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The Honorary Freedom of the City of London - An exploration of The Lives of the Great and the Good

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The Lives of the Great and the Good - Honorary Freeman of the City of London is a new book written by William (Bill) Clark, Past Master of the Woolmen's Company and the prime mover behind the annual Sheep Drive over London Bridge, an event that has now become a popular fixture in the City's calendar and for which Bill was recognised with a Highly Commended award by the City Livery Club's Root & Branch Award committee in 2018. I heard of Bill's project to write a book about the Honorary Freemen of the City of London prior to the City Briefing in September 2021. My first thoughts were about how the Honorary Freedom is defined, a topic which it turns out was the genesis of Bill's excellent work, and one I still do not have entirely straightened out in my mind (see below) despite chatting with the Clerk to the Chamberlain's Court (Murray Craig) about it at the end of that City Briefing.  Nevertheless, Bill's book is a masterpiece of penmanship, condensing th

The role of the Gallant, Learned and Honourable Clerk

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Of all the City's many unusual titles and offices, that of the Clerk to a City company or guild is undoubtedly the most diverse and multifaceted, perhaps even the least well understood. The role of the clerk is a curious hybrid and no two clerks have the same job description, duties or terms and conditions of employment. To illustrate the point: Some clerks work full-time, some part-time; some manage a hall where their office is located, others work in rented offices in the hall of another company, some work from home; some have an extensive staff, others are single-handed; some have the benefit of tied accommodation in the City, others must commute to their office. There are even some brave fellows who simultaneously occupy the office of clerk to more than one City company - thus attempting to serve two masters. There are as many differences among the role of the clerk to a City company or guild (hereafter 'company') as there are companies and guilds in the Square Mile. Co

The Livery's Perception Problem - Real or Imagined?

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This blog article was first published in late January 2020. A year on, and considering the impact of the global pandemic, I've decided to reflect on how the image of the Livery has evolved over the past twelve months - principally as a result of wider digital engagement. ---- During 2019 several events occurred that caused me to stop and think long and hard about the way the Livery Companies may be viewed by persons outwith the Livery. Oh to see ourselves through the eyes of others The first event was my response to the Pan-Livery Initiative’s Attitudinal Survey. While I cannot remember exactly what I wrote in response to the survey’s several questions the overall thrust of my submission was informed by my experience of the Information Technologists’ Company. The Information Technologists’ Company is rooted in a modern profession and exhibits a 21st century culture. The Company has admitted women to the Court from the earliest days, indeed the purchase of the Company’s H

The quirks of Livery Company Coats of Arms

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One of the most popular of the lectures I deliver for the Arts Society is that on the Heraldry of the City of London and its Livery Companies. When I offered to repeat the lecture for the Heraldry Society in the summer of 2020 it resulted in over 500 enrolments and a sorry looking wait list! Clearly there is substantial interest in the topic - not least because of it's strong visual appeal. Aside from the immense amount and variety of visual material this topic provides, it is also evergreen as the Livery Companies continue to return to the College of Arms in order to make additions to their armorial achievements or engage the services of heraldic artists to depict their arms in new and innovative ways. Meanwhile new Guilds and Companies without Livery periodically embark on the process of petitioning for arms thereby adding to the emblazoned panoply of corporate arms in the Square Mile. During my exploration of this topic I have discovered an array of heraldic quirks and foibles t