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  • John "The Regicide" Blakiston, MP (bef.1603 - bef.1649)
    Biography John Blakiston (c. 1603–1649), was a member of the English parliament, one of the regicides of King Charles I of England, a prominent mercer and coal merchant, puritan and anti-Episcopalian.[...
  • Henry Isham (aft.1527 - aft.1595)
    Henry Isham , fifth son of Euseby Isham (1486 - 1546) and his wife Anne Pulton, was born about 1527-30; died after May 12, 1595. Henry Isham and his brother, John Isham, were London mercers. Both ...
  • Hon. Edward Rede, 8th Mayor of Norwich (1476 - 1544)
    , Edward (by 1476-1544), of Norwich, Norf; b by 1476, 3rd s. of John Rede of Norwich by Joan Ludlowe. m. (1) Elizabeth Lyston alias London; (2) a da. of William Stanley, prob. of Beccles, Suff., 3s. 2d...
  • Henry Bowler (b. - bef.1691)
    Will of Henry Bowler of Godalming, mercer 16 Feb 1690/1 all my messuage, land and goods to my wife Elizabeth Bowler, exec. in trust for life to settle at her discretion on my children and grandchildren...
  • Richard Bowler (1652 - 1708)
    Will of Richard Bowler of Chiddingfold, mercer, weak and indisposed 25 Nov 1707 £25 given to my daughter Hannah by her grandmother Bowler (my mother) to be paid and 1s; residue to my wife Elizabeth Bo...

The term mercer for cloth merchants (from French mercier, "notions dealer") is now largely obsolete. Mercers were formerly merchants or traders who dealt in cloth, typically fine cloth that was not produced locally. However inventories of mercers in small towns suggest that many were shopkeepers who dealt in various other dry commodities, not only cloth. Related occupations include haberdasher, draper and cloth merchant, while clothier historically referred to someone who manufactured cloth, often under the domestic system.

By the 21st century the word mercer was primarily used in connection with the Worshipful Company of Mercers, one of the twelve great Liveries Companies of the City of London.

Prominent Mercers

Worshipful Company of Mercers, 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 Mercers is the premier Livery Company of the City of London and ranks first in the order of precedence of the Companies. It is the first of the so-called 'Great Twelve City Livery Companies'. Although of even older origin, the Company was incorporated under a Royal Charter in 1394, the Company's earliest extant Charter. The Company's aim was to act as a trade association for general merchants, and especially for exporters of wool and importers of velvet, silk and other luxurious fabrics (mercers).

Tracing your Ancestors

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

The Freemen and Apprentice records are available to search online via the Records of London's Livery Companies Online (ROLLCO), a freely accessible resource.

Please note that not all persons trading as mercers or selling silks in the City of London were members of the Mercers’ Company. This is especially true from the early 18th century onwards when the Company was becoming increasingly detached from its original trade. For information about mercers based outside of the City of London, researchers are advised to check the records of regional guilds in County Record Offices for the appropriate area.

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