Strype, Survey of London(1720), [online] (hriOnline, Sheffield). Available from:
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The Stuart London Project, Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield,
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Arms, Crest and Supporters are said to be granted by Tho. Halley [Hawley] Clarencieux, 4 Edw. VI. Which Arms were entred and approved in the Visitation An. 1634. At which time Mr. John Benet was Master.

The Name of this Corporation was, Master and Wardens, Brother and Sisters of the Guild or Fraternity of the Skinners of London; to the Honour of God, and the precious Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Name of this Company.

This Company flourished in former Times, when Sables, Lucernes, and other rich Furrs were worn for Tippets in England: Which were Princely Ornaments. Of which Henry Lane in a Letter to Richard Hackluit, the Collector of the English Voyages Anno 1567, thus spoke: "That it was great Pity but it should be renewed, especially in Courts and among Magistrates, not only for the restoring of an old worshipful Art and Company, but also because they be for our Climate wholsome, delicate, grave and comely, expressing Dignity, comforting Age, and of long Continuance, and better with small Cost to be preserved than those new Silks, Shaggs and Raggs; wherein a great part of the Wealth of the Land is hastily consumed."

Furrs, &c. Princely Ornaments.

Engl. Voyages, p. 374.

The Skinners in those Times were many in number, kept and maintained great Families, were able in competent manner to live, and contribute to the Services of the Realm; and did set on work great numbers of Tawyers, and other poor sort of the People of the Realm. In those Times Cony-skins and other Furrs of the Breed of this Realm were, by such as had them of their own Breed, and such as gathered them, as Pedlars and such like, ordinarily brought and offered to be sold to the Skinners. And the Skinners bought the same at reasonable Rates. And then out of such Skins and Furrs chose out and culled those that were fit for Wear within the Realm, and caused them to be drest, and set the Poor on Work. And so had by Choice and Plenty wherewith to serve the Nobles, Gentlemen, and other Subjects of England. The Residue of the Furrs and Skins so come to their hands, they vended to every Man as fitted his Trade; and to the Merchants such as were fit to be sent beyond Sea. But afterwards about the latter End of Queen Elizabeth's Time, the Skinners were much disabled, it being become common for the wealthy Merchants, English and Strangers, to send abroad into the Shires and Counties of the Realm, and drew unto them the Pedlars, Petty Chapmen, and other like Gatherers of Skins, and thereby procured Skins, which they sent beyond Sea. And so engrossing them into their hands, the Skinners were exceedingly hindred in their Trade.

The Decay of the Skinners Company.


This occasioned them to make a public Complaint, how they were hereby utterly disabled to set poor Tawyers and others on work; or to maintain themselves but in miserable Poverty; not able, as those before them, to contribute to Subsidies and other Services of the Realm. And by means whereof the Prices of all such Skins and Furrs as came to their hands, were greatly encreased. And hence Men were driven to leave off the wearing of such Furrs, and betake themselves to foreign Commodities, soaking away the Wealth of this Nation.

The Skinners Complaint;

And hence a Controversy arose between the Skinners and the Eastland Merchants. The Skinners about the Year 1592, petitioned the Queen, That whereas they were fallen into great Poverty by reason of the engrossing and inordinate transporting of Cony-skins; and that thereby they could not have Choice of the best sort for her Majesty's Service, and her Subjects; no Pedlars or Petty Chapmen might gather or engross any Skins or Furrs of the Breed of England, but under License of two Justices of the Peace of the County where, &c. And that such Licensed should not make sale of any such Skins or Furrs so gathered by them, but to some Persons known to be of the Trade of the Skinners. And that all others might be restrained to buy and transport them. The Company of Eastland Merchants required, on the other hand, to have free License to buy, provide and engross, in any Place whatsoever, and of all Persons, all manner of Cony-skins, raw or tawed, and at their pleasure to transport them, in any Bottom whatsoever, unto any Place, yielding the ordinary Custom.

And Petition against the Eastland Merchants.

The East Country Merchants Request.

The Maior and Aldermen wrote a Letter to the Lord Treasurer against the Skinners Petition: Urging, that this Practice of the Skinners, that all the Skins of the Breed of England must first pass thro' the Hands and Property of some Freeman of that Company, before they should be transported, would be to the exceeding great Prejudice not only of the Liberty of the City, but of all other Traders into Foreign Parts, within this whole Realm. And the Patent being ready drawn by the Advice of learned Council, and in great Forwardness to be signed by the Queen, they prayed the Lord Treasurer to be a means to stay the same, till such time as he should be better informed touching the great Inconveniences which would grow thereby. For which purpose they had appointed certain of the Aldermen and others to attend upon him. What was done further in this Business, I know not.

The Maior and Aldermen oppose the Skinners.

This Company be Patrons and Governours of an eminent Free-School at Tunbridge in the County of Kent, founded by Sir Andrew Judd, a Skinner, some time Maior of London. Which upon some Trouble and Doubt was afterward confirmed by Parliament. The brief Account whereof was as followeth, taken from an authentic Paper.

The School at Tunbridge.

The Reasons and Occasions whereupon the Acte preferred for the Companye of SKYNNERS is grounded.


SIR Andrew Judd, carrying a minde to erecte a Schole at Tunbridge, and to endowe the same with some competent maintenance, did to suche purpose withe his owne proper money, pruchase divers Lands, in the name of himself and one Henrye Fissher. Whome he put in trust to see the Worke perfected, yf himself sholde fortune to be prevented by deathe.

The Case of this School.

Kinge Edwarde the Sixte gave licence by his Letters Patents for the founding of the said Schole, and that the Master, Wardens and Comminaltie of the mysterye of Skynners of London shal be the Gouernoures of the Possession, Reuenwes and Goods of the free Grammar schole of Sir Andrewe Judd Knight in the Towne Tunbridge in the Countye of Kent.

For the Endowmente of this Schole Sir Andrewe Judd afterwards did by his last Will to suche expresse use, bequeathe to the Companye of Skynners the Lands, so as aforesaid purchased. And in that bequest used the saide Companye by the name of Master and Wardens of the Fraternitye of Corpus Christi of the Crafte or Mystery of Skynners of London.

The saide Henrye Fissher, to accomplish the said Will, did graunte and assigne the saide Lands to the said Companye to the said uses; as also certen other Lands of his owne to other godlie uses. And in this Conveyance used the said Companye by the name of Master, Wardens and Comminaltie of the Mysterye of Skynners of London, Gouernoures of the Possessions, Reuenewes and Goods of the free Grammar-schole of Sir Andrewe Judd Knight, in the Towne of Tunbridge.

Henrye Fissher deceasing, one Andrewe Fissher his sonn endevored to impeache the said Conveyances, under pretence of a former Conveyance from his


© hriOnline, 2007
The Stuart London Project, Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield,
34 Gell Street, Sheffield, S3 7QY