Reference NumberCL/A
TitleRecords under which the Company Functioned
DescriptionThe Clothworkers' Company was formed in 1528 by the amalgamation of two previous Companies, The Fullers' Company (incorporated 1480) and The Shearmen's Company (incorporated 1508). Both these Companies were involved with cloth finishing and had already been acting as informal guilds prior to their formal incorporation (for example in the purchase of the site of Shearmen's Hall by a group of shearmen in 1456).

The Royal Letters Patent by which the Company was incorporated recited the texts of the charters of the two predecessor companies, making it clear that The Clothworkers' Company was in every respect their successor and inheritor of their rights and privileges.

The original Charter was confirmed by Philip and Mary in 1558 and by Elizabeth I in 1560. The lands of the Company were confirmed by Letters Patent in 1619. A new charter was obtained in 1633 (requiring Livery Companies to obtain new charters was a means by which the cash-strapped Crown could obtain money). The Charter of 1685 was designed to ensure loyalty to the Crown and to the Church of England; its provisions were reversed by the Charter of 1687. The royal grant of 1688 permitted the Company to make its own laws and ordinances, as it had previously.

The Charters contain some provisions for the governance of the Company; the more detailed provisions are given in the Ordinances, which had to be confirmed by the Lord Chancellor.

The Shearmen's Company had Ordinances issued in 1508 (no Ordinances survive for The Fullers' Company) The first Ordinances of The Clothworkers' Company were issued in 1532, signed by Sir Thomas More as Lord Chancellor. New Ordinances were obtained in 1587 and again in 1639.

As well as the Ordinances, the Orders made by the Court were regarded as authoritative precedents, not to be contravened except by another Court Order. As part of his reform programme, Thomas Massa Alsager (Master 1836-37) carefully studied the books of Court Orders (CL/B/1) and made notes of 'Standing Orders'. Under the direction of the new Committee of Record and Trusts, these were collated by R. Beckwith Towse and published in 1840. Updated versions of the Standing Orders were published in 1876, 1894 and 1959.

By the twentieth century, the 1639 Ordinances, with their concentration on the Company's craft role, were becoming out of date. New Ordinances were obtained in 1984, signed by Lord Hailsham as Lord Chancellor and Margaret Thatcher as First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister). Amongst other provisions, these Ordinances gave equal status to women for the first time.

The Standing Orders were wholly revised in 2004 and are subject to ongoing modification. A Supplemental Royal Charter was obtained in 2015.

The Company was granted its coat of arms in 1530 and its Crest and Supporters in 1587. The Company's motto 'My Trust is in God Alone' was adopted at an uncertain, but early date.
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