Dyers and dyeing

Pages 118-123

Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia 1579-1664. Originally published by EJ Francis, London, 1878.

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Dyers And Dyeing.

II. 280. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Master of the Horse (the Earl of Worcester, K.G.) (fn. 1) concerning James Hoseman, a servant of his Lordship, who had resided in the City for twenty-four years, and carried on the trade of a dyer of black silk; and stating that, upon a complaint being made of the fraudulent way in which black silk had been lately dyed in the City, an inquiry had been instituted, and all persons not being Dyers by trade had been ordered to cease such occupation; it then appeared that Hoseman was a Silk-weaver.
15th February, 1606.

II. 296. The Petition of Christopher Hamond, His Majesty's ancient and faithful servant, to the King, complaining of the prohibition issued by the Lord Mayor to restrain Silkmen or Dyers from dyeing certain silks within the City, and praying that a patent to dye silk, called "London silk," or "lyght waight silk," might be granted to him:—with the Order of the King dated the 29th May, 1607, to the Mayor, Recorder, and some of the Aldermen to consider the convenience of his suit, and also a copy of their Report, recommending that the former Order of the Lord Mayor should be enforced.
6th October, 1607.

II. 337. Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council, upon the complaint of the Dyers of Silk within the City of London, and praying that search might be made in the county for silks dyed contrary to the Orders issued.
17th December, 1608.

III. 123. Letter from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen to Lord Aubney, (fn. 2) informing him that they had considered his project for the reformation of the abuses in the false dyeing of silk, which appeared to tend to the creation of an unnecessary office, viz., a Sworn Viewer of silk, to redress two abuses, false dyeing and false weight, both of which were otherwise and better remedied; first, by the authority of the Lord Mayor, by Charter, to punish and correct every mystery, and the men thereof within the City; secondly, by an Act of Common Council (fn. 3) ordained against all increase of weight in the dyeing of black silk, which had been put in execution and wrought good redress; and lastly, the King's Proclamation had commanded the burning of all such corrupt silk in all parts of the Kingdom;—besides which the course proposed by his Lordship was contrary to law, and tended to an unnecessary charge on the subject.
10th January, 1614.

Note in Margin—Upon this Letter the projectors were discouraged to proceed any further touching the said office, and the City heard no more of it.

IV. 6. Letter from the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer, to the Lord Mayor, stating that there was a Statute of the 22nd Elizabeth, (fn. 4) prohibiting all Logwood, alias Blockwood, and that many Orders of Council had since been made, to prevent the bringing in of such Logwood, and other false and deceivable dyeing woods; but that the said Statute and Orders had not been acted upon, because the woods were directed to be burnt, whereby no benefit arose to those who took them. The King had therefore granted a Patent (fn. 5) to Richard Giles and his deputies, and had given him a yearly fee for taking all such false and deceivable woods. Since the Statute directed all such woods to be burnt, by the authority and direction of the Magistrate, where they were taken, the Lord Treasurer requested the Lord Mayor to take into his charge all such woods found or taken in the Port of London, by the said Giles or others, and to take order that they might be burnt in some public place within the City.
22nd November, 1615.

IV. 33. Letter from the King to the Lord Mayor, stating that in the 28th and 29th Elizabeth, several Statutes were passed for the abolishing and avoiding the use of Logwood (the unskilful use of which was a principal cause of making and dyeing of false and deceivable colours), but it had been found that the undue executing of such Statutes had been the cause of such false and deceivable colours as were daily dyed in cloths. Therefore, in order that all falsehood in dyeing might be banished, which was the main hindrance of the sale of so royal a commodity in foreign parts, His Majesty required that view should be taken, and search made, according to the Statute 5th Edward VI., by Symon Stevenson, already authorized by the Lord Mayor for that purpose, and Robert Brabent, whom the King required should be joined with him, of all cloths and other woollen commodities in any place or places within the City and Liberties, and that the City's officers should aid and assist them; that they might take patterns of all such commodities as they should find falsely dyed, and which would not stand the trial of Graine and Cockinela, with the names of the dyers, and their seals thereon affixed. And also that the Lord Mayor should, from time to time, cause the King to be informed thereof, that the offenders might be punished.
Sans date (circa 1616).

IV. 45. Letter from the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer, to the Lord Mayor, reciting that the King had allowed Richard Giles to surrender his Patent concerning false dyeing woods, and had granted a new Patent to the said Giles, and one John Wilson, (fn. 6) as was signified by a former Letter of the Lord Treasurer's, and requesting the Lord Mayor to appoint officers to aid and assist the Patentees, for the taking and burning of all false dyeing woods found within the City and Liberties.
30th November, 1616.

IV. 86. Letter from the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer, to the Lord Mayor, stating that he found by the many suitors that petitioned him, and from the Patentees who delivered the Longwood and other false dyeing woods to the Lord Mayor, to be burnt according to Statute, that such woods remained unburnt, and advising him to burn the same without delay; and further requesting that the Patenetees might have all the assistance the City could give them.
Suffolk House, 23rd September, 1617.

IV. 89. Letter from the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer, stating that William Heather, of London, merchant, had petitioned the Lords of the Council, concerning seventeen bags of Logwood mixed with Brasill, (fn. 7) or other woods which had been seized. The Petition had been referred by the Council to the writer, and as he was of opinion that the Petitioner, being a poor man, would sustain too great a loss if all his wood were burnt, he desired the Lord Mayor to burn seven bags of it, and to restore ten, to be transported out of the Realm, the Petitioner giving bond to that effect, and to return a certificate of its accomplishment, such certificate to be kept by Richard Giles and John Wilson, the Patentees for forbidden woods.
Suffolk House, 25th October, 1617.

IV. 94. Letter from the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer, to the Lord Mayor, referring to his former Letters to previous Lord Mayors, announcing the grant of Letters Patent to Richard Gyles and John Wilson, for abolishing the use of false dyeing stuffs, and requesting the Lord Mayor to cause all such false woods as should be seized to be at once burnt.
22nd December, 1617.

V. 34. Certificate from the Lord Mayor and Recorder, to the King, in answer to a Petition referred to them concerning false dyed silk, stating that they had conferences with divers silkmen, dyers, and weavers, and found that much deceit had been practised in the dyeing of silk, by adding deceitful mixtures to increase its weight, but that this abuse had latterly been greatly reformed by divers Acts of Common Council, and by the care of the Magistrates in putting them into execution. That His Majesty had been pleased to issue his proclamation in the tenth year of his reign, (fn. 8) for a general reformation of all such abuses. They were of opinion that, by virtue of these laws and His Majesty's Proclamation, the abuses might be sufficiently reformed, without the erection of an office for that purpose.

As to the proposal to erect an office for the weighing of undyed silk from the Merchant or Silkman, to the Dyer, and back again, at a beam and seales, to be provided in some fit place in the City or suburbs, with a fee of twopence for registering and weighing every pound of dyed silk, they could not see that such a course could work any reformation. Moreover, the City was already interested in the office of weighing of all manner of silks, dyed and undyed, with the fees and profits thereto belonging, and the payment of twopence per pound on all silks to be dyed, would only endear the commodity, without reforming the abuses.

They further certify that, as to the proposed Proclamation to be issued by His Majesty—

1st. That no dyed silk should be imported, on pain of forfeiture.

It would prejudice His Majesty in his Customs,—would be against trade and commerce, and would hinder the vending of the commodities of the kingdom, especially cloth, for which silk was often taken and returned in exchange.

2nd. That all falsely dyed silk should be forfeited.

It was fit to be put in due execution, as already provided by Acts of Common Council, and His Majesty's Proclamation.

3rd. That all dyres of silk should be bound not to dye with unjust increase of weight.

The Acts of the Common Council imposed a fine on the dyer, or the person in whose hands the same should be found, after conviction, for the first offence, 20s.; for the second, 40s.; and directed the silk to be burned.

4th. That none but Freemen of London, having served as Apprentices to the trade, should dye.

Although they wished the good of the City, and the Freemen thereof, they did not see how Dyers, dwelling out of the City, who had served as apprentices, and were skilful and honest, could be conveniently restrained, although they were not Freemen.
Sans date.

VII. 32. Letter from Sir William Beecher, (fn. 9) by command of the Lords of the Council, to the Lord Mayor, requesting that the Report on the business of silk, referred to the Court of Aldermen, on the complaint of the Turkey Merchants, (fn. 10) which they were informed had been ready for a fortnight, might be returned to the Council, by the following Wednesday at the latest.
Whitehall, 19th April, 1630.

VII. 48. Letter from the Lords of the Council to the Lord Mayor, &c., concerning abuses in the false dyeing of silk, for which some offenders had already been censured by the Star Chamber, whilst others were being proceeded against. Although the course hitherto taken had been legal, and without exception, yet some persons had given out that the matter was already disposed of, to their benefit, and to the great dishonour of the State. The Council, therefore, required that steps should be taken for the discovery of the delinquents, and their safe custody, till they received punishment according to their deserts.
Hampton Court, 30th September, 1630.


  • 1. Edward, fourth Earl, was sent as Ambassador to James the Sixth of Scotland, to congratulate him upon his marriage, 1591; K.G., 1593; made Master of the Horse by Queen Elizabeth, 1601; notable for his horsemanship; Lord Privy Seal, 1615; died, March 3rd, 1628.
  • 2. Esme Stuart, Lord of Aubigny, afterwards third Duke of Lenox; created Earl of March, June 7th, 1619; succeeded his brother as Duke of Lenox, February 16th, 1624; died, July 30th, 1624.
  • 3. February 28th, 1611.
  • 4. This probably refers to the Statute 23 Elizabeth, c. 9. The Master, Wardens, and Commonalty of Dyers of the City of London petitioned the House of Commons, May 2nd, 1621, for the total prohibition of the importation and use of logwood in dyeing, Sir Thomas Crompton, Knight, having obtained a Patent for the importation of fifty tons of logwood yearly. See copy of Petition in volume of 'Petitions and Parliamentary Matters,' 1620. 'Beta,' No. 2, in the Guildhall Library,
  • 5. Dated July 19th, 1615. See 'Calendar of State Papers (Domestic),' 1611–18, p. 296.
  • 6. Dated November 22nd, 1616. See 'Calendar of State Papers (Domestic),' 1611–18, p. 407.
  • 7. A wood used for dyeing of a bright red colour; so called from braise, or red-hot coals.
  • 8. Dated July 17th, 1612. Vide 'Calendar of State Papers (Domestic),' 1611–18, p. 138.
  • 9. The English Agent in France, October, 1618; recalled, November 14th; sent as Ambassador to Germany, May 2nd; 1622; appointed Clerk of the Council, 1624–5.
  • 10. The Merchants of the Levant, or Turkey Merchants, were first incorporated by Queen Elizabeth in 1581, to trade with the East Indies. They had a Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Court of Assistants. King James the First confirmed their powers in 1605.