The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2

Allen, Thomas




Their are Ermine, on a chief gu. princes' crowns composed of crosses pattee and fleurs de lis , with caps of the tasselled of the . . A lizard , wreathed about the neck with laurel leaves vert, purfled . The dexter, a lizard, or short tailed wild cat of Norway, rampant guardant The sinister, a martin sa. each gorged with a wreath of laurel leaves , purfled .

To God only be all glory.

The Virgin Mary.

The was incorporated by Edward the , in the year , by the appellation of

the master and wardens of the Guild or Fraternity of Brothers and Sisters of the skinners of London, to the honour of God and the precious body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At that period, the skinners, who had long formed a very affluent and respectable class of citizens,.were divided into brotherhoods, at St. Mary Spital, the other at St. Mary Bethlehem, but Richard the , in his eighteenth year, consolidated the bodies, and Henry the , in , confirmed their former grants, and directed that every person when admitted to the freedom of the company, should in future be presented to the lord mayor; this custom is still observed.



The Skinner's company particularly flourished when sables, lucerns, and other rich furs were accustomed to be worn for tippets by the monarchs and nobility of England; but as commerce extended in the reign of queen Elizabeth, other garments came into use, and the trade declined. Henry Lane, a correspondent of Hackluit, the collector of voyages, in aletter written in , remarks, that it was

a great pity but it (the wearing of furs) should be renewed; especially in courts and among magistrates, not only for the restoring of an old worshipful art and company, but also because they are for our climate, wholesome, delicate, grave, and comely, expressing dignity, comforting age, and of long continuance; and better with small cost to be preserved than those new silks, shags, and rags, wherein a great part of the wealth of the land is hastily consumed.

The fur trade continuing to decline, particularly after the incorporation of the Eastland merchants in , who purchased skins from pedlars and others for the purpose of exportation, a controversy arose between those merchants and the Skinners' company, and the latter in consequence petitioned queen Elizabeth, that

no pedlars or petty chapmen might gather or engross any skins or furs of the breed of England, but under licence of the justices of the peace; that those who were thus licensed should not make sale of any such skins or furs so gathered by them, except to some persons known to be of the trade of skinners, and that all others might be restrained to buy and transport them.

The petition was opposed by the Eastland company, who, on the other hand, required

to have free licence to buy, provide, and engross, in any place whatsoever, all manner of coney-skins, raw, or tawed [that is, prepared as white leather, by artizans hence called tawers] and at their pleasure to transport them in any bottom whatsoever, unto any place, yielding the ordinary custom.

The claims of the Skinners' company were also powerfully resisted by the corporation, who in the height of the dispute wrote a letter to the lord treasurer, urging,

that this practice of the skinners, that all the skins of the breed of England must


pass through the hands and property of some freeman of that company, before they should be transported, would be to the exceeding great prejudice, not only of the city, but of all other traders into foreign ports within the whole realm,

they therefore prayed, that the intended new patent to the skinners, which was then nearly ready to be signed by the queen,

might be stayed, till such time as he should be better informed, touching the great inconvenience which would grow thereby, and for which purpose they had appointed a deputation of aldermen and others to attend upon him.

Through this application, the petition of the Skinners' company was rendered ineffectual, and the fur trade got into fresh channels, as commercial rights were extended, and became better understood. These results lowered the influence of the company, as a trading


society, though in all other respects it still of the most respectable and affluent belonging to the city.

The original Skinners'-hall, which Stow describes as

a very fayre house, sometimes called Copped-hall,

was purchased by the company, together with several small tenements adjacent, as early as the reign of Henry III. and the skinners afterwards held it under a licence of mortmain granted by that king. It was afterwards alienated, though by what means is uncertain; and in the of Edward II. was possessed by Ralph de Cobham, the brave Kentish warrior, who having made Edward III. his heir, was thus the cause of the skinners being reinstated in their ancient purchase, which the monarch restored about the time of the legal incorporation of the company.

The present Skinners'-hall, is a very handsome and convenient structure, standing on , on the site of the ancient building.


[] Arms granted 5th Oct. 4 Edw. VI. 1551; crest and supporters in 1561.

[] In the times of Catholic superstition, it was customary for the company of Skinners, to make a grand procession through the principal streets of the city on Corpus Christi day in the afternoon, in which, says Stow's continuator, Munday, were borne more than one hundred torches of wax (costly garnished, burning light,) and above two hundred clerks and priests in surplices aud copes, singing: after which came the sheriffs' servants, the clerks of the computers, chaplain for the sheriffs, the mayor's serjeants, the councell of the city, the mayor and aldermen in scarlet, and then the skinners in their best liveries. --Stow's Sur. p. 248. Edit. 1633.

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 Title Page
 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
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
 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