Evidences, 1883
Drapers' Company


Centre for Metropolitan History



City of London Livery Companies Commission

Year published




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'Evidences, 1883: Drapers' Company', City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 1 (1884), pp. 342-344. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69425 Date accessed: 21 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Wednesday, 2nd May 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. Sir Richard A. Cross, G.C.B.

Sir Sidney H. Waterlow, Bart., M.P.

Mr. Alderman Cotton, M.P.

Mr. Pell, M.P.

Mr. Joseph Firth, M.P.

Mr. Thomas Burt, M.P.

Mr. H. D. Warr, Secretary.

Deputation from Drapers' Company.; 2 May 1883.

The following gentlemen attended as a deputation from the Drapers' Company:—

Mr. William Henry Dalton.

Mr. John Rogers Jennings.

Mr. W. P. Sawyer.

3164. (Chairman to Mr. Dalton.) You have come, I understand, as representing the Drapers' Company? —We have.

3165. And I understand that you have a statement in preparation which you intend to lay before the Commission, but which is not yet ready, is that so?— Quite so.

3166. May I ask you to what that statement refers? —That statement refers principally to our Irish estates, and is an answer to Dr. Todd's evidence.

3167. We have had your returns laid before us, and I understand that your object in coming here is not so much to add to that, as to give members of the Commission an opportunity of cross-examining upon them if they think fit?—We come in response to the Commissioners' invitation.

3168. (Sir Richard Cross.) I understand that you wish to correct some statement that has been made by Mr. Longley?—Yes, there are one or two things in Mr. Longley's evidence I should like to allude to and correct. In question 322, Mr. Longley refers to Howell's Charity. That case was decided by the Master of the Rolls on the 3rd May 1843, adversely to our Company. It was decided against us, but I think, looking back to that time, we are surprised that we were not then legally advised to take it back into Court. I had better read to you a few words of Lord Langdale's judgment, which I think absolves our Company from any blame. On page 13 of the judgment he says: "Now nothing can be more satisfactory in an investigation of this kind than to find that there is no possibility for any imputation of bad or corrupt conduct on the part of the defendants. The present defendants, beyond all question, have applied this fund just in the manner in which it has been applied by their predecessors; in all probability they never looked at the original foundation at all; but instead of applying it to any beneficial purposes of their own, it is now shown by the evidence, and by their answer, and it is admitted by the Attorney-General that they have applied these funds not to their own benefit, but in a most beneficial manner for the most useful charitable purposes; and one may entertain very great doubts whether extending the charitable purposes of the founder will be productive of effects anything like so beneficial as the charitable purposes promoted by the defendants." That will show, I think, that Lord Langdale exonerates the Company from any blame for what they had done, and besides that, the course they adopted was a wise course as far as the administration of the funds went. Then afterwards, with reference to Mr. Longley's evidence, in which he alludes to the cost of administration of charities, I think he says the livery companies are very lavish in their expenditure in management. Now I may say that our charitable trusts income is 30,000l. a year, and the cost of management is 1,500l.; that is about 5 per cent. I should say the property consists of houses in London, and farms and property in the country. That 5 per cent. includes rent collection, the management of property and the distribution of the revenue, and solicitors, surveyors, and land agents' charges, and the property being scattered all over the country, of course there is occasionally considerable expense in its management. As to the distribution of the revenue, we have six schools with 420 pupils, 12 sets of almshouses, with 206 inmates; four apprentice charities, the number of apprentices averaging 80 a year and 130 pensioners. We consider that 5 per cent. of the revenue cannot be called a very lavish expenditure. Then we come to the statement about Bancroft's School and Corney's School at question 457 of Mr. Longley's evidence. He blends them into one institution, but they are totally distinct. The date of Bancroft's will was 1727; he then left money to found a school and almshouses, which we have had from that time to this; Mr. Longley in his evidence seems to imply that we have gone with 50,000l. to the Commissioners, I will not say to bribe, but to induce them to give us certain advantages; now we deny that in toto. This school is a pet school of the Company; we have had it under our management since 1727, and we take great interest in it, and also in the success of our boys, and the boys turn out very well indeed in a great many cases. The school was an old building and unfit for the present times, and not in good sanitary condition, and our architect told us it was of no use to patch it up and try to repair it. The funds of the charity would not allow of anything like the expenditure necessary to rebuild it, and we resolved to go to the Commissioners for a scheme to rebuild the school, either where it is now, or elsewhere near London. Then, with regard to Corney's School, that is quite a modern institution founded by Mr. Corney, a personal friend of my own, and a master of our Company, who left us 36,000l. to establish a school for fatherless girls. We established that school; we spent about 6,000l. in purchasing the freehold premises, and the 30,000l. was invested for the income. We have expended from our corporate funds upon the school 11,000l., and at the present time we are paying one half of the annual expenses. Last year there was nearly 1,000l. voted on this account. The very fact, I think, that a past master of our Company at the present day leaves this large fund in our hands shows the confidence he has that we act as faithful trustees of charitable trusts. Then I think I may say a word about the Irish estates. Upon that matter we are prepared to send in to the Royal Commissioners a statement to show our view. I do not know that I have anything more to say. I would only add, in conclusion, that we believe that our estates and property have been very judiciously managed, and I honestly say that I am sure that our charity trusts have been most faithfully administered. To quote the words of one of the witnesses who have appeared before the Commissioners, "what we have done in the past is a guarantee for what we shall do in the future; in other words, we have earned a right to be trusted."

3169. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) I think in addition to other charities your Company spends large sums on technical education, does it not?—It does.

3170. They have given 10,000l. towards the erection of the Technical College in Finsbury, have they not ?—They have given 10,000l. towards the college building in Finsbury.

3171. (Mr. Firth.) In what year was that given? —Our first vote for technical education was on February 7th, 1877, when we voted 2,000l. a year to the Technical Institute. The 10,000l. was given subsequent to that.

3172. (Sir Sydney Waterlow.) And the 2,000l. has been increased to 4,000l., has it not?—To 4,500l.

3173. And is there every reason to believe that if the Institute conducts its work properly, the Company will continue to support it?—I may say the Drapers' Company have long felt a great interest in the work of promoting technical education. The earliest meeting of the city guilds was held at Drapers' Hall, I think, in 1876. We take a great interest in the matter, and no doubt, if funds are wanting, we shall be ready to at any time with other companies to come forward and supplement the funds.

3174. Passing from that, I think we have heard that you have 80 distinct charities ?—I think we have.

3175. With an income of 28,000l. a year to distribute amongst them ?—We put our charity income at about 30,000l. in round numbers.

3176. Is the charity income administered free of any cost of administration?—I mentioned just now that 5 per cent. is the cost to the charities of the management, but then beyond that we use our own money.

3177. Do you charge the 5 per cent. against the charities?—We do not make a charge of 5 per cent.; the total expenses amount to about 5 per cent.

3178. Do you pay it out of the corporate income? —No.

3179. Not out of the charities?—Yes, out of the charities. The amount charged out of the charity trust fund amounts to about 5 per cent.; it is not a 5 per cent. charge, there are different items—surveyors, lawyers, land agents, and so forth—amounting in the aggregate to 5 per cent., but we spend a great deal of money besides out of our own corporate fund over and above that which is the cost to the charities.

3180. I understand you to say that you supplement your charity income out of your corporate income ?— We do considerably.

3181. In many cases?—In many cases.

3182. Do you bind apprentices at Drapers' Hall?— Yes.

3183. Are they bound to persons carrying on the trade ?—No, any freeman belonging to the Drapers' Company can have an apprentice bound to him; he must carry on a trade, but not necessarily the trade of a draper.

3184. Are the apprentices bound to persons carrying on trade, and is the master who takes an apprentice bound to teach him the trade which he (the master) follows ?—Yes.

3185. Then they are all genuine apprentices?— Quite so; we do not admit any one to the freedom who has not really served his time.

3186. (Mr. Firth.) I see you have bound 58 apprentices in 10 years at the Company's Hall, but you have placed out 596; would you explain the difference? —We have a Dixon Charity and a Pennoyer Charity which provide funds for binding apprentices; they are not bound to our Company; they do not become freemen.

3187. Upon the question of search I should like to ask you something. Do you consider that your right of search and of trade control still remains?—We do not exercise the right of search now; there is no connexion between our Company and the trade.

3188. But you had a right of search down to a very recent period, had you not?—We have not exercised it in my time.

3189. I see you say a fee was last paid to the city officer, who accompanied you in search, in 1852 ?— That was before my time.

3190. You are aware that in the prosecution of that search you are assisted by the mayor and sergeant-atmace?—I was not at all aware of that.

3191. That is in your return?—I was not at all aware of it.

3192. I should like to ask you a question as to the point that has been raised as to the power of the Court of mayor and aldermen over you; do you admit that they have a power now to compel anyone to enter on your Livery ?—No.

3193. Are you aware that where the Drapers' Company refuse to admit a man who had been elected aldermen they were enjoined to receive him. I refer to a case reported at page 316 of Herbert. I want to know whether the mayor and aldermen can compel you to receive a man supposing him to be a member of another Company in the event of your Company declining to receive him ?—I should say not; I am not aware of it.

3194. Has your attention been drawn to the report of such a case in Herbert, page 316?—No, it has not.

3195. You have byelaws still, have you not ?— Yes.

3196. Are those byelaws still approved, or were those under which you act approved by the Lord Chancellor and two Chief Justices ?—No, they are among ourselves only; they regulate our own business of the Court.

3197. Have you any byelaws that were not so approved under the statute which is still in force ?— What class of byelaw ?

3198. Regulating the Company?—No; our byelaws are merely rules laid down by the Court for our own guidance at our own meetings.

3199. On page 11 you make a return as to the election of the Court, and so on; those byelaws are sanctioned by the Lord Chancellor and Chief Justices under a statute which is still in force, a statute of Henry VII. You say there they were confirmed by the Lord Chancellor and Chief Justices, that is, under a statute which is still in force. I only wish to ask whether your present byelaws are still so framed or whether you are acting under these ?—We act under those, certainly.

3200. I should like to ask you a question about your expenses, then I will not trouble you further. I do not think you have them before you, but if I may go so far as to hand you your page of expenses, I will ask you about them (the same was handed to the witness). I see on page 33, under the year 1879, the fourth item is a sum of 12,319l. 16s. 11d. as the sum expended in that year; does that include the technical education ?—Yes, it does.

3201. You have not set out at length what the other donations or premiums were ?—No.

3202. Can you say how much of it is pensions ?— The amount is very small in pensions comparatively to what we give away in other charities; but that we can furnish you with any day.

3203. Confining my question to this column, I see your gross expenditure for that year is 45,143l. 12s. 4d.? —Yes.

3204. There are two items, I find, expenditure on works of a public nature and investments on new buildings in England, 1,968l. and 5,878l., making together 7,846l.?—Yes.

3205. If that be added to this sum of 12,319l. we then have a total a little over 20,000l., leaving 25,000l. as expenditure that is neither donations nor gifts, nor capital expenditure ?—That is, buildings in England in an exceptional year. It is rather an investment of capital than a spending of income. Offices were rebuilt by us, and those offices produce a large revenue.

3206. The point of my question is this: there remained 24,978l. which has been spent, as I read your accounts, upon your officers, or your members, or your entertainments, or your buildings, management, or maintenance, in some form ?—Yes.

3207. There are two items to which I should like to draw your special attention if I might. One is, "disbursements for courts and committees, including dinners," 4,984l., and for entertainments 6,112l., making a total of 11,096l. As to payments for courts which is not put separately, can you tell me how much is paid for attendance on courts and committees?—It is 3l. 3s. to each member.

3208. Each time ?—Yes, each time.

3209. Is that paid to him at each attendance ?— Yes.

3210. Is it handed to him ?—Yes, every member of the court attending at the court has a fee of 3l. 3s.

3211. And that is the only payment; each committee is paid in that way ?—Yes.

3212. (Chairman.) We understood that you came here wishing to make some statement as to your Irish property; have you anything to add to what has already been said as to that ?—No; I may say we have had the character of being admirable landlords, and we have never had our title disputed. We will send in a written reply to Dr. Todd's evidence.