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Worshipful Company of Haberdashers

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  • Sir Hugh Hamersley, Lord Mayor of London (1565 - 1636)
    Hamersley's family estate was at Pyrton Manor near Oxford, but he rose to prominence in London as a businessman. 6 NOV 1597 He married Marie (Mary) Dereham daughter of Baldwin Dereham and Margare...
  • Sir Henry Billingsley, MP, Lord Mayor of London (c.1530 - 1606)
    Family and Education b. c.1538, 3rd s. of William Billingsley (d.1570) of London, Haberdasher and Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Harlowe, wid. of Sir Martin Bowes†. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1550; G. Inn 159...
  • Anthony Pargiter (c.1527 - bef.1558)
    Anthony Pargiter was apprenticed to Mr Woodruf of the Haberdashers' Company and in 1548 became a freeman of the company. Mr Woodruf was probably his father in law. Not mentioned in father's 1558 will...
  • Caldwell Farrington (1565 - 1602)
    Caldwell Farrington was apprenticed to Richard Coventry of the Haberdashers' Company and became a freeman in 1624.
  • David Woodroffe, Alderman of London (c.1510 - 1563)
    David Woodroffe, Haberdasher David Woodroffe was apprenticed to John Hill of the Haberdashers' Company and became a freeman of the company in 1526. John Hill was probably his father in law. Sheriff...

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