Wednesday, 21st February 1883.
The Right Honourable the EARL of DERBY, Chairman.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G.
The Right Hon. Viscount Sherbrooke.
The Right Hon. Lord Coleridge.
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. Albert Pell, M.P.
Mr. J. F. B. Firth, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
The following Gentlemen attended as a Deputation from the Grocers' Company:—
The Master, Mr. J. T. Miller.
Second Warden, Mr. J. A. Kingdon.
Members of Court, Mr. W. T. Steinmitz and
Mr. J. H. Warner.
Clerk, Mr. W. Ruck.
2181. (Chairman to the Master.) I understand that
you have come prepared to lay before the Commission
a statement of various points to which you wish to
call their attention ?—That is so, my Lord. We have
already sent in, as we think, a complete return to your
questions, but we have understood that the Commissioners wish to acquire a general knowledge of the
leading facts connected with the Company, and this
statement has been drawn up for their convenience.
2182. And I understand that you propose to read
it ?—That is so.
2183. We shall be very glad to hear it.
A.—The Grocers' Company have already, under protest, replied promptly and fully to the inquiries of the
City of London Livery Companies' Commission, and in
responding to the invitation addressed to them to offer
statements and oral evidence, they are anxious to give
the Commission all the information and assistance in
their power. At the same time the Company respectfully submit that this action on their part shall not be
considered as an admission in any sense of any special
jurisdiction of the Crown, over the Livery Companies,
or of the right of the Crown, without the authority of
Parliament, to institute an inquiry into what has been
judicially declared to be private property.
In 1833 the Company declined to appear before the
Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Municipal Corporations of England and Wales. They could
not, as they thought, appear without admitting themselves to be a municipal corporation, and the Companies
were advised that they were not municipal corporations
by the most eminent counsel. (fn. 1) Moreover, the Royal
Commission in that case purported to give power to call
for papers, to compel the attendance of witnesses, and to
administer an oath; and it was believed that such
powers were illegal and unconstitutional. No such
powers are conferred on the present Commission.
The Grocers' Company hold the second place among
the 12 great companies of the City of London. The
Commissioners are aware that the senior Company, the
Mercers', have declined to avail themselves of the opportunity of offering oral evidence; and it is proposed,
with the leave of the Commission and of the Mercers'
Company, which has been obtained for the purpose, to
read the letter addressed by that Company to the Commission on this subject:—
"Mercers' Hall, E.C.,
14th December 1882.
" In reply to your communication of the 10th
ultimo, I am desired by the Mercers' Company to thank
Her Majesty's Commissioners for their courtesy in
supplying the Company with copies of the statements
made to them.
"The inaccuracy of many of these is, no doubt,
mainly attributable to an imperfect acquaintance on the
part of their authors, with the early history of the City
Guilds. So far as regards the Mercers' Company, this
defect is remedied by the series of facts which the Company had the honour to lay before Her Majesty's Commissioners in the first 15 pages of Return A, Part 1, of
"The facts there set forth have been collected and
arranged at the expense of a great deal of labour, in the
desire entertained by the Company to furnish all the
information that can be gathered on the subject. They
extend (as the Commissioners will have remarked) over
a period of more than 700 years, and it would scarcely
be possible, the Company believe, to throw additional
light on the matter. But if the Commissioners would
have the goodness to point out any particular with
regard to which they feel a doubt, the Company will
give their best endeavours to remove any ambiguity.
" In the statement prefixed to the returns of the
Company to the questions of the Commissioners, the
views entertained by the Company with regard to the
tenure on which they hold their property were distinctly
stated. Those views remain unchanged; and the Company are glad to find that they have incidentally received an unqualified confirmation in the oral testimony
of a legal authority of the highest rank before the
"As regards the mode in which the Company's
income is expended, the Company trust that the same
sense of the duties attaching to the possession of property which has hitherto guided them in the administration of their own, will continue to do so; and they
venture to think that in this respect they have no reason
to fear a comparison with the most liberal among
the wealthy gentry and nobility of the realm. But
considering this point to be one affecting themselves
only, they decline to notice either the censure or the
commendation which may have been expressed by others
in reference to it.
"While gratefully acknowledging, therefore, the
courtesy of Her Majesty's Commissioners in offering
to receive statements and to hear evidence on behalf
of the Company,' I am desired to say that any action
thereupon on the part of the Company appears to them
superfluous, and that they are unwilling to encroach
further on the time of the Commissioners.
"I am, Sir,
"Your obedient servant,
"(Signed) John Watney.
"H. D. Warr, Esq.,
"2, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W."
To the views expressed generally in this letter the
Grocers' Company adhere. The statement of the law
made before the Commission by the highest legal
authority in the kingdom is supported by the judicial
declaration of Lord Langdale, M.R. (fn. 2) and is consistent
with the uniform practice of the Company. (fn. 3)
The Grocers' Company also concur in the opinion of
the Mercers' Company, that the inaccuracy of many of
the statements made before the Commission is mainly
attributable to an imperfect acquaintance on the part of
the witnesses with the early history, and, it may be
added, the present management of the City Gilds. The
Court of the Grocers' Company feel that, after furnishing complete returns, they might safely have left these
misstatements to the judgment of the Commissioners;
but the investigation must have thrown much additional
labour on the Commission, and the object of the present
statement is to present the case of the Grocers' Company
in as concise a form as the subject will admit without
too much detail or legal technicality, and with references to various erroneous views which have been put
forward either in books or in the oral evidence given
before the Commission.
As the Commission began their oral evidence by
examining members and officials of the Charity Commission, it is proposed to take, first, the subject of the
Company's charities; secondly, to deal with the origin
and history and constitution of the Company; and,
lastly, with its present administration and the application of its income.
Part I.—The Charities of the Company.
By the Company's charities are meant the sums of
money which the Company is legally bound to apply for
charitable purposes, and of which a return is made
every year to the Charity Commissioners.
In the case of the Grocers' Company, these charities
bear a very small proportion to the corporate income.
They are set out in detail in the returns (pages 19, 20),
and consist of two classes: (1) a number of small payments charged on property of the Company for the
benefit of various parishes, hospitals, colleges, and
similar objects. These amount altogether to 315l. a
year, and are simply paid over by the Company to the
authorities legally entitled to receive them, and the
Company are not responsible for the application; (2)
charities under the management of the Company itself.
A considerable part of these have been appropriated by
a Middle Class School Scheme. Those which remain
amount to 433l. a year, (fn. 4) and a capital sum of about
4,700l. (fn. 5)
The Commission may, perhaps, think it right to
consider how far these charities are safe in the hands of
the Company. On this subject important evidence was
given by Mr. Hare, in his report to the Charity Commissioners in 1863 after an inquiry into the condition
and circumstances of the charities under the management of the Grocers' Company. The following is an
extract from the report:—
"The Grocers' Company decline to exhibit any statement of their property not specifically charged by the
respective founders of the charities. It has not been an
uncommon circumstance in the case of the other City
Companies that charitable funds given them are not
found at present set apart in any definite form of investment, whilst the Company generally admit their liability and pay the interest or dividends from their
general property. There can be no doubt that in the
case of these ancient, wealthy, and liberal bodies the
funds are practically secure."
In illustration of Mr. Hare's opinion, it may be mentioned that the Grocers' Company are legally bound to
expend 300l. a year on the school and almshouses at
Oundle. The rest of the income, under Sir W. Laxton's
will, about 4,000l. a year, belongs to the Company, by
Lord Langdale's decision, as their private property.
But the Company actually expend upwards of 3,000l. a
year on the school, and about 300l. a year on the almshouses; and have, within the last eight years, laid out
28,000l. on school buildings, masters' houses, and
In the case of Witney School there is no beneficial
gift at all to the Company; but the Company gives
considerable help from their corporate funds. Thus, in
1877, the Company gave 433l., and in 1878, 862l. In
the case of Colwall School the Company is bound to
pay 30l. a year, and actually expends upwards of 250l.
There does not appear to be any beneficial gift.
In the case of the University Exhibitions the Company are bound to apply 40l. a year out of the income
of the property, which now amounts to 670l. The Company actually give 575l. a year, exclusive of exhibitions
from Oundle School. They are also maturing a scheme,
with the advice of some of the most eminent scientific
men of the day, for the endowment of original research
in sanitary science. This will increase the expenditure
under the head of exhibitions by 750l. a year, besides a
quadrennial discovery prize of 1,000l.
These facts will probably satisfy the Commission that
the charities of the Grocers' Company are, as Mr. Hare
says, practically secure. It might be added that on
more than one occasion when the Company contemplated large expenditure on their schools at Oundle or
Witney, they applied to the Endowed Schools' Commissioners for a scheme, and in each case the Commissioners, influenced no doubt by the smallness of the
endowment, preferred to leave the school in the
management of the Company.
All the remaining charities of the Company were redeemed some years ago under the voluntary powers of
the Endowed Schools Act, 1869, and the proceeds applied under the authority of a scheme in the building
of a large middle class school at Hackney Downs. The
date of the scheme is 24th March 1873, and it was the
first scheme of any importance framed under the voluntary powers of the Endowed Schools Act. The Endowed
Schools Commissioners expressly thanked the Company
for setting what the Commissioners termed so good an
Mr. Hare in his evidence says he does not know of
any City Company having applied for a scheme, and
that the City Companies are not likely to apply for
schemes. It is singular that he should be ignorant of
the first, and certainly one of the most important cases
in which the voluntary powers of the Endowed Schools
Act were put in force. The reason probably is, that
Mr. Hare is an official of the Charity Commission, and
that he is not thoroughly acquainted with the proceedings of the Endowed Schools Commission to whose
functions the Charity Commissioners succeeded in 1875.
Mr. Hare's evidence on this point shows how easily
witnesses, with the best intentions, may give a wrong
impression as to facts. Mr. Longley also seems to have
been unaware of the circumstances; no doubt for the
same reason as Mr. Hare.
The capital value of the Company's non-educational
charities appropriated under the Middle Class School
Scheme was 27,000l. To this the Company have added
upwards of 5,000l. out of their corporate funds, and a
large and flourishing school has been established at
Hackney Downs, the district selected by the Endowed
Schools Commissioners; but the scheme fixes the
tuition fees too low, and the Company now makes good
the loss on the working of the school, which amounts
to about 1,500l. a year.
Among the non-educational charities of the Company,
appropriated by the Middle Class School Scheme, is
Lady Middleton's gift of 20l. a year for necessitous
clergymen's widows. The Company, with a desire to
respect and carry out the wishes of the founder, where
this can be usefully done, even though the charity has
ceased to exist legally, perpetuate the name and wishes
of Lady Middleton by now giving between 700l. and
800l. a year for the purposes she contemplated.
The recipients of the gift are carefully selected. The
old ladies, who are successful candidates, are invited to
the hall, courteously received, and entertained at
luncheon. Every effort is made to render the gift as
welcome to the recipients as the act of giving is to the
master and wardens who distribute the Company's
Connected with the question of the Middle Class
School is a subject on which a grave attack has been made
upon the Grocers' Company by Mr. Beal, in his oral
evidence; and the Commissioners could not have a
better instance of the worthlessness of some of the
charges made against the Companies. The case is
this:—Among the charities appropriated by the Grocers'
Company's Middle Class School Scheme, which has the
force of an Act of Parliament, was a yearly sum of
9l. 2s. payable to seven poor members of the Company,
and charged upon the lands and houses devised to the
Company by Sir Henry Kebyll.
As to this Mr. Beal says :—
Ans. 537.; Ans. 654.; Ans. 660.; Ans. 904, 906.
"The return of Keble's Charity is 9l. 2s. per annum;
I turn from that to Herbert's ' Twelve Great Companies ' for his evidence of Keble's Trust, and I find that
includes a mansion in Old Jewry and houses behind, in
Grocers' Hall Court; the site of Grocers' Hall itself
was part of Prince's Street behind, and part of the
present Bank of England. I put that modestly at
25,000l. a year, and it is returned at 9l. 2s." Again,
"In so far as I have attacked the honour of the Grocers'
Company, it was upon the ground that they returned
the 9l. 2s. only; they never said there was a return of
20,000l. behind it. This 9l. 2s. was the income from
six cottages and gardens and yards somewhere about
the year 1500. The entire income was given to be
divided in certain ways; then I say, as a matter of law,
that every shilling of that property, to whatever it may
amount, must be used for the same purposes. Keble's
case I take to be a sort of test;" and "if we had these
gentlemen here and asked them questions about it, we
should change the face of these returns."
It will be observed that Mr. Beal makes two distinct
charges against the Company; one, of making a false
return by not including the site of Grocers' Hall in
the property devised by Sir H. Kebyll's will; the other,
of committing a breach of trust in not treating the
whole income of the property as applicable to trust
purposes. Mr. Beal makes his charges plainly and confidently; he affects to regard the case of Kebyll's will
as a sort of test by which the Company is to be tried,
and he does not scruple to say, when pressed, that the
Charity Commissioners were certainly wrong when they
took the same view as the Grocers' Company as to the
legal obligation to pay the 9l. 2s. only.
These statements of Mr. Beal have induced the Company to institute a very careful investigation of the
subject, and the result of this investigation is to confirm
in every respect the accuracy of the Company's returns.
The property devised by Kebyll's will is described with
considerable minuteness, and can all be identified, and it
seems as certain as anything can be, at this distance of
time, that the will in no way refers to Grocers' Hall or
its site. (fn. 6)
Mr. Beal's mistake is, however, a very old one. In
the year 1686, when the Company were insolvent, and
unable to pay their charities, they applied for an inquisition of charitable uses with the sole object of charging
the whole of the Company's charities on the whole of
the Company's property. For this purpose the Company's property was scheduled, probably very hurriedly,
and under the head of Sir H. Kebyll's will was put—
"A messuage in the Old Jewry, then in possession
of Sir Robert Clayton, a messuage then called Grocers'
Hall, near the Poultry, in the possession of Sir Robert
Jeffery, Lord Mayor of London, and a messuage, then
several small messuages, in the parish of St. Peter's
The report of the Commissioners for inquiring concerning charities appointed by Parliament in 1818,
quotes the will correctly, but also quotes the description
given in the Inquisition, and this description was afterwards transferred verbatim to Herbert's book, which
Mr. Beal quotes as his authority.
But if there is some excuse for Mr. Beal's mistake as
to the property comprised in Sir H. Kebyll's will, there
is no excuse at all for his statement that the entire
income of the property devised by the will was specifically appropriated.
Sir H. Kebyll's devise to the Company was to the
intent, and under the manner, form, and condition,
that the Company should with the rents provide a
chaplain, pay 6d. a week to seven poor freemen, and
keep a yearly obit, with a gift over if the Company
should make default. It is precisely the case put by
Lord Cairns in his judgment in the Wax Chandlers'
case stated fully in the Appendix to Mr. Longley's
evidence. It is a devise upon condition. The devise
is accepted, the condition must be fulfilled, and the
money must be paid, whether the land devised is or is
not adequate to meet the payment. The land is the
land of the devisee, and every accretion to the value of
the land belongs to the devisee. The charity which has
the benefit of the condition has a right to nothing more
than the payment. The same principle had been previously laid down by other eminent judges, among them
Lord Eldon, (fn. 7) Lord Brougham, (fn. 8) Sir John Leach, (fn. 9) and
Lord Cottenham. (fn. 10) But the present case does not
depend only on a rule of law, however well established.
There is also a gift over, which shows that the testator
himself distinctly contemplated giving a beneficial
interest to the devisee on whom he imposed the condition. (fn. 11)
It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that Mr. Beal
has, in connexion with Sir H. Kebyll's will, charged
the Grocers' Company with something like fraud, and the
Charity Commissioners (fn. 12) with almost culpable ignorance
or negligence. Not only are these grave and offensive
charges altogether unfounded, but there is considerable
reason to suppose that Mr. Beal has never even seen a
copy of the will on which he has based them.
Mr. Firth, in his book " Municipal London," attacks
the Grocers' Company in much the same way as Mr.
Beal does. He says (page 79), "It is not without a
certain aptitude that one recognises the motto of the
Company, 'God grant grace.' It would have been
interesting to know how the graceless grocers do
dispense their vast trust property. For example, in
1636 one William Pennefather by his will gave
233l. 6s. 8d. to buy land of the yearly value of
11l. 13s. 4d., such sum to be divided yearly amongst
seven poor almspeople. How much does the land
bring in, and how much is paid over ? So a house
given to the same Company to provide 4l. a year for
an iron and glass lantern to be fixed in Billingsgate,
and 6l. 10s. to the poor. If the house brings in (as
it probably does) 300l. a year, how much is given to
Without saying anything as to the taste in which this
passage is written, it will probably be sufficient to
observe that the 233l. 6s. 8d. given by Pennefather's
will was never invested in land, and that the yearly
sum of 11l. 13s. 4d., intended by the will to be secured,
and the capital value of the house in Walbrook (176l. a
year) devised by John Wardall were appropriated by
the Middle Class School Scheme. (fn. 13) But the Commissioners will not of course assume, because the Company
assented to the appropriation to the purposes of middle
class education of the charities created for the benefit
of poor members of the Company by Sir H. Kebyll,
Pennefather, and Wardall, that there is any desire on
their part to neglect their duty towards the poorer
brethren of the fraternity. The Company have always
considered their whole corporate property as applicable
to the relief of their poor members, not as of right, but
at the discretion of the court. The obligation to relieve
unfortunate members dates from the earliest ordinances
of the brotherhood, as far back as 1345, and it has
always been observed. All applications from poor
members are carefully inquired into, either by the
court of assistants or by the master and wardens, and
are dealt with on their merits, with a view to give
liberal aid to the deserving, and to avoid anything like
a system of doles. The expenditure of the Company
under this head is about 4,000l. a year, upwards of 10
times the amount which, if the Middle Class School
Scheme had not become law, the Company would have
been legally bound to pay. Nothing could be more
baseless than the imputation made by Mr. Firth on this
The general charities of the Company are dealt with
in a subsequent part of this paper.
Part II.—The Origin, History, and Constitution of
The first mention of the Gild of Pepperers is in
1180. The Pepperers of Soper's Lane, and the Spicers
of Cheap, in the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries,
represented the English element in London trade with
the East, just as the terms " Brethren of St. Anthony,"
"Merchants of the Steelyard," and "Easterlings" (fn. 14)
point to a foreign element. These merchants imported
eastern products, practised the arts of coining and
weighing, and to some extent banking.
As instances of the importance of the Pepperers
it may be noticed that, in 1221, Andrew Bokerell, a
pepperer, was keeper of the " King's Exchange." His
duty was to receive old stamps or coining irons, and
deliver new ones to all the mints in England. He
was Lord Mayor for seven consecutive years, 1231–
1237. Also, that at the beginning of the reign of
Edw. III. 1328, while the commonalty of the City
elected the custodian of the small beam, by which silks,
and other speciaria were weighed by the peso sottile, or
pound of twelve ounces, the Pepperers and their trade
allies, who weighed by averdupois, elected the keeper
of the great beam of the King, at which the peso grosso,
or merchants' pound of fifteen ounces was used.
The Pepperers were also correspondents of the Italian
bankers and merchants of Siena, Lucca, and Florence,
and were probably concerned with the transmission of
Papal revenues collected in England by the Pope's
instruments, the preaching and begging friars. The
Eastern trade also brought Lombard merchants to
London, and by the year 1250 these merchants were
firmly established in Lombard Street, to which they
gave its name. In 1338 Edw. III., being in urgent
need of money for his wars in France, extorted a large
loan from the Lombards within his dominions. This
eventually caused the ruin of the Italian merchants of
Lombard Street. The greatest of them, the Bardi and
Peruzzi, held out to the last, and failed in January
1345. This was a very severe blow to the Pepperers
and their allies in trade with the East; and from this
time the name Pepperers ceases to be distinctive of a
gild; but on the 9th of May in the same year some 20
Pepperers of Soper's Lane " of good condition," undaunted by their trade reverses, met to continue their
connexion as the social and religious fraternity of St.
Anthony, and adopted St. Anthony as their patron
saint. The records of the Grocers' Company begin
with a very ancient and probably almost contemporaneous account of this meeting. The actual record is
now being reproduced in facsimile, and it is hoped will
soon be ready for presentation to the Commission.
Nothing can be more quaint or circumstantial than this
narrative of the proceedings of the 20 Pepperers, and
their ordinances, "pointz" as they are called, have
been happily preserved to us. These ordinances show
that the objects of the fraternity were social, benevolent, and religious, " for greater love and unity," and
"to maintain and assist one another." (fn. 15)
Mr. Firth, in his work on "Municipal London,"
page, 47, refers to the origin of the Grocers' Company
as described in "Herbert on London Livery Companies,"
and continues: "So amid prayer and feasting began
the Grocers' Company, and, as it had begun, so it
prospered, till, in the zenith of its power, as many
as sixteen aldermen of the City were inscribed on
its roll of members at the same time. . . . . And
the origin of the Grocers' was typical of that of
many other Companies. Every member of the Company was engaged in its trade, and had its interests
at heart; he subscribed his quarterage regularly to
the common fund; he was co-equal with all other
members of his Company; he helped to regulate and
control its expenditure; he had relief in case of
necessity; and, if he died in poverty, he was followed
to the grave and buried by the brotherhood, and the
Company's private chaplain publickly prayed for the
repose of his soul."
Mr. Firth follows Herbert's work published in 1837.
Herbert simply copied the first edition of Baron Heath's
excellent " History of the Grocers' Company," published
in 1829. Subsequent investigations have shown that
the Grocers' Company was not a craft-gild at all; that
the first and crucial test of such a gild, that all members should be engaged in its trade, was not a rule of
the Fraternity of St. Anthony or of the Grocers' Company, and that the institution of the Fraternity or Company was that of a social or religious gild.
It is true that the ordinances of the Fraternity of
1345 provide that no person should be a member of the
Fraternity if not of good condition and of this mistery,
that is, a Pepperer of Soper's Lane, a Canevacer of
the Ropery, or a Spicer of the Ward of Cheap, (fn. 16) or
other people of their mistery (fn. 17) wherever they reside;
but only three years later Sir John de Londre, parson
of St. Anthony, was admitted a member, though presumably not of the craft; so, in 1348, were Sir John
de Hichan, parson of St. Anthony, and Sir Symon de
Wy, parson of Bernes.
The ordinances of the Grocers' Company of 1376
expressly ordain that no one of any other mistery shall
be admitted into the Company without the common
assent, and should pay for his entry 10l. This clearly
points to a practice of admitting non-craftsmen, and,
combined with the custom of freedom by patrimony
and by redemption, which began about 1460, proves, as
far as proof is possible in such a case, that the Company
was not an exclusive or craft gild. There was, in fact,
no " craft." We know that as early as 1363 complaint
was made to the King and Parliament that the merchants called grocers (grossers) engrossed all manner
of merchandise vendible (fn. 18) ; that is to say, they were
general merchants; and a "craft" of general merchants seems almost impossible at a time when every
calling, trade, or handicraft was minutely defined and
In the leading work on the subject of English gilds, (fn. 19)
they are distinguished as (1) religious or social gilds,
(2) town gilds or gild merchants, and (3) craft gilds.
Of these the most ancient form is the religious or social
gild. The statutes of one of them, the Gild of
Abbotsbury, drawn up as early as the beginning of the
11th century, actually remain. The object of that gild,
according to the statutes, appears to have been the support and nursing of gild brothers; the burial of the
dead and the performance of religious services, and the
saying of prayers for their souls; a yearly meeting for
united worship in honour of the patron saint; a common meal, and, in order that the poor might also have
their share in the joys of the festival, alms on the day
of the feast. Insults offered by one brother to another
were punished on the part of the gild. He who had
undertaken an office but had not discharged its duties
It is remarkable how closely these gild statutes
agree with the ordinances of the Fraternity of St.
Anthony of 1345, and the ordinances of the Grocers'
Company of 1376. The same kind of religious and social
duties are enjoined, and, making due allowance for the
interval of three centuries, in similar terms. The modern
representatives of this class of gilds are, it is believed,
to be found only among the City Companies, which,
owing probably to the commercial and municipal eminence of their members, survived the violent changes
of the Reformation, when all other gilds of this class
Of the other forms of "gilds," the learned authors
of "English Gilds " tell us that the town gild or gild
merchant was the whole body of full citizens, that is,
of the possessors of portions of the town lands of a
certain value, the " civitas." This, after many changes,
has become the modern municipal corporation. The
third form of "gild" was the craft gild. These gilds
were originally the result of a struggle for independence
on the part of the handicraftsmen. The leaders in this
struggle were the weavers both in England and on the
Continent. The contest of the Weavers' gild with the
City of London from the time of King John to 1220 is an
example of this, and the craftsmen appear to have been
ultimately victorious. It was of the essence of a craft
gild that all men of the craft, and none but men of the
craft, should belong to it. The modern form of the
craft gild is the trade union.
The term " grosser " or " grocer " is first applied to
the Company in 1373. There is a break in the Company's records between 1357 and 1373. When they
recommence in the latter year the title " Fraternity of
St. Anthony " is dropped, and the Company of Grossers
or Grocers takes its place. (fn. 20)
The rapidity with which the Company rose to importance towards the end of the 14th century has been
already noticed. By this time the practice of garbelling, i.e., the cleansing or examining of spices, drugs,
&c., to detect and prevent adulterations had been established. The first garbeller was Thomas Halfmark, a
Grocer. About the same time, John Churchman,
Grocer, founded the first custom-house for wool, and
through him the duty of wool weighing devolved on
the Company. In 1411 a descendant of Lord Fitzwalter
who, in the reign of Henry III., had obtained possession of the chapel of St. Edmund, which adjoined his
family mansion, sold the chapel to the Company for
320 marks, and in the next reign the Company purchased the family mansion and built their hall upon
the site. The foundation stone was laid in 1427 and
the building was completed in the following year. The
expenses were defrayed by the contributions of members.
Five years later the garden was added.
In 1428 the Company's first charter of incorporation
was granted by Henry VI. (fn. 21)
The reason for the application was, no doubt, that
the recent purchase of a site for the hall involved the
necessity of a license in mortmain.§ The corporate
name was "Custodes et communitas Misterii Groceriæ
Londini." The Company are to have perpetual succession and a common seal, and are to be for ever persons
fit and capable in law to possess in fee and perpetuity
lands, tenements, and rents, and other possessions whatsoever : that is, the artificial incapacity to hold land
created by the Act of Richard II. was removed. Then
there is a further grant that the Company may acquire
lands, tenements, and rents within the City of London
and suburbs thereof, "which are held of us " to the value
of 20 marks per year, and a charter of the following year
provided that the hall and its site should be considered
of the value of six marks out of the twenty. With respect
to this charter it is to be noticed that it contains no
reference to trade and no condition of any kind. It is
the charter of a religious or social gild, not of a craftgild. (fn. 22)
In 1447 Henry VI. granted to the wardens of the
Company the exclusive right of garbling throughout all
places in the kingdom of England, except the City of
London. This is not a charter affecting the corporate
body of the Company, but letters patent directed to
the Wardens." (fn. 23)
Charters were also granted to the Company by James I.
and Charles I., enlarging the power to hold lands in
mortmain, and giving authority to punish all delinquents, unduly or insufficiently carrying on, or exercising
the mystery or art of Grocer. In these charters, the
power to hold land (in the latter charter without limit)
is unconditional, and the trade powers do not form an
essential part of the incorporation, but are superadded;
the exercise of the trade powers is not limited to members of the Company.
In 1640 the Company, on obtaining their charter
from Charles I., furnished him, on his demand, with
the sums of 6,000l. and 4,500l. In 1642 they lent 9,000l.
to the Parliament, and the next year 4,500l. to the Lord
Mayor " for the defence of the city in these dangerous
times." The Company also granted loans or gifts of
2,000l. and 1,360l. to Charles II.
That these gifts or loans were very onerous there can
be no doubt. They were met by the contributions of
members, and by mortgage of the Company's property
In the last resort the Company's plate was sold in
1642–3 for 1,204l., to raise the money required. In the
case of the 1,360l. loan, the members of the Company
were assessed as follows : Aldermen 9l., Assistants 7l.,
Livery 5l. each.
The Company throughout this period kept, in common
with others, a store of corn, according to ancient custom,
for the supply of the poor at reasonable prices when
bread was dear. In the year 1560, the charge on the
Company for this purpose amounted to 400l. The Company had regular granaries at Bridewell and at the
Bridg House. The stock of corn was constantly kept
up till the Great Fire in 1666. The money required
was levied by a personal contribution from the members,
and two of the livery were from time to time appointed
by the Court under the name of "Corne Renters" to
The Company were also bound to maintain an armoury
at their hall.
At the time of the Great Plague in 1665, the Company were assessed in various sums of money for the
relief of the poor, and they also provided a large quantity of coals.
The next year the Great Fire inflicted losses on the
Company from which it did not recover for nearly a
century. The Company's hall and all the adjacent
buildings (save the turret in the garden, which fortunately contained the records and muniments) and almost
all the Company's houses were destroyed. The first
action of the Company was to endeavour to provide
another hall. Their funds were exhausted, and there
were heavy debts. An appeal was made to the liberality
of the members of the Company in the form of a subscription, and the wardens personally solicited contributions. In 1668 Sir John Cutler came forward and
proposed to rebuild the parlour and dining-room at his
own charge. (fn. 24)
In January, 1671, a special court was summoned, to
consider a Bill exhibited in Parliament by some of the
Company's creditors praying for an Act for the sale of
the Company's hall, lands, and estates, to satisfy debts;
and to make members of the Court liable for debts incurred. The next year the hall was, at the instance of
the Governors of Christ's Hospital, sequestered, and
the Company ejected till 1679, when, after great difficulties and impediments, money was borrowed to pay
off the debts, and get rid of the intruders. In 1680 the
Court of Assistants agreed that the most effectual way
of regaining public confidence was to rebuild the Hall.
Sir John Moore set an example of liberality by contributing 500l., and he was followed by many other members of the Court. (fn. 25)
So pressing at this time were the parishes for their
charities and arrears, that on one occasion the member
of the Court raised 30l. out of their own pockets to pay
Luddington parish, and so stayed Chancery proceedings; and they resolved in future to raise money out of
their own pockets to pay annual charges to parishes.
In order to prevent a second sequestration, an Inquisition was taken in 1680, before Commissioners for
Charitable Uses, and, pursuant to a decree made by
those Commissioners, the Company in 1687 conveyed
their hall, and all their revenue (subject to existing
charges) to trustees, to secure the arrears and payment
of the yearly sums and charities charged upon the property by the various donors. Under the decree a period
of 20 years was allowed to the Company to discharge
their debts. The trustees left the appointment of the
receiver to the Court of Assistants, who nominated the
The records of this period show that the continuity
of the Company was maintained, and its property saved
from destruction, by the personal exertions and private
liberality of members of the Court.
A minute of the Court of the 18th of August, 1687,
throws light upon the reduced condition of the Company
at this time, the earnest desire of the members to improve it, and the view then taken of the purposes of the
Company and the management of the property. The
minute speaks of the Company as" a nursery of charities and seminary of good citizens," but makes no
reference whatever to any connection with trade.
Towards the end of the 17th century, the Company's
right of garbelling fell into desuetude. The last mention of it is in 1687, when a Mr. Stuart, the City Garbeller, offered to purchase "the Company's right in the
garbling of spices and other garbleable merchandise." The Court, finding that from long disuse their
privilege of appointment to that office was weakened,
accepted a small fine of 50l. from Mr. Stuart for the
office for life, and 20s. a year.
No mention has yet been made of the writ of quo
warranto, under the pressure of which the Company
surrendered their privileges to Charles II., and received
a charter from him in 1675, and two charters from
James II. in 1688.
These charters were abolished and annulled by the
Act of 2 Will. and Mary, s. 1. c. 8., which gave a parliamentary sanction to the status of the Company as it
existed before the judgment on the Writ. (fn. 26) Mr. Beal
seems to be pressed with this difficulty, and suggests
that the words of the Act, "which they lawfully had
and enjoyed at the time of giving the said judgment"
operate to exclude the Charters of the Companies, by
which he asserts a right of search was given inconsisent with liberty of trade, and therefore contrary to
Magna Charta, which granted to all cities and boroughs
"all their liberties and free customs." Mr. Beal does
not show how these liberties and free customs were interfered with by the means taken to prevent the sale of
ill-made, spurious, or adulterated goods; but, even if
he were right, the original Charter of the Grocers' Company, which contains no reference to trade, would, on
Mr. Beal's own showing, stand unaffected and good
with the direct sanction of an Act of Parliament.
In 1669, King William III. took upon himself the
office of Master of the Company for the year, and made
the Company a grant, which ceased at his death, of
three fat bucks yearly out of Enfield Chase.
The last record of the indebtedness of the Company
is in 1721. After this, the Company's affairs rapidly
improved, and the public spirit and foresight of the
members who, at the time of the Great Fire, and during
the ensuing troubles and difficulties had, at great cost
to themselves, maintained the Company's credit and
preserved its hall and property, were ultimately rewarded by the Company's prosperity. In 1758, the
finances of the Company admitted of the expense of the
election feast being defrayed by the Company instead
of by the wardens personally, and in the next year, the
payment of quarterage by members was given up. By
degrees the Company were enabled to increase their
aid to indigent freemen, to administer their trusts with
liberality, and to subscribe largely to objects of public
interest and for the advancement of religion, education,
and charity. In 1798 a sum of 1,000l. was given in aid
of the assessed taxes.
It is hoped that adequate proof has been given that
the Company is not, and never has been, a craft-gild or
trade-guild. It may be added that it is not known that
any conveyance, devise, or gift was ever made to the
Company for trade purposes or in connexion with trade,
and that of the 37 separate gifts of money intrusted to
the Company by various persons for the advancement
in life of young men, freemen of the Company, two only
refer in any way to the business or trade of a grocer.
It remains to be shown that the Company is not a towngild, i.e., not a municipal corporation or a part of the
Corporation of London.
A municipal corporation, according to Blackstone, is
a lay corporation created for the good government of
a town or particular district." Some kind of territorial jurisdiction is essential to the idea of a municipal
corporation. (fn. 27)
It has always been distinctive of the City gilds that
they had no territorial jurisdiction, and that residence
was no qualification for membership.
On this subject some very erroneous views seem to
have been placed before the Commission.
Ans. 28.; Ans. 29.; Ans. 242.; Ans. 596.; Ans. 815.; Ans. 816.; Ans. 823.; Ans. 1419.
Mr. Hare says the Companies undoubtedly at present
form part of the Municipal Corporation of the City of
London, and he gives as his reason that the Companies
form what is called the commonalty, the common hall.
Mr. Firth assumes that the Companies are an integral
part of the Corporation of London, and states that the
Municipal Commission of 1833 considered the Companies within the province of their Commission. Mr.
Beal says every Lord Mayor since 1189 (the beginning of
legal memory) has been a member of a gild, and would
not have been eligible for the office if he had not been
a member of a gild; also, that the Corporation address
the Crown in three distinct ways :—by the Lord Mayor
and aldermen in their inner chamber; by the mayor,
aldermen, and council in common council; and by the
mayor, aldermen, and livery in the common hall; and
that the Lord Mayor of his own authority may legally
call a common hall. Mr. Phillips considers that the
Companies are part of the Corporation, because they
exercise municipal functions.
There appears to be a general confusion in the minds
of these witnesses between the Companies as corporate
bodies and the individual liverymen. A livery company, as such, forms no part of the Corporation. It is
not subject to the jurisdiction, and it has no voice in
the management of the Corporation. It consists of two
classes, liverymen and freemen, the latter being the
more numerous body, and the liverymen individually,
if they are also freemen of the City, are members of the
commonalty or common hall; in other words, the
common hall consists of such freemen of the City as
have the status of liverymen.
Ans. 701 et seq. Ans. 1418.
If Mr. Firth is right in saying that the Municipal
Commission of 1833 considered the Livery Companies
within the province of their Commission, the result (as
stated by Mr. Beal) showed that the opinion of that
Commission was wrong, for the Companies were advised
to resist by the most eminent lawyers of the day, and
they resisted successfully. Mr. Phillips admits that he
knows of no case in the last 200 years in which the
Corporation has interfered with the property of the
It is to be observed that not only is there the widest
possible difference between the Companies as such, and
the individual liverymen, being members of the Corporation of London, but the liverymen are only members,
if at all, in an extremely limited sense. When we
speak of the citizens or burgesses of a city or borough
being members of the corporation, we mean that they
are electors of the governing body, the town council,
and themselves eligible for election. But in the case
of the Corporation of London, liverymen, as such, are
not electors of the governing body, the court of aldermen and common council, and they are not, as
liverymen, eligible for election as aldermen or common
The election of Lord Mayor by the livery in common
hall is a curious survival of ancient custom, but the
importance of its bearing on the present question has
been much exaggerated. The Lord Mayor is elected
from the aldermen who have served as sheriffs. (fn. 28) The
aldermen are elected by the same electoral body which
forms the constituency of the common councillors; the
qualification being either 10l. occupation, household
suffrage, or lodger franchise. (fn. 29) A liveryman has no
vote for the election of aldermen. Consequently the
common hall or livery can only select out of the 26
nominees of a different constituency, and out of the
26 they must select two, between whom the court of
aldermen decides. The election of Lord Mayor is
obviously little more than a mere form. The two senior
aldermen below the chair are always selected by the
common hall, and the senior of the two is usually chosen
by the court of aldermen. The livery have hardly any
more real choice than a Dean and Chapter in the case
of a congé d'élire.
Another argument adduced is that there are instances
of the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and liverymen, in
common hall assembled, approaching the Throne. Upon
this point Mr. Firth asks Mr. Beal:—
"Have you read the address presented on behalf of
the Lord Mayor and the Livery Companies in common
hall assembled in 1775, in respect to an answer of the
King?"—"Yes, in the reign of King George III."
"With respect to what the rights of liverymen were?"
—"Yes; and I think it very important that that should
be read, because it sets out in the strongest possible
form that they are, and they claim to be, an integral
part of the Corporation."
Then Mr. Firth reads the extract, which concludes
with the opinion of Mr. Wedderburn, Mr. Glynn, and
other learned counsel, as follows:—
"We apprehend that the head officer of every Corporation may convene the body, or any class of it,
whenever he thinks proper; that the Lord Mayor for
the time being may, of his own authority, legally
call a common hall, and we see no legal objection to
his calling the two last; we conceive it to be the duty
of the proper officers of the several Companies, to whom
precepts for the purpose of summoning their respective
liveries have been usually directed, to execute those
precepts; and that a wilful refusal on their part is an
offence punishable by disfranchisement?—That is the
"I will leave that branch, as to the action of the
City, and ask you one further question. Have you read
the decision in the case of the refractory Companies in
1775, when between the Corporation and the Goldsmiths' Company the question was contested?"—"Yes."
"What was the effect of that decision?"—"The Companies were found to be in the wrong, and that they
were an integral part of the Corporation, and it is
fully set out in your own book, ' Municipal London,'
Nothing can be more circumstantial, or apparently
correct; and this evidence, cleverly led up to, probably
had some effect on the minds of the Commissioners.
But, like several other facts stated by Mr. Beal, it
will not bear investigation. The decision on which he
relies was the decision of Mr. Recorder Glynn, one
of the counsel who had signed the opinion, and the
decision was unanimously reversed, on appeal, by Lord
Chief Justice De Grey and four other judges. The socalled refractory Companies, who opposed Lord Mayor
Wilkes's impudent proceedings, were the Grocers, the
Goldsmiths, and the Weavers. The history is given
fully in Baron Heath's "History of the Grocers' Company," pp. 162–170, 3rd ed. The papers are in the
possession of the Goldsmiths' Company.
It may be added that freedom of a City Company
does not involve freedom of the City, which must be
taken up separately by a distinct act; also that the
freedom of the City may be acquired by a person not
free of any Company, nor under obligation to become so.
Part III.—The present Administration of the
The foregoing sketch of the history of the Grocers'
Company may be summarised as follows:—The Company was founded, in the middle of the 14th century,
by some of the leading merchants and traders of London,
as a social, benevolent, and religious fraternity, and this
character, except as regards the religious observances
of the brotherhood, has been maintained from the first
meeting 538 years ago, to the present day; the continuity of the fellowship never having been broken even
in the most troubl ous times. The hall and garden of
the Company occupy the original site purchased by free
contributions of the members between 1411 and 1433.
The Company rapidly gained importance after its foundation, and before the end of the century was the most
powerful body in the City, and became entrusted with
the public duties of weighing and garbelling, which it
retained for about 250 years. During the same period
the Company contributed largely to political and municipal objects, by loans to the King or Parliament, by
taking part in the colonisation of Ulster, by supporting
the poor, and aiding in the defence of the City. But
though the commercial and municipal eminence of
various members exercised an influence on the conduct and proceedings of the Company from time to
time during its long history, the primary and essential
principles of the gild, as a social, benevolent, and religious body, were always paramount. The increase
and independence of trade towards the end of the
17th century deprived the Company, weakened as it
was by its losses in the Great Fire, of its public duties
of weighing and garbelling, and of its power of trade
superintendence; but the members of the Court, who
came forward in the Company's great distress, and
saved it from extinction by their personal exertions and
liberality, went back to the fundamental principles of
the gild, when they left a solemn record of their intention that the Company should again become, as it once
was, a nursery of charities and seminary of good citizens.
It remains now to show how the original purposes of
the gild, as embodied in the ordinances of 1345 and
1376, and the intentions of the second founders of the
Company (for such they deserve to be called), as solemnly
recorded in 1687, are now understood and carried out.
The religious element of the gild is observed in the
Company's support of the National Church. The Company are patrons, wholly or partly, of eight livings of
no great value, and, as patrons, they subscribe with
well-considered liberality to proper parochial objects.
Four of these livings have been purchased under the
trusts of Lady Slaneys' will. The Company regard
their livings less as a matter of private patronage than
as a trust. In this spirit, when the living of All
Hallows Staining, the only valuable living which the
Company ever possessed, with an income of 1,600l. and
a population reduced by changes in the City to 200, fell
vacant in 1866, the Company applied for and obtained
an Estate Act, under the powers of which the living has
been united to a neighbouring benefice, the sites of the
church and the curate's house sold, and the proceeds
applied in building and endowing two district churches
in the poorest parts of the east of London; and a third
church will in due time be added. The Company have
aided the work by an expenditure out of their funds of
nearly 7,000l. on parsonage houses, parish rooms,
organs, &c. They also contribute towards the support
of curates and church expenses.
The Company have also subscribed largely to the
funds of the Bishops of London, Winchester, and
Rochester, with a special view to benefiting the poor of
the Metropolis; and to the Irish Church Sustentation
The social element of the ancient gild is preserved
in the hospitality of the Company. This is extended
freely to public men, to illustrious foreigners, successful administrators, admirals, and generals; to dignitaries of the Church, and to men eminent in the law,
medicine, literature, art, and science. The honorary
freedom of the Company is, it is believed, highly
valued. A most distinguished French officer is reported
to have said of it on an important public occasion, that
he had during his life gained very many honours and
distinctions, but he valued none more than being the
member of a society which had existed on the same
lines for upwards of 500 years, and that he earnestly
desired for his own country that such institutions were
The third object of the ancient gild is benevolence,
or charity; under this head is included education.
The Company manage Sir W. Laxton's School at
Oundle, a first grade school of considerable importance,
schools at Witney and Colwall, and a large middle class
day school at Hackney Downs. The Company give a
considerable sum every year in exhibitions to the Universities, with special exhibitions to unattached students.
In all cases the candidates are carefully selected on the
three grounds of good character, poverty, and school or
college distinctions. The Company give to their poor
members about 4,000l. a year, to London hospitals
about 2,000l., to clergymen's widows about 750l., to
orphan asylums about 1,000l., to boys' homes, ragged
schools, &c., 250l., to London police court poor boxes,
300l., to Mansion House funds, 300l., to benevolent and
poor relief societies, 700l. All the charities and charitable gifts are personally managed or personally inquired into by members of the court.
Mr. Firth could, it is hoped, have known but little or
nothing of the proceedings of the Company when he
wrote of the members: (fn. 30) "The stewardship of a few
charities and of many dinners is responsibility sufficient for them." But Mr. Beal makes an even more
offensive imputation against the Company with reference
to the London Hospital. To this hospital, the largest
in London, and situate among the dense and generally
poor population of Whitechapel and Bethnal Green, the
Company in 1873 gave 20,000l. for the erection of a new
wing, and in 1876, 5,000l. to furnish it. The Company
has since made an annual gift of 500l. and appointed
two members of the court to serve on the house committee.
Ans. 629.; Ans. 725.
Mr. Beal states that the gift of 25,000l. for the London
Hospital was made after his agitation began, "Why did
they not give 25,000l. to the London Hospital before
we began our agitation?" Clearly implying that the
gift was made under the influence of the agitation.
It is confidently believed that at the time when the
gift was made no member of the court had ever heard
of Mr. Beal's agitation. The gift of 20,000l. was made
in 1873. The City Guilds' Inquiry Society was, it is
believed, formed in 1876, with Mr. Danby Seymour as
Chairman, and Mr. J. B. F. Firth as counsel. Mr.
Firth's book', " Municipal London," was published the
The Company's first grant to the London Hospital
was made as long ago as 1796, and numerous gifts were
made between that year and 1873. When the grant of
20,000l. was proposed in 1873, 12 or 14 members of the
court of the Company were also governors of the hospital. The member who proposed the grant was also
on the house committee of the hospital, and was intimately acquainted with its wants, and has himself
given 17,000l. to it. Another member of the court has
given 9,000l. The proposal that the Company should
build a new wing had been mooted eight or ten years
These facts speak for themselves. The Grocers'
Company deeply regret that they are compelled, by the
unscrupulous imputations which have been directed
against the Company, to mention such matters at all
to the Commissioners.
The Commissioners are probably aware that the Company has given large sums for the promotion of technical education. The Company has also directed its
attention to the desirability of encouraging original research in sanitary science. After consultation with
some of the most eminent scientific men of the day, a
scheme has just been matured for founding scholarships
of 250l. a year each for the encouragement of research in
sanitary science, and a quadrennial discovery prize of
1,000l. This is a form of endowment novel in character, which it is hoped may prove eminently useful
in solving some of the sanitary questions arising from
the dense aggregation of population in our great
The Company find nothing in the official evidence
from the Charity Commission, so far as it relates to
matters within the jurisdiction of that Commission, to
call for remark, except the unintentional omission to
notice the Company's Middle Class School Scheme as
already mentioned. That evidence appears to express
general satisfaction with the management of charities
by the City Companies.
The evidence as to the corporate property of the Companies is almost confined to the small knot of agitators
who formed the City Guilds' Inquiry Society. The
facts alleged by these gentlemen against the Grocers'
Company have, it is confidently submitted, been completely disproved, and the theories propounded by them
seem to have little or no basis of facts, and are inconsistent with each other. Sometimes it is said that the
City Companies are municipal corporations, and that
their corporate property is applicable to municipal purposes. At other times it is said that they are trade
gilds, and that their property is applicable to trade
purposes. Such arguments confute each other.
It is proposed to conclude with Mr. Firth's summary,
in nine proposititions, of his case against the City
Gilds, (fn. 31) with the reply of the Grocers' Company in each
1. " The London Livery Companies are an integral
part of the Corporation."
This has been already disproved in an
earlier part of this statement.
2. "The property of the Companies is public trust
property, and much of it is available for municipal purposes."
The Commissioners will form their judgment on this
point, so far as the Grocers' Company is concerned,
from this statement and the Company's returns. The
Lord Chancellor has recorded his opinion against Mr.
Firth's view; Lord Langdale judicially declared the
Company's property to be private property. In the
very numerous cases in which the Attorney-General has
proceeded by information against City Companies with
respect to charities, it has, it is believed, invariably
been assumed by judges and counsel alike that the question was one between the Company, as private owners,
and the charity. Mr. Firth's suggestion of a public
trust is inconsistent with the history of more than five
3. "The Companies are trustees of vast estates of
which London tradesmen and artisans ought to
be the beneficiaries, but such trusts are disregarded."
The Grocers' Company are unaware of the existence
of any such trust. It would be difficult to reconcile
such a trust with the previous propositions laid down
by Mr. Firth.
4. "The Companies are also trustees of estates applicable to charitable uses; they fail to apply to
such uses the whole of the funds fairly applicable
The Grocers' Company discharge strictly all their
legal trusts, and, as has been shown, supplement them
very largely from their corporate funds. In some cases,
such as Oundle School and University exhibitions, they
expend on the objects of the charity more than ten times
the amount of the legal obligation; and even when the
charity has legally ceased to exist, as in the case of
Lady Middleton's gift for poor clergymen's widows,
they perpetuate the name and wishes of the founder by
the application of their corporate funds to a much
larger amount than the founder contemplated.
5. "The Companies were incorporated to benefit
trade, to train artisans, and to repress bad workmanship; they perform none of these functions."
The Grocers' Company was not incorporated for any
such purpose. Their charter of incorporation was unconditional.
6. "The Companies are, by charter, to be composed of
members of a given trade in many cases, and are
legally compellable to admit members of it.
They admit members irrespective of trade, and
impose restrictions on those who are admissible."
This is inapplicable to the Grocers' Company, which
was never a trade gild.
7. "The Companies are subject to the control of the
Corporation, but as the members of that body
are members of the Companies also, and are promoted in the latter concurrently with their advancement in the former, such control is never
The Companies are not subject to the control of the
Corporation. When the matter was brought to an issue
between the Companies of Grocers, Goldsmiths, and
Weavers on the one hand, and the Corporation on the
other hand, in 1773, the Corporation signally failed.
The Grocers' Company know nothing about the advancement of members here suggested by Mr. Firth.
No member of the Company has filled the civic chair
for nearly a century. That the control of the Corporation is never enforced is true, for it is reasonably supposed to have no legal basis.
8. " The Companies are subject to the control of the
Crown, and their lands and monopolous privileges were only granted on condition they performed certain duties; they have ceased to
perform the duties, but they continue to hold the
The Grocers' Company are not aware of any grant
having been made to the Company on condition that
they performed certain duties, except in the case of
charges on lands devised, which are always punctually
paid. As to the control of the Crown, the Company
are not aware that they are in a different position to
any other of Her Majesty's subjects.
9. "The continuance of a large amount of land in
the heart of the City and in the north of Ireland
in the hands of corporate and unproductive bodies
is a hindrance to commerce and a loss to the
It may be a fair question for consideration whether
the Company should pay a composition equivalent to
succession duty on their corporate property. They have
never been called upon to do so. The Company some
years ago sold their Irish estate, and the tenants, it is
believed, regret the change. Mr. Hare, in his evidence,
does not agree with Mr. Firth as to the inexpediency of
land being held by corporate bodies. The abolition of
"unproductive" landowners is a question extending
far beyond the City Gilds.
February, 19th, 1883.
The deputation withdrew.
Adjourned to Wednesday next, at 4 o'clock.