SUPPLEMENTARY STATEMENT OF BEHALF OF THE IRONMONGERS' COMPANY. Presented to the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the City of London Livery Companies.
The Ironmongers' Company, having carefully read
the statements to the Commissioners, do not consider
it necessary in any way to refute the theories propounded in those statements with respect to the duties
of the Livery Companies, but desire merely to put the
Commissioners in possession of certain facts with a
view to correct mis-statements which have been published. It is quite clear from the records in the
possession of the Company, that their Mystery was
established as a guild upwards of 100 years, at least,
before incorporation by charter in 1463.
These guilds had their origin in Anglo-Saxon times,
and were communities of persons associated together
for purposes of mutual fellowship, protection, and
support, called into existence by the exigencies of those
times; and naturally those having a common trade
made common cause, and were attached to each other
by common interests. There is no record of funds or
land coming to them from any source external to their
own body. Their property has all been acquired by
contribution or bequest of members.
In 1457 they, out of their own private funds, subscribed money for the purchase of land and a hall for
the meeting of the members.
In the 3rd Edward IV. (1463), all the freemen of the
Mystery and Art of Ironmongers were incorporated by
Royal Charter in general terms, without special duties
of any kind being imposed, as appears from the charter
set out in Return, part 1, B.; and neither by this
charter, nor by any subsequent charter, is there
directly or indirectly any declaration of a trust.
Lands and funds have from time to time been left to
the Company by members of their body and others,
subject to certain express charitable trusts, and these
the Company have faithfully discharged to the present
time; and in many cases in which these funds have
been exacted by the Crown, they have been replaced
by subsequent contributions of the livery from their
individual private funds, so that the objects of the
trusts should not suffer; and this Company respectfully, but firmly, protests that no one outside their
own body has either legal or moral right to participate
in any property other than that which is actually
impressed by the donor with a trust, and the whole of
which is administered under the supervision of the
Questions 728, 827–9.
It has been contended before you, that the whole of
the charters are bad, because the King had (according
to the witness's construction of the 16th section of
Magna Charta) parted with his right to grant charters
conferring the right of search. Assuming, however,
this construction to be correct, the contention falls to
the ground in the case of this Company, as no such
right is directly or indirectly conferred by any of the
charters; and the records of the Company show that
statutory legislation for the protection and regulation
of the iron trade was enacted in the reigns of Henry IV.,
Richard III., Henry VIII, and Edward VI., and that
on certain occasions this Company have laid abuses of
the trade before the Common Council, that they might
deal therewith, this Company not having the power in
Amongst its own commonalty only, this Company
exercised supervision and control of trading, but, as
none of the trade joined the Company other than of
their own free will and for their own good, obedience
to such control can only be regarded as voluntary, and
not as infringing the liberty of the subject, contrary to
the provisions of Magna Charta.
It has been suggested that "the connection of the
Companies with the arts, crafts, and trades which,
according to the terms of their constitution, they are
designed to comprehend, should be restored." In
reply, it may be stated that not one of the several
charters and confirmations by which the Ironmongers'
Company is constituted designate any craft or trade.
Whatever connection this Company may have had with
the trade was outside its constitution.
Questions 74 and 1324.
More than one witness states that in many, or nearly
all the old, charters, the Companies were endowed
with power to hold land, contrary to the statute of
mortmain, for the benefit of the poor. So far as the
Ironmongers' Company are concerned, this statement
has no foundation; the license is granted in every
case without condition of any kind.
The bequest of money for a dinner, as alleged in
this question, is erroneous. There has been no such
The statement in the reply to this question, viz.,
"you have raised the fees of admission to a price
which no artizan can pay," is not correct, as any boy
of 14 may be bound apprentice for a nominal fee of
1l. 7s. 0d., who, when he has served his apprenticeship,
may be admitted on the payment of 3l. 5s. 0d. for fees
and stamp duty.
This Company is entirely independent of any control
by the City (if thereby is meant the Corporation) or by
the Crown, other than as subjects of the Throne; in
fact, notwithstanding a servitude of seven years is
required by the Corporation, they have, in the interest
of those desirous of being admitted to their freedom
by apprenticeship, made it optional with the apprentice
to serve for five years only.
There is no known instance in the records of the
Ironmongers' Company of anyone being compelled to
join the guild. It has always been a voluntary act,
and the statements made by the witness in this and
the following answers are not founded on fact so far as
concerns this Company.
Questions 865–74 and 1412–23.
The right of electing the chief officers and of making
ordinances for the good government of the City was
claimed by the livery companies in the reign of
Edward III., and obtained by them actually in contravention of an order made in the 20th year of that
reign, by which that right was restricted to the representatives of the wards; thus showing that they acted
in furtherance of their private interests, independently
of and not as subject to the Corporation, as alleged
by Mr. Beale; not as discharging a public function
conferred on them, but as exacting a voice in the
election of their officers for their own protection. In
17 Richard II. (1384) these rights were withdrawn, and
the previous practice of choosing the common council
by the wards, instead of the mysteries, was reverted to.
In the Ironmongers' Company the rule is, that no
freeman is allowed to change the copy of his freedom,
but chiefly (i.e., solely) hold of his fellowship.
It has from time immemorial been the custom of the
Ironmongers' Company to admit to the freedom by
patrimony, and for many centuries to admit by redemption; the assumption, therefore, is strongly against
the witness's statement, that at the time of the grant
of the charter there was not any member who was not
a member of the trade.
IRISH ESTATES. Statement By The Ironmongers' Company.
On evidence given on the 12th July 1882, before the City of London Livery Companies Commission concerning the Irish
Estates of the Livery Companies.
The statement made by the deputation that the Irish
Estates were granted to the Companies subject to
public trusts is not true.
In the beginning of the reign of James I. a considerable part of Ulster had become vested in the Crown by
Act of Attainder consequent on the rebellion in the
previous reign. The country being then in a most
disturbed condition, a project was set on foot in 1608
for planting and establishing a Protestant colony in
the North of Ireland. Certain conditions (viz., those
set out in the appendix to Dr. Todd's evidence) were
issued by the Privy Council, in accordance with which
His Majesty's subjects were invited to undertake the
project. Though many private individuals offered to
become undertakers, the Crown, in view of the magnitude of the Scheme, deemed it advisable, in July 1609,
to offer the undertaking to the City of London on the
same conditions. This offer was declined.
In August 1609, a committee was appointed by the
City to conduct negotiations which had been re-opened
by the Privy Council, and which resulted in the City
undertaking the Plantation on articles of agreement
entered into with the Privy Council on the 28th January 1609 (O.S.), and set out in the Schedule hereto.
It is these articles, and the charter subsequently granted
by James I. on 29th March 1613, which may be said to
"form the limits and bases of the title by which the
Companies hold their Irish Estates," and not "the
articles concerning the English and Scotch undertakers" as set out by Dr. Todd.
The Committee recommended that a company he
constituted in London, and that the undertaking should
be managed in Ireland by direction from the Company
in London. On 30th January 1610, the Common Council
ordained, in accordance with such recommendation,
that a Company be instituted in London in order to
carry out the Plantation; and on the 29th March 1613
this Company was incorporated by charter under the
name of "The Irish Society"; therefore the fact of the
Society being "a corporate body and non-resident"
cannot now be alleged as a reason for State interference.
The sums required for the Plantation were raised
"by way of companies of the City and in companies by
The Court of the Ironmongers' Company ordered
each member "to pay his proportion, and further
ordered that the proportions of those unable to pay
should be taken up at interest, and the Company to
bear the same." There is no evidence that money
was raised from any but members of such of the Companies as joined in the undertaking, and the money so
raised was paid, not to the Crown, but to the Chamberlain of the City, for the purposes of the Plantation.
In July 1611, on the occasion of a further levy by
the City of a sum of 10,000l. for carrying on the Plantation, notice was given that if the money should not be
paid the defaulting Companies would forfeit their
claim to the amount already disbursed towards the said
The Coopers' Company, one of the Companies associated with the Ironmongers' Company in the undertaking, being unable to pay their contribution, the
Corporation directed the Chamberlain to pay it: and
it was declared that "the City is to receive all the benefit
and profit as well already due as hereafter shall grow
due to the said ("Coopers'") Company by the said
Plantation of Ireland."
On 13th September 1615, a license in mortmain was
granted by James I. to the 12 Companies respecting their
Irish Estates, wherein one of the reasons for granting
such license is "that the Companies may in future reap
some gain and benefit of their great travails and expenses
taken and bestowed thereon."
The Manor of Lizard was created by the Irish Society
on 15th October 1618, and a conveyance of this manor
to the Ironmongers' Company from the Society was
executed on the 7th November 1618.
By this deed the Society did "fully, clearly, and
"absolutely grant" the Manor of Lizard, and all the
rents, advowsons, tithes, and all other profits whatsoever, except timber, &c., at the yearly rent of 11l. 6s. 8d.,
to the Ironmongers' Company, their successors and
assigns for ever, to the only use and behoof of the said
In 1630 Paul Canning, who was then a member of the
Ironmongers' Company, and their agent in Ireland,
sold his estate in England for 2,000l., and spent it in
planting and stocking the Company's estate, and also
at his own charge built a church.
The charter to the Irish Society granted by James I.
was revoked in the reign of Charles I. by decree of the
Star Chamber in Hilary Term, 1638, and all the estates
were escheated to the Crown; but in 1641, on the
petition of the Corporation, Parliament, upon mature
consideration, resolved that "the sentence in the Star
Chamber was unlawful and unjust, and that the
citizens of London, and those of the new Plantation,
and all under-tenants, and all those put out of possession, should be restored to the same estate in
which they were before." In this petition it is set
forth that 150,000l. had been expended on the Plantation
by the Irish Society and the Companies in addition to
any outlay by the tenants.
In 1656 the Lord Protector, by letters patent, restored
and confirmed the Irish Society as criginally ordained
under the charter of James I.; and in 1662, 14th
Charles II., letters patent were issued, containing, with
but little alteration, all the clauses of the charter of
James I.; and the renewed grant from the Society to
the Ironmongers' Company of the Manor of Lizard,
dated 13th May 1663, recites, that "the King takes
into consideration the vast sums of money the Society
and the several Companies of London had laid out
and disbursed in their building and planting."
The Manor of Lizard, as originally created, contained
38,470 acres (English), and the estate was apportioned
by the undertakers as follows:—
|Church lands and glebe||12,403|
|Freeholds at quit-rents||13,742|
|Retained by the Company||12,325|
In 1842 the Company's estate contained 12, 686 acres,
then valued, by the well-known valuators Messrs. Nolan,
at 5,610l. per annum, and let at 5,509l., chiefly on yearly
tenancies to the tenants actually in occupation at the
expiration of the last lease which had been granted by
the Company on lives.
In 1860 the estate comprised 12,735 acres, and was
again valued by Messrs. Nolan at 7,055l., and in 1863
the annual rent was fixed at 6,718l.
The present annual rental of the estate is 7,100l.
There are now only four leases on the estate, the tenants
preferring yearly holdings, of which there are 541 (see
Original Return A., 2, 9, question 5, page 45). The
population at the last census numbered 1,583 males and
1,808 females; total 3,391.
In 1764, in consequence of a report to the Company
of the harshness with which the tithe was exacted from
the tenants, the Company redeemed it for 1,115l. and
extinguished it solely in the tenants' interest.
The tenants for many years were supplied by the
Company with lime at a nominal price, and with timber,
slates, roofing and draining tiles, also with large quantities of quick for fences, and young trees for shelter,
besides grants of money for iron gates and pumps; and
the Company make a considerable outlay on the construction and upkeep of roads, bridges, and fences,
altogether averaging upwards of 625l. a year, in addition
to an annual expenditure of 400l. on schools, churches,
charities, exhibitions, and clergy of various denominations. The Company also subscribed 200l. towards the
preliminary expenses of the Derry Central Railway, and
guarantee 5l. per cent. interest on 5,000l. of the stock
for 23 years if necessary, and are now paying it, and
they gave the land required for the railway without
charge, and this amounted to 40 acres.
The Memorial to the Rt. Hon. W. E. Gladstone, dated
18th March 1881, and purporting to be signed by
George Williamson on behalf of the Ironmongers'
tenantry, has been read to the principal tenants by the
agent, and they say they none of them ever heard of
the Memorial, also that the statements therein are
untrue so far as concerns the Company's tenantry, and
that George Williamson was not to their knowledge
authorised to represent the tenantry. One of the
tenants, the Rev. Mr. McCay, who has been examined
before the Commissioners, denies any knowledge of the
As to the statements in the Memorial, it is not the
fact that the under-tenants held from the middlemen
from year to year; they held on lease from the middlemen for 41 years or three lives; the last lease commenced
in 1798 for the Bishop of Meath's life, who died in 1840.
Since then the tenants have virtually held from valuation to valuation at intervals of upwards of 21 years,
and in effect such a holding as a tenancy at will is not
known on the estate.
It has been previously shown what is the rental of
the estate since it came into hand in 1840; and to
enable the Commission to form an opinion as to the
fairness of such rents, it may be stated that Griffiths'
valuation in 1852 was based on the average of produce
as shown in Table I.; and the actual prices realised in
Belfast market for 31 years, 1850–1880, average as in
In 1703 the best beef fetched 3s. 6d. per 120 lbs. in
Dublin market, and in 1725 had risen to 16s. per cwt.
No increase of rent has occurred on this estate for
22 years, and the present rental is more than 6l. per cent.
below Griffiths' valuation; it is therefore evident that
the tenants have reaped the full benefit of the increased market value of produce.
When the estate came into hand in 1840 there was
no tenant-right existing; but in 1860 the Company
established a tenant-right equivalent to 10 years' purchase of the rent, and yet within the last year tenantright has realised from 18 to 50 years' purchase.
Articles agreed upon the xxviii. daie of Januarie
betweene the Right honble the Lords of his Maties most
honble Privie Councell, on the Kings Maties behalf, on
the one pte, and the Committees appointed by act of
Comon Councell, on behalf of the Maior and Comunaltie
of the cittie of London, on the other pte, concerning the
plantacon in pte of the Province of Ulster.
1. Imprimis, it is agreed that xxtie thousand pounds
shall be levied, 15,000li to be expended on the
said plantacon, and 5,000li for the clearing away
of private men's interest in things demanded.
2. Agreed that at the Derry 200 houses shall be built
and room left for 300 more, and that 4,000 acres
lying in the Derry side shall be laid thereunto;
bogg and barren mountains to be no parcel thereof,
but to go as waste for the cittie.
3. The Bisshoppe and Deane of ye Derrie shall haue
conuenient plotts of ground for their states of
their houses at the Derry.
4. Agreed that Colraine shallbe built on the very
same ground of the abby side, that 100 houses
shall be built and room left for 200 more, and
3,000 acres of land shall be laid.
5. Agreed that measure and account of land shall be
after the Balliboes.
6. Agreed that the rest of the territory and entire
countie of Colraine, estimated at 20,000 acres, be
cleared from all pticular interest except the
Bishop and Dsane of Derry, and except certain
porcons of land to be assigned to three or four
Irish gentlemen at the most now dwelling and
settled in the countie of Colraine, who are to be
7. Item, it is agreed that the woods and grounds
of soil of Glancan-Kerne and Killetroughe be
wholly to the cittie, and the timber used for the
8. Agreed that the lands within the woods of Glane
and Killtroughe, which stand charged as surveyed lands, be undertaken by them in like form
9. Agreed that the cittie shall haue the patronage of
all the churches in Derry and Colraine.
10. That the 7,000 acres of land to the cittie of the
Derrie and town of Colraine shall be in fee-farme
at the rent of liiis iiiid.
11. And to be held of the King in free burgage.
12. The residue of all the lands and woods to be
undertaken to be holden of the King in comon
13. The customs of all goods imported to be exported,
&c., to be enjoyed by the cittye for 99 yeares
within the citty of the Derrie, town and county
of Colraine, aad ports and creeks thereof, paying
yearly to his Matie vis viiid as an acknowledgt.
14. That salmon and ell fishing of the Ban and Loughfoyie, and all other fishing so far as Loughfoyle
floweth, and the Ban to Loughcagh, shall be in
perpetuitie to the cittie.
15. The cittie shall haue liberty to transport all
prohibited wares growing upon their own lands.
16. The cittie shall haue the office of Admiral in the
coasts of Triconell and Colraine, and all royalties
belonging thereto; and if their shippes and goods
be wrecked at the sea in Ballesman or Olderflute,
and in all other coasts, &c,, alongst and betweene
saved and reserved to themselves.
17. That the cittie shall haue like fishing and fowling
upon all the coasts as other subjects haue.
18. That no flax, hemp, or yarne unwoven be carried
out of the ports of Derrie and Colraine without
licence from the cittie officers, and that no hides
be transported raw without licence.
19. That the cittie and town of the county of Colraine
be freed from all patents of privileges heretofore
granted to any pson, and that hereafter no pat of
privileges be granted to any pson within the said
county, &c., and that they be freed from all taxes
and impositions of the Governor of those pts.
20. That the cittie shall have the castel of Colmore
and the lands thereunto in fee farme, they maintaining a sufficient ward of officers.
21. The liberties of the cittie of Derrie and Colraine
shall extend three miles every way.
22. That the cittie shall have such further liberties to
the Derrie and Colraine as upon view of the
charters of London, the Cinque Ports, Newcastleupon-Tyne, or the cittie of Dublin, shall be found
fit for those places.
23. That all particular men's interest in and about
Derrie and the counties of Colraine &c., be cleared
and offered to the cittie (except as is excepted in
24. That sufficient forces shall be maintained by the
King for safety of the undertakers for a conuenient
25. Agreed for settling all things touching the said
plantacon, his Matie will give his royal assent to
Acts of Parliament here and the like in Ireland
26. The cittie to have time for seven years to make
such other reasonable demands as time shall show
to be needful.
27. Lastly that the cittie shall wt all speed set
forward the plantacon, as that 60 houses be built
in Derry, and 40 at Colraine by the 1st of
November which shall be in the year of our Lord