, they would find that, instead of
this being the case, a great deal of money which is now
expended by the companies either directly or indirectly
for their benefit would be withdrawn from them, and
that they would not be likely to get an equivalent.
Look at the expenditure in support of hospitals, dispensaries, working men's clubs, refuges, homes for
working boys, orphan asylums, reformatory institutions,
deaf and dumb persons, families of men who have
suffered from explosions in mines, working lads' institutes, shipwrecked mariners, homes for incurables,
surgical aid societies, and the pension society, asylums,
and benevolent institutions connected with the trade
whose name the Goldsmiths' Company bear.
Before we quit the subject of the donations made by
the companies, we wish to call attention to the following passage in Mr. Phillips's article in the "New
Quarterly Magazine," viz.: "Not a five pound note is
voted by a single one of the eighty odd companies
which is not ostentatiously advertised in every popular newspaper. Little do the public think that this
show of charity covers a mal-administration of trusts
and a reckless disregard of charitable intentions such
as find no parallel. The fact is, that in many cases
these votes of money to charitable purposes are neither more nor less than conscience money." All this
is utterly untrue. The Goldsmiths' Company never
advertised a donation made by them, and we do not
believe that any other Company has done so. Some of
these donations no doubt get into the public papers,
but, in nine cases out of 10, we believe it would be found
that the advertisement has come from the charitable
institution benefited, and that it has been mentioned
with a view to stimulate and encourage the charity of
As to the mal-administration of trusts, charged by
the author, there is not the shadow of a pretence for
the accusation. The whole passage contains a calumnious charge, for which there is no foundation—a charge
which no public writer should have made without
having ascertained that there were sufficient grounds
Carefulness of Company as to distress relieved.
With regard to the expenditure on the poor of the
Company, which is made by the Company as trustees
of several charities, we wish to state that the greatest
care is taken in the investigation of overy application
for relief. After each case has been visited and inquired
into by a responsible officer, a written report is made
to the standing committee of the Company, and, when
the case comes to be considered the applicants are made
to attend, if able to do so, in order that inquiries may
be made of the applicants themselves. We desire to
produce to the Commissioners the books containing the
written reports upon these cases for the last 10 years.
It is impossible, we believe, for greater care to be taken
in the administration of the trusts reposed in the
Company for the benefit of their poor. The amount of
good done, and of real suffering and undeserved want
which is relieved by these charities, is very great; and
as a proof that they are administered with care and
discrimination and so as not to weaken the spirit of
self-dependence, we may mention that the number of
members of the Company of this class who apply for assistance has been for some time gradually diminishing.