About the Merchant
Taylors' Company

Dedicated to Education and Philanthropy, The Merchant Taylors' Company is a flourishing Livery Company based in the heart of the City of London

The Merchant Taylors' Company is one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies, organisations that evolved from Medieval London's guilds. They took their name, livery, from the distinctive dress of their members, and grew to safeguard their livery's specific craft and trade. They were also social and religious, both of which remain key to the Merchant Taylors' spirit of fellowship and concern for others.

The Company secured its first royal charter in 1327 from King Edward III, allowing it to manage its own affairs. As the Company grew, so did its feud with the Skinners' Company. As the feud intensified, the Lord Mayor, Sir Robert Billesden in 1484 settled the matter by proclaiming that the two Companies must alternate for positions six and seven in perpetuity in the City's hierarchy. This may be the origin of the English idiom, 'at sixes and sevens.'

As it grew in size and status, the Company operated less as a trade regulator and increasingly for the good of those less fortunate

This continues today. The Merchant Taylors' Company devotes itself to charitable initiatives, high-quality education (both state and independent) and the provision of almshouses, while taking an active role within the City of London's administrative and ceremonial life. The Company operates social housing and works with small local charities across key areas of London that changes people's lives for the better.

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Further information about the Company’s history can be found in Matthew Davies and Ann Saunders, The History of the Merchant Taylors’ Company (Maney, 2004). This includes a select bibliography of works about the Company and its treasures. Copies are available from the Company.

The Company’s Archives

The Company’s archives were loaned to Guildhall Library in 1996, so that they could be available for study by the public. Accounts date from 1398 and minutes survive from 1562, and for the isolated years 1486-93. The catalogue can be viewed online and are available for consultation there without prior appointment. No permission is needed from the Company to access them for private study.

Genealogical enquiries

The Company has always had a large membership. We know that there were around 8,000 members during the Civil War. Genealogical enquiries should be directed to ask.lma@cityoflondon.gov.uk Alternatively, information about former members 1530-1928 can be obtained for a fee from Docklands Ancestors at www.ParishRegister.com. The Company’s charity fund receives a royalty from these fees. Other enquiries can be directed to LMA, as above, or to the Company Archivist, Stephen Freeth, at Freeth@ntlworld.com.