IX. THE MANUSCRIPT ACCOUNT BOOKS OF THE COMPANY. (fn. 1)
1. The Merchant Taylors' Company possesses a number of
books containing the statements of receipts and expenses
returned by the Masters at the expiration of their term of
office. Of these the earliest four have been examined, with a
view of gaining information from them, of the history of the
2. Book I. commences in 1399, the 23rd and last year of the
reign of Richard II., and extends to 1445, the 23rd year of
Henry VI. The title on the back states that it commences in
1397, 21 Richard II., but in the first page, which is nearly
illegible, the figures "xxiij" are just visible. In the reign of
Henry VI. there are one or two errors, and probably some
pages missing. The account for 14 Henry VI. is placed next
before 23 Henry VI., and there are two accounts for
19 Henry VI. but none for the 18th year. After 22 Henry VI.
comes an account in which the number of the regnal year is
omitted, but it probably belongs to the 21st year, as the
statement for that year is absent. This volume contains 365
leaves, and is fairly legible, although the paper is rotten in
many places from the action of damp.
3. At the commencement, the language used is French,
but soon English and French are mingled together in a strange
way. The last account, that of John Langewith, 23 Henry VI.,
is entirely in English. The title of the Company at first is
given as "La Fraternite Seint Johan le Baptistre des Taillours
en Londres"; but in 1 Henry V., 1413, the following style is
used: "La Fraternite des Taillours et Armurers de Lynge
Armurie de Seint Johan le Baptistre en la Citee de Loundres."
In some instances "des Lynges Armuries" in the plural occurs.
In English the title runs thus, "The Fraternite of Seynt Johan
the Baptist of Taillours and Lynge Armurers in the Cite of
4. The form in which the accounts are stated is usually as
follows: The Master's receipts include a sum of money
received from the Treasury for the payment of poor men,
priests, and other minor expenses; rents from tenements
belonging to the Company in London and Wandsworth; fines
and forfeits from galleymen, (fn. 2) botchers (i.e., men who repaired
and sold old clothes), and others; fees paid by tradesmen
enfranchised, and by the master tailors for their apprentices;
bequests; old and new alms; fines for licence to keep foreign
servants; and the fees paid by the new brethren, both tradesmen and honorary members, on their entry.
5. Money was also collected from the members for specific
objects. In 2 Henry IV., 1401 (f. 8b), 24s. 9d. was collected for
repairs at the chapel, and in 8 Henry V., 1420–1 (f. 103b),
11l. 3s. 5d. was contributed for works in the Hall, and 17s. 10d.
for work done in the chapel chamber, the lodging of the
Chaplain of the Fraternity. The following year, 9 Henry V.,
Walter Bolton gave 1s. 8d. for the work in the Hall, and the
Chaplain, Sir Thomas Bradenham, contributed 6s. 8d. to make
the chimney in his room. In 10 Henry V., sums, of which
5s. is the largest, were contributed by many members
"pour faisure de noue werke." When it was desired to obtain
a confirmation of the new Charter in 19 Henry VI., 1440–1, the
legal expenses were defrayed in the same manner, and
62l. 10s. 10d. was collected in one year. The expenses include
a gold ring for the Chancellor; furs, damask, and suppers,
for other law officers; plate for one of the King's yeomen of
the Robes, for his favour; 5s. "for lymnyng of the H. of the
gret charter," &c., in addition to the regular costs of law.
6. Nor are these collections made only for important
matters, as we find in 9 Henry V., 1421–2, that 48 members
contributed 37s. 9d. for the minstrels. In some cases a return
is expected for contributions. In 6 Henry V., 1418–9 (f. 93),
a brother gives 4l. for the support of one of the Chaplains in
the chapel of the Fraternity at Saint Paul's, on condition of
receiving a gown of the livery, the value of which was 22s. 6d.
7. The expenses are arranged under the following heads:
The salaries of priests, clerks, and beadles; sundries, including
law expenses, burials, the cost of decorating the Hall for the
feast, minstrels, &c.; cloth allowed by the Company; quitrents;
repairs to the Hall and other houses, and the obits of deceased
members. As a specimen of the way in which the earliest
accounts were kept, those for 1 Henry IV., the second year
given in the book, will be found printed in full as Mem. x. The
first year could not be printed, as the state of the first page
renders it impossible to copy it accurately.
8. The Fraternity took a good deal of interest, and spent
much money, on the two chapels in the Hall and in St. Paul's
Cathedral. Among the expenses the following entries occur
relating to them:—
2 Henry IV., 1400–1: "Ceux sount lez expenses entour le
chapelle a Poulis, et Pauter de Seint Thomas.
|"En primes, pour fesure d'un celle desouz l'auter a Seint Thomas||ij||iiij|
|"Item. Pour un cere et un huis de fer en mesme lieu||vj|
|"Item. Pour coverture et byndyng d'un lyvre||iij|
|"Item. Pour xlv ulnes de toille, l'auene, viijd.||xxx|
|"Item. Pour steynyng, paie al steynour en parti de paiement||xlv|
|"Item. Pour un heyre a le auter||ij||iiij|
|"Summa, iiijli. xs. iiijd."|
3 Henry IV.: "Paie a Morris Steynour, pour steynure de
les draps en le chapelle a Poulis, duez de velle, xlvijs. vjd."
In 10 Henry IV., 1408–9, new cloths were provided and the
following expenses incurred (f. 44b):—7 ells of cloth for two
altar cloths, at 7d.; 11½ ells for "draps a qaresme" at 7d.;
dyeing the same, 6s. 8d.; 1 ell to mend an alb, and the work,
10d.; for binding the cloths, 2s. In 12 Henry IV., 1410–11
(f. 56), "Pour velym et pour l'escripture del table en le chapel
a Poulis, xxd.," and in the following year three forms were
bought for the chapel for 2s. 4d. The salaries of the Chaplains
were, at St. Paul's, 5l., and at the chapel in the Hall, 3l. 6s. 8d.
a-year; while the yearly cost of candles in the two chapels
was 14½d., and of bread and wine for Mass at the Hall alone, 2s.
Among other payments connected with religion, there is 9s. 4d.
for lamp oil for the church of St. Martin Outwich, in 1432 (f. 207);
10s. given in reward to the servant of the Earl of Northumber
land, for bringing an image of St. John, in 1436 (f. 246); and
6s. 8d. for making a crucifix in 1444 (f. 321b).
9. In 14 Henry VI., 1435–6, the Company retained for the
defence of Calais (fn. 3) for 60 days, three gentlemen at 16d. a day,
and seven archers and yeomen at 8d., the whole expense,
including the cleaning of armour and "bokeram for pensels,"
amounting to 28l. 6s. 7d.
10. In the following year, 11s. 8d. was spent in torches for
the burial of Queen Katharine, widow of Henry V. (f. 257b).
When the next Queen of England, Margaret of Anjou, arrived
in her adopted country in 1445, the Company joined in the
procession to meet her, and fines amounting to 7l. 1s. 4d. were
exacted from those "that rood not a geyns the quene"
(f. 353). Among the expenses the following entry occurs
referring to the same event:—
"Expenses ayenst the quene riding.—Item in expenses for
the Master and Wardens and the clerk, sittyng daiely at halle,
unto the space of a quarter of a yere, on day with a noder, a
boute the devise for the lyvere a geyns the quene is comyng,
and receyvyng of men assigned to ride [to] Boleyn and delyvere
hit wrought ageyn, and to cesse and stynte certeyn that rode
noght, and aboute receyvynge the same money, and for fewell,
iijli. xiiijs. vjd. ob.
"Item, for the facyoun of the mantels of silver for the
Master and iiij Wardens is slevys ayenst the same ridinge, pris
the pece, vs. jd. Summa xxvs. vd. (fn. 4)
"Item, for a reward to the iiij Wardens for their occupacions
and besinesse, and lettynge of other occupacions (no sum given)."
11. The annual search at St. Bartholomew's fair is mentioned elsewhere, (fn. 5) but there is also an entry in 8 Henry IV.,
1406–7 (f. 34b), of costs, "entour le serche en Temse." The
expense is chiefly for food and drink, consumed at Gravesend
and Queenhithe, and for barge hire, but 4s. 2d. was allowed for
the wages of a gunner and 2 lb. of powder. The total amount
is 12l. 7s. 4d.
12. Of John Chircheman, one of the earliest benefactors,
there are several mentions. In 7 Henry IV., 1405–6, 36l. 0s. 5d.
is entered as spent in law expenses concerning the lands
bequeathed by him to the Company; and the chambers used
by the Chaplains in 1414 are spoken of as formerly occupied by
him. There are frequent entries of the expense of pruning the
vines in the Hall garden, of which the earliest is in 1409.
13. In 1428, the following plate was bought, a gilt basin
with a spout; another, with suns; a gilt saltcellar covered;
a high standing cup with a sun; 2 gilt spoons; 2 enamelled
bosses for the basins, and a sun for the saltcellar; 2 silver basins
and 2 silvers saucers; costing in all 73l. 2s. 11d.
14. Occasionally a present was made to the Lord Mayor at
his election, and in later times a sum of money was given to
him in support of his expenses. In 1444, swans were presented
to Sir Henry Trowicke, the Mayor that year, costing 40s. In
1400 the Company contributed 6l. for the "Mommyng" at
Christmas in the Guildhall (f. 10), and in 1546 40l. were paid
by "Decree." (fn. 6)
15. As often happens in mediæval documents, the accounts
are frequently headed with the name "Jesus," or "Jesus" and
"Maria," and sometimes the verse "Assit principio Sancta
16. The second book ranges from 31 Henry VI. to
9 Edward IV., 1453–1470, so that the accounts of eight years
are lost. In this book, the year's accounts are from Easter to
Easter, while previously St. Bartholomew's day was the starting
point. Latin is used nearly throughout, but some entries are
in English. The extracts printed in the Appendix (fn. 7) will give
some idea of the contents. For the first year an abstract of the
accounts is given, and afterwards a few detached entries which
happen to be of interest.
17. Book III. extends from 9 Edward IV., 1470, to 1484,
2 Richard III, but it is in a bad state of decay. More than half
of most of the leaves is rotted away, and what is left is stuck
together by damp. The title of the Company as in the last
book, is "Fraternitas Sancti Johannis Baptistæ cissorum et
linearum armaturarum armurariorum in civitate London'."
18. Among the legible entries are the following:—A fine of
12d. from Thos. Sudeley for working on Sunday. Receipt of
3s. 4d. from the Wardens of the Parish Clerks for occupying
the Hall once. Elm board for Keletts well, 6d. Paid to
Minstrels of the King and divers Lords at the feast, 27s. 1471–2,
boat hire to London and Westminster for the Master and
Wardens going thither by the King's orders, 4d. For eight
signs of "holy lambes" for the almsmen, 3s. 4d. To eight
trumpets and their marshal, and Richard Tumbler, playing in
the Hall at the feast. Funeral expenses of Peter Ferreys, late
beadle, 15s. 10d. A pike and a pottle of wine sent to Mrs. Ellen
Langewith, 2s., and two sugar loaves also sent to her, 2s. 11d.
This lady was probably the widow of John Langewith, who
was Master in 1445. The allowance of cloth to honorary
members was already discontinued. (fn. 8) At this time, the only
persons who received it were the Accountant, the Counsel of the
Company, the Clerk, the Beadle, and the Lord Mayor's Sergeant.
After this there is a long interval for which no accounts are
19. Book IV. commences at Ladyday, 35 Henry VIII., 1544,
and goes down to the same day, 3 and 4 Philip and Mary, 1557.
With the exception of the heading to each year's accounts,
English is used throughout. The title of the Company now is,
"Mercatores Scissores fraternitatis Sancti Johannis Baptistæ
20. As the landed property of the Company had largely
increased during the last century, it was divided into the "East
part" and the "West part," each of which was superintended
by a Warden, who gave in a separate account of the rents
which he received, and these are inserted in the book after
the general accounts for each year. (fn. 9)
21. An important change passed over the Company during
the period to which this book refers. By the two Acts for the
dissolution of colleges and chantries (37 Henry VIII., c. 4, and
1 Edward VI., c. 14), the whole of the payments made by the
Merchant Taylors, for the saying of masses and performance of
obits and anniversaries for deceased benefactors, became vested
in the Crown; and there are many entries in the accounts,
illustrating the way in which these Acts were carried out. The
ostensible object of the Acts, was the increase of grammar
schools and vicarages, but it seems that comparatively little of
the profits was really devoted to so good a purpose.
22. In 1548, it was resolved by the Council to sell some of
the property thus obtained by the Crown, to meet the expenses
of the War in Scotland and the rebellion in Ireland; and the
entries in the Appendix, for 1549 and 1550, will show that the
Company redeemed some of the rent charges which had been
vested in the King. Some also had been already sold to private
23. In the reign of Queen Mary two obits were restored,
that for Henry VII., and the general obit for deceased brethren
and sisters of the Company. Mass also reappears on the feast
day, in place of the "service of the communion," which was
held during the reign of Edward VI. This was followed
usually by a sermon, which in 1548 was preached by Miles
Coverdale, afterwards Bishop of Exeter, the translator of the
Bible. (fn. 10)
24. The accession of both Sovereigns is referred to in the
payments for 1553–4. In each case the Company subscribed 20s.
towards garnishing the City and towards a purse of 1,000 marks
presented to the new Sovereign; but before the coronation of
Mary, the Company not only gave her as "a reward," 40l., but
also contributed another 100l. toward the maintenance of a
garrison for the defence of herself and of the City; and during
the insurrection in Kent, headed by Sir Thos. Wyatt, furnished
20 soldiers to join the force led against the rebels by the Duke
of Norfolk, and 60 more to keep London Bridge, when they had
advanced to Southwark after their first success. (fn. 11) In 1556, six
men were sent to the fleet serving against France.
25. It is clear that the Company was bound to provide
soldiers when necessary, as there are continual notices of the
armour and ammunition stored up in the Hall ready for use,
and the expenses for 1549 contain the costs of the "furniture
of 30 persons against the mustering day, made before my Lord
Mayor and Aldermen." The duty of supplying men for the
Watch in the city, at Midsummer, was commuted by the Company in 1553 for a money payment to the Lord Mayor.
26. Among other payments for the benefit of the City at
large, we find that the Company in 1553 lent 300l. to the
Corporation to provide wheat for the city, and in 1556 subscribed
towards the conversion of Bridewell into a "house of labour
or occupation." More detailed information will be found in the
Appendix, (fn. 12) which contains a series of extracts similar to those
of the Second Book.