The Company & The City
The Leathersellers’ Company is one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, ranked fifteenth in the order of precedence. It was founded by royal charter in 1444 with authority to control the sale of leather within the City. The Company no longer has this regulatory role, and instead devotes its energies to support for charity, education and the British leather trade.
The Leathersellers’ Company is made up of 150 liverymen and a variable number of freemen. There are three main routes into the freedom: by apprenticeship, patrimony (i.e. if the candidate’s parent is a member) or by purchase at the Company’s invitation. Freemen are eligible for election onto the livery, and once on the livery, a member may be invited to serve higher office within the Company.
The Company is governed by an elected Master and three Wardens, and the Court of Assistants, which is a permanent body comprised of senior Liverymen who have served as Master (Pastmasters) and those who have not (Assistants).
The Company elects a new Master and Wardens each summer in a traditional ceremony. Members of the Livery assemble at the Hall before processing to church for the Election Day service. At a Confirmation Court in the following month, the outgoing Master and Wardens ‘crown’ their successors with silver garlands which date from the seventeenth century, and the new Master’s year officially begins.
The Master, Wardens and Court of Assistants act as a chairman and board of directors, meeting once a month to decide policy and oversee Company affairs. Assisting them is a small permanent staff headed by the Clerk, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of Company business.
The Leathersellers’ Company’s orgins, like those of many other Livery Companies, lie in the middle ages when guilds gradually emerged to support and protect those engaged in particular crafts and trades.
The Leathersellers’ Company is thought to have its origins amongst the whittawyers (makers of fine white leather) and pouchmakers who congregated along London Wall in the early thirteenth century. The English word ‘letherseller’ is first found to describe the occupations of John and Roger Pointel in 1297, but the earliest official documentary use of ‘leathersellers’ for a group of London craftsmen comes in 1372, when members of the mistery or craft of Leathersellers and Pursers complained to the mayor and aldermen about the Dyers who had been dyeing sheep leather to pass it off as the the more durable and expensive roe leather. In 1398, during the first mayoralty of Richard Whittington, the Leathersellers applied for articles for the regulation of their craft and the prevention and punishment of dishonest practices in their trade. This resulted in “ordinances” or bye-laws, in which the Leathersellers laid claim to the right to inspect all leather goods and hides sold in the City of London. By 1444 the Leathersellers were sufficiently organised and powerful to apply to Henry VI for a charter of incorporation.
IAN RUSSELL MBE
Master 2016 – 2017
Ian was born in 1956, the son of Past Master Leatherseller Tony Russell. He was a pupil at Hitchin Boys Grammar School and went on to study Yacht & Boatyard Management at Southampton College (now Solent University) before moving to Norfolk. He was made free in 1979, admitted to the Livery in 1981, served as Fourth Warden in 2002/3 and joined the Court in 2006. He has served as a Governor of Colfe’s School since 2005 and as Chairman from 2006 to 2015.
Note: this list is complete from 1535 onwards, but only some names of Masters before then are known. In the early 1400s there were two Masters per year, but by the end of the century one Senior, Upper or First Warden was elected each year – with the title Master from the 1560s onwards.
Spellings of surnames in the early period were not consistent and in many cases other spellings were used as well as those shown here.
This list is complete from 1531 onwards, but there are gaps in the earlier period from 1468.
The spelling of surnames in the early period was not consistent and in many cases other spelling variations were used as well as those shown here.
The designation of M (Master), 2, 3 and 4 (Second, Third and Fourth Warden) reflects the order in which the names appear in our Account books. The office of Master evolved in the early 1500s.
This two way partnership largely derives from the role of all liverymen in having the vote for each new Lord Mayor (on Michaelmas Day, 29th September, in the Guildhall). And so, for all practical purposes, any alderman standing for election must be a liveryman.
Hence the Lord Mayor, the de facto leader of the City of London Corporation, needs the support of the livery, and in turn, we, the Livery, look to him or her (there have been two women at Mansion House so far) to be our leader and representative.
Until 1649 all Lord Mayors had to be liverymen of one of the Great Twelve companies, and the four Leathersellers to hold the office before that date were required to “translate” to such a company. But Leatherseller Sir Thomas Andrewes has the distinction of being the first of any non Great Twelve company to serve as Lord Mayor, and went on to do so again a couple of years later.
A further four Leathersellers have served as Lord Mayor since then, the most recent being Sir John Pound in 1904-1905. Aside from these nine, another eight member of the Company have served the office of Sheriff (a prerequisite to becoming Lord Mayor). Notably Alderman Douglas Hill (sheriff in 1966) would have expected to go on to be Lord Mayor, but he died in office whilst at the Old Bailey.
He was (to date) the last Leatherseller to be an alderman (aside from two past Lord Mayors elected Honorary Liverymen).
More recently, past master Richard Scriven served as Chief Commoner (the senior elected member of the Common Council) in 1998/99, but only one of very few Leathersellers to have served as a Common Councilmen in modern times. In 2012/13 Nigel Pullman served as Sheriff, though as he is not an alderman, is ineligible to progress to Lord Mayor.
All Leathersellers are strongly encouraged to vote both for the Lord Mayor, and for the two Sheriffs (each Midsummer Day, 24th June) at Guildhall, returning to Leathersellers’ Hall afterwards. The ceremonial and spectacle is impressive, even if you only do so once. Should you want to learn more, or become involved in the City’s Governance and Elections, follow this link.
Nowadays, the involvement of the Leathersellers and the City, and other livery companies, can go well beyond governance and elections. The Company has a strong record in the premier inter livery golf competition, the Prince Arthur Cup (having won it more than any other company, and recently a record three years in a row), and now in its eighth season, the Leathersellers have dominated the inter livery skiing since its inception. But as this link makes clear, there are many other sporting or social activities where we can become involved, and indeed have done, for example tennis, clay shooting, sailing and bridge.
To learn more about the relationship between the City and its 110 livery companies, the Livery Committee run courses and briefings for liverymen, whose details may be found at this link. The Company will reimburse your registration fee, and there is invariably a “fellowship” element to meet members of other companies.
Below follows an extract from the annual Livery List booklet:
Leathersellers and the Corporation of London
The following members of the Leathersellers’ Company have attained positions of honour in the City of London as:
Sir William ALLEYN 1571-72
Sir Richard PYPE 1578-79
Sir Edward BARKHAM 1621-22
Sir Edward BROMFIELD 1636-37
Sir Thomas ANDREWES 1649 and 1650-51
Thomas SMITH 1809-10
Sir Charles WHETHAM 1878-79
Sir John STAPLES 1885-86
Sir John POUND 1904-05
By long-established custom the Lord Mayor belonged to a ‘Great Twelve’ Company and those elected from other Companies ‘translated’ to one of the Great Twelve. The Leathersellers have the distinction of being the first Company not to do this. In 1649 Sir Thomas Andrewes became the first Lord Mayor from any Company who refused to translate. He was Lord Mayor twice and remained a Leatherseller throughout.
There have been 17 Leatherseller Sheriffs. In addition to the nine who went on to become Lord Mayor (above), they are:
Hugh OFFLEY 1588-89
Sir James BUNCE 1643-44
Francis WARNER 1659-60
Slingsby BETHEL 1680-81
Sir Joshua SHARPE 1713-14
Sir Richard William Sanders EATON 1937-38
Douglas Rowland Holdsworth HILL 1966-67
Nigel Reginald PULLMAN, J.P. 2012-13
Aldermen and Common Councilmen
The Company has supplied the City with 35 Aldermen and numerous Common Councilmen. Liveryman Gregory Jones, QC, and Freeman Edward Lord, OBE, JP, are Common Councilmen at present, both for the Ward of Farringdon Without.
The most recent Leatherseller Chief Commoner was Richard Scriven in 1998-99.
One Leatherseller has served as Chamberlain of the City of London: Sir Thomas Cuddon (Master 1698-99; Chamberlain 1696-1702).
See www.liverycompanies.info for a database of past Aldermen, Lord Mayors and Sheriffs plus much other historical and current information on Livery Companies and the City of London.
There are presently 110 livery companies (at 2017), ranked in order of precedence from the Mercers’ Company at No 1, the Leathersellers’ at 15, and the newest company to be granted livery in 2014 being the Arts Scholars (110).
The order of precedence was set by the Court of Aldermen in 1515, and though modern companies (see below) take their place from the date of their becoming a livery company, the original order was drawn up with reference to each company’s wealth and influence, and has never altered. The story that at the time of the order being set, the Leathersellers’ Clerk was in prison (and hence our relatively low status!) is apocryphal. By common consent, the oldest company are the Weavers (42) whose charter dates from 1155 (cf our own from 1444, or the Mercers in 1394).
In addition, two ancient companies have chosen never to become livery companies, though in most respects they behave and are treated as though they were. They are the Parish Clerks’ and the Watermen & Lightermen.
In 1932 the Master Mariners (78) became the first new livery company for over 200 years, and the 30 plus companies formed since are termed Modern Companies. There are currently four further guilds and companies without livery in the pipeline waiting to become livery companies, a process usually lasting at least eight years, and controlled by the Court of Aldermen.
To progress to full livery status, the founding members of a new guild will need to demonstrate to the Aldermen their commitment, cash, a flourishing membership, and a role to represent the craft, trade or profession that is not already included in the existing companies.
Like the Leathersellers, all these companies, ancient and modern, will share an active interest in charity and education, along with (to varying degrees) a continuing involvement in their trade or craft. A few (such as the Goldsmiths’ and Gunmakers) retain a formal role in maintaining craft standards, whilst others have adapted to the modern world, for example the Tallow Chandlers now focus on the burgeoning oils & fats industry. One or two of the wealthiest (eg the Mercers) concentrate largely on managing their very substantial property and investment portfolio, though they also are actively responsible for many schools, academies and other educational establishments, as well as almshouses and (like Leathersellers and virtually all other liveries) military affiliations with the armed forces.
All share the aim of good fellowship – hence the expression describing the liveries: where philanthropy meets gastronomy!
To many non liverymen, the term LIVERY immediately implies dinners and halls. In fact there are only about 40 livery halls (the number is inexact because there are a few that are shared, and others which may or not be properly described as a livery hall). Only two or three of the modern Companies have a hall, and the great majority are owned by the top 28 liveries in the order of precedence. However, the oldest hall is generally accepted as that of the Apothecaries (58), whilst the Master Mariners (78) make their home aboard HQS Wellington, moored on the Thames Embankment. Many Blue stones around the City record the site of an old hall, often destroyed in the Great Fire or the Blitz.
A full list of all these companies can be found at the Livery Companies Database, in the LiveryCompanies.info website, where you can find details of their masters, wardens, clerks, their contact information, and much else.
Aside from the Leathersellers own programme of events, there are many other activities in the City and beyond designed for liverymen of all companies. They range across sporting, cultural, educational and charitable. There are also events aimed at younger liverymen, in addition to our own Young Livery Committee programme of activities. Some are listed at the Diary page of the Livery Companies website.
A summary of most of the inter livery sport competitions and similar are described at this link. If you would like to take part, please contact the Clerk.
The governance of the City of London is complex and unusual, thanks in large part to its ancient and fiercely independent history. You may get a good feel for it by watching this light hearted, but largely very accurate YouTube cartoon video, Secret City.
Elections form an important part of the governance of the City, but to someone not directly involved, their different procedures and electorates can be confusing. The various principal elections are for:
The Lord Mayor
The Common Councilmen
The Lord Mayor
Eligibility for election requires candidates to be an alderman, and to have served the office of the sheriff. Typically there will be just three or four such qualified candidates, and all Leathersellers (who have been liverymen since May the previous year) are eligible to vote for two of them, at Common Hall in Guildhall on Michalemas Day (29th September).
The Court of Aldermen then decide which of the two will be the next Lord Mayor, to take office the following November.
Normally of the two sheriffs, one will be an alderman, and the other not. Occasionally, when the pool of qualified aldermen to go on to be the Lord Mayor dwindles (see above), the Court of Aldermen will request that two aldermanic candidates stand for election, unopposed.
Often there are just two candidates (for two places) but three or more candidates are also quite normal. However regardless of the number, an election will take place. All liverymen, as above, vote for two sheriffs at Common Hall in Guildhall on Midsummer Day (24th June – but note in 2017 the election will take place on Monday 26th June). The Sheriffs take office on Michaelmas Eve (28th September).
The ceremony for the elections, which involve considerable pageantry and spectacle (and are well worth attending for that reason alone, at least once in a liveryman’s career) begin at noon, but to get a seat it would be wise to arrive not long after 11 o’clock. Leathersellers are invited to return to the Hall after both of the above elections.
The Court of Aldermen has 25 members, one representing each ward of the City of London. They are elected by the registered voters† within the ward (ie not the livery), and stand for re-election at least every six years (separately from the Common Councilmen elections, and not all at once, but as vacancies occur). They retire at 70 years of age.
Leathersellers’ Hall is in the Lime Street ward. More information about forthcoming elections is available at the City of London website
The Common Councilmen
The Court of Common Council has 100 members, a variable number representing each ward of the City of London (on average four per ward, which is the case in Lime Street). They are elected by the registered voters† within the ward, (the same as aldermen, ie not the livery), and stand for re-election every four years (on the same day in March, next on 23rd March 2017). Common Councilmen are the City’s equivalent of local government elected councillors, and have similar responsibilities.
Follow this link to read more of te Election of Common Council
To see a list of the Court of Common Council, please click here.
† Registered voters – In the City, uniquely, workers as well as residents have the right to vote. Any organisation that is based in the Square Mile can nominate workers to vote in the ward elections for aldermen and common councilmen. The number of votes is determined by the size of the workforce in each building, not as an aggregate.
AIDE MEMOIRE FOR SPONSORS OF CANDIDATES FOR ADMITTANCE TO THE COMPANY
To describe the admittance process for Liverymen in order that sponsors can brief fully their potential candidates for admittance by patrimony and redemption.
The Admittance Process
- Sponsors will normally approach the Clerk with a CV of the candidate
- Interview with Clerk (redemption only) – and if successful….
- Interview with the Privileges Committee – if successful…..
- Application form submitted to the Clerk
- Application reported to the Court
- Admittance to Freedom at Court
- Service as Freeman
- Freeman interviewed and assessed by Privileges Committee as potential liveryman
- If successful:
- Liverymen-Elect reported to the Court
- Admittance to Livery at Court
- Service as a Liveryman
- Advancement through the Company offices (Steward, Junior Warden etc) on merit.
- Advancement to Court
Sponsors should remain responsible for the briefing and induction of their candidate and maintain open lines of communication certainly during the Initial and First Phase of the admittance process. It is recommended that full use is made of the following materials:
- The Leathersellers’ brochure (enclosed)
- The Leathersellers’ handbook (enclosed)
- City Livery Companies booklet (enclosed)
- Copies of The Leathersellers’ Review
- Website: www.leathersellers.co.uk
- Livery Committee briefing courses – see website
The Clerk and staff will ensure that candidates are briefed on the “next steps” of the process at each occasion that they are involved in interviews. Each year, with effect from January 2012, the Clerk will arrange an induction briefing for new Freemen.
DETAILS OF DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED BY APPLICANTS FOR THE FREEDOM
Everyone who applies for the Freedom of the Company needs to produce the following personal documentation:
Copy of original birth certificate (this must be long form which identifies the parent’s details). The short form is not acceptable for the Guildhall. [Copies of birth certificates can easily be obtained on line these days].
- Copy of parent’s marriage certificate.
- For ladies who are married and have therefore changed their surname a copy of their marriage certificate.
- Copy of father’s (or mother’s) Freedom of the City Certificate. [There is sometimes a copy held by the Leathersellers’ office, but not necessarily].
- Copy of original birth certificate (this must be long form which identifies the parent’s details). The short form is not acceptable for the Guildhall. [Copies of birth certificates can be easily obtained on line these days].
For ladies who are married and have therefore changed their surname a copy of their marriage certificate.
All Liverymen of the Company are eligible to use these facilities. Bedrooms will be available for booking Monday – Friday (incl) throughout most of the year on a room-only basis. Maximum single stays will be limited to one working week. Booking priority will be given to individuals “on duty” on the evening of an event, in the order: Wardens, Court Members, Pastmasters Emeriti, Stewards and Liverymen.
Court & Committees
Get involved with our sporting activities
One of the significant and enjoyable benefits of being a member of our company is the opportunity to take part in a whole range of sporting activities. These events allow us to meet up with and get to know fellow Leathersellers and to meet members of other livery companies.
The Leathersellers’ Golfing Society was formed in the 1920’s and is the hub of the sporting endeavours of Liverymen. The inaugural meeting was held on 10th April 1930 at Sundridge Park Golf Course.
Present membership comprises 45 players and 8 non playing members. Those wishing to join, should send their name, address and current handicap to the Secretary, Mr. Paul Jupp. email@example.com
After our trophy-winning efforts at the City Livery Yacht Club Regatta, we are pleased to confirm that Tim Fooks (our sailing captain) and his beautiful yacht Gryphon will be entering again in 2017. The Master will also be fielding a yacht and I am sure the Leathersellers will, once again, impress all the competition. We would welcome expressions of interest from both experienced and relative novice “hands”.
The regatta will take place on 19th to 21st May 2017 at Cowes I.O.W.
See below a brief account from Tim on last years City Livery Club Regatta, held on 20th – 22nd May 2016
I am able to report that the event was a great success in terms of overall enjoyment, excellent sailing, fellowship with other livery companies, and even silverware.
Although my splendid vessel was not able to match the speed and upwind performance of those configured for racing, we enjoyed ourselves tremendously and were awarded the Millenium Trophy by the Commodore for our enthusiastic participation. This balance between competitiveness and good fun was well-judged by the organisers and all four of us would certainly be keen to promote this event as an excellent way of bringing together a wider number of the Leathersellers’ Livery.
If you would like to participate in next year’s event please contact
The City Livery Yacht Club was originally formed as the Yachting Section of the City Livery Club in 1956 by enthusiastic yachtsmen to promote interest in yachting by means of discussions, lectures, cruising and racing, to develop close contact between those Members of the City Livery Club who are interested in the sea and ships and to encourage the sport of sailing. The Club was recognised as a Club by the Royal Yachting Association in 1958.
Our annual fixture is against Colfe’s School Headmasters XI.
We will return to Colfe’s on Sunday 11th June 2017. Always a very enjoyable occasion, an event where the whole family are welcome. The School put on a lovely lunch (for both grown-ups and little ones) and the weather normally obliges. See below the report from Captain Dr Tim Nicholson on the hard fought match last year…..
The annual cricket match between the Leathersellers’ Company and Colfe’s School was another notable success, both in terms of numbers attending and – particularly gratifyingly – because it marked a return to winning ways by the Company, after a nine-year drought.
For many years the annual match has been played at the Leathersellers’ ground, close to the School, but this year the venue was changed to the nearby and newly-refurbished Old Colfeians ground. This turned out to be a fantastic venue with plenty of space for fun activities for children, such as mini-cricket and a bouncy castle, thereby adding to the family-friendly nature of the day.
The match was a superb team performance, with everyone contributing. Jasper Holmes, Harry Pilcher, Tom Watson and Tom Bourne-Arton all bowled economically and picked up valuable wickets, allowing us to restrict the School to 147 – a ‘gettable’ total in 20/20 cricket. Solid contributions with the bat came from James Russell, Tom Bourne-Arton and Mark Russell (who also put in a tidy performance behind the stumps), whilst Will Cock anchored and paced the innings to perfection – enabling me to pick off the final runs with only 2 balls to spare! The rest of the team (Julian Barrow, Stu Fuller, Alistair Russell, David Santa-Ollala and Tom Santa-Ollala) all made great contributions with a mix of sterling effort in the field, selfless aggressive batting and general camaraderie. This year’s ‘champagne moment’ was Harry Pilcher’s athletic catch, off his own bowling. Everyone watching was astounded to see such agility coming from our team!
Anybody wishing to play next year – or just come along for a great family day out – please do get in touch! ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
Inter-Livery Clay Shoot – Wednesday 18th May 2016
Leathersellers’ clay shooting team experienced a somewhat dispiriting day on Wednesday 18 May at the annual inter-Livery Clay Shooting Competition.
Low, threatening clouds, persistent heavy rain and ‘Arctic’ winds made for challenging conditions as 118 teams (472) shooters once again contested this annual Livery Classic at Holland and Holland’s shooting grounds in Ruislip – a massive gathering of heavily armed competitors!
Leathersellers’ preparations could scarcely have been better, and the whole team were relaxed and ready to go at the appointed hour – 0815. Even a daunting start at the High Tower failed to dent our initial optimism, as some team practice prior to the event served to calm the inevitable nerves.
But hardly had we removed our weapons from their slips than the rain began in earnest, swiftly followed by mounting queues as the organisers struggled with the rapidly deteriorating conditions, not to mention the appearance of novice shooters who, frustratingly for others, each required specialist attention.
Score cards became sodden and soon all but illegible, scorers struggled gamely with name changes and running order alterations, but the lengthening delays did at least mean that much inter-Livery networking was accomplished!
Sadly, the enforced delays did little for our concentration and continuity, while the penetrating damp settled remorselessly on one and all. At such times does that occasionally elusive ‘esprit de corps’ bubble to the surface!
Whereas, on occasion, difficult conditions can favour underdogs, this is not the case with clay shooting, and I felt we needed the sun at our backs to produce our best. So it proved, with individual scores of Peter Newton (58 = 17th), Tim Newton (55 = 20th), Alistair Newton (48 = 27th) and James Noel (42 = 33rd). The sun finally showed its face as we sat down to lunch…what a pleasant experience that was!
For a team with realistic aspirations of a Top Ten finish, 24th equal was an understandable disappointment and a dramatic case of under-achievement; while nevertheless representing a result in the top quarter of the event and overcoming two teams from the Gunmakers’ and a number of other fancied entrants. Next year, next year!
Our thanks to The Master for continuing to support us at this major charitable event, and for Paul Jupp’s unflinching support on the day.
The 24th Inter Livery Clay Shoot will take place on Wednesday 17th May 2017. If you would like to be a part of the Leathersellers’ Team, please contact Paul Jupp email@example.com
City Go-kart Grand Prix 2017 in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal
Sunday, 18th June 2017 at Sandown Park
The Inter-Livery City Go-kart Grand Prix is now in its third year, raising funds for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and giving much pleasure, as well as the odd bruise, to many Liverymen and their families. The venue remains unchanged at Sandown Park in Esher. Livery Companies enter teams of three or four drivers (Members, family and friends) in the Grand Prix, which involves practice sessions, a grid ranking race and then the main Grand Prix.
Masters are not expected to take part (unless they wish to!), and usually instead preside over their party in a stylish manner. However, lots of younger Liverymen and prospective ones do take part and thoroughly enjoy themselves. No previous karting experience is necessary, and all the driving kit is provided.
There is a range of silverware at stake, plus the always hotly-contested loo seat for the worst-behaved team – something won by the Sheriffs this past summer, to their great glee.
The Lord Mayor likes the day to promote Inter-Livery fellowship, and for parties of Livery Members, family and friends to socialise and enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere of picnics and good-humoured competition.
So, please save the date and prepare to have great fun and support a very good cause.