Incorporated Companies: Other companies

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

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Eneas Mackenzie, 'Incorporated Companies: Other companies', Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827), pp. 670-678. British History Online [accessed 24 June 2024].

Eneas Mackenzie. "Incorporated Companies: Other companies", in Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827) 670-678. British History Online, accessed June 24, 2024,

Mackenzie, Eneas. "Incorporated Companies: Other companies", Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827). 670-678. British History Online. Web. 24 June 2024,

In this section


The ancient ordinary of the Skinners' Company is dated January 20, 1437. The names of Richard Hall, mayor, Thomas Wardell, sheriff, Roger Thornton, Robert Whelpington, Laurence Acton, Simon Weldon, and William Ellerby, aldermen, occur in it. The society were to meet on the Tuesday after Michaelmas every year, unless that festival should fall on a Monday, and then on the Tuesday seven-night following, to choose their stewards, and pass their accounts. The different orders it contained, together with others of a subsequent date, were transcribed into their present order book, 1735. One of these forbade the use of tobacco at their meetings, under a penalty of 3d. for every offence.

The Glovers, one of the bye-trades, occur in 1648 as renting part of the Skinners' meeting-house, at the annual rent of five shillings. They appear to have been incorporated with the Skinners about the year 1703. In 1712, their meeting-house, on the west side of the Black Friars, was repaired at their joint expense. The ordinary of the Glovers' society, dated January 20, 1436, enjoined them to go together in procession at the feast of Corpus Christi, in a livery, and play their play at their own charge; to choose annually three stewards; that apprentices should serve seven years, on pain of forfeiting 6s. 8d. "to the light of the said craft;" that no Scotsman born should be taken apprentice, nor allowed to work in the town, under a penalty of 40s.

The society of Skinners and Glovers at present consists of 12 members, of whom nine belong to the Angus family. They possess a parcel of ground called the Dispensary Square, which is let on lease, and yields 16 guineas per annum. The Glovers (fn. 1) still choose three stewards annually, and the Skinners two, who keep their accounts separately.


The oldest record of this fraternity is dated October 8, 1536, and enjoined, that every brother, at his setting up shop, should pay a pot of oil to the fellowship; as also thirteen-pence a year to the stewards for "our Lady-light;" and that each apprentice, or person hired by the week, should pay four-pence per annum, and each hireling three-pence a year to their play when it should be performed: also, that any person born a subject of the king, and free of Newcastle, might set up shop on payment of £40, with a pound of wax and a pot of oil, on his admittance; as also thirteen-pence to our Lady-light, and eight-pence to the play, which exhibited "The Descent into Hell." That no taylor should work on Saturdays after eight o'clock in the evening, and should keep holy the Sundays, vigils, and festival days, on pain of six pounds of wax for every default. That the society should pass their accounts on St. John's day, in every May, and having chosen twelve electors, the said twelve should choose the four stewards, the searchers, and auditors. It further ordered, that every brother should be at the procession on Corpus Christi Day, before it passed the New-gate, on pain of forfeiting a pound of wax; and that each brother should attend in his livery. And that the common light of the fraternity should go before the corpse of every brother when it was carried to church for interment, and continue there lighted during mass time, and till the body was interred; but if there be a dirge, then the light to be extinguished during the dirge.

There is another ordinary of this society, dated August 12, 1624, confirmed, March 2, 1679; also September 15, 1707, January 17, 1731, and October 17, 1737 (fn. 2) This society, in 1773, in commemoration of a rule of court having been obtained August 10, that year, against the magistrates of this town, confirming the resident freemen, and widows of freemen, in their right to the Castle Leazes, Town, and Nun's Moor, for ever, together with £300 costs of suit, presented each of the members of the committee, who conducted the cause of the burgesses, with a gold ring, in the signet of each of which, under a crystal, was represented, Liberty stepping out of her temple, with a label proceeding from her mouth, inscribed—"Town Moor saved, August 10th, 1773." On the inside—"Concordia parvæ res crescunt:" By concord small things increase. Round the inner verge—"Taylors' Company to..........." (naming each member); and round the outer verge—"Vox Populi Vox Dei:" The voice of the people is the voice of God. This company at present consists of 46 members. Their hall is on the west side of the Black Friars. They possess much valuable property, and their rental exceeds £600 per annum. Besides relieving their sick and indigent brethren, £8 are paid on the death of a brother or brother's wife, and widows receive 2s. 6d. per week. William Patterson, and Job Jameson, jun. are the present stewards.


The oldest ordinary of this society, which is still in their possession, is dated March 6, 1459. It enjoins them to go together in procession, in a livery, at the feast of Corpus Christi, and perform their play at their own cost; and that each brother should be at the procession when his hour was assigned, under pain of forty-pence. That no Scotsman born should be taken apprentice, or suffered to work within the town, under a penalty of 20s. It farther ordered, that no apprentice should be taken under the term of seven years, on pain of 6s. 8d.; enjoining civil behaviour to each other at their meetings, the observance of holidays, &c. Another record of the society is dated February 4, 1532. (fn. 3) This company consists of only seven members. Their clear income does not exceed £21 per annum; but an increase is anticipated. Their meeting-house is in the Black Friars.

The making of bread and beer being a corporate monopoly, this mystery was, in remote times, specially protected by the government of the town. By an inquisition taken at Newcastle upon Tyne, January 4, 1446, it appears that the common baking and brewing for sale were restricted to that town, (fn. 4) and no where else within the port of Tyne. An old ordinary of this society, now lost, appears to have been in their possession A. D. 1583, and long afterwards, as several entries in their old books testify.

There is a record of this society, dated November 4, 1661, setting forth that their ancient ordinary was lost, and enjoining them to meet yearly on the 23d of November, unless it should fall on a Sunday, and then the day after, to elect the twelve of the society and four wardens, who were empowered, by the name of the Wardens of the Art and Mystery of Bakers and Brewers, to prosecute, sue, and implead, and be prosecuted, sued, &c. only within the courts of Newcastle upon Tyne; to make laws for the government of the society, impose fines, &c.; forbidding any brother to strike another at any meeting with fist, hand, elbow, dagger, staff, stick, rod, or otherwise, on pain of 20s.; and ordering that no apprentice should be taken under seven years, nor a second till the first had served six years; as also that the society should attend the burials of their brethren, on pain of a penalty of 3s. 4d, for every omission. There are at present only eight members of this society. Their meeting-house is in the Black Friars, near to which they have a parcel of ground and two houses, which yield a rental of about £30 a year. They have it in contemplation to build upon their vacant ground near Stowel Street.


The ordinary of the Tanners, anciently called Barkers, dated November 8, 1532, enjoined the society to come yearly in their best array and apparel, at the feast of Corpus Christi, and go in procession, set forth their pageants, &e. on pain of forfeiting a pound of wax. Not to take any Scot by birth for an apprentice, under a penalty of 20s. That each brother should have but one butcher to buy slaughter of, on pain of £10, and not to buy above eight fothers of bark, or forty trees, on pain of 6s. 8d.; also to supply each other with bark, &c.

This society consists of 26 members; they have their meeting-house in the Black Friars. Their annual income was about £94, out of which £24 was given to public charities; but they have lately built three good houses at the foot of Charlotte Square, which may increase their income to above £160 per annum. (fn. 5)


The company of Cordwainers was incorporated in the 17th King Henry VI. as appears from a board hung in their hall, having their arms on it, and under them the following inscription:—"Compy Cordwainers incorporated 17th K. Henry VI. confirmed by K. Philip and Q. Mary, reconfirmed by Q. Eliz. & lastly by King James 1st." The ordinary of this society is signed by 31 brethren, dated December 17, 1566; mentions their meeting-house in the lately dissolved monastry of Black Friars; enjoins that every apprentice should serve ten years, five of which to be expired before a second could be taken; and that foreigners might be admitted into the company on payment of £5, one half to go to the fellowship, and the other to the reparation of Tyne Bridge. The society, in 1690, met on the head-meeting day, on Forth Hill. This custom ceased on their repairing their late hall, at the foot of the Old Flesh Market. They obtained the first lease of this building, then called "The House of Charitie," of the corporation of Newcastle, A. D. 1668.

The company is in possession of a grant from the common council, dated June 2, 1617, stating that, "divers persons, for years, under colour of exercising the trade of a cobler, who should only mend old shoes that are brought to them to be mended, do buy great numbers of old shoes mended and made fit to be worn at London and elsewhere, and cause them to be brought to Newcastle upon Tyne, and in the coblers' houses, and in the market within the said town, sell them to the best advantage, whereby the fraternity of Cordwainers of Newcastle aforesaid is much impoverished." The common council then proceeds to empower the stewards to fine the aforesaid "coblers," for the preservation of their "antient customs, rights, and privileges."

About the years 1712 and 1728, the brethren of the company appear to have been in the practice of several of them joining together, as "Sharers," in purchasing their leather, and dividing it afterwards; as appears by an old book, entitled, "The Company's Sharers' Book."

In 1748, the company allowed twelve persons, by a grant from them, called the "Coblers' Bond," to follow the trade of coblers, "so long as they quarterly pay to the said company sixpence a piece," and also to follow the trade, "save only in a bulk." (fn. 6)

When the Cordwainers' old hall, near St. Nicholas' church, was pulled down by order of the corporation, that body voted the sum of £200 to the company, as an equivalent. Their present meeting-house, or hall, and leather-market, in the High Bridge, were in consequence built, and in which they held their first meeting on August 25, 1794. It is a neat, plain stone building. A stone in the front contains the following inscription:—

"This hall and leather warehouse were built at the expense of the company of Cordwainers, Anno Domini 1794. William Yielder, Esq. mayor; Henry Joseph Hounson, Esq. sheriff. John Tallintyre, John Ratcliffe, stewards. Building committee, Benj. Brunton, Jon. Stevenson, Robt. Widdrington, Thomas Fenton, Robt. Young, William Burn."

This company has always firmly opposed the encroachments of power. A large board, hung in their hall, commemorates the decision obtained against the magistrates on August 10, 1773, to show posterity "that oppression's iron hand ought ever to be legally resisted." From the year 1566, to July, 1825, there were 530 persons admitted to the freedom of this company. (fn. 7) The present number of members is 92; and the annual income of the company, on the average of the three last years, is £220.


There is an inrolment of an ordinary of this society in the archives of the corporation of Newcastle, dated July 20, 1621. This enjoins them to meet every year on Ash-Wednesday, to choose their two wardens; that apprentices should serve at least eight years, five of which to expire before a second could be taken; that no brother should be partner with any foreigners called crockers, on pain of forfeiting £5; that none hould kill after nine o'clock on Saturday night, nor keep open shop after eight o'clock on Sunday morning; that no brother should buy, or seek any licence to kill flesh in Newcastle during Lent, without the general consent of the fellowship, on pain of forfeiting £5; that none should kill either at Lent or any other time, within the liberties of the High Castle, "being in the county of Northumberland," on the like pain for each offence. But that any butcher, though not a brother, might expose good meat to sale in the market, from the hours of eight in the morning till four in the afternoon. February 9, 1713, they made an order to change the day of their head-meeting from Ash-Wednesday to the preceding Wednesday in every year. There is an order, that no free brother should blow a calf's pluck, or any part of a calf, except calf's close-ear, nor any other goods but a cow's udder, under a penalty of 6s. 8d. unforgiven. This society consists of above 80 members, of whom not more than 50 are meeting brothers. Their hall is on the south side of the Black Friars. The annual income of the society does not exceed £40.


The oldest ordinary of this society, dated January 14, 1436, enjoined that they should go together in procession on the feast of Corpus Christi, and play their play at their own expense, attending at the hour appointed, on pain of forfeiting a pound of wax; that every brother should be at St. Nicholas' church, at the setting forth of the procession, on St. Loy-day, on the like penalty; that no Scotsman born "should be taken apprentice, or suffered to work, on pain of the forfeiture of 40s. half whereof to go to the chamber of the town, and the other half to the fellowship;" that no brother should sell "seyme and roff" by weight, under 3s. 4d. a hundred, on pain of forfeiting 6s. 8d. for each offence. Another ordinary, dated September 25, 1664, exhibits the society as consisting of the different branches of black-smiths and farriers, blacksmiths or anchor-smiths, and lock-smiths or white-smiths. Another, dated August 17, 1677, impowered the fraternity to be a body politic in law, enjoined them to meet yearly on St. Loyday, to choose four wardens, of which one at least was to be an anchor-smith; that the twelve of the company should consist of four anchor-smiths, four black-smiths and farriers, and four lock-smiths; to choose four searchers; that apprentices should serve seven years; and that no brother should come to meetings, or attend the public guild of the town, with his apron on, but with a decent cloak or coat, on pain of forfeiting 6d, for each default, (fn. 8)

Their meeting-house is adjacent to the Black Friars, the ground-floor of which, once that of the chapel of the monastry, was the scene of a remarkable state transaction, being the room in which homage was done by the Scottish king, Baliol, to King Edward III. of England, for the kingdom of Scotland. This hall was repaired in the years 1751 and 1770, and was again altered, repaired, and ornamented in 1823, Thomas Scott, John Dewar, Alexander Robinson, John Stevenson, stewards. A stone above the entrance bears the date 1436. The old windows of the chapel are gone. It is very neat in the interior, and contains a beautiful mantle-piece, and a curious stove, presented by Mr. Thomas Scott, bearing date 1665. This society consists of 78 members, and their annual income is only about £40; but they intend to build a range of dwelling-houses upon their ground, which extends from their meeting-house to Low Friar Street.


The ordinary of this society, called anciently Walkers, dated May 6, 1477, enacted that no brother should strain cloth upon the tentor to deliver it with the short wand, on pain of forfeiting four pounds of wax, nor tentor cloth on a Sunday, nor "wend to the walk mylne" with any raw cloth on that day, on pain of forfeiting two pounds of wax—that they should take no Scotsman born to apprentice, nor set any such to work under a penalty of 20s. half whereof to go to the society, and half to the support of Tyne Bridge; that no apprentice should be taken under seven years; that no brother should work carsey under 2d. the yard; that they should attend the weddings and burials of the brethren in their livery; that they should meet in their livery in Carlel Croft, on St. John's day in May, at six o'clock in the morning; and upon St. John's day at Christmas, at one o'clock in the afternoon; that none of the company should fail being at the setting forth of the procession on Corpus Christi day, on pain of forfeiting a pound of wax; and that each brother should pay 6d. to the procession and play yearly; to choose twelve who were to be sworn and elect wardens, auditors, searchers, and the two to attend the mayor and chamber for the year; to meet on the eve of Corpus Christi day in the morning, at six o'clock, under the penalty of a pound of wax; to walk no broad cloth of colour under 4d. a yard, nor any wadded blue under 2d. the yard, nor any freeze under 1½d. the yard, under the like penalty; to "dight" (i. e. clean) no gown under 4d. on pain of half a pound of wax; not to sheer a dozen yards of tilted cloth under 3d. on pain of two pounds of wax, or fustian under 1d. the yard, or broad cloth under 3d. for the like quantity, under the penalty of forfeiting a pound of wax for each.

In 1552, this society had a grant, from the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle, of a part of the Black Friars for a meeting-house. They now hold their meetings at a tavern. The company consists of eight members, none of whom are operative Fullers or Dyers. Their property is worth about £30 a year.


  • 1. "April 12, 1643. At the quarter sessions holden at the Guild-Hall at Newcastle upon Tyne, information was made against William Ramsey, button-maker, for tagging of points, which was proved to be part of the Glover's trade, and tryed by the verdict of a jury—Ramsay was cast in forty shillings, and the charges of the court."—From the old books of the Glovers' Company.
  • 2. In a book, dated 1677, are 77 rules for the government of the fraternity. An order directs the searchers to search "every Saturday night, and to fine all such as are found working after eight of the clock three shillings and four-pence; to search all sleevings and sewings (in another order the words are shapings and sewings); prevent and fine such of the fellowship as are found working on a Sunday with open shop, unless it be for the king or for mourning work, and then to have leave from the searchers.—Those to pay the fine of 6 pound of wax, who do not keep holy festivals and vigils; and three shillings and four-pence such hiredmen and apprentices who shall sew white work with black thread, and black work with white thread.—If any brother shall, upon need or other occasion, pawn his work, and it be so proved, he shall pay a fine for the first offence, three shillings and four-pence; for the second, six shillings and eight-pence; and to lose the privilege of the fellowship for the third.—It is ordered, as has been the custom time out of mind, that no brother of the fellowship shall let any Scotchman a work, under the pain of three shillings and four-pence.—No brother shall lend his apprentice to any person, unless to one of the craft, except it be for the mending of old clothes.—No journeyman, hiredman, or apprentice, to work, except mending old clothes, in any house, unless with a free brother, upon pain of ten shillings.—No apprentice to contract matrimony, nor marry, nor beget a child, upon pain of forty shillings to be paid before he be made free, and the apprentice to make due submission." This law is still in force. On August 20, 1706, at a meeting of the company, it was resolved that the recorder's opinion be taken with respect to mantua-makers, and that the stewards are ordered, by the full consent of the body, to suppress, as soon as convenient, their growth. An order from the mayor occurs in the company's books, requesting the inhabitants not to employ any foreign taylors, except such unfreemen be employed in the mending of old clothes. The Castle Garth taylors were extremely troublesome to this company.
  • 3. The following entries are extracted from the old books of this company:— 1629, Annual rent of "far low house 6s." Nov. 22, 1694, bought a silver tankard; to be lent to brothers at marriages, christenings, and funerals. 1708, No brother shall take an apprentice till his former apprentice has served 6 years of his term of 9 years. Apprentices that married, or "happened to get an illegitimate child," were fined £5. June 5, 1710, Robert Hills, for suffering his journeyman to work with the Gateshead sadler, fined 20s. Feb. 24, 1714, Robert Barber being dead, liberty is allowed to the mother for disposing of his goods in the open shop till Saturday come seven-night, she discharging the journeyman next Saturday. The apprentices to choose new masters within 14 days, on pain of a fine of 5s. per week afterwards. Oct. 28, 1718, Thomas Lattimore, for keeping open shop, contrary to the order of the company, for the space of 7 months, not being free of the company, is fined £11, 6s. Oct. 3, 1721, No brother shall come into the meeting of the company with his night-gown, on pain to forfeit 1s. March 22, 1726, Ordered that the prosecution against Oakley, the whip-maker, be carried on at the company's charge, "for making and uttering whipps in the corporation." June 27, 1734, Expenses towards the act of parliament to prevent gashing hides, 10s. 4½d. Oct. 5, 1745, Agreed that the corporation have the use of the meeting-house for the lodging of soldiers. In 1774, a portion of the company's yard, 60 feet in front, and 42 feet backwards, on a lease for 63 years, under the annual rent of £5, 5s. and a fine of £10 at the end of 21 years, and £10 at the end of 42 years, was granted to Francis Peacock, Robert Harrison, Ralph Brown, Richard Swarley, and John Rotheram, Free Masons. Oct. 26, 1784, Ordered unanimously, that the stewards, William Leishman and John Rawling Wilson, be directed to attend the committee of stewards, to signify the assent of the company to the convening of a common hall, for the purpose of taking into consideration proper steps for obtaining a more equal representation of the people in parliament. May 6, 1790, The lease of St. John's Lodge ordered to be transferred to the governors of the Dispensary, in which lease was included a parcel of ground behind the Dispensary, in which Mr. Yielder surrendered his interest. At this time, Richard Chambers, C. Greenwell, and William Green, were allowed to take apprentices, which should be made free in the company, though not employed in the business of a sadler. But this bye-law was successfully opposed in the case of Thomas Fenwick, who, on January 15, 1789, was bound apprentice to David Landells, a freeman and free of the Sadlers' Company. On Mr. Landells' death, he was turned over to Richard Chambers, a free Sadler: Messrs. Landells and Chambers were co-partners, bankers, and hardwaremen. In 1796, the stewards put a stop to his guild, which the mayor (Richard Chambers, his master) and the common council took off, though the apprentice confessed he had never made a saddle, nor any thing belonging to saddlery. A case on this affair was drawn up for Councillor Erskine's opinion, who said that admission, under such an apprenticeship, "was illegal, and could not be supported under any bye-law of the whole corporate body, or of any particular company."
  • 4. Among other articles agreed upon in full guild of the town of Newcastle upon Tyne, held at St. Mary's Hospital, on the Friday before Valentine Day, 1342, and confirmed by the king, October 20, that year, the following occurs:—"13. The assizes of bread and beer to be held according to law. The master bakers, and not their servants, to suffer the penalties ordained by statute. Measures, ells, and weights, to be proved twice a year, or at least once."
  • 5. The corporation gave the company £100 for rounding the corner at the entrance to Low Friar Street; yet, in a dispute relative to the buildings, the corporation alleged that the free companies holding possessions in the Black Friars were merely their tenants. But as the companies pay no rent or acknowledgment, they conceive their prescriptive right to the property they hold to be good and sufficient. The garden of the monastry, on which Stowell Street is built, was also originally a grant from the corporation.
  • 6. It also appears that, about this period, the coblers were annually let to one or two brothers of the company, as—"21 June, 1742, the coblers are let to Robt. Jackson at £2, 7s. 6d. yearly, to be paid quarterly." The sum varies from £1, 10s. to £2, 7s. 6d. And, as a further security to the Cordwainers, of the "coblers" not interfering with their privileged fraternity, notes similar to the following appear to have been taken:— "Newcastle, Aug. 29, 1727.—I promise to pay to Roger Forster the sum of twenty pounds, if I ever sell any shoes, new or old, in the town of Newcastle or liberties thereof. Witness my hand,—ELIZ. BAKER." "Newcastle, Feb. 15, 1750.—I Edward Pemberton, of Gateshead, shoemaker, do promise, after the date hereof, not to offer to sale any new shoes, boots, pumps, or slippers, on the forfeit of paying forty pounds to the company of cordwainers. As witness my hand,—Edward Pemberton. Stewards, Thomas Bulman, Anth. Wheatley. Witnesses, Edw. Adams, Jno. Carr"
  • 7. The historian Brand was admitted a free brother in this company on December 29, 1768. The following gentlemen have been presented and duly admitted to the freedom of the Cordwainers' Company:— When resolved by the Company.                         To whom.                                                       When admitted. 16th January, 1775.                         The Right Worshipful Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart. mayor.     17th January, 1775. —                                                      The Hon. Constantine John Phipps.                                   28th July, 1775. —                                                      Thomas Delaval, Esq.                                                         17th July, 1777. 26th March, 1777.                           Andrew Robinson Bowes, Esq.                                          27th March, 1777. 8th October, 1812.                          Sir M. W. Ridley, Bart.                                                       8th October, 1812. —                                                     Cuthbert Ellison, Esq.                                                                       — 28th December, 1812.                    Archibald Reed, Esq.                                                           5th January, 1813. "Minute.—2 Oct. 1797. Ordered and resolved, that the freedom of this company be given to Captain George Green, of the ship Navigator of this port, and son of Jno. Green, a free brother of this company, as a testimony of the sense this company entertains of his conduct in defending his own ship, and also preventing the capture of the ship Hebe, of Sunderland, by a Dutch privateer." This gallant action was fought off Leith. Captain Green, an active, bold, skilful seaman, was early lost to society, his ship having foundered at sea.
  • 8. The following curious entries occur in their old books:— "Feb. 18, 1668.—John Bolam, for not carrying Clem. Brown to church, but giving the stang to another, fined 13s. 4d." "1682.—Paid for making the seat in the Firth, 1s. 4d." "1685.—Spent in the Forth House with the twelve, the raine causing them in, 2s." George Whinfield, Esq. mayor, and Margaret Stephenson, of Newcastle, left £20 each, dated Dec. 18, 1718 and 1725, to be put out to interest, to assist two poor brethren for three years to begin business.