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  • William Cary (1529 - 1572)
    Will of Richard Cary, the younger, dated 8 August 1569, mentions my brother William Carie's two children, that is, to William Carye and Anne. Will of William Carye of London, clothworker, dated 2 Mar...
  • Maurice Abbott (c.1520 - 1606)
    I am contacting you about the information listed under Maurice Abbot born circa 1540 England. There are too many sons, he only had 6. You can see a picture of the brass plaque in their church in Guil...
  • Thomas Hewett (1515 - 1576)
    : Birth: ABT 1515 in prob. Laughton-en-le-Morthen, South Yorkshire, Wales 1 Note: Thomas was employed by his brother, Sir William Hewett, who had been admitted to the freedom of the Clothworkers Compan...
  • Sir William Hewett, Lord Mayor of London (c.1496 - 1567)
    William Hewett was born in 1496, in Wales, then a hamlet of Laughton-en-le-Morthen. He was the son of Edmund Hewett, of the same place, and grandson of Nicholas. He followed the trade of a clothworke...
  • Christopher Hill (1582 - 1629)
    Christopher Hill was baptized at Hertford All Saints on 12 August 1582, son of Nicholas Hill of London. Christopher Hill, "householder," was buried at St. Mary le Bowe in London, 9 January 1629/30. He ...

The original craft of the Clothworkers was the finishing of woven woollen cloth: fulling it to mat the fibres and remove the grease, drying it on tenter frames (from which derives the expression ‘to be on tenterhooks’), raising the nap with teasels and shearing it to a uniform finish.

Clothworkers include:

  • Dubbere - cloth dubber, one who raises the nap of cloth
  • Felter - cleaner and thickener of cloth
  • Fuller - fuller of cloth, one who shrunk and thickened woollen cloth by washing, heating and pressing
  • Shearman - one who raised the surface of woollen cloth and then sheared it to a smooth surface; cutter of woollen cloth
  • Tucker - cleaner of cloth goods
  • Walker / Waulker - fuller; cloth trampler or cleaner

The image above shows "the washing of the wool and hanging up of Woollen Cloth". In the old process woollen cloth was then "fulled" (a process of shrinking the cloth by applying, dampness, heat and pressure to the cloth). Depending on the part of England where they lived three surnames developed for people who completed this part of the operation: Walker in the north and mid lands, Fuller in the south-east and Tucker in the south-west. Walker developed because the men who fulled the cloth did so in part by walking on it.

Next the cloth was "dressed" and "finished". The dressing involved drawing out any loose fibers from the cloth with teasels which also raised the nap. The men on the right in the above image (called "the working of wool") are "dressing" the cloth. The combs in their hands have teasels attached to them.

Next the nap was cut with shears as closely as possible the surface of the cloth so that the surface appeared smooth. The image of "the Shear -mans work" shows the shears in the upper left and the shearmen below. Cloth drawers (or finishers) inspected the cloth and used a needle to make any necessary repairs to small holes or blemishes in the fabric.

Finally the cloth was pressed and packed for market.

Worshipful Company of Clothworkers, London

Until about 1800, an adult male practising a trade or craft in or around the City of London would almost certainly have been a member (freeman) of one of the City of London livery companies. He would probably have served an apprenticeship and been a member of a company corresponding with his occupation, almost all of which are known as the "Worshipful Company of..." their relevant trade, craft or profession.

The Worshipful Company of Clothworkers was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1528, formed by the amalgamation of its two predecessor Companies, the Fullers (incorporated 1480) and the Shearmen (incorporated 1508). It succeeded to the position of the Shearmens' Company and thus ranks twelfth in the order of precedence of Livery Companies of the City of London.

Tracing your Ancestors

If your ancestor was a Citizen and Clothworker of London he or she should appear in the Company’s membership records.

The Company's Archive holds Registers of Freemen from 1545 to the present day and Registers of Apprentices survive for the period 1606-1908. These records represent the Company’s best source of genealogical information about its past members.

These records are available to search online via the Records of London's Livery Companies Online - ROLLCO, a freely accessible resource.

Tuckers Hall, Exeter, Devon

Tuckers Hall is one of Exeter's most significant historic buildings. It has been the home of the Incorporation of Weavers, Fullers & Shearmen since 1471.

A list of Masters of the Gild of Weavers Tuckers and Shearmen of Exeter 1525-1968 is available here.

Please add apprentices and those who worked as clothworkers to this project.

Weaving in Yorkshire - Washing of finished cloth and Finishing