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Charity, the North Star of the Livery Companies

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The City's 110 livery companies are a diverse bunch of organisations and it is fair to say that there is not likely to be much in the way of occupational or professional overlap between the Air Pilots and the Wax Chandlers, but there is one aspect of the life of the livery that is shared by every company and that is their ethos of charitable giving.

Charity is the North Star of the livery and every company is involved in philanthropic activity to a lesser or greater extent as its corporate means, and the means of its membership, permits. A popular internet encyclopaediadescribes several of the livery companies as having lost their connection with trade and transformed in to charitable bodies. This suggests that the livery companies have belatedly become involved with charity, whereas the charitable aspect of their activities has been evident since the earliest times. Moreover most livery companies are still intimately connected with their trade.

While this article focusses on the m…