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Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

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  • Robert Littlebury, Jr. (bef.1622 - aft.1695)
    BiographyFrom "The Acquisition of Books by Chetham's Library 1655-1700" by Matthew Yeo. GoogleBooks Robert Littleberry was christened on 16 Oct 1622 at St.Botolph, Colchester, Essex, England and he was...
  • Sir George Whitmore, Lord Mayor of London (1576 - 1654)
    Sir George Whitmore (died 12 December 1654) was an English merchant who was Lord Mayor of London in 1631. He supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War. Whitmore was the third son of Willia...
  • Thomas Gale (b. - 1540)
    THOMAS GALE (?? - 1540), London merchant and member of the Haberdasher's Company, married Elizabeth Wilkinson (?? - 1546). Their daughter, ELIZABETH GALE (?? - 1559) married Nicholas Wilford (?? - 1551...
  • Sir Francis Jones, Lord Mayor of London (1559 - 1622)
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    Sir William Ryder, Lord Mayor of London (c.1544 - bef.1611)
    Knight William Ryder in Dictionary of National Biography, 17:539-541 This is not the ancestor of the New England family. Sir William Ryder married Elizabeth Stone of Holme, Norfolk (daughter of Richard...

The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers is one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies of London and was associated with the silk and velvet trades.


It was in 1371 that many of those who had become known as haberdashers did not feel that their needs were being met within the Mercers’ Company so they broke away and declared their own ordinances, or sets of rules, which regulated their activities. They traded from the shops and stalls around Cheapside and probably worshipped together in the old St Paul’s Cathedral in a chapel to St Catherine of Alexandria, who was to become the Fraternity of Haberdashers’ chosen patron saint.

In 1446 the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers was granted its first coat of arms and then in 1448 Henry VI granted a Charter of Incorporation which allowed the Company to own land and therefore have its own Hall for meetings. It became the eighth livery company in the 1516 Order of Precedence. The Company had the right to search haberdashers’ shops within three miles of the City and destroy inferior goods. In 1502 the Company was joined by the Hatters and Cappers and then in 1503 adopted a new name, the Merchant Haberdashers, and were granted an amended coat of arms incorporating wavy blue and white lines to indicate merchants trading across the sea. During the Elizabethan period, some members of the Company were associated with the import and export of goods as Merchant Adventurers.

However as the high fashion of the Elizabethan and Stuart eras gave way to the Puritanism of the Commonwealth the trade of the Company was adversely affected. By the mid seventeenth century other factors, such as the Great Fire of 1666, were also helping to change the emphasis of the Company’s business. As London grew in size it was no longer possible to control the trade by search and as increasing numbers of members’ children did not continue in the trade but were able to join the Company through patrimony - this diluted the Company’s original link to its trade. The overall result was that the maintenance of charitable funds, which had originated over 300 years earlier as a safety net for its members, became the main business of the Haberdashers.


A searchable database of apprentices and freemen 1526-1933 is available at the subscription website Findmypast. Each record includes an image of the handwritten register and a corresponding transcript of the information.

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 Haberdashers' Company to this project.

Back to The Livery Companies of the City of London