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

Allen, Thomas


Merchant Taylors'.


The of this company are, a royal tent between parliament robes

lined , the tent garnished , tent staff and pennon of the last; on a chief a lion passant guardant or. . On a mount vert, a lamb passant

holding the banner of the last, , on the banner a cross pattee gu. all within a glory of the . . camels .

Concordia parvae res crescunt.

This company arose from an ancient guild or fraternity, dedicated to St. John Baptist, and called

time out of mind,

says Stow,

of taylors and linen armourers of London.

This guild received a confirmation from Edward I. in his year, with power to

hold a feast, at Midsummer, to choose a master,

&c. At that period, and during a long succession of years, the master was denominated

the pilgrim--as


that travelled for the whole companie, and the foure wardens were then called purveyors of alms.

In the year , a more regular incorporation of this company took place, under the authority of the letters patent of Edward IV. who was himself a freeman, as all his predecessors in the sovereignty had also been, from the time of Edward III. Henry VII. who was likewise a member, re-incorporated the company in the year , by the new description of

the master and wardens of the merchant taylors, of the fraternity of St. John Baptist, in the city of London.

This was done, according to the above historian,


that divers of that fraternitie had beene great marchants, and had frequented all sorts of marchandizes into most partes of the world, to the honour of the king's realme, and to the great profit of his subjectes, and of his progenitors; and the men of the said mistirie, had, during the time aforesaid, exercised the buying and selling of all wares and marchandises, especially of woolen clothe, as well in grosse, as by retayle, throughout all the realme of England, and chiefly within the said city.

The members of this company consist principally of merchants, mercers, drapers, taylors, &c. to the amount of upwards of in number. They are governed by a master, wardens, and about assistants. In the long list of distinguished characters, who have been enrolled among the freemen of this most respectable community, are included sovereigns, about as many princes of the blood royal, dukes, duchesses, nearly archbishops and bishops, earls, countesses, between and lords and barons, upwards of lord mayors, abbots and priors, many knights, &c.

of the most eminent taylors (professionally so) on record was sir John Hawkwood, a native of Essex. He was usually styled,

Johannes Acutes,

and is stated, in the jocular language of Fuller, to have

turned his needle into a sword, and his thimble into a shield.

During his apprenticeship to a taylor in the city, he was pressed, and sent into France, where, through his valour and talents, he was promoted from the station of a private soldier to the rank of captain, and was also honoured with knighthood. After the peace made in , he became a leader among the military adventurers, or companies, called the


and having greatly signalized himself as commandant of the white bands, his aid was solicited by Barnabas, (brother to the duke of Milan,) who was then at war with the state of Mantua. In this new service, his prowess and gallantry gave so much satisfaction, that Barnabas bestowed on him his daughter in marriage, together with an estate of considerable value. He afterwards assisted pope Gregory the , in recovering the revolted cities of Provence, and was rewarded with dominion over towns. He next entered into the pay of the Florentines, and served them with such great success and fidelity, that on his decease,

after infinite victories obtained, and an incomparable renown amongst all men for the same,

he was most honourably buried in the Great Church at Florence, where a noble monument was raised to his memory, agreeably to a vote of the senate. He died full of years and glory, in . Sir Ralph Blackwell, who is stated to have been his fellow apprentice, and was also knighted for his valour by Edward III. was a member


of this company. Pennant says,

he founded the hall which bears his name,

but this assertion appears to have been made without sufficient authority. Among the other eminent persons enrolled as merchant taylors, were the celebrated historians, Speed, and Stow; both of whom, likewise, were taylors by profession.

In Stow's Annals, under the date , is an account of a splendid entertainment given to James I. his son Henry, and

very many of the nobility, and other honourable personages,

by the merchant taylors, on the day of their annual feast, () and election of master and wardens.

Against their coming,

says our author,

the lord mayor gave his attendance there, and at the hall gate presented his majestie with the sword, who presently gave it him againe, who bare it before the king into the upper large dining roome, anciently called the king's chamber,

&c. Here the king was feasted,

very royally and joyfully,

and afterwards presented with a

purse of golde,

by the master; the

clerk of the hall,

shewing him, at the same time, a roll of all the dignified members that had ever belonged to this company. The purse was

graciously received

by the monarch, who in return stated, that

he was himself free of another company, but that the prince, his eldest son, should become a merchant taylor,

and that

he would see, and be a witness, when the garland should be put on his head.

Then all

descended into the great hall, where the prince dined,

and he also, having been presented with a.

purse of golde,

and shewed the roll, declared that he would become a freeman,

and therewithal commanded


of his gentlemen, and the clerk, to go to all the lords there present, and to require all of them that loved him, and were not free of other companies, to be free of his company

; this was of course acceded to, and James, during the whole ceremony,

stood in a new window, made for the purpose,

and beheld all

with gracious kingly aspect.

The hall of this company is situated in , on an extensive site, originally occupied by the

principal messuage

of a

worshipful gentleman,

named Edmund Crepin, who in the year ( of Edward III.)

for a certain sum of money,

made it over in trust for the company, to John de Yakesley, the king's pavillion-maker. This messuage was afterwards called the New Hall, or Taylors' Inn, to distinguish it from the ancient hall


which stood in . The present structure was erected soon after the fire of London, and is a large but irregular structure of brick.

From an early period this hall has been chosen as the place of entertainment for large and honourable parties, as public corporations, &c.; and the anniversary meeting of the great characters, both of church and state, who compose the

Corporation for the Benefit of the Sons of the Clergy,

is always held here.

The Merchant Taylors' is a very affluent company, and its annual income for benevolent purposes, is said to exceed , a considerable portion of which is expended in the support of Merchant Taylors' school.


[] Arms granted 21 Edward IV. 1481; confirmed 22 Hen. VIII. 1530; crest and supporters granted Dec. 23, 29th Eliz. 1584.

[] Stow's Sur. p. 142.

[] He was the son of Gilbert de Hawkwood, a tanner of Sible Hedingham; after his decease a monument was erected in the church there to his memory, by his executors.

[] In the year 1668, Winstanley published a small octavo, now very scarce, with the following title, The Honour of the Merchant Taylors; wherein is set forth the noble acts, valiant deeds, and heroic performances of merchant taylors in former ages; their honourable loves, and knightly adventures, their combatting with foreign enemies, and glorious successes in honour of the English nation; together with their pious acts and large benevolences, &c. The head of sir Ralph Blackwell, with city arms on the right, and those of the merchant taylors on the left, was prefixed.

[] Howe's Stow, p. 890, 891.

[] Stow's Sur. p. 143, edit. 1797.

[] Stow's Sur. p. 198, 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