EIGHTEENTH DAY. Wednesday, 11th April 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 A. Cross, G.C.B.,
Sir Nathaniel M. de Rothschild Bart., M.P.
Sir Sydney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.
Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.
Mr. Walker H. James, M.P.
Mr. Joseph Firth, M.P.
Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.
Deputation from Culers' Company. 1 April 1883.
The following gentlemen attended as a deputation
from the Cutlers' Company:—
Mr. Graves, and
Mr. Beaumont, the Clerk of the Company.
3072. (Chairman to Mr. Beaumont.) I understand
that you wish to make some explanation with regard to
this passage, which appears in Mr. Firth's book
"Municipal London:" "The responsibility of a seat
in the court carries with it a salary: the meetings
of the committees are duly paid for; some Companies have dinners of some kind as often as once
a week, and lucky are the committee-men of such
Companies, for in addition to their salaries, they
sometimes find a bank-note delicately secreted
under their plates, and sometimes find huge boxes
of bon-bons upon them"?—I only wish to do so if
that statement can be treated as referring, as I understand Mr. Firth has done, to the Cutlers' Company.
3073. Do you wish to state that, so far as you can
state it, you are a stranger to anything of the kind ?—I
should wish to state, as representing the Company, that
I have been concerned for the Company as assistant
clerk and clerk for very nearly 20 years, and my
father was clerk before me for 35 years. During the
period that I have been assistant clerk and clerk the
whole of the affairs of the Company have been before
me, and I am prepared most positively to contradict
3074. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) What statement ?—
The statement that my Company has at any time placed
bank-notes under the plates of the court or given them
any sums of money beyond the fees which were formerly two guineas, and which are now three guineas.
Mr. Firth seems to have confined his statement to a
period within the last 20 or 25 years. Accordingly I
have gone through the accounts of the Company carefully for the last 50 years. I find they have always
been kept with strict accuracy, that the fees paid to
the various members of the court are entered in detail,
and that there is no trace of any payment made to any
member of the court beyond the fees sanctioned by
the court for the time being.
3075. (Chairman.) What are the fees for?—The
fees are for attendance at the monthly meetings. The
court of my Company meets monthly, and the fee
which was formerly paid to a member of the court
was two guineas, but it has been increased within the
last 25 years to three guineas.
3076. How was it usual to be paid; in what form ?
—I ventured to suggest in a letter to Mr. Warr, that
if there was any foundation for this statement it might
arise from this: The practice of my Company is to
place the fees in small sealed envelopes, which are
placed either beside the members of the court or on
a tray where they can take them immediately after the
court business is over.
3077. Not on the dinner table ?—Not on the dinner
table but in the court room.
(Mr. Graves.) I have been on the court for 20
years, and never met with a case of the kind suggested,
and my wife's father and grandfather have been connected with the court for the last 100 years, and they
have never heard of such a thing existing in the
Cutlers' Company; certainly during the nearly 50
years that I have known it, such a thing has never
3078. Is there anything else that you wish to add ?
3079. (Mr. Firth to Mr. Beaumont.) I should like
to ask you whether you ever read this evidence before
the Commission of 1854: "It is still customary to
place a five or ten pound note under the plate of a
liveryman invited if a member of the Court of
Assistants" ?—I do not know what you are referring to, Sir; what evidence is this? Is it with
reference to my Company ?
3080. No; I ask you in the first instance whether
you ever heard of that evidence given before the
Commission in 1854 by Mr. Hickson?—No; I never
heard of it.
3081. Have you ever heard of a case which supports the truth of that evidence ?—No.
3082. You do not contest the part of the book
which has been quoted as to bon-bons, I suppose ?—
Bon-bons are frequently given.
3083. I see you have ladies' dinners, at which
presents costing sums varying from 65l. and upwards
to 100l. or 150l. are given ?—We have a ladies'
banquet every year, and give them presents; which
probably amounts to 60l. in a year.
3084. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) In what form do you
give the presents?—Either some small piece of cutlery
or some small thing which the lady could wear, but
nothing to the members of the court.
3085. (Mr. Firth.) You had a clerk, I notice, two
years ago who defaulted to the extent of 1,133l.; was
he the clerk of the Company ?—No, he was my clerk.
3086. I notice that last year you expended 2,880l.
in court fees, divers bills, and wine; that is more
than half your income. I should like to ask you how
the court fees were paid ?—The court fees paid are
3l. 3s. to each member of the court who attends the
court; but they are not paid until the court business
3087. So far as you know, you say that you have
never heard in your Company of a bank note being
put under the plate ?—Certainly.
3088. Have you ever heard of it in any other
3089. Mr. Pryor was a member of your Company,
was he not ?—Yes, a very highly respected member.
3090. (Mr. Alderman Cotton.) Your ladies' dinners
have not been given until very recently, have they ?—
Many years ago there used to be ladies' dinners, which
were discontinued because our Company was somewhat poorer than now. Within the last five or six
years the ladies' dinners have been renewed.
3091. Not later back than five or six years ?
(Mr. Graves.) It is about five or six years.
3092. (Chairman to Mr. Beaumont.) What is the
total income of the Company ?—Speaking without the
figures before me, I think it is about 6,000l.
3093. (Sir N. M. de Rothschild.) You have not a
large funded income, have you ?—No, it is mostly from
3094. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) How long do the
courts last for which the fee of 3l. 3s. is paid ?—They
vary; the fee includes the committee meeting as well
as the court, and the entire business generally last from
two to two-and-a-half hours.
3095. There is no separate Committee, is there?
—There is no separate fee for the members of the
3096. Do the members meet before the court ?
—They meet one hour before the court.
3097. What would be the average value of each
lady's present ?—Under 1l., about 15s. I should say,
3098. (Mr. James.) The court always dine together
after their monthly meeting, do they not ?—Yes.
3099. Is the tray on which these envelopes are
placed in the same room as that in which the dinner
takes place ?—No, the tray is placed in the court room
immediately after the business, so that each member
can take his fee as he leaves, unless it is handed round
(Mr. Graves.) A great deal of the funds have been
derived from persons purchasing their livery.
3100. (Mr. Alderman Cotton to Mr Beaumont.)
Your general custom is to hand the fee round, is it
3101. (Mr. James.) What are the duties of the
beadle of your Company. I see he has a salary of
150l.?—He has to look after the hall; he is nearly
always at the hall to answer all messages sent there,
and to attend to the court and the committee meetings.