Wednesday, 17th May 1882.
The Right Honourable the EARL of DERBY, Chairman.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G.
The Right Hon. Viscount Sherbrooke.
The Right Hon. Sir Richard Assheton Cross,
Sir Nathaniel M. de Rothschild, Bart., M.P.
Sir Sydney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Walter H. James, M.P.
Mr. Joseph Firth, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
Mr. William Gilbert was called in and examined as follows:—
Mr. W. Gilbert. 17 May 1882.
1472. (Chairman.) I think I need hardly ask you
whether you have given much attention to matters
relating to the city companies and the charities ?—I
have given a good deal of attention with regard to the
city generally, including the Corporation, the companies, and the charities, but not especially the
1473. But you have considered the question of the
function of the companies in connexion with your
inquiries into the general condition of the city administration ?—Yes.
1474. You have published a book, I think, within
the last few years upon the subject ?—Yes; but I
begun before that. It was, I think, about 20 years
ago that I was asked by some of the guardians in
one of the poorer parishes in the city to write a
pamphlet. They were getting up an agitation with
regard to the poor rates difficulty. After I had done
that I wrote some articles, one in the Contemporary
Review, another in the Fortnightly, another in the
Nineteenth Century, and a couple of books upon the
1475. I think I am right in supposing that you
have formed and expressed a strong opinion as to the
action of the city companies in connexion with the
poorer population of the city?—Yes, particularly so.
1476. Perhaps you will state, in your own terms,
what you consider has to be complained of in that
respect ?—What is complained of took place after the
equalisation of the poor rates in the city. Before that
it was the custom for the owners of house property
in the city, especially the city guilds, to drive the
poor out of their districts into the poorer parishes;
but when they all had to pay equally, then they were
all equally interested in getting rid of the poor, and
the result has been that the poor have been almost
entirely driven out of the city of London. But that
is not the principal point I wish to bring under your
Lordship's notice. In London, whenever a house is
destroyed and a new one erected, in almost every case,
especially with regard to those of the city companies,
a clause is inserted that no person shall be allowed to
sleep upon the premises, thereby totally prohibiting
the poorer classes from returning. In Paris, on the
contrary, wherever an alteration or improvement was
made, it was not allowed to be commenced until equal
or a greater amount of provision for the industrial
classes who were to be removed by it was provided.
1477. Do I understand you to say that the city
companies especially have taken action in this way, or
that they have only followed the general practice of
house owners in the city ?—They have followed the
general policy of the house owners in the city; but
holding the enormous amount of property they do in
the city, their action has been most prejudicial to the
comfort and well-being of the working and industrial
classes generally. By industrial classes I mean such
as clerks and others whose incomes would be under
200l. or 300l. a year.
1478. Do you put it in this way: that you consider
an obligation lies upon them which does not equally
lie upon private owners of land or houses, to use their
own property for the special benefit of the working
classes. Am I right in putting that interpretation
upon what you say ?—Hardly. I want merely to say
this, that when the enormous amount of property in
such a small area as the city is held by the livery
companies, and they prohibit the return of the working classes there after driving them away, it is a very
great injustice, because it drives them from the centre
of their work and puts great labour upon them as well
as a greater amount of taxation.
1479. Do you know what proportion of the area of
the city is owned by the city companies ?—I am
unable to state exactly, but I should mention that I
look upon it in this way,—that all the Corporation
properties of the city belong to different guilds, therefore I am unable to separate the two. I know they
are separated, but where the line of demarcation
between them lies I do not know.
1480. As I understand you, your complaint is, that
the land owned by the city companies is used in such
a manner as to make it impossible for working men to
reside upon that land ?— (fn. 1) Precisely. By an example
I think I shall be better able to explain what I mean.
In Coleman Street there is a clock in front of one of
the houses; underneath that clock is a passage into
Basinghall Street. This is the property of the
Merchant Taylors' Company. Ten years ago the
whole of it was let for 750l. a year; the lease fell in;
they renewed it at 2,300l. a year under the condition
that the whole of the building should be pulled down
and about 200,000l. expended upon it in chambers;
but with a strict clause in the lease that no one should
be allowed to sleep upon the premises.
1481. If that had been done by a private person I
presume you would not have thought it a matter of
complaint, would you ?—I would not state that. I
think that the working classes and the poorer classes
have a right to be taken into consideration by the
civic authorities in the same way as they are by
Parisian authorities, and even in Russia as well. There
they have taken them into consideration and provided
that the poor shall have some provision made for
them, and no injustice done them.
1482. The injustice that you complain of is that in
consequence of the owners of house property not finding it lucrative to provide lodgings for the working
classes, those classes are not able to find accommodation within the area of the city ?—Granted; and yet
not precisely so. When they were driven from the
city they went over into Blackfriars, or between Blackfriars Road and Southwark Road. The Corporation
and the Board of Works then formed a line of buildings
which are at present called Southwark Street, passing
through the most densely populated portion of the
locality, thus driving away an enormous number of
the inhabitants; but no dwelling-houses have been
built there, with the exception of one block of
Peabody Dwellings, although an enormous number of
the working classes are employed upon the banks of
1483. Are you speaking of the land that has been
cleared on the two sides of the street ?—The land
that has been cleared on the two sides of the street;
that will be the work of the Corporation, and as I
hold, the Corporation comprises the members of the
city guilds, or the greatest portion of them—the majority.
1484. Do I understand you that the greater part of
that land is owned by the city companies ?—No, it
was bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works, and
there was no opposition to it in any manner whatever,
because in the precincts of Southwark the city itself
had a considerable amount of interest.
1485. In that case all that you complain of is, that
the city companies did not interfere with the manner
in which the Metropolitan Board of Works dealt with
the land ?—The city companies owned the laud; they
drove the working classes out in a north-easterly direction. This especially told upon St. Bartholomew's
Hospital, which was the great centre of medical relief
for the city. I took the returns some time ago from
St. Bartholomew's Hospital, and I found that the
average distance every out-patient had to go was
about a mile and a half, and a mile and a half to
1486. Does it not come to this, that the central area
of London has become enormously valuable as a site
for business premises, and that therefore dwellings for
the working classes erected there, if they are to be
made to pay and if the fair commercial price is given
for the sites upon which they are built, will cost the
working man much more in rents than they will at a
greater distance from the centre ?—That it has increased enormously in value there is no doubt; but
still, for all that, they have built houses that cannot
let, whereas they might have built houses that might
have been let; for example, if you take from Holborn
to the Minories, at the present time there are 2,000
sets of offices vacant that they cannot find tenants for.
There is one house near the Blackfriars Railway Station, the value of which is 2,000l. a year, and there
they have been able to let only one set of offices for
60l. a year; the whole of the rest is lying idle, and
the ratepayers of the metropolis are taxed for it.
There are a great number of other cases of the same
kind in the city. In the case of the Merchant Taylors
that I was speaking of, not one half of the offices are
1487. In that case, will not the evil cure itself; if
the building of offices has been overdone, will it not
be discontinued?—In a great measure. Frequently
the city companies and the Corporation will keep land
idle that may be productive rather than let it in such
a way that the working classes or the poorer classes
may benefit by it. If you will allow me, I will give
you an example. Some years ago Lady Augusta
Stanley wanted to start a school for nurses, and the
Westminster Hospital agreed to train her nurses.
She asked me to come upon her committee, and I
was also asked to look out for a piece of land as a site
for their home. I looked at a piece of land within
about 100 yards or 150 yards of the house in which
this Commission is sitting. I asked the agent how
much frontage it had. He told me about 900 feet,
and asked how much I wanted; I said about 80 feet.
The price he asked and the price we paid for it was
10 guineas per lineal inch. I said to him, "this land
has been lying idle, to my certain knowledge, for the
last 25 years." "Yes," he said, "for about that time."
"To whom does it belong," I asked; he replied, "It belongs to a charity school, and the Corporation of the
city of London have an interest in that charity school."
I asked whether they were interested in any other land
near it, and he told me there was a great deal more, and
gave me an instance within 100 yards of this house.
It appears from this that about 17,000l. charitable
endowments have been lying idle and wasted for 25
years. I then went down to the school board, and
asked them what would be the expense of educating
the whole of the inhabitants of the city of Westminster under the school board. They gave me a memorandum, which is in my hand at the present moment,
and the amount represents 7,864l., including stationery. That is to say that the whole of the poorer
inhabitants of the city of Westminster might be educated gratuitously, without taxing the parents or the
ratepayers for a single farthing, merely with the value
of the land that is at the present time lying idle within
150 yards of this house.
1488. I presume you do not pretend that the ratepayers or the inhabitants of Westminster have any
more right to gratuitous education than the inhabitants of any other part of the country ?—Certainly
not; but if they have inherited the endowments they
have as much right to them as the wealthier class to
1489. What do you call the inheritance?—I mean
to say if left for endowment the poor have as much
right to profit by it as the rich by their endowments.
1490. In this case you are speaking of land specially
left for educational purposes ?—For educational purposes alone.
1491. Take the case you have put as to the alleged
exclusion of the working classes from the area of the
city. I do not understand you to contend that there
is any special intention of driving them out on the
part of the companies, but merely that they, like other
proprietors, let their land in a manner which they
consider the most profitable ?—It is the most profitable
to themselves, because if they get the working classes
out of the city they escape the inhabited house duty
upon their new buildings.
1492. That, I presume, is the meaning of the rule
of which you spoke just now, that no one is allowed
to sleep on the premises ?—Precisely.
1493. But in point of fact they have simply acted,
as I understand you, like all other proprietors?—In
other countries there would be a law against that altogether, not only in France, but in Italy and Germany,
and other places where they are always taken into
consideration, and it is not allowed to be considered an
act of good management simply to drive them away.
I will take particularly the ejection—eviction will perhaps be a better term—of the inhabitants of the city of
London in the north-eastern districts of the metropolis. The centre of their medical relief will be St.
Bartholomew's Hospital, but they are completely driven
away from that, and as they have been driven away
from it the value of the land belonging to St. Bartholomew's Hospital has increased enormously in value,
and the benefit intended for the poorer classes has not
been given to them.
1494. Do I understand you to put it in this way, that
if I or any one of us owns a piece of land in the city
on which a certain number of working men have
lived, you think that we ought to be bound to continue that land in the occupation of workmen, and not
to apply it to any other purpose ?—I do not mean
that at all; but if 40 or 50 gentlemen join together
and claim that it shall not be done, I say it looks very
much like a conspiracy against the well-being of the
1495. You do not object to any individual doing it ?
1496. But you do object to a number of individuals
doing it ?—Certainly.
1497. Even although they may each of them be
acting independently upon the same principle and
without any combination among themselves?—It is
merely one common interest actuating the whole.
1498. Then to sum it up in one word, you think
that the owner of building land in the city is in this
position: that he is morally bound, and ought to be
legally obliged, to let his land or a great part of it,
for the use of the working classes, although that is
not the most profitable use to which it could be put?
No, certainly not, in any manner whatever; but 50 or
a 100 persons joined together in a city guild for that
purpose, is a very different point. I do not mean to
say that I am right, but I can state that in every other
country in Europe it would be held so; and I cannot
understand why it should not be so in England.
1499. What is it that you would think it right to
prohibit? You say you would not prohibit any individual or any single owner from letting his land as he
thought best ?—Allowing that to be the case; if the
individual drives the poor away from the place to
which the charities intended for the poor is limited he
deprives them of the benefit of those charities by his
action, and I say that the sympathies of most rightminded men are with those poor people, and if that
state of things can be altered, it ought to be altered.
1500. Is there not an alternative remedy for that,
namely, to extend the area within which the charities
may be distributed?—Certainly; that is the very
point I was coming to. That is precisely the principal
reason why I asked to be examined.
1501. You do not contend that the companies
should be bound to build lodging-houses in localities
where offices or warehouses would be more profitable ?
—No, I do not care about that, provided that the
inheritance of the poor (that is to say, their charities
and endowments and things of that kind) follows them
where they go.
1502. But in that case is it not easier to bring the
charities to the poor rather than to keep the poor
within the original area of the charities ?—Certainly
in the present instance it is so, in the commencement
it might have been different.
1503. I understand also, you think that there ought
to be a closer connexion than at present exists between
the trades and the companies' charities ?—Most certainly.
1504. Do you consider that the charities should in
the main be appropriated to benefit the trades whose
names the companies bear ?—I think that first of
all their duties in relation to the trades ought to
be taken into consideration, for example, I hold that
certain portions of each livery companies special
charity funds, such, for example, as that mentioned
in the Goldsmiths' first charter for the relief of their
blind operatives, should be applied to their original
1505. For instance, a proportion of the Merchant
Taylors' funds should be applied for the benefit of the
tailors generally, you mean ?—Yes, and that used to
be the case. If you look in Machyn's and Stowe's
diaries you will find they give a description of a dinner
at the Merchant Taylors' Company, and also describes
the Merchant Taylors' School, in which there was not
a boy in the school that was not the son of a tailor.
1506. What date was that ?—It would be about the
time of Elizabeth or that and James the First.
1507. You say there was not a boy in the school
that was not the son of a tailor ?—That was not the
son of a tailor. In 1812 there were but 12 boys who
were the sons of tailors.
1508. You are aware that at the present time the
freedom of the company can be obtained by patrimony, and that therefore a large number of freemen,
probably the greater majority are not in any way connected with the trade ?—I am perfectly well aware
that it is so. With the Mercers' and with many others
also it used to be the same, yet they now state that since
the time of Charles II. it was not the case. In 1701
Sir William Gore was chief magistrate of London. He
belonged to the Mercers' Company, and he boasted
that there was not a man upon the company who was
not a mercer, while other companies had admitted
strangers. Beyond that, again, in D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature, mention is made of a song that was
used on the procession on Lord Mayor's day, in which
the words were to the effect that the mercers had kept
their company to the trade to which they belonged,
and yet the Mercers' insist in the present day that it
was not the case; that it was by patrimony, and that
there were no mercers belonging to them. However,
with regard to these companies, you will find in several
of the Camden Society's publications many statements
as to the close affinities existing between the trades
and the companies.
1509. How do you reconcile that close connexion
between the companies and the trades, with the fact
that the son of any member of the company had a
right to become a member of the company himself,
although he might not follow the trade represented by
the name of the company ?—That was not so at the
commencement. I am merely speaking as a man of
science and a literary man; I am no lawyer.
1510. Have you considered the question at all of
the manner in which the companies administer their
affairs?—Yes, and certainly it seems to me almost
inexplicable. If you look at the original charter of
the Goldsmiths' Company you will find a great portion
of their funds was distinctly for trade purposes and
charitable purposes. At the present time I think they
subscribe 600l. a year to some benefit associations
among the operative goldsmiths, and that is all. The
value of the clerk's appointment compared to the
money they give in charity is simply perfectly absurd.
1511. Do you consider that all the members of
certain trades in London have a right to be members
of the company ?—I consider that upon paying a certain entrance fee, they have a right to be elected
members of the company, and that they should make
the fees paid a sort of benefit funds plus the original
endowment, but not the whole of the funds. I think
the greater portion of the funds should go to benefit
the metropolis at large, and the poorer classes in greater
proportion than any other.
1512. Take, for instance, the case of the Merchant
Taylors', you think that all the tailors of London
would have a right on payment of some moderate fee
to enter that company ?—I do.
1513. Would you extend that beyond London ?—I
forget to what distance round London the powers of
the Merchant Taylors' Company extend, but the powers
vary, I think, from three miles to eight miles round
1514. You have considered the matter a good deal;
if you had to deal with the question of re-organising
the companies, what would be your proposition; in
the first place, would you re-organise them, or would
you abolish them ?—I would rather wish, provided
the benefit funds could he given to the members of
the trades, to abolish them; but, as I have stated
before, I have merely paid attention to the abuses
that exist, leaving it to those who are wiser than
myself to form such regulations as shall place them to
better uses than they are placed at present.
1515. The chief abuse about which you have told
us as yet is the driving of the working classes away
from the city?—Yes; but will you allow me also to
state this, that the English practice in this respect is
directly contrary to the usage prevailing in all the
capitals of Europe besides our own; you cannot find
anywhere evictions carried out to the same extent as
in London (and the precincts thereof).
1516. Carried out in consequence of any special
legislation do you mean, or merely by the ordinary
operation of the law which enables every house owner
to choose his own tenant ?—A great deal by legislation; that is to say, if a street is required it is invariably required through that portion of the place where
the densest population is to be found.
1517. Is that because the land is got cheapest there,
or what is it due to ?—They quote that as one reason;
but it looks also as if it were intended to get rid of
the tenants. That is the appearance it bears.
1518. Have you considered the question as to the
halls of the companies. We have heard it stated here
that they were assessed below their proper value; is
that your opinion ?—I am hardly capable of forming
an opinion as to that. I have followed Mr. Beal's
authority upon that point. He is much more up in
the subject than I am.
1519. (Mr. James.) You have stated in your proof
that the income of the clerk of the Goldsmiths' Company is 5,000l. a year ?—Pardon me, I think it was
4,000l. a year. I stated that it was equal to, or that
his incomes were equal to, at least 5,000l. a year. I
think I made my calculation on the basis that it
was equal to the emoluments of the head clerks of
the Inland Revenue, the Charity Commissioners, and
the Ecclesiastical Commissioners put together.
1520. Upon what information was that statement
made? (fn. 2) —He had, I think, 1,800l. a year for his own
salary; his son to assist him in his manifold duties
had 780l. a year more; he has a very magnificent
house and offices in the hall itself. Beyond that again
he was secretary to the Assam Tea Company, which
he was the principal man in getting up, and besides
his salary he has a gratuity of 2,000l.; I think it was
for his great labours. He was also one of the leading
men of the New River Company, and I believe of one
or two other things as well.
1521. Do you think that the clerk of one of the city
companies ought to be strictly limited to the discharge of a particular duty?—Judging from what the
duties, for example, of the Postmaster General and
a few others are, I think he ought to be limited to the
amount that he would receive for his duties. For his
son's and his own and his law duties he would receive
the income of the Postmaster General to begin with,
and those I think would be sufficient for any man to
occupy himself with.
1522. Supposing his other duties were efficiently
discharged, do you see any objection to his discharging
official duties in connexion with other bodies?—No,
but I think if he has so much time on his hands in
which to perform other duties as well, the income he
receives from the Goldsmiths' Company is somewhat
in excess; it is in excess of what it used to be
formerly, at any rate.
1523. And disproportionate to the duties you think
it likely he has to discharge?—I do not know what
the duties are that could make them so onerous.
1524. I want to ask you one or two questions with
regard to your statement as to the exclusion of the
working classes from the city. Always with great
public improvements a large proportion of the industrial population is displaced; but with these public
improvements in a large metropolis, and a large town,
they contribute to the general wealth. To what
extent do you think that the interests of a particular
class ought to be made superior to those of the general
community, and of the general wealth?—If the
necessity really exists, but from the number of empty
chambers in the city at the present time, I maintain it
does not exist. I think if they are driven away three
or four miles or anything of that kind, the charities
ought, or some portion of them ought, to be sent where
the poor people may profit by them. For example, as
I said before with regard to the sick, and the position
of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, that is the occasion of
very great hardship. I should like very much, if you
will allow me, to give you a case in point. About five
months ago a woman was, one Sunday evening, going
in a tramway car from Shoreditch up to Clerkenwell,
where she lived. The conductor was not there, and
as she was getting out of the car she was thrown
down and struck her head against a stone. She was
taken to the house of a Dr. Powell, by a policeman
and one or two other people; he asked whether she
was sober, they smelt her breath and found no taint
whatever of drink; the doctor then said, "Take her to
St. Bartholomew's Hospital," which was about a mile
off; "tell them I have examined very closely into the
case, and the woman is not intoxicated." She was
insensible and was carried to St. Bartholomew's
Hospital. She was there kept for some time, and
they attempted to bring her round. They galvanized
her, and used several other means of restoration, and
then said "The woman is only drunk; take her away."
The policeman said, " I was told by Dr. Powell to tell
you that the woman is not drunk." The answer was,
"Take her away." She was carried from there up to
the bottom of Gray's Inn Lane, where she was placed
in a police cell. The Inspector, hearing her moan, said
there must be something wrong with the woman, and
then she was carried a whole mile up the Gray's Inn
Lane to the parish infirmary, where she was taken in,
and died that night. A coroner's inquest was held,
and for some time the jury would not give a verdict.
However, the coroner insisted upon it, and they
brought it in—Accidental Death. Afterwards the
police found cut who the woman was. She had been
employed for 19 years in the firm of Kellys, publishers of the Post Office Directory, and a more respectable, sober, or honourable woman never breathed.
She had put by 8l. in the Savings' Bank so that she
might be attended in her own room in case of being
taken ill, and in case she died that she should not be
buried by the parish. If it had not been found out
who she was, that woman's body would have been
given for dissection in St. Bartholomew's Hospital,
and it is in England alone that such a case could
1525. How does this affect the case of the companies?—In every other part of Europe there would
have been a place where within 10 minutes that woman
would have been taken in and kept until she had
recovered her senses, or died.
1526. Do you think that it is in consequence of
neglect on the part of the city companies that places
have not been provided?—I maintain that if the companies drive the population away, they should see that
some of the charitable funds left for their welfare
are sent after them. I could give you a dozen
instances quite equal to that which I have stated of
St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
1527. You object to some of the uses I see to which
the property of the city companies is put. You
consider that the Mercers' Company are not justified
in leasing their cellar under the Royal Exchange as a
drinking bar?—I believe the license was refused. I
understood that they did ask 14,000l. a year for half
the cellar, and let it out for a drinking bar under the
Exchange. I have been told since that the license
was refused them, and now I am informed that it
never took place.
1528. (Mr. Burt.) In speaking of the removal of
the poor from the boundaries of the city, do they cease
to be eligible, in addition to other inconveniences,
with regard to any claims they may have upon the
charities?—They cease to be eligible if they are not
parishioners, and upon the guilds themselves; they
cease to be eligible for this reason, that the amounts
required to be paid in order to become members of the
guilds at this present time are so great, that it is
impossible for the working classes to join them. In
fact they place an insuperable impediment in the way
of the working man, and then invite him to surmount it.
1529. So that practically the working classes are
really deprived of any claims they might have upon
1530. (Mr. Firth.) Have you formed any estimate
of the number of people that have been driven out of
the city area by the process you have been speaking
of?—If you mean the city proper, I calculate that the
population will be about 120,000 fewer now than it
was in the year 1801.
1531. How much of that do you ascribe to this
process of driving the poor out?—The whole of it.
1532. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) When you speak of
the poor being driven out of the city of London, do
you include the artizan and labourer in that class, or
do you mean the really poor?—I allude to the artizan, the labourer, the really poor, and the industrial
classes. I mean by that, all whose earnings are under
200l. per year.
1533. Then you would include the labourer and the
artizan with the very poor?—I would include that
class because of the different educational endowments
(I would hardly call them charities) that they are
deprived of the benefit of, by that means. For example, if you take St. Paul's School, the Stationers'
Company's Schools, and other schools of that description, the people are deprived of the opportunity of
profiting by them by being driven away.
1534. In that class you would include messengers
and housekeepers, and persons who really do now live
within the city; that is to say, they live over the
offices of those who employ them?—They are merely
caretakers; they are called caretakers, that is all.
1535. But they sleep upon the premises in very
large numbers? I forget what it was in the statistics
of the city centre, but some thousands of what you
call poor really sleep within the city now?—I do not
understand that to be so.
1536. For example, you see a great many children
going to the different ward schools, and they would
be the children of those people in very large numbers?—Allow me to give you an example to the
contrary. St. Paul's School has an endowment of
about 15,000l. or 16,000l. a year. The Stationers'
Company's School has an endowment of 300l. a year.
In the Stationers' Company's School the education is
as good or better than in St. Paul's School. If St.
Paul's School transacted their business with the
economy and efficiency that the Stationers' Company's
School do, they ought to educate 2,000 boys gratuitously, but they confine the number to 153 under the
plea that St. Peter caught 153 fish in his net, and out
of deference to the wishes of the pious founder they
decline to teach more.
1537. When you give us figures have you really
looked into the facts; and do you know your figures
to be correct?—Yes, I know my figures to be correct.
With regard to the Stationers' Company's School
especially, I went there to minutely examine it myself;
and found that the School Endowment Commissioners
stated that it was so admirable that they could not
suggest an improvement, and the whole cost of each
boy's education there is not above 7l. 10s. or 8l. a year.
1538. You put it at 300l. a year?—That was three
or four years ago when I got my information from the
head master, Mr. Isbister.
1539. You are aware that a few years ago the
Artizans' Dwellings Act was passed?—Yes.
1540. And that it was done with the intention of
getting rid of courts and alleys and other places that
were a disgrace to the poor to live in?—Certainly.
1541. Then the Act, of course, called upon the city
and the whole of the metropolis to remove those
places; you are aware of that?—Yes.
1542. That, of course, would displace a great many
people during the rebuilding or replacing. What you
would call the poor or the inhabitants of those places,
ould it not?—Yes.
1543. So that really the Act of Parliament called
for this action, whether on the part of the companies
or any one else, did it not?—Certainly, but then in
France they oblige sufficient house accommodation for
the poor to be built before the others are destroyed.
Here it is not so.
1544. You know it would be utterly impossible to
build before you destroy because the surrounding
properties are very valuable?—Granted that they are
enormously valuable, but during the time that value
remains idle it should be borne in mind that it pays
neither rates nor taxes and others have to make it up.
All the community have to suffer by the increased
1545. Do you know that the ejected tenants were
or were not provided with homes?—The houses were
not built, and they could not be provided with homes.
1546. Do you think it advisable that a man should
travel from the city one or two miles to get a more
comfortable home than he can enjoy within the walls?
—As the lowest value of labour will be about 6d.
per hour, the taking of two hours to go backwards
and forwards seems something like 1s. a day tax on
1547. The whole of the labour of the artizan is not
in the city of London; he has to go to other parts to
work?—Granted. I will take one class alone who
are worthy of great commiseration. I allude to
those who are working in the newspaper offices in
Fleet Street and the neighbourhood of the city. Any
man accustomed to the fearful atmosphere of the rooms
in which they work may imagine what, on a cold
winter's night, must be the effect of their coming out
of one of those rooms and walking a mile or a mile
and a half to his home afterwards.
1548. You would not provide beds and apartments
in the houses in which they work?—Certainly not.
1549. Therefore they must go somewhere?—Still
there is a great deal more room than is at present
made use of, and the model houses might be made
use of to very great advantage.
1550. You will admit that the apartments a man
would take or the lodgings he would take, he would
have to pay for, and that he could only obtain those
which he could pay for, and which were within his
means. He could not occupy city properties as
lodgings, could be?—I do not exactly see the reason
of it. I think you will find that the value of the land
on which the block of model lodging-houses have
been built by the Peabody Dwellings' Trustees, down
by Southwark Bridge Station, was quite as great as
the greater part of that within the city.
1551. That is out of the city?—It belongs to the
city, it is within the Borough precincts of the city.
1552. That is out of the city proper; still the model
dwellings are of a very great assistance to the poor,
but those who walk perhaps from Fleet Street have to
go half or three quarters of a mile to get to them?—
Yes, but they would not let land in Blackfriars for
those houses to be built.
1553. You blame, I think, the Metropolitan Board
of Works quite as much as the city for putting the
artizan and labourer out?—Certainly.
1554. You think that they ought to have interfered?—They ought to have interfered.
1555. As I understand you, you almost exonerate
the companies from being a party to turning the
artizan and labourer out of the city?—If the companies on their ground have at this present time
a 1,000 or 2,000 sets of chambers lying empty, it is
clear proof that they might have built rooms for the
working classes for a 1,000 or 2,000 families, because
they cannot let those offices.
1556. In what way would you call upon the companies to do it?—I do not say that you can do so;
but in cases where they have charities for the benefit
of the working classes, a portion of those charities
ought to be placed in the localities where the working
classes are, and where they can benefit by them, and
not simply the charities but the endowments as well.
1557. You assume that a great many of the offices
that are empty in the city belong to the companies?—
I am certain of it.
1558. You think it would have been better for them
to have built artizans' dwellings rather than offices?
—Something of that kind to show they had some
sympathies with the trades they represent.
1559. You know as a fact that the companies do
assist the poor to a very great extent in the way of
pensions and donations and gifts of various kinds, do
you not?—I must say, though it is possibly from the
want of going sufficiently deep into the matter, that I
have not found very many instances of that.
1560. Perhaps you will look into it and you will
find that it is so?—I will certainly look into it.
1561. And also gifts to hospitals and infirmaries
and places of that kind?—With regard to hospitals
allow me to mention one point. In the north-eastern
and south-eastern districts of the metropolis, there is
in each a population of about 700,000 souls without a
single general hospital; whereas to the honour of
civilisation in all Europe, even including Russia, you
cannot find such an injustice as that.
1562. You object to the payment of court fees as I
understand to the members of the courts of the city
guilds?—As far as that goes I think considering that
they have nothing whatever, or the greatest portion of
them to do with the trades, it is very capital pay for
very little work. If I were upon a guild I should
very likely take a different view from that which I do
from the outside.
1563. You would not like to give your time from
12 to 1, 2, 3, or 4 o'clock in the day?—I cannot say
that I should.
1564. That is what the court fees are given for;
and you object also to a small box of bonbons being
given to a departing guest after an entertainment?—
I do not know in what manner that should be taken.
Formerly, before forks were used, beside each guest's
chair there was a void basket, into which the broken
food was thrown for the debtors' prisons and other
things. This has been abolished by way of teaching the
poor the benefit of thrift, but they give a bonbon box
worth 1l. or 30s. to the guests to take home to their
friends to encourage brotherly love, and so on.
1565. Is not the remainder of a dinner generally
set on one side for the poor?—I did not know that
that was generally done. I have been at one or two.
1566. You object to the hospitality of the companies as being far too splendid. You do not object
to their being hospitable?—Certainly not.
1567. Only that they do it in a little too splendid a
manner?—Allow me to give you an example of what
I mean. Some time ago an invitation to a Dyers'
Company's dinner at Richmond was given, and the
member of the court that gave the invitation told the
lady and gentlemen who were invited that they could
go down there, have a capital dinner (they paid
3l. 3s. for the dinner), and besides they would have a
guinea a piece to pay their railway fare. I do not
call that thrift.
1568. You would call it hospitality?—I will not go
contrary to you upon the point, but it is not exactly
the definition that I should give to hospitality.
1569. (The Duke of Bedford.) Did I understand
you to say that 10 guineas an inch was asked for land
in this neighbourhood?—Yes; 10 guineas a lineal
inch of direct line of frontage; and allow me to say it
was paid also.
1570. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Do I understand
you to impute any blame to the livery companies for
the dispersion of the poor from the city of London?—
1571. How are they responsible? (fn. 3) —I gave one
example of the destruction of one block of houses
alone of the Merchant Taylors' Company for the purpose of erecting 220 sets of chambers, and nobody was
allowed to sleep on the premises; they would not
grant the leases until that was agreed to, and there
are many other similar cases.
1572. Can you speak from personal knowledge
when you say that there was any covenant in the lease
so granted, to the effect that no person was to be
allowed to sleep on the buildings erected on the land
in question?—I can speak from my own personal experience. I am a director of one of the large Assam
Tea Companies; we have our offices there, and are
specially bound down not to let anyone sleep upon
1573. Is not that a binding down by the building
owner, and not the freeholder?—No; the freeholder
would not grant it except upon that condition.
1574. Did you see the ground lease?—No, but I
was informed by the surveyor himself.
1575. Of course if you speak from personal knowledge I can only say that I do not remember a freeholder ever making any such covenant. You say that
the poor are deprived of the benefits of such hospitals
as St. Bartholomew's Hospital by being driven out of
the city. Do I understand you to say that?—Yes; I
say that they are injured to a very considerable extent,
and in the case of St. Thomas's as well, because they
were both held alike.
1576. St. Thomas's was removed by an Act of Parliament, and I presume the companies are not responsible for that, are they?—They are responsible; because when the Corporation of the city of London
were most earnest that it should not be put there, but
down Rotherhithe way, where the poor were, there
were many members of the city guilds who proposed
that it should be sent to the more genteel neighbourhood opposite the House of Commons.
1577. Surely you do not mean to imply any blame
or discredit to the livery companies, as companies, for
that, do you?—Certainly not.
1578. Individual members of the livery companies
may have taken their own course of action?—Certainly, but the companies were neutral upon that
1579. With regard to St. Bartholomew's and the
700 a year, do you know whether there has been an
increase or decrease in the number of poor received
into that hospital during the last seven or ten years?—
I will tell you what the number of beds is, because I
have been making inquiry about it. The number of
beds at the present time in St. Bartholomew's Hospital
I think is about 600 or 700.
1580. Six hundred and seventy; and there has been
no change in the number of beds for the last 10 years?
—I believe there has been a convalescent hospital
added to it, but the number of beds added has been by
no means in preportion to the increased value of their
1581. That is a question as regards the hospital;
but with regard to the poor, would you be surprised
to know that nearly double the number of poor people
were relieved last year as compared with 15 years
ago?—Are you speaking of in- or out-patients?
1582. In-patients and out-patients altogether?—
With regard to the in-patients I can offer no opinion;
with regard to the out-patients I can say, on the
authority of Dr. Bridges, the assistant physician, that
the time given to each out-patient is a fraction under
a minute, and the value of the medicine a fraction
1583. The number of persons relieved is vastly in
excess of 15 years ago, is it not?—For all that they
have a mile and a half to go for it and a mile and a
half to go back.
1584. Did I understand you to tell the Commission
that the workmen connected with trades can get no
benefit now through the companies because of the
large payment required?—By no means equal in proportion to what they used to do when their income
was considerably smaller than it is now.
1585. Is the payment made by freemen larger than
it was 40 years ago?—I am not able to tell you what
it was 40 years ago, because I did not then take any
interest in the question, and therefore I have not gone
so far back as that; but in taking the different records
up to the time of Charles II. and about that time, I
state distinctly that the cost is far in excess of what it
used to be formerly.
1586. But you cannot speak from personal knowledge?—Of course not.
1587. Have you looked at the return sent in by the
company?—I have seen the returns sent by all the
companies. I have taken information also from
Herbert's City Companies from the Camden Society's
Papers, and several works of the kind.
1588. Should you be surprised to hear from a return now before me that the companies allow freemen
to any number belonging to the trades to subscribe
6d. a week and to be entitled to all the privileges of
freemen?—I was not certainly aware of that in any
1589. You have given to the Commission the
opinion that the workmen connected with the companies cannot get any benefit from the companies. I
give you now the case of one company in which 24s.
per annum is the payment required to be made by a
freeman which entitles him to the benefit from all the
charities in case of poverty, and education for his
sons at the school. I am now reading from a return
on the table?—But first of all, what will be the expenditure of the company's hall, their dinners, their
servants, and the mere working expenses before that
is allowed, because that will diminish the value to a
very considerable extent of what the poor are entitled
to and the number that might be supplied.
1590. Apart from the question of how the funds
are spent, do you think a sum of less than 6d. a week
should be charged as a fee to freemen?—Certainly
1591. If so small a sum is charged does it not show
that the working classes connected with the trade can
get the benefits of the company if they choose to subscribe?—May I ask what company it is that you refer
1592. That is the Stationers' Company?—I am
very glad you mention that, because I have gone very
deeply into the question of the Stationers' Company,
and although there might be some improvement in it,
that company is certainly very admirably managed.
1593. Are there any other companies where the fee
for freemen is very low and the benefits large, in comparison to the amount paid?—I do not know of any.
1594. Would you be astonished to hear that in
several of the large companies freemen can be admitted in any number belonging to the trade?—Do
you include the Mercers' and the Goldsmiths'?
1595. I cannot speak for the Mercers', but I can for
the Clothworkers'. I think you told the Commission
that in France when the poor were removed, houses
were built for them before the others were pulled
down; are you speaking of Paris?—I am speaking
1596. Can you tell me where in Paris there are
any large blocks of houses at all commensurate with
the enormous improvements that have been made in
London?—I will take the Boulevard Sebastopol.
1597. Do you call those workmen's houses?—No;
but I mean that in many of the top apartments of
those houses the working classes live, and before
one stone was placed to build the Boulevard Sebastopol that law was passed and insisted upon by the
municipality of Paris.
1598. Can you tell me whether the rooms in the
Boulevard Sebastopol or any other part of Paris are
not far dearer than in London?—It is so long since
I was a pupil in Paris that I am not able to say.
1599. I think you said the Dyers' Company not
only entertained their guests but gave them money to
pay the cost of their journey; can you speak of that
from personal knowledge?—Yes.
Adjourned to Wednesday next at 4 o'clock.