1371 Petition

The earliest livery companies were formed in the early Middle Ages as trade guilds.  They were both employers' federations and trades unions, and their functions included ensuring high standards of business conduct and product quality from all their members, helping in the education of future generations in the particular ways of the trade or craft, and supporting those members of the company or their families who had fallen on hard times or were suffering from poor health.

On 7th March 1371, the Fletchers presented a petition (pictured) stating that they had agreed ‘for the profit and advantage of all the Commonality’ that the two trades of Bowyer and Fletcher should be kept entirely separate, and no man engaged in one trade was to meddle with the other in any way; anybody so doing was to pay to the City Chamber 40 shillings for the first offence, £4 for the second, and so on, the fine being doubled for each successive offence.  This petition was granted, and thus the Worshipful Company of Fletchers came into existence.


Second paragraph from The Fletchers and Longbowstringmakers of London by James E Oxley, 1968

Image reproduced by kind permission of the London Metropolitan Archives