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Guildhall Library



Reference code(s): GB 0076 CLC/L/HA

Held at: Guildhall Library


Date(s): 1501-1979

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 519 production units

Name of creator(s): Worshipful Company of Haberdashers


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Haberdashers' Company was formed from a combination of the small wares business of the Mercers' Company and from the Fraternity of Hurers (the Cappers and Hatters). The first ordinances of the company date from 1371 and the first charter from 1448 (to the Fraternity of St Catherine the Virgin of Haberdashers of London, i.e. to the Fraternity created from the business of the Mercers' Company). The two fraternities were united by a charter of 1502. The company inherited the site of its hall on Gresham Street (formerly Maiden Lane) in 1478. The first hall was destroyed by fire in 1666 and rebuilt in 1668; damaged by fire and rebuilt in 1840; damaged by fire and rebuilt again in 1864; and completely destroyed by enemy action in December 1940. The present hall was completed in 1956.

Robert Aske (1619-89), a prosperous City merchant and member of the Haberdashers' Company, died without children. He left the bulk of his estate to the Haberdashers' Company for charitable purposes, including money to buy land in Hoxton, near the City of London, on which the Company was to build almshouses for 20 poor members of the Company, and a school for 20 sons of poor freemen of the Company. The remainder of the money formed the Haberdasher Aske's Foundation, a charity of which the Company is a trustee. Building work on the almshouses in Hoxton, Shoreditch, started in 1691, to designs by Robert Hooke, and the first pensioners entered in 1695. The almshouse buildings were demolished in 1824 and rebuilt in 1825. The almshouses were closed in 1873 to allow the school to expand, and become a school for girls and boys. The girls school was opened in 1875. At the same time land was purchased by the Foundation at Hatcham, and another boys school built. A girls school was added to this site in 1889. In 1944 these Hatcham schools became voluntary controlled grammar schools, in 1976 comprehensive schools, and combined in 1991 as a City Technology College. In 2004 the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College and Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy were established. In 1898 the schools in Hoxton moved to two new sites, in Hampstead for boys, and in Acton for girls. In 1974 the two schools were reunited at a new site in Elstree. They became independent schools in 1976.

Thomas Aldersey established by letters patent a free grammar school in Bunbury, Cheshire, and endowed it with a preacher, master and usher, drew up the statutes of the school, and gave money to the poor of Bunbury and the Haberdashers' Company, who he entrusted with the running of the school. He also endowed the school with lands in Cheshire. The school was rebuilt in 1812. In 1902 it became a public elementary schol, and in 1958 a voluntary assisted primary school. It is now known as the Bunbury Aldersey Primary School, and has about 230 boys and girls. See the Charity Commissioners' Reports vol.X, pp.193-5.

William Adams, a wealthy London Haberdasher originally from Newport, founded a free grammar school in Newport in 1656. He appointed the Master and Wardens of the Haberdashers' Company to run it and provided estates in nearby Knighton to support it. It provided an education for 80 local boys, and it was equipped with an impressive library. The school currently has about 780 pupils. The Haberdashers' Company still maintains an active role, and nominates a significant number of the governing body.

In 1613 William Jones (d.1615), a prosperous merchant and Haberdasher, gave the Haberdashers' Company money for charitable works, and later bequeathed further sums. Monmouth Grammar school for boys was established, as well as an almshouse at Newland, Gloucestershire. The school was rebuilt in 1865, and the original foundation re-organised in 1891 to support a new girls' school and elementary school, as well as another boys' grammar school in Pontypool. The elementary school and the Pontypool school were transferred to County Council control in 1940 and 1955 respectively. In 1953 the almshouse was converted into 10 flats. Monmouth School and Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls acquired direct grant status in 1946. They became independent in 1976.

By his will of 1663 Throckmorton Trotman bequeathed 2000 to the Haberdashers' Company to build and endow a school. The Company purchased land in Bunhill Row and built a school, but borrowed back much of the bequest as a mortgage to rebuild their Hall, burnt in the Great Fire. The school took boys from the parish of St Giles Cripplegate, and, after its establishment as a parish, from St Luke's Old Street. In 1819 there were only 12 boys being educated. In 1883 the Metropolitan Board of Works took possession of the site, and the school moved to City Road. It was closed in 1899, and money from the bequest diverted to other schools supported by the Company.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, including registers of freedom admissions from 1526 and of apprentice bindings from 1583. A number of series are described in more detail in a "Descriptive Class List of Records" of the Company (1954) held at the Manuscripts Section enquiry desk. Please note that MS 24719 is subject to a 30 year closure period.

Records of Robert Aske's Charity: (former references: MS 15847-, 15886- 94, 24729- 34, 32907- 18, 33626-; MS 15886- 94; MS 24729- 34; MS 32907- 18; MS 33626-; dates: 1689 - 1973; extent: 56 production units) The records comprise constitutional documents, minutes, chapel registers, accounts, inventories, reports, admission registers and estate material. See also Mss 15845, 15848-9 and 24719-20. They were catalogued by members of the Guildhall Library staff.

Records of Thomas Aldersey's Charity: (former references: MS 15885- , 24728- , 33622- 3; MS 24728-; MS 33622- 3; dates: 1576 - 1912; extent: 4 production units). The records comprise constitutional documents and reports only. See also Ms 24722 for further reports. The records have been deposited by the Haberdashers' Company at various dates since 1976. They were cataloged by members of Guildhal Library staff.

Records of William Adams' Charity: (former references: MS 15879- 84, 32905-6, 33618-21; MS 24727-; MS 33618- 21; MS 32905- 6; dates: 1656 - 1950; extent: 15 production units) The records, which form part of the Haberdashers' collections, comprise statutes, minutes, correspondence and reports, as well as maps and surveys of the estates in Knighton. They have been deposited at Guildhall Library at various dates since 1976. See also the Company committee minutes (Ms 15852) and general minutes (Ms 24719). The records were catalogued by members of Guildhall Library staff.

Records of William Jones's Charity: (former references: MS 15897- 900, 24737-41, 32920-8; MS 24737- 41; MS 32920- 8; dates: 1613 - 1979; extent: 69 production units) The records comprise constitutional documents, minutes, reports, accounts, pupil registers and estate papers. See also Ms 15852, 15874 and 24719.

Records of Throckmorton Trotman's Charity: (former references: MS 15901- 2; dates: 1827 - 1899; extent: 2 production units) The records comprise an admission register and a visitor's book only, but see also Ms 24721 (surveyor's reports) and Mss 15852 and 24719 (minutes).


Language/scripts of material: English, Latin and Flemish

System of arrangement:

As the archive is large and complex, and to assist the user, the catalogue has been arranged in sections representing sub-groups each with an archival classification code as follows:
A Constitutional records
B Court records
C Membership records
D Financial records
E Trade records
F Clerk's records
G Charities and estates.

Conditions governing access:

Restricted access: please see staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The Company's archives have been deposited with the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library at various dates. The records have been catalogued by various members of staff over many years.


Related material:

The Company has retained custody of its charters of 1448, 1498, 1502 (uniting Hatters, Hurrers and Haberdashers), 1558 and 1578, its grants of arms of 1446 and 1503, and its grant of crest and supporters of 1570. The Manuscripts Section has photographs of all of these.

Publication note:

A history of the company by Ian Archer, published in 1991, is available in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library. See also H R Dulley, The Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls: the first 125 years, Oxford 2000; David and Ruth Taylor, Mr Adams' Free Grammar School, Chichester 2002.

For further information relating to Livery Companies, particularly using the company records for family history, please see Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section "Livery Company Membership Guide" and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section "Leaflet Guides to Records: Searching for Members or those apprenticed to Members of City of London Livery Companies" (both available online).

For a general introduction to the history of the City of London Livery Companies please see entry in The London Encyclopaedia, ed Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert.


Archivist's note:

Descriptions prepared by various staff members.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Oct-09

Almshouses | Residential buildings | Buildings | Architecture
Apprenticeship records | Documents | Information sources
Charitable bequests | Bequests | Property transfer | Property
Charity schools | Schools | Educational institutions
Freemen | People by roles | People
Haberdashers | Mercantile personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Haberdashery | Textile industry | Manufacturing industry | Industry
Trade guilds | Guilds | Associations | Organizations

Personal names

Corporate names
Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

Bunbury | Cheshire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Monmouth | Monmouthshire | Wales | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Newport | Gwent | Wales | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Pontypool | Gwent | Wales | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Shoreditch | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe