Here also is their Chappel, formerly better known by the name of St. Thomas of Acre, or Acon. The entertaining Hall, and other fair Rooms for the meeting of the Company, are above Stairs. There hangs Mr. Papilion's Picture, a late liberal Benefactor.

Their Chappel.

When any one of this Company is chosen Maior, to make one of the Triumphs of the Day wherein he goes to Westminster to be sworn, a most beautiful Virgin is carried through the Streets in a Chariot in all the Majesty and Glory possible, with her Hair all dishevel'd about her Shoulders; to represent the Maidenhead which the Company give for their Arms. And this Lady is pentifully gratified for her Pains, besides the Gift of all the rich Attire she wears. Such a Pageant made part of the Splendour of the Day, Anno 1701, when Sir William Gore was Maior.

The Triumphant Pageant when one of this Company is Maior.

When the Master was chosen, they used to have a very splendid Feast; and Persons of the Court and of the best Quality were present. And after the Feast was over, the new Master was conducted in State by the Company to his own House, where they were treated again. In the Year 1577, in the Month of July, on a Munday, was the Mercers Feast, when Sir Lionel Ducket (who had been Lord Maior in the Year 1572) was chosen Master. There were then present, among others, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Thomas Gresham, Sir William Damsel, Mr. Sackford of the Privy Chamber, and the Recorder Fleetwood. Dinner being done, as the Order was, they brought the Master home to his House, where they had a great and royal Banquet.

Their Feast at the Election of a Master.

Fleetw. Letter to the Lord Treasurer.

From this Company proceeds a great Benefit to many Widows of Clergymen and others, out of a Fund settled here; having Annuities paid to them at the rate of 30l. per Cent. according to the respective Sums that are paid in by their Husbands, to commence at their Deaths. It may be worth relating how this Fund began. Dr. Assheton, Rector of Beckenham in Kent, first proposed it to the Mercers, Novemb. 11. 1698, at a General Court then held. Who thereupon appointed a Committee to consider of the same. Which Committee, after several meetings and discourses with Dr. Assheton, acquainted him, what Estate they had to settle for Security, being in clear Rent 2888l. 8s. 10d. per Annum (beside the Payments appointed by the Benefactors to be paid out of the same.) Which by a moderate Calculation would yield them when the Leases came out, 13500l. per Annum clear. And the said Dr. Assheton considering the same to be reasonable Security, the said Committee made their Report to a General Court the 23d of December the same Year. Which Court, having read the said Report, did suspend their Resolution of the same for that time. And another General Court was appointed to be held the 13th of January following; that so all the Members of the Company might have time to consider of the said Proposal, and the Report of the Committee thereupon. At this last General Court they did accept the said Proposal, and did declare, that in case 100000l. should be subscribed, and paid into the Company in such manner as hereafter should be mentioned, the said Company undertook to pay unto the Widows of the Subscribers, according to the foresaid Propositions, 30l. per Cent. per Annum, free of Taxes and Charges at Lady-day and Michaelmas. That for the better Security of the Payments, as soon as the said 100000l. should be subscribed, they would settle and convey in due Form of Law, the Lands, Houses and Estate before mentioned, in Trustees, for the due Payment of the said Annuities. That all married Clergymen, and other married Persons, (except as hereafter excepted) that inhabited in the Kingdom of England, and exceeded not the Age of sixty Years at the time of the Payment of the Money, and receiving the Company's Bond, and were then in good and perfect Health, and had subscribed any Sum, not less than 50l. nor exceeding the Sum of 300l. in case they died in the Kingdom of England, and left their Wives, Widows; the said Widows should receive, as before mentioned, the Sum of 30l. yearly, for every 100l. so subscribed; and so proportionably for a greater or less Sum. Persons that went to Sea, and Soldiers, not to be admitted to subscribe, in regard of the Casualties and Accidents they were particularly liable to.

A Fund for Widows settled in this Company.

These and other Articles were then published and declared Pursuant hereupon, the Subscription Books were laid open March 1. 1698, and several Thousand Pounds were subscribed, but not amounting to the 100000l. required. At a General Court, June 16. 1699, it was resolved that the said Settlement proposed before, should be forthwith settled by able Council in the Law, in Trustees of undoubted Reputation and Ability, for the Assurance of the Subscribers. And as soon as the Settlement was made, Publication to be made thereof. Then they enlarged the Sums to be subscribed, viz. That all married Men of the Age of thirty Years, or under, might subscribe any Sum not exceeding 1000l. That all married Men of the Age of forty Years might subscribe any Sum not exceeding 500l. And that all married Men, not exceeding the Age of sixty Years, might subscribe any Sum not exceeding 300l. And the Widows of all such Persons subscribing, to receive the Benefit of 30l. per Cent. per Annum, according to the former Proposal.

And they declared further, that any Persons under the Limitation aforesaid mentioned, might subscribe for the Use and Benefit of any Person or Persons, as such Subscriber should by his Last Will and Testament direct, during the natural Life of his Wife, in case she survived him; declaring in his Subscription that it was so intended. [This was first seasonably propounded by Dr. Blackhal, the late Right Reverend Bishop of Exon, that so his Children also might, if he thought good, receive part of that Benefit with his Widow.]

The Deed of Settlement was enrolled in her Majesty's High Court of Chancery; and an authentic Copy of it transcribed into a Book, and well attested, may be perused on Fridays every Week, between the Hours of Nine and One in the Forenoon. Therein is shewed, what Estates are settled , and the Value of them; who are the Trustees, and to whom these Estates are made over and conveyed, for the Security of the Subscribers, and the effectual Payment of the Widows.

Dr. Assheton did, in the Year 1788, print a little Book, intitled, A full Account of the Rise, Progress, and Advantage of this Proposal: With Directions for the Widow, how to receive her Annuity, without any Delay, Charge, or Deduction. Which Book was given gratis at Mercers Hall. That Reverend Divine did in the Preface to that little Book declare, that he did not for his own Private Advantage project this, but sincerely designed a Publick Good: And in like manner, that the Worshipful Company undertook to manage this Proposal, not from any prospect of Advantage to their own Private Persons, but only out of a generous Design to make the Company more capable to answer the End and Reason of their Charter; which was, To establish and manage Publick Charities, and thereby to enlarge their Capacities of doing good. And he farther presumed to declare, that the Company of Mercers, by accepting and managing this Proposal, would do a greater and more publick Good to the whole Nation, than they could pretend to do by founding an Hospital for Widows in every County of the

Account of this Proposal by Dr. Assheton.