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Worshipful Company of Drapers

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The Worshipful Company of Drapers is one of the 110 livery companies of the City of London and one of the historic Great Twelve.


The Drapers’ Company can trace its history back to the 1360s. The company had its first Royal Charter issued in 1364.

In the Middle Ages, the Company had extensive powers to regulate the woollen cloth trade in the City of London. The Company controlled the sale of cloth at fairs held in the City and set the "Drapers’ ell", or standard measure, by which all cloth was sold. Dealers could only sell cloth to a freeman of the Company.

The medieval member might have had a shop where he sold drapery; wealthier members were merchants, traders in wool and cloth, and financiers.

The expansion of the English woollen cloth trade in the 15th century was reflected in the prosperity of the Drapers’ Company. When the order of precedence of the City Companies was set in 1516, the Drapers’ position was confirmed as being third, after the Mercers and the Grocers.

During the early 17th century, the Company ceased its direct involvement in the drapery trade.

Today, the company operates as a charitable, ceremonial and educational institution.

Over one hundred Lord Mayors have been members of the company; the first, Henry Fitz-Ailwyn, is thought to have been a draper.


Researchers tracing past Drapers should consult the Records of London's Livery Company Online (ROLLCO): This resource provides information about apprenticeships and admission to Company Freedoms.

Another resource that can be consulted is Percival Boyd's Roll of the Drapers' company of London: collected from the company's records and other sources, published in 1934. An alphabetical index of all the known members of the Drapers' Company and their apprentices. The date of apprenticeship is given where known. When there is further information about the apprentice, a second date is given, the year of freedom, the year when livery was taken up, or approximate year of death.

Boyd’s Inhabitants of London & Boyd’s Family Units include the families of members of the Drapers Company. The entire collection is available at the subscription website Findmypast. A project has been started to create profiles and index this collection.

Further reading: Searching for members or those apprenticed to members of City of London livery companies

Please add apprentices, freemen, wardens, and masters of the Drapers' Company to this project.

Back to The Livery Companies of the City of London