[Leathersellers.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT.205

[Leathersellers.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT.

thereto Supporters, by Patent under his Hand and Seal, bearing date Novemb. 7. 1505. 21 H. VII. Afterwards, confirmed by Tho. Benolt, Clarencieux, Oct. 11. 22. Hen. VIII. Viewed, entred and approved in the Visitation 1634.

J. S.

This Company by Patent from King Henry VII. had the Search of Calve-skins, Sheep-skins and Lamb-skins, Goats and Kid-skins, deceitfully wrought; and of all other like deceitful Works and Workmen touching that Mystery, in any part of the Realm; and were to make such Search by the Survey of the Maior and other Head Officers of the City and Town where such Search shall be made: And had further Power to punish the said Offenders, and to seize, as Forfeit, the same deceitful Ware. Whereof the one Moiety to the Use of the King and his Successors, or to the Use of those Cities and Places where the Offence happens; and the other Moiety to the Company. And the Searchers were to be sworn to make due Search. And such a Power also had the Company of Skinners by Patent.

This Company had a Power to Search Skins.

The Leathersellers became great Engrossers of Leather in all Places of England: And did transport it abroad, to the raising of the Price of it. For which the Glovers within 40 miles compass about London, feeling the Inconveniency of it, made Complaint about the Year 1593 and 1594, to the Lords of the Privy Council. They complained, that the Leathersellers did engross continually into their hands all Sorts of Leather within the several Shires of England, and also Ireland and Scotland. Which had raised the Price of White Leather from 20s. the Hundred, to 50s. and 3l. the Hundred. Secondly, that when they had so engrossed it by the Thousand, whereof they bought three or four sorts at several Prices, they then packed it into Dozens, and put four Skins at the least into every Dozen, scarce worth an Half-penny a piece: And yet nevertheless did sell these mixed Dozens far dearer than they paid for the very best. Whereby they, the Glovers, were deceived at the least 16d. in every Dozen, by four small Skins in ordinary called Linings, packed in every such Dozen. Thirdly, they further complained, that by means of this engrossing, they were constrained to come 30 or 40 Miles compass round about London to buy their Leather at London: Whereas were it not for them, they might have had their Leather at home in the Country, and at a far more reasonable rate, and better. Lastly, that where by their intolerable engrossing (being but four Persons that did it) they were become great Transporters of Leather out of the Land, and under colour of Licence for one Thousand, shipped away ten Thousand, they prayed their Lordships, that some might be appointed to see, that no more were shipped away than were licensed; and that a Market might be appointed for all White Leather: And that the Countrymen might be commanded to bring in their Leather to a settled place; as at Leaden-hall or such like, before they made sale thereof to any Leatherseller, or other; whereby to engross it. That they, the poor Glovers about London, might buy the best for their Money, as soon and as well as they. And then Leather in short space should be sold for 30s. which was then 50s. and upwards. And for the Reformation of these apparent Injuries, they thought it convenient that Leather should be Sealed; so as the Price exceeded not 2d. the Dozen. And lastly, that if this were not lookt to, the Leathersellers would soon become richer than common Subjects; and thousands of the Glovers forced to beg about the Streets.

The Glovers complaint against the Leathersellers.

To Seal Leather.

Improvement of the Trade of Leather by the Merchants of Barbary and Russia.

By reason of the Trades of the Merchants in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, to Barbary and Russia and other Places, there was a great Quantity of Skins of divers Sorts then yearly brought into the Realm, more than in times past. And towards the latter times of that Queen, the People had better Experience in dressing, working and making of Leather; some with Oil, some with Allom, some with Shomack and other things. By reason whereof a greater Number of the Queen's Subjects with their Families were set on work and maintained, than in former Times. And by reason of the good and well dressing thereof, the same was more used than formerly, to the benefit of the Realm, and the great Store transported by way of Merchandize. Whereby the Queen had the more Custom and Subsidy both outwards and inwards.

Upon pretence of an Act of Parliament, Edward Darcy Esq; sued to the Queen for her Letters Patents, during his Life, for or twenty Years, for the Searching and Sealing of all Leather throughout England, as was provided in the Statute for Shoe-Leather. For the Leathersellers had been found guilty of great Abuses practised, in deceitful Dressing, Sale and Uttering of all Leather for the most part, except Shoe-Leather. The Skin of a Bull, Horse, &c. was sold for right Buff. Rams-skins, and Sheeps-skins sold for right Shamways. And so many other kinds, to the wrong and hindrance of the Buyer.

A Patent for Searching and Sealing of Leather.

Leathersellers deceits.

Darcy succeeded in his Suit, and had his Patent from the Queen: But still with a Clause in it for Revocation by six of the Council. This was a very gainful Business to him. As, for the Sealing of a dozen of the best Stags Skins drest, worth 4l. was paid 8s. For Sealing a dozen of the second Sort, worth 38s and 4d. the same was paid. And so proportionably for other Skins. So that he received sometimes the tenth part, the ninth part, the seventh, the sixth, the fourth, and sometimes, and often, the third part of the Value of the Commodity.

The Gain of this Patent to Darcy.

Therefore, soon after this Patent was begun to be executed, which was about the End of the Year 1592, the Leathersellers and all that dealt in Leather-cutting, made most grievous Complaints, especially the poorer Sort; viz. that it was like to overthrow them and their Trades. And were minded to repair in a multitude to the Court to the Lords of the Council. But first they went to Sir William Row, Lord Maior, with a Petition to him. The Maior hereupon sent his Letters to the Lords, to prevent the Tumult, together with their Petition. In which Petition joyned all these Tradesmen following, viz. Leathersellers, Fellmongers, Glovers, Point-makers, Purse-makers, Sadlers, Girdlers, Coffer-makers, Budget-makers, Stationers, White-Tawiers, Jerkinmakers, Leather dyers, and all other Dressers, Workers and Converters of Leather, inhabiting within the City. They set forth, That whereas he, the Lord Maior had received a strait Charge from the Lords and others of her Majesties Privy Council, about the Assistance to be given to Mr. Darcy, touching the Execution of his Patent, for the View, Search and Sealing of Leather of what kind soever: Wherein a new Office was allowed, with Allowance of Fees, to so excessive and enormous a Rate, as the like whereof was never heard of within the Realm, to be imposed upon the Subjects, upon any occasion of publick Service or Duty whatsoever, to be performed to her Highness and the State of her Realm: Hereby the poor Suppliants were like utterly to be undone, and their Trades overthrown, in Case the said Patent should so take Effect. WHEREFORE they prayed the Maior, being the Chief Governour of the City under her Highness, and the Chief and Principal Warden of the said Companies, and of all other Trades within the City, to be a Means to the Queen or the Lords, that the Execution

The Complaint against him by all the Dealers in Leather.

Their Petition brought to the Maior.