Company Comment - Fall. 2010

Company Comment
Master's Report
The Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America
By Commander Michael J. Green CD (Retd) Master

I bring warm greetings to the Court and Members of the Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America and welcome on your behalf, all new members who have been inducted into the Hon. Company since our last publication this spring. I hope that they will enjoy reading and upgrading their knowledge about the Honourable Company in North America and the insightful and historical reviews that we try to include in each edition. I thank Warden Norman Morris for his ongoing communications work in collating and editing the work of our contributors. I want to thank Freeman Peter Leach who has provided a very insightful follow up edition on the Leather companies. I appreciate contributing members for their interest and efforts on behalf of our members, in making these editions of Company Comment a worthwhile and an informative read. I again encourage all members to send in commentaries of interest for upcoming editions.

With regard to my announced goal of increasing our membership throughout North America, I am pleased to note that we are receiving a number of applications both for affiliated and regular membership, which is a positive sign that our organization is continuing to grow and thrive on the continent. Grateful thanks to John Bishop Membership Chair and Neil Purcell Livery Company member for their work in this area.

Creating better awareness about the Honourable Company and its historical traditions is a role we can all take as we network and meet individuals whom we consider to have a strong personal interest in potentially fostering our best traditions, as potential new members for the Honourable Company.

I am delighted to announce that Freeman John Sleeman was recently inducted into the Honourable Company of Brewers. John writes that the process was a most fascinating and moving one with a stunning Church service at St Pauls Cathedral followed by a Clothing Ceremony later in the summer which has not substantially changed for several hundred years. Congratulations to Liveryman John on his appointment into such an ancient Livery.

My congratulations also go to Freeman Diane Bailey, Freeman Bill Motley, Freeman Norman Morris and Freeman Ashley Prime who have attended at Guildhall this summer and received their Freedom.

In connection with our series of planned social and member events we have held two successful summer events, which were well attended by members. A garden party was held in June at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College Toronto kindly sponsored by Major Kamal Sethi and our annual RCYC dinner was held in August and graciously hosted by Past Master Michael Charles. I thank our events Chair Hugh Pauwels and Honorary Clerk John Smith for their efforts in organizing and promoting both events within the membership. We will continue to try to meet the requests of our members with regard to the type of events you will participate and enjoy. On a more somber note however I would be remiss if I did not bring to members' attention the importance of paying for tickets with the applications to attend. Going forward reservations will not be confirmed, unless payment has been received by the Honorary Treasurer, in advance of the event date.

I extend personal best regards to our members and readers of Company Comment.

Freedom of the City of London

The photo is when Bill Motley and Diane Bailey (soon to be man and wife on Nov 5 th, 2010) received the Freedom of the City of London at Guild Hall in London . They are members of the Honorable Company of the Freeman of the City of London of North America . Bill and Diane received the Freedom of the City of London in a short but moving and impressive ceremony. A few weeks later Norman Morris  also received the Freedom of the City of London in a ceremony conducted by Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court, with the Beadle in attendance, as can be seen by the second photo below.

In England , the most extensive borough freedom is that conferred by the Freedom of the City of London , first recorded in 1237. This is closely tied to the role and status of the Livery Companies. From 1835 the Freedom "without the intervention of a Livery Company" has been bestowed by a general resolution of Common Council, by 'redemption' (purchase), at one time an onerous sum but now a donation to the Freemen's School.

New Freemen are enrolled in a ceremony in Guildhall, when they receive a guide to conducting their lives in an honourable fashion and an impressive sealed certificate. There are a number of rights traditionally but apocryphally associated with Freemen—the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge ; to a silken rope, if hanged; to carry a naked sword in public; or that if the City of London Police finds a freeman drunk and incapable, they will bundle him or her into a taxi and send them home rather than throw them into a cell. While sheep have occasionally been driven over London Bridge on special occasions, the rest of these "privileges" are pure myth.

Today the Freedom of the City of London is still taken up by some 1,800 people every year. Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens over 21 years of age and of good character. Now, however, it has been extended globally, and persons of any nationality may apply either by nomination, by patrimony or by being presented by a Livery Company . There is a long-standing tradition of admitting women, who used to be called 'free sisters' but who are now also called Freemen.

Although the Freedom is not an honour except in the case of Honorary Freedom, many people who have lived or worked in the City are proud to become part of the City's history by becoming Freemen. The Freedom is open to all who are genuinely interested and invited or born to it.

Charity Report:

The Honourable Company is now in the third year of its agreement with the University of Western Ontario to fund one scholarship per year for a five year period.

The first holder of the award, David Cook will be returning to Canada soon having completed a year at The City University in London. David's courses included Financial Management and Accounting, Derivatives, Business Law, and Human Resource Management. We look forward to seeing David at forthcoming Honourable Company events in the coming year and hearing about his experiences in London at the Annual Dinner in 2011.

The second scholarship holder, Pete de Vooght leaves soon for an intensive six months at Cass Business School, also at The City University. His courses include Monetary Economics, Advertising, Financial Markets, Risk Analysis and Company Valuation. Pete has never traveled to Europe before and is very excited to visit the UK and surrounding countries with his time off. "I am very much looking forward to gaining an international education and as well, being that travel is one of my passions, I cannot wait to explore the wonderful city of London, England and embrace the beautiful countries that Europe has to offer."

Our newest recipient, Christine Buykiw left this month for a year's study at The London School of Economics (LSE).

The Trustees of the Charity are satisfied the success of the agreement with The University of Western Ontario and are reviewing funding commitments with a view to extending the Agreement with the University beyond the present five years.

As always, members of the Honourable Company are encouraged to support our Charity.

New Members for Company Comment:

The Master and Court of The Honourable Company of Freemen are delighted to welcome the following new members:
February 25, 2010
Mr.  Douglas    Wilkinson   
Mr.  Gyan  Swaroop  Dosaj   
Mr.  Peter  Fredeick  Reed   
Mr.  Thomas    O'Carroll  

June 9, 2010
Mr.  Maurice  John  Colson   
Mr.  Stephen  Joseph  Lautens GCJ  

August 18, 2010
Hon.  Anthony  Tuckfield  Reed   
Mr.  Michael  James  Smith   
Prof.  Randy  Howard  Katz  

Niagara on the Lake Winery Tour!!

A bright late October day dawned as we drove to Niagara on the lake for a visit to Hillebrand's winery where events chair Hugh Pauwels had arranged for an exclusive members wine/food pairing in a hospitality suite.

Sadly only 10 of us were there to enjoy this special treat and we later toured the cellars followed by an excellent lunch at "the old winery" in the town.

An invitation by Geoffrey and Elaine mayo provided the party with an opportunity to visit their wonderful home overlooking the historic golf course on the shores of Lake Ontario before heading home.

A great time was had by all.

A short history of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London

This history is the last in our series on the Leather Industry of London. While there remain several other companies that use Leather extensively in their respective trades such as the Upholders, Loriners, Coachmakers and Coach-Harness Makers, they are not as closely linked to the Leather Industry as the other Worshipful Companies we have covered. The Worshipful Company of Glovers is number 62 in the order of precedence, because, for more than 100 years, it was integrated into the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, only regaining its independence in 1638.


Not surprisingly, gloves have been part of human clothing since man first wrapped animal skins and furs around themselves for warmth and protection. They were certainly worn by cavemen to protect their hands and took the form of bags resembling a primitive type of mitten. The more conventional glove with fingers and a gauntlet covering the forearm arrived on the scene much later. Primitive man realised the necessity of shielding his hand for tasks like making arrow-heads and stone implements. In subsequent years, farmers protected their hands from thorns and prickles when rooting out thickets to prepare the land for agriculture. So the glove first came into use to protect the hand against injury and to protect the hand and fingers from cold. These early gloves were much like mittens, made from the skins of animals, mostly deer or sheepskin, with the fur inside. The wearing of gloves as a mark of wealth and position was restricted to the nobility, clergy and military until the 11 th century. Some of the earliest records of gloves used in sport go back to the original Olympic Games in Greece. In 688BC. Boxing was included as a sport and boxers wrapped leather straps around their fists, not only for their protection but also to limit the injury that they might inflict on their opponents.

In England after the Norman conquest, gloves started to be worn as a badge of distinction by royalty and dignitaries. Also from that time, the glove became meaningful as a token. Amongst other ritual uses, it became custom to fling a gauntlet at the feet of the adversary, thereby challenging his integrity and inviting satisfaction by duel. The slapping of the face or upper body and tossing of the gauntlet to challenge personal battle became, and remained, an integral part of English Law for nearly 800 years. It was a right any free man could claim. Only little more than a century ago a Staffordshire man accused of murder threw down his glove in Court and demanded judge's permission to fight his accuser so that death would claim the guilty one.

In the 12th Century, gloves became a definite part of fashionable dress. Gloves were becoming more accessible to the common people and their popularity grew. By the 16 th century, gloves were worn as a badge of distinction and were taking on a new social and symbolic significance. By the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, no well dressed woman would appear in public without them.

In the 16th and 17th Centuries fashionable gloves were extravagantly ornamented; they could be of leather, linen, silk, or lace and were often bejeweled, embroidered, fringed, scalloped and tasseled. After the 17th Century however, the emphasis returned proper fit and functionality, and gloves became less ornamental.

England was neither the leader in glove innovation and manufacture in the Europe nor was London the leader in the British Isles throughout the Middle Ages. The Glovers of Perth were the first to incorporate (according to surviving records) in 1165 and in France knights returning from the Crusades brought gloves and perfumes from Spain and the Middle East. In fact, the linkage was so strong between the glovers and the perfume industry that French glovers were granted sole rights to make , distribute and sell perfumes. In England Worcester, Oxford and Exeter were principal manufacturing centres and even small towns would have at least one glover to meet local needs. Worcester was recognized as possibly the leading English glove making city from the time of the Norman Conquest. Oxford's glovers were already formed into a Guild in 1349 and received an exclusive charter in 1371.

With the onset of the industrial revolution came the mechanization of sewing. Machine sewing fundamentally changed the nature of the glove industry. The masters of glove making used their skills to personalize and adorn machine sewn gloves and the introduction of machine made fabrics rapidly eroded the earlier strong links between the leather and glove making industries.

The Worshipful Company of Glover Makers of London.

The Early Years

Following the lead of other Fraternities and Guilds in London and glovers in other English and European cities, the glove makers of London formed a Guild in 1349 to protect the high standards of their craft and to restrict local and outside competition in their market. The ordinances covered trading rules, penalties, pricing, powers of inspection and seizure. One of the Company's more interesting ordinances was that no glover should sell his wares by candlelight...."seeing that folks cannot have such good knowledge...whether the wares are made of good leather or bad, and whether they are well and lawfully, or falsely made."

As we have noted before, the early Guilds constantly had jurisdictional disputes with Guilds in related trades. The Glovers, Pursers, Curriers, Pouch-makers had constant battles with the Leathersellers and with each other. With constant conflict, the Glovers and Pursers got into financial difficulty and, in 1498, the Guilds of the Glovers and Pursers amalgamated by grant of the Court of Aldermen of the City. There are no records indication that any royal charter had been granted before this amalgamation. Four year later, in 1502, the Glovers-Pursers were integrated into the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers and the Pouch-makers followed suit in 1517 .

The Glorious Age

With resurgence of the glove industry and the increasing use of gloves by the growing middle class of London in the late 16 th and early 17 th century especially during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the glovers in the Company of Leathersellers grew in wealth and stature, and the Glovers Company regained its independence by grant of a Royal Charter from King Charles I in 1638. It is this date that was used to establish the Glovers' Company position in the order of precedence. In this resurgence, the London Glove makers became the English hub of the industry, but, without charter rights beyond the city limits, competition remained strong from other leading manufacturing areas such as Gloucester and Oxford.

With the very recent grant of it Charter, at the time of the Great Fire, the Company had accumulated little wealth, but it appears they established a small hall in Beech Lane, Cripplegate in 1662. There appears to be little reference to the financial impact of the probable loss of this hall in 1666. Unlike many of the longer established Livery Companies and guilds, the Glovers had few, if any, other London properties and so came out of that disaster without serious losses of revenue and no great cost to rebuild properties except its hall. However, it must be assumed that many master glovers would have been seriously affected when their premises were burned to the ground. Clearly however, the fortunes of the Glovers Company continued to improve around that time as records show that, in 1675, the Company again owned a Livery Hall.

Two Centuries of Decline

As culture and fashion in and around London changed during the 18 th and 19 th centuries, so did the fortunes of the Worshipful Company of Glovers. The extension of the Glovers' franchise to the rapidly growing City, the move to the suburbs by the new middle classes and above all the Industrial Revolution meant that the artisan workshops of the City were replaced by factories outside it and the economical shipment of products from other English and European glove-making communities pressured the City-based Glovers. Early in the 18th century, the Glovers Livery still numbered 120 (in 1826); by 1866 it had shrunk to 40 and by the end of the century it had fallen to 14. The hall was given up for lack of funds to maintain it. Court record show that the officers and court of the Company invariably preferred to meet in the George and Vulture Tavern in Cornhill. One might surmise this was due to the availability there of beer and wine.

During this same time, Worcester moved ahead of London as the largest glove making centre. That city's pre-eminence was due to its geographical position on the River Severn and the natural land routes converging from the Midlands towards Wales. Sheepskins were converted to gloving leather by towing, involving the use of common alum and salt, and produced a softer, lighter leather with more stretch than that which came from horses and cattle and were tanned using oak bark. Worcester was a prosperous and wealthy city in the 15th and 16th Centuries, noted for woollen broad cloth of the highest quality. This material was not produced solely by the clothiers but by others, including glovers. As the cloth trade declined, people and premises transferred easily to glover-making, severely pressuring London glovers.

During the Victorian era, Yeovil replaced Worcester as England's largest glove-making area. It was during this period that the wearing of gloves became fashionable for men and women of any social standing. Yeovil's piece-work rates were lower than those of Worcester, its prices generally more competitive, and Yeovil entrepreneurs began selling to every part of the globe. The area had all the basic strengths for continued expansion, with good linking roads, and a population that had expanded at a faster rate than the national average. Furthermore, local skilled workers were not averse to change as traditional methods became outdated.

The empirical knowledge of leather manufacture had been handed down by word of mouth for centuries and had evolved slowly. By the middle of the 19th Century the methods began to change. The most significant innovation was the establishment of glove sizing and consistent methods of cutting, devised by a French Master Glover, Xavier Jouvin (1800 - 1844). He made use of uniformly proportioned knives, graded for size, giving a constant shape for stitching and establishing a reliable finished size. Also, since 1775 inventors had sought to develop a sewing machine for making gloves but had failed. However, in 1834 a two-thread machine was introduced into the gloving industry, for sewing the points on the back of the glove. A variety of other machines followed which enabled the machine operator to make complete gloves. Furthermore, the expansion of University teaching and technological research changed the very nature of the industry. It became capital intensive, using expensive machinery, obligating a high and consistent output to recover ever increasing fixed costs and necessary to meet the fast growing global mass markets.

Resurgence and Growth

The 20th Century saw a resurgence in the Company's fortunes not due to its links to and control of glove manufacture but as a strong Livery Company that embraced the best qualities of a fine City institution with an active and enthusiastic membership.  The Glovers currently have some 260 members, who are generally connected with the gloving trade or with the City of London, and the aim of the Livery these days is two-fold: to promote the British glove trade, and the wearing of gloves, and to raise money for charitable purposes.

The Company has gathered together an unique collection of gloves dating back to the 16 th century. The earliest part of this collection was donated by the late Robert Spence and is predominantly from 1590-1680. It includes gloves from England, Scotland and Europe (especially southern Europe). The Harborow Collection, presented by Messrs Harborow includes the duplicate Coronation Gloves from the coronations since Queen Victoria. Both of these collections are located at the Fashion Museum in Bath. The general collection covering the 19 th , 20 th and 21 st centuries is being assembled by the Glove Collection Trust and already has 175 exemplary pairs. This collection is being transferred to Waddeston Manor.

The Glovers Company is proud of its affiliation with the Armed Forces through its specific relationship with units of the Royal Navy: HMS Cumberland; the Army: 21 st Artists Rifles Regiment and the Royal Air Force: 444 (Shoreditch) Squadron Air Cadets.

The Coat of Arms

The Company was first granted Arms by John Smert, Garter, on 20th October 1464, when it had been in existence for well over a hundred years. The description, or blazon, survives on a scroll of 1654, and the Arms, which originally had no supporters, are first illustrated in a drawing of 1677; the blazon is:

  Shield: on a field of six pieces sable and argent three rams salient armed and unguled or.

Crest: on a wreath argent and sable, a ram's head argent armed and issuing from a basket or filled with wool argent between two angels' wings gules.

In 1985 the Court decided to seek the addition of supporters, and the Grant was made by Sir Colin Cole, Garter Principal King of Arms, in April 1987.   With three rams heads on the shield, and a ram's head in the crest, it was felt that, rather than adding further animals, the supporters should represent those who have worked in the craft. With the Charter of Independence of 1638 in mind, they were dressed in the fashion of Charles I; the young man, on the left, is an Apprentice - a cutter - who carries shears, which antedate scissors, and are still in use today. The young lady is a Sempstress, representative of generations of womenfolk who stitched the seams, and she holds a distaff. Both are, naturally, wearing protective gauntlets, and stand on a pavement on which are dress gloves and a Coronation glove

A feature of the 1987 Grant is that it specifically includes the Glovers' motto - True Hearts and Warm Hands . The origin of this motto is unknown; the arms illustrated in 1677 had none, and it is presumed that it was adopted some time in the 18th or 19th centuries. Whatever its origin, it is remarkably apt.

Definitive History.

While not available to the author of this article, there is a definitive history of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London written by Ralph Waggett. The second edition was published in 2007 by Phillimore. The book title is “A History of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London”

  Contact with the Company

The Worshipful Company of Glovers has no hall and does not have an office in any other Livery Company's Hall or offices. The Clerk is Miss Carole Blackshaw BA FRAeS and the mailing address is:

The Worshipful Company of Glovers of London,
Oscar Court,
17 Tite Street,
London SW3 4JE.

The phone number and email address is:

+20 7376 3043


Sources and Credits

Sources for this article:

The website of the Worshipful Company of Glovers of London

The website of the Glove Collection Trust

The website of the British Glove Association

Credits: This article was assembled and edited by Peter Leach, Past Master of the Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America




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