Wednesday, 14th March 1883.
The Right Honourable LORD COLERIDGE, in the Chair.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford, K.G.
The Right Hon. Viscount Sherbrooke.
The Right Hon. Sir Richard Assheton Cross,
Sir Sydney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Pell, M.P.
Mr. W. H. James, M.P.
Mr. J. F. B. Firth, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
Deputation from Goldsmiths' Company.; 14 March 1885.
Sir Frederick Bramwell, Mr. Walter Prideaux, sen.,
and Mr. Walter Prideaux, jun., again attended as
a deputation from the Goldsmiths' Company.
2854. (Chairman to Sir Frederick Bramwell.)
Have you anything that you wish to add to the
evidence that you gave before the Commission last
week ?—Yes, there is one matter that I should like to
clear up with your Lordship and the Commission. In
answer to Sir Sydney Waterlow's question which took
me by surprise touching what the Goldsmiths' Company had done with reference to the procession on
Lord Mayor's day, and also touching their treatment
of the orders, as I understood, to admit persons to the
freedom of the Company, I may say that I was in
America last Lord Mayor's day, and could not speak
therefore from my own knowledge, but I have caused
inquiry to be made since, and I have here before me
the following "Memorandum as to the Company's
non-attendance in the procession on Lord Mayor's
day on the 16th of October, 1882. Mr. Sheriff Savory
being a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company wrote
as follows: To the Prime Warden, Wardens, and
Court of Assistants of the Goldsmiths' Company.
Gentlemen, I beg very respectfully to petition that
you will kindly grant me the usual complimentary
attendance of the Company in the procession from
Guildhall to Westminster on Thursday the 9th of
November." Mr. Savory had previously asked the
Company to lend him the use of their hall for the
Sheriffs' Inauguration banquet. To these letters the
clerk was directed to reply, and he did reply on the
18th of October, 1882, as follows: "Dear Sir, I laid
your letters of the 4th and 16th instant before the
Court of the Goldsmiths' Company at their meeting
to-day, and with reference to your letter of the 4th
instant, I am directed to inform you that it gives the
Company pleasure to accede to your request that they
will grant the use of their hall, and ornamental plate,
on the occasion of the Inauguration dinner of the
Sheriffs of London and Middlesex. With reference
to your letter of the 16th instant, I am to say that the
Goldsmiths' Company have for a great many years
past ceased to take any part in the procession on
Lord Mayor's day, and that they regret that they
must decline to do so on the present occasion. Signed
Walter Prideaux." Then with respect to the other
matter. "At a Court of Assistants held on the 17th
of October, 1781, is the following entry: Then
appeared Mr. Wright Turnell, and produced an order
from the Court of Aldermen for his admission to the
freedom of the City of London by redemption in the
Company of Goldsmiths, and requested that by virtue
thereof he might be admitted into the freedom of the
Company, and this Court having taken the same
into consideration, a motion was made and the question
put that Wright Turnell be not admitted into this
Company by redemption by virtue of the order produced from the Court of Aldermen; the same was
resolved in the affirmative." Those are two matters,
my Lord, upon which I desire to supplement my former statements.
2855. (To Mr. Prideaux.) I have read, and I think
the Commissioners generally have read, with care
your statement. Is there anything you wish to correct
or supplement in that statement before any questions
are asked you ?—In the returns ?
2856. No, in the statement. I presume, that that
is drawn up by you; it is signed at the end "Walter
Prideaux" (handing a document to the witness). Yes;
that is the letter of November. I have nothing to add,
excepting a reference to a case. The case is the case
of the Attorney General against the Grocers' Company, instead of the Attorney General against the
Fishmongers' Company, and I have mentioned it in
the observations of Sir Frederick Bramwell and myself
which we have addressed to the Commissioners.
2857. That is in Sir Frederick Bramwell's statement ?—"Mr. Prideaux desires to make a correction at
page 31 of the letter." (It would not be the same page
as that which your Lordship has, because that is a
different print.) The case referred to there, is the
Attorney General against the Grocers' Company and
not against the Fishmongers' Company, 6 Beavan,
2858. Then there is nothing that you yourself
desire to add ?—Nothing whatever, nothing beyond
what we have stated in the observations that we have
addressed to the Commissioners.
2859. As to the general legal position of the Company and the members of the Company, I take it that
you agree substantially with what Sir Frederick Bramwell has said ?—I do.
2860. Do you find the number of the Court of the
Company at all excessive for the transaction of
business ?—No, our Court is a very much smaller
Court than it was even at the commencement of this
century. There were at that time 38 members of
the Court, there are now only 25, and I think 25 (21
members of the Court, and four wardens) is not too
numerous an assembly.
2861. In what numbers do they attend? I think
the average would be from 18 to 19 at the General
Court of Assistants.
2862. Do you find 18 to 19 a convenient number
for the transaction of business?—I think so. Then
from the number of the Court a standing committee is
appointed of four wardens and nine members, making
a body of 13, who do the greater portion of the
business of the Company, who meet every other week
on the general business of the Company, and every
other week on the business of the Assay Office.
2863. The principle of election, as I understand is
that you elect by yourselves ?—Yes.
2864. What is the principle of selection ?—I should
say the principle of selection is to look out for the persons, who are members of the livery (they are all
selected from the livery), who appear to the Court of
Assistants to be most likely to conduct the business of
the Company with ability and sustain the reputation
of the Company.
2865. A merit interest?—A merit interest. I may
say at once that I have never known a case in which
two relations have been members of the Court of
Assistants at the same time.
2866. The expenses of management seem large ?—
About 10 per cent.
2867. That is large, is it not ?—I do not think so.
We have a very large quantity of property to manage.
Then again there is a great deal of other work to be
done; I do not mean with the Assay Office, for the
Assay Office is kept quite apart. At the same time
the clerk and assistant clerk whose salaries are charged
all have a great deal of work to do in respect of the
Assay Office. I think the amount paid to the courts
and committees is exceedingly moderate. Then my
son has just mentioned to me that that includes the
whole of the management of our 57 charities. Nothing
is charged to the charities.
2868. What is the fee for attending at the Court ?—
The fee for attending at the General Court is three
guineas, and at a Committee of the Court two guineas.
2869. Can you give me a notion of the sort of
business done at a General Court. For example
suppose you were to meet to day as a Court what would
you have to do?—I think I can give you a very
accurate idea. In the first place the minutes of all
the proceedings of the committees are read over and
submitted to the Court for consideration and approval,
and for confirmation if they think proper. Those
minutes very often occupy a considerable time in
reading, they relate to a great variety of matters,
everything in point of fact connected with the general
business of the Company. The Court of Wardens is
held once every month, the minutes are read over
and those minutes also are submitted to the General
Court for their consideration and approval. All
matters are brought forward on notice of motion, which
is required to be given at a preceding Court. Then
if any member has given a notice of motion he moves
it. If two or three members have given notices of
motion they move them according to their seniority,
and the matters are discussed.
2870. Without at all wishing to penetrate into
secrets, I do not for one moment suggest that there
are any secrets to penetrate, give me a notion, if you
do not mind, of what sort of motion is brought forward
and discussed, conceal any name you like, but give
me a notion ?—We will take one thing. Some time
ago Sir Frederick Bramwell brought forward a motion
that we should give 1,000l. in aid of the endowment
of chemical research, that was opposed, some of the
members thought that we had nothing to do with
chemical research; others thought that we had a great
deal to do with it.
2871. Forgive me for interrupting you, but for Sir
Frederick Bramwell to give notice of motion to vote
1,000l. must be a little out of the way; it is not an
ordinary matter of business, I suppose?—I think so.
2872. You have not many notices of motions from
Sir Frederick Bramwell to vote 1,000l., have you ?—
There are other notices given of a similar character.
2873. Of that sort ?—There are various other things.
A motion, for instance, that you should admit a man
to the freedom by redemption.
2874. That is what I want to know, a motion to
admit a man by redemption?—That would come
forward in the ordinary course of business. Then there
are motions connected with educational subjects, and
with all these various subjects with which we are
connected, and in respect to exhibitions.
2875. How long on an average does a sitting of the
Court last ?—A sitting of the Court lasts a little over
2876. And you say about 19 habitually attend ?—
I should think that would be about the average.
2877. Sir Frederick Bramwell mentioned last week
that 32l. was the extreme limit of a regular pension ?
2878. He mentioned that there were sometimes
donations of a larger sum; now it has been suggested,
and I should be glad to know how far that is true,
that these donations are practically continued?—With
respect to the persons who apply for relief by petition,
and who are not pensioners, we have a rule not to
entertain an application until the expiration of one
year after the preceding application has been entertained; and we often find that when persons apply to
us for relief their infirmities and their wants continue,
and that we really do have a great many applicants.
We cannot have them all in the same year, but supposing that the application was made as soon as possible,
there would be a period of about a year and three
months before the applicant would get another donation.
There are many cases of that sort.
2879. Does he practically get another donation at
the end of the time ?—If we find nothing unworthy;
an inquiry is made on every occasion.
2880. Supposing there is nothing against the man,
he gets it renewed?—He does. For instance, I remember a case a very short time ago in which a man
who was a skilful and hardworking workman became
lunatic. He was under the age to become a regular
pensioner, but we have always given him a regular
donation ever since.
2881. That comes, in fact, to a pension?—That
would almost come to a pension.
2882. That would come to a pension, averaging the
years, of a great deal more than 32l. would it not ?—
No, I think not.
2883. If it is 100l. voted every 13 months, it must
be so?—I have got all the facts here as to the donees.
In the year in which this return was made there were
four liverymen who were donees; two received 100l.
each, and two received 50l. each. There were 16
freemen, of whom one received 35l., one 30l., three
25l., nine 20l., one 15l., and one 10l. Then there
were 24 widows of liverymen and freemen, of whom one
received 50l., seven 30l. each, seven 25l. each, eight
20l. each, and one 15l. Then of daughters of liverymen and freemen (which are a very numerous class)
there were 59, of whom one received 100l., one 80l.,
five 50l. each, ten 30l. each, nine 25l. each, 28 20l.
each, four 15l. each, and one 10l.
2884. My point was this, and it is sufficiently plain,
in every case where there was more than 64l. granted,
and it was habitually renewed, the pension would be
practically more than 32l. That is the point, and it
is obvious enough ?—I do not quite understand.
2885. Wherever the sum voted is more than 64l.,
and it is voted habitually after the expiration of a year,
the pension would be practically more than 32l.; it
follows, does it not ?—Yes, of course, it would be so.
2886. I suppose no member of the Court of
Goldsmiths' ever received a pension ?—Never in my
2887. Have you made any estimate of the prospective increase of your income, can you give it me at
all roughly?—No, I have not made any estimate; it
would be excessively difficult to do it.
2888. It has risen very largely in the last 50 years,
has it not ?—It has risen very largely in the last 50
years, there is no doubt.
2889. Allow me to ask this general question, is the
property from which it is derived constantly rising in
value ?—I do not know that it is rising in value now.
I think the general opinion of surveyors in the City
of London is that City property has now reached its
highest limit. Our surveyor tells me that he finds that
he could not obtain quite as good rents now as he could
four years ago, but still, as we pointed out in our
returns, there is no doubt that some leases of our property are let on ground rents and they will fall in.
2890. Therefore the probability is that the income
of the Company will increase rather than the reverse ?
—That we have distinctly stated in our Return.
2891. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Can you form any
idea or give the Commission any figures which would
guide them as to the proportion of property held by
the Goldsmiths' Company which consists of property
formerly held for superstitious uses, and which was
purchased by the Company from the Crown in the
reign of Edward the 6th as compared with property
derived from other sources?—Yes, I made a calculation upon that very point. I had it all taken out,
and I find that 28,681l. represent the rents of property
of that description; that is the property which we
bought back from the Crown that became forfeited in
consequence of the superstitious uses.
2892. What proportion does that bear to the income
arising from other property ?—It is 28,000l. to about
2893. Are you referring to corporate property ?—
No, I am referring to the whole income of the Company.
2894. Corporate and trust ?—Corporate and trust.
2895. But setting the trust aside could you give any
idea of what proportion of the corporate income is
derived from the property formerly held for superstitious uses ?—Yes, the trust property amounts to about
10,000l. a year, therefore it is 28,000l. to 44,000l. or
2896. The Company are very generous benefactors,
are they not, in the way of giving exhibitions at
Universities ?—We give a very large number of
2897. Do you happen to know how many ?—It is 75.
2898. (Chairman.) At the two Universities ?—Yes,
equally divided between the two.
2899. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) Between Oxford
and Cambridge?—Between Oxford and Cambridge;
it is all set forth at very considerable length in the return.
2900. Will you tell the Commission how you elect
those who are to have the benefit of these exhibitions ?—By merit. They apply, and after the
applications have been received, and a day is fixed
closing the time when they are to apply, a list is sent
to Oxford and to Cambridge, to two examiners at
each University, who hold an examination and send
us a report, and we act upon that report. I think
it is best expressed in the language which I have
used here as to the exhibitions. "A student who
desires to become a candidate for one of these
exhibitions must have been in actual residence at his
college one term, and if at Oxford must have passed
the responsions, or the examinations accepted by the
University as equivalent to the responsions, before the
time appointed for the return of the petition, and his
income arising from preferment at college or elsewhere must not amount to more than 70l. a year, exclusive of the Goldsmiths' exhibition." Then we
have stated here, in another part, that it is chiefly
done by examination. We say: "They are tenable for
16 terms at Oxford and 12 at Cambridge, and
are awarded solely by competition modified by consideration of the necessities of the student and
his parents or friends. For instance, if A.B. stand
above C.D. in the examiner's report, and his father
have an income of 800l. a year, C.D. being dependent
upon a father in straitened circumstances, C.D. would
be preferred to A.B., who would probably not be
elected at all. These exhibitions are open to the
whole University. A student related to a member of
the Company has no preference whatever." Nor
do I ever remember any exhibitioner who was related
in any manner to any member of the Company.
2901. I believe they are given the chance irrespective of religious denomination ?—Entirely.
2902. Can you tell us whether any students to
whom you have granted exhibitions have taken any
honours ?—A very large proportion. I am sorry I
have not the document that I prepared the other day
for the Court. I thought it would be exceedingly
pleasing for them to know that three-fifths if not
four-fifths of our students took honours.
2903. I may take it then that this part of the expenditure of the Company has given great satisfaction
to the Court?—Great satisfaction.
2904. Sir Frederick Bramwell gave the Commission
some information in relation to the funds appropriated
to the relief of poor freemen and members of the
Company. Have the Company found that the property left for that particular purpose is growing,
if anything, rather larger than is necessary ?—Undoubtedly.
2905. Has it been a constantly improving property ?
—I think I may say constantly improving.
2906. And is any part of it property which is
likely still further to improve in the course of a few
years ?—I think so; I think that that property is
particularly likely to improve.
2907. I think I understood Sir Frederick Bramwell
to say the Company were considering an application
to the Commissioners for a scheme which would
enable them to appropriate a part of these funds in
some other direction, probably cy-près to the original
object?—We have done more than that.
2908. Will you tell the Commission how far you
have progressed ?—When the return was sent in
to the Commissioners, there was the following
remark in a note attached to it:—"An examination of
this return will show that four-fifths of the income
of all the charity property vested in the Goldsmiths'
Company is applicable to the poor of the Company,
and it will be seen by the accounts that the annual
amount expended for the relief of poor freemen and
poor widows and daughters of freemen is considerably
in excess of the income applicable to those objects,
a large number of the freemen of the Goldsmiths'
Company belong to the artizan class, and become
objects of the bounty of the Company in consequence
of sickness, age, and want of employment. No
deserving member of the Company, no deserving
widow, or unmarried or widow daughter of a freeman falls into poverty or decay without receiving,
on application to the Company, pecuniary assistance.
The number of persons applying for pecuniary
relief, however, diminishes year by year, and the time
may probably come when the improved annual
value of the Company's trust property, and a diminution of the number of persons requiring relief,
will render it desirable for the Company to take
into consideration the expediency of applying some
portion of the income of the trust estates under a
scheme to be approved by the Charity Commissioners
in a manner different from that provided by the
wills of benefactors. The income derived from
Perryn's estate, after providing for the fixed payments directed by the will, may, in accordance with
the trusts of the will, be applied for educational
purposes." At the time when this was written I
was not aware that there were certain properties
falling in, certain increased rents accruing to the Company from a Charity property of a very large amount,
at least I was not aware of the extent to which this
was so, and very shortly afterwards I found that the
income of the Charities trust property, was more than
sufficient to satisfy all the claims upon it.
2909. May I ask you whether, without disclosing
secrets of the Company, you could give the Commission
any idea of the objects and purposes to which such
surplus, as it might arise, would be applied, would it
be applied do you think to technical education ?—We
actually applied to the Charity Commissioners for a
scheme last year. I think at the beginning of last year,
and they in reply said they were not disposed to
entertain any application for a scheme so long as this
Commission was sitting, and of course we were stopped,
and we have now a considerable sum of money which
we know not what to do with. With respect to technical education, I think that we should not ask to
apply it to that. I think we have determined to apply so
very large a portion of the income of our general
corporate property to technical education that it would
not be necessary or desirable that we should do so.
The scheme that we proposed in the application that
we sent to the Charity Commissioners was this, "With
this in view, and for the purpose of simplifying our
accounts, I propose to apply to the Charity Commissioners for an order enabling the Company to
consolidate all their Charities founded solely or
partially for their poor, providing that the whole of
the revenues applicable thereto shall be carried to
the credit of one account with an appropriate heading, and that all payments for the benefit of poor
freemen, widows, and daughters of freemen, whether
by way of pension or donation, shall be debited
thereto, the balance, whenever there shall be a
surplus, to be carried to an accumulation fund, the
application of such fund for some charitable object,
such as the founding a Convalescent Hospital,
establishing additional pensions for the blind,"
(that we have very much at heart at the present time)
or the advancement of education, to be decided on,
with the consent of the Commissioners of Charities,
so soon as it shall amount to 10,000l."
2910. Passing from that subject, you told the chairman just now that your Court consisted of 25 members.
Do you find from your long experience that a Court of
25 members is sufficient to practically conduct the
affairs of a Company like yours ?—I do, I think it is
a very convenient number.
2911. As a matter of practice, are the Court generally elected from the Livery by seniority, or is it
rather more by the choice of those whom the Court
think would be the most eligible men of business ?—
Certainly not from seniority; we might have by that
means very unfit persons. It is really the persons
whom we think are the best men of business and
persons of the best station.
2912. Then as a matter of fact some are passed
over and others are selected ?—There is no doubt
about it, and there have been no complaints from
2913. You told the chairman, at least I understood
you to say to the chairman, that you had no case
where there were two relations, members of the same
family, on the Court ?—None whatever.
2914. From your experience, would you think it an
objectionable course to have four or five members of
the same family on the Court ?—No, I do not know
that it is objectionable, in fact I have known certain
cases in which there are persons of the same family
on the Court, and in which, I believe, the business is
remarkably well managed.
2915. Sir Frederick Bramwell told the Commission
last week something about the system of apprenticeship.
May we gather from what was then said, and from
you, that the Goldsmiths' Company will not admit
any one to the Company by servitude unless there is a
bonâ fide apprenticeship for seven years and a bonâ
fide learning of the trade ?—Undoubtedly. The old
words that are used by the clerk of the Company,
addressing the master of the apprentice on his applying to be admitted, are these, "Mr. A.B. upon the
declaration you made when you were admitted to
the freedom of the City of London, has C.D.,
who now presents himself to take up his freedom
in this Company, served you faithfully and truly
after the manner of an apprentice and according
to the covenants contained in his indentures for the
full term of seven years."
2916. (Mr. Pell.) Are the exhibitions at the University entirely open; is there anything of a nomination to begin with?—None whatever.
2917. They are open to the whole world then?—
They are open to the whole world in fact.
2918. Only you make some little distinction, after
the examination is over, in favour of those who are
very needy ?—We take that into consideration. I
think if the parents of the man who was first on the
list really were in a very good condition, say that the
father had an income which we thought did not
justify him in applying for an exhibition, we should
not give it him.
2919. I suppose you have power to increase those
exhibitions if it were the will of the Court to do so?
—We have done it. I think you will find, in the
paper that we have sent in that we have given an
account of the way in which we have increased them
from time to time, with the annual increase of our
2920. I think you said in answer to a question put
by Sir Sydney Waterlow that you thought the charity
fund of the Company was now rather in excess of the
needs of its object ?—There is no doubt about it, and
we made this application of which I have spoken to
the Charity Commissioners in consequence.
2921. In the account of the expenditure for the
year ending 1880, have you not got an item of an
addition to the trust funds ?—Yes.
2992. Amounting to 3,135l. ?—Yes, that is the fact;
the increase has taken place since then. Since the
last account was sent in this increase has taken place.
2923. Then am I to understand that now it would
not be your practice to add anything to the trust fund
out of the corporate property ?—It is not necessary
now at all. On the contrary we have a balance that
we do not know how to dispose of in consequence of
the hesitation of the Charity Commissioners.
2924. Then you really have reached a stage at
which you are embarrassed with income that has to be
devoted to charitable objects ?—We have now a
surplus which ought to be applied in charity, but to
some other object.
2925. What is the annual income of the trust funds
now that should be devoted to charity under the wills
of the donors ?—I think it will be about 1,500l. a
year more than it was when the return was made. I
think we have at the present time a balance of nearly
2926. I see in the printed list of the objects of the
donations in 1880, the Bishop of London's Fund
church collection; how do you explain that term ?—
Simply this, the vicar of our parish church, in which
the Hall is, preaches a charity sermon for that object,
and that is merely the sum which the beadle is
ordered to put into the plate.
2927. The beadle is sent to the church then with a
ten pound note in his pocket ?—The beadle attends
the church, and I attended the church for a long time,
and very often did it myself. As I lived at
Goldsmiths' Hall during a portion of the year it was
my parish church.
2928. What is the "City Kitchen," 30l. a year ?—
It is called the City Kitchen, but in reality it is a coal
club, and it is an extremely useful charity; a charity
which is distributed from the Goldsmiths' Company
by tickets to poor residents in the neighbourhood.
The object is to lighten the price of coal to them.
2929. But accompanied with some contributions
from the persons who receive your charities; it is in
addition to their own effort, is it not ?—I think very
few of the pensioners get it, because the pensioners
do not necessarily reside in our neighbourhood. It
is really a local charity in the City, and it is given
very much to those people who are within a certain
2930. My idea of a coal club is that of a number of
poor people subscribing during the year a sum of
money, in order to get their coals, in the winter, to
which some charitable person, or institution, adds
money, is that what is done in this case ?—It is not
done in that way. The ticket is given to them, and
when they go for the coals they have to pay half the cost.
2931. It really comes to the same thing?—It really
comes to the same thing.
2932. They give nothing?—They give nothing;
but they have to pay half the cost.
2933. In this long list, can you tell me whether
there is a single object entered in which the poor
who are helped, are called upon to be doing anything
for themselves, or are all these institutions which you
assist entirely supported by voluntary contributions ?—
Without going through the whole of them it is exceedingly difficult to say. They are nearly all of them
great public charities, such as the Royal Naval School
and the Consumption Hospital.
2934. I have looked them through, and perhaps it
would be better for me to put it in this way: has the
Court considered it desirable in the distribution of its
charities to attempt to encourage thrift ?—Most decidedly, and I may say as to the reports made to the
Court that the officer is instructed to make minute
inquiries as to whether the applicants have been
thrifty persons, or unthrifty persons.
2935. I am talking of institutions ?—I thought you
were talking of persons.
2936. I am pretty well acquainted with the charities
of London, and I do not myself see a single institution
entered here in this list, in which those who are
recipients of the charity are called upon to do anything for themselves; the Provident Dispensary, the
Metropolitan Dispensary, I think that is entirely
supported by voluntary contributions?—I think it is.
What would you say to the Goldsmiths' Benevolent
Institution and Goldsmiths' and Jewellers'?
2937. Where is that?—We make subscriptions to
them, and to the Clock and Watchmakers' Asylum;
they are all contributed to by us.
2938. That is another list altogether. I am talking
of the donations which added up come to 5,492l., the
first two lists?—Is that the first year.
2939. Yes, the first list on page 55. I did not
look at the subscriptions, I kept to the donations ?—
The subscriptions appear to be on the same footing.
2940. I daresay they are, but I kept to the particular institutions entered in that list. Can you point
out any single one of those to which the persons who
receive the benefit of your charity contribute at all
themselves ?—Yes, the third, the establishment for
gentlewomen in Harley Street.
2941. Do the gentlewomen there contribute ?—They
pay a considerable sum, and are aided by the charities
of the Company.
2942. I am very glad to hear that ?—The Ladies'
Work Society is another.
2943. I think you subscribe to the Charity Organisation Society ?—Very largely.
2944. Do you make use of their office in inquiring
into any of the cases ?—We do, and they make use of
ours. We have very close relations with the Charity
Organisation Society; I may say that my younger
son is the honorary secretary of the City branch.
2945. Then probably in the case where you have
applicants for your charity, and the inquiry is made
by the official whom you call the beadle, he would be
likely to consult the officers of the Charity Organisation Society ?—Yes, he has constantly done so; and
I may say, with reference to some remarks that were
made on the last occasion, that I thought it desirable
to have that officer here, and he is in the other room,
and in point of fact, if you like to see him you will
see what class of man he is. He is a most dutiful
and trustworthy and conscientious officer.
2946. Is that the officer of the Company that you
are referring to, or the Charity Organisation officer ?
—No, the beadle. I mention that with reference to
some remarks which you made on the last occasion.
2947. I think it is stated in the abstract here that
you find the number of applicants for these charities
diminishing ?—They are very much diminishing, and
since I was here the other day I made a note which
I will give you. In 1863 there were 116 men pensioners and 143 widows, and in 1880 there were 68
men pensioners and 117 widows only.
2948. Do you think the numbers have been diminishing owing to the greater care taken, and the more
thorough inquiries that you have instituted into the
position of these people ?—I have taken very great
interest in this matter from the beginning, for I always,
from the commencement of my duties as clerk, took
it to be a part of my duty carefully to watch the
administration of these charities, and I have come to
the conclusion you suggest. I know that a great
number of persons have been assisted with temporary
relief, who have never come to the Company again,
and never made another application, and have been
able to go on to the end of their days afterwards
without our assistance.
2949. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Do you not think
that the amount of 150,000l., given away annually by
the City guilds in pensions, donations, and charitable
purposes, causes a saving to the pockets of the ratepayers of a very large portion of that amount ?—I do
not think so. I think they are of a different class. It
certainly would, to some extent, if these people went
to the workhouse; there is no doubt that that would
fall upon the ratepayers.
2950. Do not you think it would do so to a very
great extent ?—Well, it is very difficult to say. What
occurred in a parish in which I lived in Sussex was
this : The parish doctor spoke about the present state
of the poor now, compared with what it was in the
days when there were no resident gentry. I said,
"What became of them then?" He said, "They died."
That was his answer.
2951. Would not very many of those persons go to
the union if they had not your pension or donation?
—Some would, no doubt.
2952. That would be, to that extent, a saving to
the ratepayers ?—To that extent it would, no doubt.
2953. Do you think that those charities conduce to
the good, or to the debasement of the recipients ?—I
can only speak with reference to the charities of the
Goldsmiths' Company, and I can say most emphatically
that, having watched over the administration of those
charities for over 30 years, I feel satisfied that they
have done, I was going to say, almost unmitigated
2954. I think I understand you to say that the
balance in hand in favour of the charities is about
1,000l. ?—I think it is about 1,000l. at the present
2955. (Mr. James.) With regard to the distribution
of these charities I will ask you just one or two questions with regard to the discrimination which you
make between the deserving and the undeserving;
are you able to discriminate between the deserving
applicants and the undeserving ?—I really think the
best way to answer that question would be to have in
the person to whom I alluded, who makes these inquiries, to have his reports in, and to interrogate him,
to show exactly what takes place. I may say the
course is this: he is directed to make minute inquiries; he not only goes to the people to whom the
applicants refer him, but he also applies to other
people. He tells me it very frequently happens that
people will refer to persons whom they are sure will
give a favourable report, but he inquires what their
antecedents have been; he finds out, for instance, for
whom a man has worked, and he always goes and
makes application to that person. He then has always
come to me first, and has gone over his report with
me, and stated to me what inquiries he has made, and
has asked me whether I consider they were sufficient.
I have very often found that they are not sufficient,
and I have ordered him to make further inquiries.
When the inquiries are complete, then the case is presented to the committee and the applicant is directed
to attend. The members of the committee make such
inquiries as they think proper, and I must tell you
that a very large number of applicants are refused
altogether. When we find that a man has been of
intemperate habits, and, in fact, that his poverty arises
from want of thrift, or from drunkenness, or any other
act of bad behaviour, his application is refused.
2956. Nothing, I am sure, could be more clear or
satisfactory; but I would like to press you a little
further. You are referring now, I think, to the
beadle, are you not, to whom Sir Frederick Bramwell
alluded on the last occasion. The person who makes
these inquiries is the beadle of the Company, is he
not ?—Yes; he has been 20 years in our employment.
2957. How many cases has he to inquire into in
the course of the year ?—Over 100 certainly, 130 or
2958. There are many cases of people who may
stand upon your list whose circumstances may have
changed, into whose cases he would not think it his
duty to make inquiry ?—Fresh inquiry is made every
2959. But surely you must have more than 120
or 130 persons receiving assistance ?—The cases of
regular pensioners are not inquired into again. I am
speaking of the donees; the persons, who are not
2960. Not more than 120 or 130 ?—I think it would
be about 130; he has his books here, and I will get
2961. That is quite sufficient. I think you said in
reply to the chairman that about three guineas was
the payment made for attending a Court, and two
guineas for a Committee ?—Exactly, that is so.
2962. And a very considerable part of the duties of
Company consists in the distribution of the funds of
the Company in educational, philanthropic, and
charitable objects ?—A large portion.
2963. Could you tell me any society, or any body
in the country, by which those duties are discharged,
and in which those who discharge those duties receive
a pecuniary payment ?—I do not think they are
analogous cases. When I say that it is a large portion of their duties, I mean, that it occupies a large portion of the time of every Court, and every Committee;
but there is a vast deal of other business attended to.
There is the management of all this very large property; there are the surveyor's reports, and all those
matters, and it would be a difficult thing to separate
the labours of the Court, in the matter of the distribution of their funds, from their other labours with
respect to the management of their property generally.
2964. But are there not a great many institutions
in the country, the property of which requires considerable management, and the philanthropic part
of which also involves a great deal of time and trouble,
but the managers of which receive no pay whatever ?
—I am not aware; I do not know.
2965. Are not you aware of it?—I am not.
2966. The governors of St. George's Hospital, for
instance ?—That is a purely charitable institution.
2967. There is one other question that I want to
put, which relates to an entirely different matter; it
is with regard to the Assay Office of the Goldsmiths'
Company. The management of that office is entirely
in the hands of the Company, I believe ?—Entirely.
2968. Are the expenses of the office charged in any
way upon the revenue of the Company ?—No, all
that is regulated by an Act of Parliament, the 12th
George II. chapter 26; we take fees for assaying
and marking plate, and we are prohibited from making
a profit; but we take enough to pay the expenses of
2969. Why should not the Goldsmiths' Company
pay for the expenses of the office ?—I think that would
be a most objectionable thing; that would be a bounty
to the London silversmiths, and the effect of it would
be to destroy the trade in Birmingham, Chester,
Sheffield, and those other places.
2970. But you give bounties to silversmiths in other
forms, do you not ?—We give prizes.
2971. And the benefit of charitable institutions ?
2972. Is that anything else except a bounty ?—
Yes, I think so. Those institutions are for the benefit of the poor. They are not all members of the
Company, but a great many of them are. Those institutions are institutions for working goldsmiths,
supported by the trade, to which the Goldsmiths'
Company think it right to contribute largely.
2973. Would your Company think it would be an
objectionable arrangement that the expenses of the
Assay Office should be defrayed out of the funds of
your Company ?—I have never heard it suggested,
and I have never thought of it until you mentioned it,
but on your mentioning it, it certainly did at once
occur to me that that would be most objectionable,
and I think that the Birmingham manufacturers would
object to it very much indeed. The effect of it would
be to remove all the trade to London.
2974. (Mr. Burt.) Have the Company recently
spent a large amount on the Hall?—They spent a
large amount on the Hall about six or seven years ago.
2975. Do you consider that a necessary and useful
expenditure ?—I think it was partly necessary, and
certainly very useful and ornamental; the fact was
this, that no great repairs had been done to the Hall
since it was built in the year 1835, and the whole of
that very fine entrance Hall was lined with stucco,
and demanding constant repair. It was suggested,
and it was thought a desirable thing, to remove the
stucco, and to line the Hall with marble. Of course
this was an expensive operation at first, but we felt
that by so doing we should prevent the constantly
occurring expenses of painting and plastering, and that
we should do a very beautiful work; a work in point
of fact that would be creditable to the metropolis.
2976. Is it the fact that the trade of the silversmiths is
now in a very depressed condition ?—I think if you
look at the report of the Select Committee of 1879
and 1880 the whole thing was very fully gone into.
Ever since electro-plating came in, there is no doubt
that the trade has been depressed; but at the present
time it appears to be reviving. We judge of it by the
amount of duty paid at the Goldsmiths' Hall, and
during the last year or 18 months there appears to
have been a considerable revival of trade.
2977. Are many of the best workmen going to
America ?—I have not heard of that.
2978. Can you state at all the cause of the depression ?
—My impression is that it arises almost entirely from
the use of electro-plate.
2979. Is it due at all to taxes and to the trade being
hampered ?—There is a tax of 1s. 6d. upon silver;
little gold is made; no doubt if that tax were removed
it would lead to some increase in the manufacture of
plate. That is a matter with which the Goldsmiths'
Company have nothing to do. They are obliged by
the Government to receive this duty. We are perfectly
indifferent whether the duty is maintained or taken off.
2980. I should like to ask you about the practice
of breaking up artistic and other plate that is below
the standard ?—Are you alluding to plate that has
come from India; is that the particular thing?
2981. Yes?—I think it is desirable, as the matter
passed entirely through my son's hands, that he should
explain that matter to you, because a correspondence
has taken place upon that subject which he has conducted. The whole matter has been before the Treasury, and I may tell you that the Treasury are
perfectly satisfied that what the Goldsmiths' Company
did was only what they were obliged to do.
2982. On a specific point you can perhaps inform
me as to the practice, which I understand prevails, of
breaking up the whole set in consequence of a single
faulty article ?—Yes.
2983. That is the case, I believe ?—That is the
case undoubtedly; we are regulated by the Act of
Parliament of 12th George II.
2984. Do not you think that that is a practice
injurious to the trade?—I do not see very well how
you could avoid it. A man sends a parcel of plate;
scrapings are taken from each article, and then the
whole is assayed; and if his work turns out to be bad
we are, according to the Act of Parliament, to break it,
unless a sufficient excuse can be given. A man will
sometimes come and say, "I suspect that the fault
must be in a particular article; I shall feel obliged
to you to assay that particular article, and ascertain whether it is not so." It often has happened
that we have assayed that particular article, and we
have found that the fault did exist there; and if the
workman has been able to show that this particular
article got into his work by accident, or that there was
some other sufficient excuse, then we have frequently
allowed him to take that article out, have it broken, and
we have assayed and marked the remainder; but I think
you will find in the letter which I wrote, on behalf of
the Company, to the Commission in November, that
the whole matter is there gone into in the following
passage:—"Reverting to that part of the evidence of
Mr. E. J. Watherston in which he complains that
if one article in a parcel of plate is defective the
whole parcel is broken, the answer is that the power
to do this is not exercised unless there is reason to
believe a fraudulent intent or a want of care. As a
matter of fact, the care of the honest manufacturer,
and the influence exercised on the less scrupulous by
the action of the Goldsmiths' Company, has had the
effect that only about 75 of one per cent. of the
gold plate (or 9 ounces in 1,200 ounces) and 25 of
one per cent. of the silver plate (or 3 ounces in
1,200 ounces) offered for assay is broken."
2985. In the printed statement that you have been
good enough to supply the Commissioners with, you
mentioned that Mr. Watherston has not been able to
carry the trade with him in the reforms that he has
suggested ?—That is undoubtedly so.
2986. Do you mean the Company or the trade
generally ?—The trade generally. I believe you may
say that Mr. Watherston stands aloof from all the
leading men in the trade. I will give you an instance
of it. At the time that the Select Committee was
moved for about 1879, Mr. Watherston, then representing himself as the master of the situation, you may
say, all the leading men in London, Messrs. Garrard,
Messrs. Hunt and Roskell, Thomas Hancock, Barnard,
Mr. Lambert, Mr. Dobson, Elkington, Savory, and
others representing four-fifths, I think, of those who
paid the duty to the Government, had a meeting
with which the Goldsmiths' Company had nothing to
do, and which was called by some members of the
trade, and they passed a resolution unanimously entirely
opposed to those propositions which Mr. Watherston
himself was endeavouring to set forth.
2987. Are you aware that the trades of Birmingham,
Manchester, and Glasgow have, almost unanimously,
petitioned in support of the reforms ?—I have heard
that at Glasgow they have, but I think certainly not
at Birmingham, I have never heard of it, and we have
such intimate relations with the Birmingham Hall
that I think Mr. Martineau, the clerk of the Guardians, would have informed me of it, if it had been so,
but we know nothing of Glasgow.
2988. I suppose you do not at all question that
there is a great deal of public support of Mr. Watherston ?—I really cannot tell you what that support is.
He talks of being at the head of a Goldsmiths' and
Jewellers' Free Trade Association. Whenever he has
been asked who the members of this association are,
he has never given a reply, but at all events I can tell
you that no one of the persons who are known to
the public at large as goldsmiths and silversmiths in
London belong to that association.
2989. I suppose it is not at all a singular thing for a
trade not to want to reform itself?—My impression
is that the trade know best what is to their advantage.
2990. Are you aware that several societies, including the London Chambers of Commerce, the National
Chamber of Trade, the Financial Reform Association,
the Social Science Association, the Chambers of Commerce of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, have all
memorialised the Government in support of the Resolutions put forward by Mr. Watherston ?—Is that
with reference to abolition of the duty, or with regard
to hall marking ?
2991. To hall marking ?—I am certainly not aware
of it. A Committee of the House of Commons sat in
1879 and 1880, and you will find in their report that
they recommended that the compulsory hall marking
should be maintained. The report is a very voluminous one and a very exhaustive one.
2992. Is it not a fact that all the London newspapers and nearly all the Provincial newspapers have
also advocated reforms, and that scarcely any paper
has supported the trade in their policy of "Let well
alone," as they suggested at the meeting they had in
St. James' Hall, some time ago ?—I am afraid I
cannot answer that, I do not know.
2993. In your opinion would it be correct to say
that many workmen of the actual working silversmiths would be afraid to let it be known that they
are connected with a society to carry out these
reforms ?—I should think it very unlikely. I do not
know the workmen; I only know from my position at
Goldsmiths' Hall generally. I am not acquainted with
what takes place between the workmen and their employers, but I should think it very unlikely that it is so.
2994. (Mr. Firth.) With reference to the accounts
which I put some questions about to Sir Frederick
Bramwell last week, I have sent you a copy of those
accounts, and in a letter you have been good enough to
send me you say you find the separate items are
generally substantially correct, but with regard to the
gross receipts of 567,000l., you say that 67,000l. of
that is not income. That would leave your income
according to that letter at 500,000l. In respect to the
current expenditure, do you object to the way in which
this is arranged ? I put charities in pursuance of wills
94,378l., to same charities in excess of income of estates
11,133l., total 105,511l., Voluntary gifts Donations
69,588l., University Exhibitions 25,508l., Church
18,441l., Subscriptions 10,853l., Technical Education
8,658l., Three Schools 7,137l., Almhouses 7,405l.,
Annuities 2,257l., total 149,847l.; then under the head
of "Maintenance and Management":—Courts and
Committees 14,344l., Entertainments 43,231l., Wine
16,817l., Housekeeping 14,822l., Salaries 37,530l.,
Clerk Special 2,000l., Beadle 1,683l., making the
expenditure on members 129,427l. Then expenditure
on fabric : Repairs 22,309l. and 10,950l., Rates and
Taxes 16,669l., Law 4,385l., Gas, Coals, and Water
2,808l., Printing 2,239l., Furniture 7,491l., Sculpture
2,114l., Plate 1,236l., Insurance 584l., total 70,785l.;
Miscellaneous 6,000l., making the total expenditure of
540,000l. Do you object to that classification; is that
your objection ?—Yes, I object to the classification,
because you represent by this that the cost of management in ten years has been 129,000l., instead of, as I
make it in the same period, 54,000l.
2995. But the items you admit are correct ?—Your
items are substantially correct, I have gone over them.
2996. With respect to your return A, Landed
property, I find that the amount of the reserved rent is
35,555l., and the amount of the rateable value is
65,556l. Does the difference which is about 30,000l.
represent the value of your reversion, it represents a
valuable reversion does it not ?—It represents a valuable reversion undoubtedly.
2997. One word with respect to your poor. I find
that the Charter to which you draw our attention
recites amongst others one of your earlier Charters of
Richard II., which I presume therefore is still in force,
and which says this: "Know ye whereas Edward our
grandfather late King of England at the suit of the
goldsmiths of our City of London suggesting to him
how that many persons of that trade by fire and smoke
of quicksilver have lost their sight, and that others of
them by working in that trade became so crazed and
infirm that they were disabled to subsist, but of relief
from others; and that divers of the said city compassionating the condition of such were disposed to give
and grant divers tenements and rents in the City to
the value of twenty pounds per annum to the Company
of the said craft towards the maintenance of the said
blind, weak, and infirm, and also of a chaplain to
celebrate Mass amongst them every day for the souls
of all the faithful departed, according to the Ordinance
in that behalf to be made, did by his Letters Patents
for the consideration of a fine of ten marks, for himself
and his heirs, as much as in him lay, grant and give
license to the men of the community aforesaid that
they might purchase tenements and rents in the same
city of the value of twenty pounds per annum, and not
above, of the men of that City, for relief and maintenance of such blind and infirm and of such chaplain
as aforesaid. To hold to them and their successors of
the same society for ever for the purposes aforesaid;
the statute workman or any other statute or ordinance
to the contrary thereof notwithstanding, as in and by
the said Letters Patents more fully and at large it
may appear." Can you tell me how much of the
money which is now given to the poor of your Company
is given to the poor of a trade ?—I think I have stated
that in the Returns, but I think I can give it you now.
The number of freemen pensioners who are or have
been connected with the trade or craft of Goldsmiths or
Silversmiths is 34.
2998. The proportion of the payment is what I
should also like to know ?—I cannot tell you that.
2999. Now turning to your major return, if I may
so term it, at page 2 I find you state : "Return D.
We are not aware of any decrees of Court, acts of the
Court of Aldermen or of the Court of Common
Council founding, regulating, or affecting the Company." In your statement you object to my proposition that the Companies are subject to the control
of the Corporation. Are you aware of various
precepts for various purposes sent by the Corporation
to your Company ?—I am aware of precepts having
been sent from time to time, as for instance, notably in
the case of the precepts sent to the Company in the
year 1770 to attend Common Hall.
3000. I will come to that afterwards if I may.
Beginning rather earlier, say 1485, you had a precept
from the Mayor and Chamberlain to provide 24
persons to ride out to meet King Henry VII. at
Blackheath. Rather later you had a precept from the
City to raise money. Then you had a precept from
the Mayor and Warden to provide people to attend
at Guildhall (I am putting it in answer to your
statement here) and certify to the Lord Mayor at the
Guildhall, and you have repeatedly made answer to
precepts from the Lord Mayor to provide money; are
you aware of that ?—I know that in ancient times it
was the custom for the Lord Mayor to issue precepts,
and it was the custom for the Company to attend to
them, but whether they were obliged to attend to
them or not is another matter. I know that in
later times the Company have absolutely refused to
attend to all precepts to the Company to summon their
livery to Common Halls unless for election purposes.
3001. In 1665, which is a later period, you received
a precept from the Lord Mayor to contribute to the
poor suffering from the plague, and again a precept
to provide chaldrons of sea coal; you say that it is
since then that the change has been made ?—You will
find in the report of the Municipal Corporation
Commissioners of 1837 that they state that the
Corporation's control of the companies is little more
than nominal, those are their very words.
3002. That you have given us in this statement ?—
Yes, I have.
3003. You contend that you are no part of the Corporation ?—Not an integral part, I have taken your
own words. They are certainly not an integral part,
and if the Commission desire me to do it, I am perfectly prepared to go into that question. The case
came prominently before the judges in the case which
I have mentioned in this statement, which you have
3004. (Chairman.) Is that the Lord Chief Justice
de Grey's judgment that you are referring to ?—That
is Lord Chief Justice de Grey's judgment.
3005. I think we are all familiar with Lord Chief
Justice de Grey's judgment, is there anything beyond
that. If you found yourself (and you have a perfect
right to found yourself) upon the judgment of the
Chief Justice, that speaks for itself, and we can deal
with it. If there is anything else you wish to say to
us by all means say it ?—I will merely say generally
that I presume what is meant when it is stated that
the Livery Companies are integral parts of the Corporation is, that the one could not exist without the
other. Now it is quite clear.
3006. Then you see we get into such curious questions, do we not. I, for one, should not at all accept
"integral part," and the impossibility of existing
without being an integral part as synonymous?—If
that be your Lordship's opinion I am content, but I
find the point stated in "Kyd on Corporations," and I
will just mention that, if you will permit.
3007. I really only interpose to save time, but can
we get further than this, that everybody who has
taken the trouble to read anything about it is aware
that the Common Hall exists for certain purposes, that
the Common Hall consists of those freemen of the
City of London who are also liverymen, or if you like
to put it so, such liverymen as are also freemen (I
care not which way you put it), and that that body,
which is still an existing body, elects certain persons
who are members of the Corporation. But we might
argue to all eternity as to whether that did or did not
constitute the Common Hall an integral part of the
Corporation. There is the fact, and we cannot make the
fact different by any amount of argument?—There is
no doubt that they are the electoral body at the present
time for certain purposes. But what I would say is
this, that they have not always been so; changes have
been made from time to time.
3008. I mean that persons may very fairly differ
as to what is the true effect of that upon the Corporations and the Companies, but the fact is indisputable, is it not ?—Certainly.
3009. (Mr. Firth.) Are you aware that the city
have always contended the contrary?—I think it is
pretty clear that they contended the contrary because
they fought the question with the Goldsmiths' Company in the year 1775.
3010. I do not admit that. I was going to ask
you whether your attention has been drawn to the
case of Wannell against the Chamberlain of the City
of London in 1726 ?—No.
3011. Where the Chamberlain returned that London has time out of mind been a Corporation and consists of several societies, guilds, and fraternities. This
is a case in which a joiner not a member of the Joiners'
Company sent a mandamus to the Chamberlain to
admit him to the freedom of the City; the Chamberlain on behalf of the Corporation of the City, made
return, and that return was held good. The return
was this, that London has time out of mind been a
Corporation consisting of several societies, guilds, and
fraternities of the City, and no person could ever be a
freeman of the City until he was a member of one of
the fraternities. Then the Chamberlain goes on to
say the plaintiff was a joiner, but not free of the
Joiners' Company ?—What court decided that?
3012. It was a mandamus, and therefore in the
King's Bench; you are not aware of that case,
you say ?—I think I remember the case now. The
return was held good, and the mandamus did not go.
3013. The case is reported in 1 Strange, page 667.
It is very short, and is as follows :— "Mandamus to
admit George Wannel to his freedom of the City of
London, setting forth that he was bound apprentice
to one Samuel Vaureyven of London, merchant taylor, for seven years; that he had served out his
time, and been admitted into the Merchant Taylors'
Company, and in due form presented to the
Chamberlain, who refused to admit him to his freedom. The Chamberlain returns : That London has
time out of mind been a corporation, and consists of
several societies, guilds, and fraternities of freemen
of the City, and that no person could ever be a
freeman of the City till he was a member of one of
those fraternities. That time out of mind there has
been a Company called the Joiners' Company.
Then he returns a power to make byelaws, and that
19th October, 6 William and Mary, a bye-law was
made reciting that several persons not free of the
Joiners' Company had exercised the trade of a
joiner in an unskilful and fraudulent manner,
which could not be redressed whilst such persons
were not under the orders and regulations of the
Company, therefore it enacts that no person shall
use that trade who is not free of the Company,
under the penalty of 10l. That the plaintiff did
exercise the trade of joiner, and that at the time of
his being presented to the Chamberlain he was not
free of the Joiners' Company, and therefore he does
not admit him to the freedom of the City. Upon
this return the question was, whether this bye-law
to oblige a member of one Company to be admitted
in another Company, was good or not? And to
prove it naught, the case of Robinson v. Groscourt
5 Mod. 104 was relied on, where a byelaw to oblige
all persons using music and dancing to be free of
the Company of Musicians was held void; and
even there it did not appear that the person was
free of any other Company, as it does in this case.
On the other hand it was said, that this was a
very reasonable bye law, since it tended to prevent
frauds in trade. And of that opinion was the
Court, it being properest for such a person to be
under the regulation of that Company who understand the trade best. That the case of Robinson
v. Groscourt, was adjudged upon the foot of a
dancing master's not being a trader; and there was
no inconvenience to an honest man, in being free of
this Company, rather than another. But the Chief
Justice stated a difficulty, whether the plaintiff
having served a merchant taylor, could oblige the
Joiners' Company to admit him, it not being so
stated in the return; and without that be taken for
granted, the byelaw will be void. To which it
was answered by Fortescue Justice: That the imposing the penalty of 10l. for not taking up his
freedom, is the strongest implication that they are
bound to grant it. Per cui ulterius concilium. It
was argued a second time in last Trinity Term by
Mr. Reeve and the Solicitor General, much to the
effect of the former argument. And now this
term Raymond Chief Justice delivered the resolution of the court: We are all of opinion that this
is a good byelaw, being made in regulation of trade,
and to prevent fraud and unskilfulness, of which
none but a Company that exercise the same trade
can be judges. This does not take away his right
to his freedom, but only his election of what Company he shall be free; it is only to direct him to go
to the proper Company. As to the objection, that
it does not appear the Joiners' Company are bound
to admit him, we are all of opinion that it being
said he shall take up his freedom in that Company
under the penalty of 10l. he will be entitled to have
a mandamus to prevent a forfeiture. Per curiam.
The return must be allowed." The plaintiff was a
joiner, and was not free of the Joiners' Company,
and he said that no one could be admitted a freeman of the City until he was a freeman of one of
the City Companies, and it was held that was a
good return ?—"Kyd on Corporations" says, "that
the gilda mercatoria in England was something
distinct from the corporate body vested with the
local government of the place, receives confirmation
from the actual state of the Royal Boroughs in
Scotland. In most of these, there are several
incorporated companies of trades, and a gildry,
which is also an incorporated company, but distinct from the others, and the magistracy of the
town is composed of members partly taken from the
gildry and partly from the trades."
3014. Are you aware that the Goldsmiths' Company made a return to the House of Commons in
1774 ?—No, I am not. At the present moment I
have forgotten it at all events, if I have seen it.
3015. I suppose such a return will be in the
archives of your Company?—No doubt we should
find it in the records.
3016. With respect to Plumbe's case, I see you
contest the construction which I put upon it ?—It is
exactly the reverse of the construction which you have
put upon it.
3017. Have you got the report of the case?—I
have. I may say that Alderman Plumbe's case was
tried by a special commission. I believe that is the
reason why it is not reported in the general reports.
It was a special commission which was usually issued
to try writs of error from the Lord Mayor's court, and
it was composed of five judges. One of the judges, I
think, had retired before the judgment was given.
The judgment in the case was delivered by Lord Chief
Justice De Grey and the three other judges, and it
was unanimous. It reversed the verdict of the Lord
Mayor's court in 1773, and decided that the warden
of the Goldsmiths' Company was perfectly justified in
disobeying the precept.
3018. Have you got a copy of the report ?—I was
going to say that I applied to the town clerk to ascertain from him whether he had got a copy. He said
he had not got the proceedings, but that there was a
book in the Guildhall library, which had been printed
by order of the Court of Common Council, which contained a report of the judgments of the four judges,
and therefore I take it from that that it must have
been perfectly authentic.
3019. Perhaps I may be permitted to say this. I
see that in this statement you impeach what Mr. Beal
said about it ?—Most decidedly.
3020. You are not aware that Mr. Beal presented
that book to the Corporation, are you ?—If he did, all
I can say is this; that what I thought he had perhaps stated inadvertently, he must have actually misrepresented to his own knowledge.
3021. That is to say, if your construction of this case
is correct ?—I think you had better ascertain whether
it is correct to say that Mr. Beal presented that book
to the Guildhall library; I very much doubt it.
3022. Very well. You have not set out any part
of Lord Chief Justice De Grey's judgment which
proves what you state ?—Indeed I have.
3023. There is nothing in the judgment of any one
of those judges which says that the Companies are not
bound to attend to the precepts of the Lord Mayor?
—In the report of the judgment it is distinctly stated.
3024. Allow me to read from Lord Chief Justice
De Grey's judgment a passage which you have not
set out. Your quotation begins, if I may draw your
attention to it, in the middle of a sentence. the first
part of which sentence is rather material, I will read
it to you, "I think a body might possibly suppose a
case in which the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and livery
as such, might have some business upon which they
might think proper to address the Crown, and if
they did so, if such precept was issued to the warden, it would be his duty to obey it, there it would
appear to be, I cannot say a corporate purpose, but
a legal business to be transacted legally, and if a
warden was to disobey such an order as that, he
would offend as warden, there is no doubt about
that, but the question is, what is to be done where
it appears the subject of their meeting is not the
particular business of that body, nor even the particular business of the City, but relates to supposed
national grievances, but it has nothing to do with
the corporate capacity of the City . . . . consequently it is as clear as the sun they could not
meet upon this subject corporaliter " ?—I perfectly
agree with that, because it is quite clear that if the
Lord Mayor had desired the Warden of the Company
to summon the livery for an election purpose, he
would have been bound to attend to the precept. But
what the Lord Chief Justice does say is this, these are
his very words : "Thus far we know."
3025–6. That is the middle of the sentence. Will
you begin the sentence, if you please ?—Yes, I am perfectly willing to begin the sentence if the Lord Chief
Justice will allow me. The sentence is a somewhat
long one, "But I never did hear nor can I find and I
should be very sorry to find that I am bound to take
judicial notice which of these companies are for
instance incorporated, and which not, because I have
no means of knowing which of them have a livery and
which not; the sub-division of their powers among
themselves; in whom in each subordinate Company
the power of making laws to regulate their own Company lies; the authority of the Masters, Wardens, and
Assistants, these properly make no part of the customs
of the City of London, because, thus far, we know that
the constitution of the City of London does not contain these Companies. I mean originally and from
their charters and all prescriptive rights, it is by subsequent action that they came now to bear the relation they do to these companies as livery. The livery
are not formed out of their corporate body, some of
them are supposed to have existed immemorially.
They are not created by the King, but if it was a
grant from the King, they are not essential to the
constitution, but might exist independently of it,
therefore, whatever their constituent parts, their
obligations, duties, powers, customs, and rights are,
either as altogether or as individuals, they are no part
of the City customs, but a subordinate, detached, and
independent body I mean independent with regard
to the original institutions." Now, I put to you the
proposition as to the decision in this case, as I understand it; the warden was disfranchised by the Mayor's
Court in 1773 ?—By a verdict in the Mayor's Court.
3027. And that was upheld afterwards. Then they
went to the Court which sat in Serjeants' Inn, where
there were four judges, Ashurst, Aston, Smythe, and
De Grey ?—I am not aware that they went to Serjeants'
3028. That is where they sat?—It is not stated so
in that book; it is called the Court of St. Martin's
3029. That is the name of the Court?—I know
this, that it was a Special Commission.
3030. That Court reversed the sentence of disfranchisement ?—Yes, certainly.
3031. Are you aware that that Court did it upon
the ground that the precept which was sent to the
warden was not within his corporate duty ?—No, it
was not simply upon that ground. But that is not
what you said. You state here in your book, " And
although now only called together for election purposes, there appears but little doubt but that it might
be convened for other business." That is what you
said after having stated that the Companies are an
integral part of the corporation of the City, and this
is your note: "This would seem to have been finally
settled "; finally settled mind you, " in the case of
the trial of the refractory Companies in 1773, when
the warden of the Goldsmiths' Company was successfully prosecuted in the Mayor's Court for
inattention to a summons to Common Hall on other
than election business." So that in point of fact
that which you state is directly the reverse of what
is true; it was not finally settled.
3032. But I am drawing your attention to what
Lord Justice De Grey himself says, that for corporate
purposes it would be called together ?—That was not
the effect of the decision.
3033. We will have the decision in. I have
nothing more to say about that. I think nothing is
more clear. As a matter of history, are you
aware that the Companies were called together by the
Lord Mayor for other than election purposes in a
number of years, subsequent to this decision ?—I have
no doubt that it is possible that they may have been;
but I do know this, that the Goldsmiths' Company
passed a resolution, immediately after this case was
decided, which was to this effect: That for the future
the wardens of the Company should not obey any
precept received from Guildhall for any other purpose
excepting for election purposes, unless the matter
were brought before the Court of Assistants, and they
were permitted to do so; and I do know this also,
that from that time to this we have never obeyed a
precept of that sort.
3034. Did not you obey the precept of the Lord
Mayor in 1872 when a committee was appointed to
correspond with committees of counties to obtain a
more equal representation of the people ?—I feel satisfied we did not, because, following the Resolution
passed in the year 1775, I found that there was no
instance in which the wardens had thought it right to
consult the Court of Assistants generally as to whether
they should obey a precept for summoning the Livery
3035. In your statement, page 3, you set out as
against one of my propositions an Act of the Common
Council of November 4th, 1651. Are you aware that
that Act of the Common Council was never acted
upon, and that in the following year the Lord Mayor
issued his precept, as usual, for the livery to assemble ?
—I am not aware of it.
3036. You would like to know the authority from
which I am quoting, I may tell you that it is from a
report to the Common Council presented on the 19th
December, 1833, by a Committee appointed to consider
the expediency of applying to the Legislature for the
repeal of 11 Geo. I. c. 18, for regulating elections
within the city. They say with reference to this Act,
which you quote as of importance, "This ordinance
was ordered to be printed and a copy to be sent to
the Common Council of every ward, and it has never
been repeated, but it does not appear to have been
acted upon, for in the following year the Lord
Mayor issued his precept as usual for the Livery to
assemble for the elections." Now I wish to ask
you a question or two as to the occupations of the
Court of Assistants; I have a list here, and should
like to ask you whether it is right. Mr. Hayter is a
private gentleman, and Mr. Banbury a banker ?—Mr.
Hayter is a retired silversmith; he and his father
before him were manufacturing silversmiths.
3037. This list is supplied by Mr. Watherston ?—I
3038. It has been sent to me, and I am just asking
you about it. He says, as a fact, that Mr. Hayter was
never in the trade at all, is that true ?—No, it is not.
3039. Mr. Banbury is a banker ?—Mr. Banbury is
3040. Mr. Watherston is a goldsmith by servitude?
—I think he was admitted by servitude.
3041. That is the gentleman with whom you seem
to have some difference. Mr. Gadesden is a sugar
baker ?—He is not now; that was his business at one
time; he is, except that he is a Director of the
London and Westminster Bank, retired from business.
3042. Mr. Gray is a commission agent, is he not?
—Mr. Gray was formerly an exporter of plate and
plated wares, and has all his life been well acquainted
with the manufacture of plate.
3043. Mr. Cattley is a Russian merchant, is he not?
—He has retired from business.
3044. And Mr. Wilson is in the silk trade ?—Mr.
Wilson was never in any business at all.
3045. Mr. Matthey is an assayer ?—Mr. Matthey
is an assayer, metallurgist, and manufacturer of the precious metals.
3046. Mr. Brand is a merchant ?—Mr. Brand is a
merchant, a member of the firm of Harvey, Brand, and
3047. Sir Thomas Gabriel is in the timber trade ?—
Sir Thomas Gabriel is in the timber trade.
3048. Mr. Pixley, a bullion broker ?—Mr. Pixley
is a bullion broker.
3049. Sir Frederick Bramwell a civil engineer, Mr.
Copeland a porcelain manufacturer, Mr. Norbury a
stockbroker, Mr. Fleming a merchant, Mr. Thomas a
retail silversmith and dealer in old plate ?—I do not
think you could say that he is a dealer in old plate;
Mr. Thomas's shop in Bond Street is very well known.
3050. It is not a term of reprobation surely ?—He
is one of the leading men in the business.
3051. I do not suppose it is intended to use that
expression offensively. Mr. Holland is in the linen
trade; Mr. Page is a provision dealer ?—He is a
3052. Mr. Smith manufacturing silversmith, Mr.
Trotter a stockbroker, Mr. Lambert a retail silversmith and dealer in second hand plate, Mr. Lucas a
builder ?—Mr. Lucas is more than a builder, he is the
3053. Mr. Hoare a banker, Mr. Pym a banker and
a member of Coutts'?—Yes, a partner in the firm of
Coutts & Co.
3054. (To Mr. Walter Prideaux, junior.) Mr. Burt
desired to put to you a question about the plate, but he
has had to go away. The question is with respect to
Messrs. Fry and some Indian plate. Are these the
facts of that case. On the 19th of September, 1881,
the writer of the letters I have here says, "I paid the
sum of 24l. 9s. for Customs Duty on 326 ounces of
silver plate ex Peshawur from Bombay on the 28th of
September, 1881, in conjunction with Messrs. Fry and
Company. I sent the plate to the Goldsmiths' Hall
to be assayed and stamped as required by law before
the plate is sold. On the 5th October, 1881, I was
informed that the same was under standard, and must
be broken up. I forthwith made application to the
wardens of the Hall that the silver might be exported
under bond, but the application was refused, and on
the 22nd October the plate was returned broken up.
I was also informed that the duty could not be repaid
by the Goldsmiths' Hall authorities, and that I must
apply to the Customs to whom I had paid it. At the
same time I was furnished with a certificate that the
silver had been broken up. On the 31st October,
1881, I petitioned the Board of Customs for a return
of the duty, and placed the above-mentioned certificate
before them. They replied that " they could not
'return the duty, because the plate had been taken
'out of the charge of the officers of their department.'
I then petitioned the Honourable Board of Inland
Revenue, and on the 10th February, 1882, received
notice that the Lords of the Treasury sanctioned the
repayment of the duty 'on the condition that the
'officers of the Customs who examined the plate on
its importation were satisfied as to its identity.' In
reply, I addressed the Honourable Board of Customs,
showing that the plate had been entirely smashed, not
a handle, foot, or body left whole, and that identification was in the documents only." And he wishes
attention directed to these points; he says, "the loss
actually incurred was about 100l., as the goods were
'finished;' had they been of English manufacture
they would have been sent to the Hall in the rough
state, and, if broken up, the loss would not have
amounted to one half that sum." Then he says,
the duty was returned," and he says, "no method
exists whereby an importer can get a return of the
duty in the simple manner accorded to the English
manufacturer." Then he says in a subsequent letter :
I did all in my power to prevent the plate being
broken. I offered a bond for double the value of
the plate, and applied that it might be repacked in
the Hall;" and then he says, "I further pointed
out that the intention of the law was that no plate
of inferior quality should be sold in England, and
that if my request were entertained such intention
would be fully carried out. The reply was, that
the law requiring all plate below standard to be
smashed applied equally to manufacturers and importers.'" Then he submits, that "when those
laws were passed, the importation of silver plate
was probably non-existent" ?—As the letter has
been read to the Commission. I should like to mention
this fact. Mr. Fry, who, I presume, writes this letter,
is not a silversmith at all, he is a mere commission agent.
3055. The letter is written by Mr. Wood ?—I was
not aware of that, but it makes no difference; Mr. Wood
is not a silversmith, and his statement is very
3056. (Chairman.) That makes no matter it seems
to me; a gentleman has a right to sell plate if he sells
honestly, and if he brings to your hall plate below
the standard you find out that it is below the standard
and under the Act of Parliament you break it up.
That is hard upon him, but if it was below the standard
that was not your fault?—I would make this one
remark, when Mr. Fry came to Goldsmiths' Hall and
informed me that there was this large parcel of plate
at the customs from India, knowing the silver from
India to be very much below the standard, I strongly
advised him on two occasions to have a private assay
made before he sent the plate to the hall, telling him
that we should have no alternative but to break it up
if he sent it, and it proved to be below the standard.
He disregarded that warning, told me that the plate
had been made expressly for importation to pass the
hall, that he was quite sure it would be all right, and
he persisted in sending it. When we came to assay
the plate, instead of its being made of rupee silver as
he states (which is about two pennyweights worse
than the British standard) there was no single
article in the package less than 7½ pennyweights
worse, and the great bulk was as much as 15 pennyweights worse than the British standard, so that it was
not even made of rupee silver. I merely wish to
mention this, as he was twice warned and recommended to have a private assay.
3057. (Mr. Firth.) The question Mr. Burt would
have put would have been this : is that a state of
things that is calculated to benefit or restrict the trade ?
—I think as long as the British manufacturer is obliged
to send his plate to be marked up to a certain standard it would be very hard upon him if a foreigner
could import such rubbish as that, which was 15
pennyweights worse than the British standard.
3058. (Chairman.) I do not want to argue that out,
the difference is that it has not got your mark upon it,
That is a very obvious difference. The buyer who
buys without your mark knows that he is buying
something without your mark upon it ?—The British
manufacturer cannot sell without his plate having our
mark upon it.