The of the , are a demi-virgin couped below the shoulders, issuing from clouds, all , vested crowned with an eastern crown of the last, her hair dishevelled, and wreathed round the temples with roses of the , all within an orle of clouds The Virgin Mary.
The Mercers' Company existed by prescription long previous to its regular incorporation, which did not take place till the year ( of Richard II.) when the members received their charter under the title of
and were empowered to purchase lands in mortmain to the value of annually. The company was affluent at that period, and its property has continued to accumulate to the present time, through the various grants, donations, trusts, &c. that have been progressively made to it, or otherwise committed to the guidance of its members. This increase, however, has not taken place without some intervention, particularly during a considerable part of the last century, when the company's affairs were much involved, through the members having engaged about the end of the year , in a scheme
|of granting annuities, for the benefit of widows, which had been at suggested by the rev. William Asheton, D. D. rector of Beckenham in Kent. For every subscribed, the annuitants were to receive during life; yet that sum having been found too large, it was lowered at different times to and per annum, but the payments were still so numerous, that the company was at last obliged to make a complete stop in ; its bond and other debts, then amounting to about besides the annual charge of on account of legacies for charitable purposes. Parliamentary aid was afterwards obtained for the relief of the annuitants, and the rents and profits of the company's estates having much increased, a new act was passed in , empowering the company to consolidate their debts (which made together ) into sum, subject to . per cent. interest per annum; to issue new bonds of or under; and to draw a lottery in their own hall, for the progressive payment of the said bonds, whenever there was a surplus of or upwards. Since that period, the company's affairs have become so flourishing, partly through the great increase in the value of estates, and partly in consequence of the deaths of all the annuitants, that for many years they have gone on drawing their lottery about a week before Christmas--and since the year , have annually paid off bonds amounting to the sum of or more. The present clear income of the company is stated to exceed annually; and independent of this sum, it is said to distribute upwards of every year, for purposes of benevolence and charity.|
The mercers are recorded to have been seated near the spot where their present hall and chapel stand, in , as early as the period of the introduction of their trade into this kingdom, and their congregated dwellings were, in former ages, distinguished by the general appellation of The Mercery. About the centre of this cluster stood the house of Gilbert Becket, a citizen of London, and most probably a mercer, who was father to the celebrated Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, and whose wife Matilda, the mother of Thomas, was, according to traditionary lore, a fair Saracen, the daughter of a Pagan prince, to whose custody Gilbert had been assigned, after having been made prisoner when travelling in the Holy Land. The legend states, that after a confinement of a year and a half, he effected an escape by the assistance of Matilda, who had fallen in love with him, and been converted to Christianity by his persuasions. She next, urged on by unconquerable affection, deserted her friends, and followed him home to England, where finding him in London, she was married to him, and had issue Thomas, the archbishop, (afterwards called Thomas of Acons, or Acres, the ancient Ptolemais, from the presumed birth-place of his
|mother,) and a daughter named Agnes. The latter was married to Thomas Fitz-Theobald de Heili, or Helles, who, within a few years after the assassination of Becket, founded, in conjunction with his wife, a chapel and hospital, upon the very spot where the dwelling of Becket's father had stood, and where the archbishop himself was born.|
In the times of Catholic superstition, it was customary for the new lord mayor, on the afternoon of the day when sworn in at , to meet the aldermen, and go from this hospital in solemn procession to , whence, having prayed for the soul of the Norman bishop, William, they proceeded to the grave and chapel of Becket's parents in the church-yard, and there prayed for
after which they returned to the hospital of St. Thomas of Acons, where the mayor and aldermen each offered
On the suppression of the hospital, in the of Henry VIII. its annual expenditure was stated at About years afterwards, it was granted, under the appellation of the
to the Mercers' company, together with sundry premises in the neighbourhood, and was again
says Stow, (who also states, that the mercers purchased it through the means of sir Richard Gresham)
In the hall, not only the ordinary business of the company is transacted, but the meetings also of the Gresham committee are regularly held. This committee, to whom the important trusts attendant on the magnificent bounties of sir Thomas Gresham are delegated, consists of aldermen (of whom the lord mayor for the time being is constantly ) and other members of the corporation of London, with whom, for this purpose, are associated a select number of the court of assistants of the mercers' company.
In the long list of members whose names have been enrolled in this fraternity, are included various sovereigns and other princes, a great number of nobility and gentry, and upwards of lord
| mayors. In regard to the latter, it was formerly the custom, whenever any member of this company was elected to the civic chair, says Stow, that |
Such a pageant formed part of the procession in the year , when sir William Gore came into the important office of lord mayor, and is said to have been of remote origin; but whether displayed in allusion to the
the chosen patroness of the company, or to the
which constitutes the company's arms, is not exactly known.
Among many eminent men that have been masters of this company, occur sir Richard Whittington, mayor in , , and ; he founded the college that bears his name. Sir Godfrey Boleyn, ancestor of queen Anne Boleyn, the mother of queen Elizabeth. Sir Henry Colet, the father of Dr. Colet, dean of , and founder of school. Sir John Allen, of the privy council, and mayor in and ; and sir Richard Gresham, the father of the founder of the and Gresham college.
This company consists of a principal, and other wardens, a court of assistants, and a livery, altogether forming a body of about members; yet it is a singular fact, that there is not a single person of the profession which gives name to the company, at present belonging to it. Besides having the general management of school, this company supports another seminary, called the mercers' school, which originated in the petition to parliament of benevolent clergymen, in the of Henry the , of whom, John Neel, or Neil, was master of the hospital of St. Thomas of Acres, and the same who petitioned for the incorporation of the brethren, as mentioned above. This was the grammar school noticed by Stow, it having been continued by the mercers' company after purchase of the suppressed hospital. For many years it was kept in the , but it has recently been removed to , . boys are here instructed in grammatical learning, &c. and the master is allowed a dwelling, in addition to his annual salary. Among the learned men who have been masters of this school, was Mr. William Baxter, a native of Shropshire, nephew to the famous Richard Baxter, and author of the Dictionary of British Antiquities, published under the title of He resigned but a short time previous to his death, which
|occurred in . other schools, several alms-houses, and various lectures, &c. in different parts of England, are also supported by this company.|
Respecting the state of this and several other companies a curious record has been kindly communicated by J. Caley, esq. F. R. S. F. S. A., &c. It is a list of the freemen of the various companies resident in London and ; from Thomas Lewyn being mentioned as sheriff, it appears it was made in the year . The original is in the Chapter House, .
 Confirmed 1634.
 Mal. Lond. Red. vol. iv. p. 543.
 It was in the Mercers' chapel that Marc Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spalatro, who came to England in the reign of James I. preached his first sermon in 1617, in Italian, before the archbishop of Canterbury, and a splendid audience, after his conversion to the Protestant religion; and he also continued his discourses in the same place. The king gave him the deanery of Windsor, the mastership of Savoy, and the rich living of West Ildesley in Berkshire; but he afterwards returned to Italy, where, notwithstanding his relapse to the church of Rome, he was imprisoned by the inquisition, and died in confinement in 1625, in the 64th year of his age. Granger says, we are indebted to him for father Paul's excellent History of the Council of Trent, the manuscript of which he procured for archbishop Abbott; and that he was the first that accounted for the phaenomena of the rainbow, in his book de Radiis Visus et Lucis.
 The list of the masters of this company is printed at length in Strype's Stow, vol. ii. ed. 1720, p. 175.
 See p. 159, vol. i.
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|CHAPTER I: History of London, from the Accession of William and Mary, to the reign of George the Second|
|CHAPTER II: History of London during the reign of George the Second|
|CHAPTER III: History of London from the Accession of George the Third, to the year 1780|
|CHAPTER IV: History of London continued to the Union|
|CHAPTER V: History of London from the Union to the Jubilee, 1809|
|CHAPTER VI: History of London from the Jubilee to the Peace of 1814|
|CHAPTER VII: History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth|
|CHAPTER VIII: Account of the Civil Government of the City by Portreves, Bailiffs, and Mayors, with a list of the latter...|
|CHAPTER IX: An account of the Aldermen and Sheriffs, with a list of the latter|
|CHAPTER X: Lists and brief Accounts of the various Officers and Courts within the City|
The Chamberlain of London
List of Chamberlains
The Common Serjeant
List of Common Serjeants
The Town Clerk, or Common Clerk
List of Town-Clerks
The Coroner of London
The City Remembrancer
The Water bailiff
The Lord Mayor's officers, and their days of waiting, according to the Pamphlet before referred to
The Sheriffs' Officers
The Court of Lord Mayor and Aldermen
The Court of Common Council
The Court of Husting
The Lord Mayor's Court
The Sheriffs' Courts
The Court of Orphans
The Coroner's Court
The Court of Escheator
The Court of Conservacy
The Court of Requests
The Court of Wardmote
The Chamberlain's Court
The Court of Hallmote
The Court of the Tower of London
|CHAPTER XI: Some account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the city of London, with a List and Biographical Notices of the Bishops of the see|
|CHAPTER XII: Some Account of the Military Government of London, and the Artillery Company|
|CHAPTER XIII: An Account of the twelve principal Companies of the City of London|
|CHAPTER XIV: An Account of the Companies of the City of London, alphabetically arranged|
Armourers and Braziers, 22
Coach and Coach Harness Makers, 79
Fan Makers, 84
Felt Makers, 64
Gold and Silver Wire-Drawers, 81
Hat-Band Makers, 75
Long Bow String-Makers, 82
Parish Clerks, 88
Tallow Chandlers, 21
Tylers and Bricklayers, 37
Tin-Plate Workers, 72
The Names of the Company of Pastelers from the Record in the Chapter-house
The Names of the Company of Sporyars from the Record in the Chapter House
|CHAPTER XV: An Account of the River Thames|
|CHAPTER XVI: Historical and topographical account of London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Thames Tunnel|
|CHAPTER XVII: Topographical and Historical Account of the Tower of London|