Selection of Events in the Coopers History


The Middle Ages

Coopers appeared before Mayor and were fined for 'Contempt of King and Mayor'
Original Deed of land in Basinghall Street.
Coopers applied to Mayor and Aldermen to restrain some coopers for making vessels for beer or other liquors from soap or oil tuns.
Vessels for liquor to be made only of pure wood.
Each cooper to have his own mark of iron with a copy kept at Guildhall.
Wardens sworn into office before Mayor and Aldermen.
A petition to Mayor and Aldermen from Wardens for another ordinance to regulate the trade.
The "Vellum" book-the earliest known record book of the Company giving the names of two Wardens, William Downinge and John Browne and 40 brethren.
A further petition to the Mayor and Aldermen to regulate the trade.
The Mayor and Aldermen passed an ordinance that all vessels made from inferior wood be burnt.


First record of a search by the Wardens resulting in threescore barrels, kilderkins, and firkins for herrings being seized and burnt at the Standard (a water conduit) Cheapside in the presence of the Mayor.



The Tudor Period

1485 John Baker Upper Warden.
1488 Wardens applied to Mayor and Aldermen for extended rules and orders for the better government of the trade.
  Earliest record of apprentices. Twelve were registered on payment of 20 pence each.
  John Baker's Bequest-his property known as "The Swan" in Basinghall Street to pass to the Company, after the life interest of his widow, if Charter of Incorporation granted.
1495 The first record of a cooper's mark.
1501 29th April. Royal Charter granted by Henry VII stipulated a Master, two Wardens.
1502 Hugh Crompe the first to hold office as Master
1509 27th September, Grant of Arms by Henry VIII. Motto "Gaude Maria Virgo".
1523 Earliest known Wardens' Account Book.
1531 An Act of Parliament passed to empower the Wardens of the Company to view and gauge all barrels in London and for 2 miles outside. Those vessels approved to be marked with St. Anthony's Cross. The Company authorised to charge one farthing per vessel. Defective vessels could be seized. A company "Sealer" appointed.
1536 Nicholas Gibson, Grocer, built a school and almshouses at Ratcliffe for 30 boys and 14 pensioners. Anthony Knyvett appointed "Black Rod".
1537 Ruling on apprentices. Journeymen coopers one each; Liverymen two; Upper Warden and Master three.
1540 Nicholas Gibson buried in Stepney Parish Church of St. Dunstan's.
1541 Avice Gibson, widow, married Sir Anthony Knyvett. (His father, Thomas, Master of the Horse to Henry VIII).
1543 John Chorley Master of the Company.
  John Heath, Upper Warden, instigated the construction of our first purpose-built Hall. He donated the main timbers and paid the 
workmen for a period of time.
1547 The first Hall was completed. It is thought to have been built in the yard of the house called "The Swan" (next to the churchyard of St. Michael's) that had been left to the Company by John Baker . John Heath, Master of the Company, provided the venison for the celebratory feast.
1549 Sir Anthony Knyvett died. Coopers' Company became tenants of Lady Knyvette at Ratcliffe.
1553 Existing Minute Books of the Company begun. First pensioners were received into the Almshouses at Ratcliffe following Deed of Gift of the Gibson Charity to the Company by Lady Knyvett. John Chorley left Old Wool Quay in the Parish of All Saints Barking to the Company for the benefit of the Ratcliffe Charity.
1554 October. Lady Avice Knyvett dies.
1558 Mary I and Philip confirm the Charter. Old Wool Quay sold to the Crown for £400.

The Elizabethan Age

1559 Elizabeth I confirms the Charter. The Company contributes to the ransom of Baron Thos. Wentworth, Lord of the Manor of Stepney and Governor of Calais.
1563 Pall Cloth made for £70. First appointment of a Renter Warden.
1571-2 Hand decorated Book of Accounts made (still in the Company's possession).
1574 Death of Henry Cloker, Grocer. Under the terms of his Will an annual service to be held at St. Michael's Crooked Lane.
1591 New Pall Chest made (still in the Company's possession).
1599 Peter Thelloe bequeathed half rent of a house in Birchin Lane to the Ratcliffe charity.

The Stuart and Commonwealth Period

1611 Tobias Wood, Standing Counsel to the Company, left £600 to erect 6 additional almshouses at Ratcliffe.
1612 The Company, unable to continue payments, relinquishes share of the City of London's plantation in Ulster governed by the Irish Society.
1643 The Company's plate worth £150-£200 sold to raise the Company's levy of £350 as part of £50,000 to be raised by Livery Companies for the Parliamentary armies.
1653 9th June. Monthly Courts to be held on 1st Tuesday of the month.

Election Day for Masters and Wardens changed from Sunday to Monday before the Feast of Pentecost or Whitsuntide (Common Hall). The Stuart Restoration

1660 The Brazil Staff given by Mr. John Hardy fitted with a silver top of the Company's Arms. A cloth gown to be provided for the Beadle with liverymen paying 2s.6d each towards the cost.
1661 30th August. Charles II Governing Charter stipulated one Master, two Wardens and seventeen Assistants. 1662 First barge of Company built for £178.10s.0d of which £154.10s.0d was raised by the Livery.
1664 An Ordinance made that the seals for sealing casks be kept only by Wardens or their deputies.
1665 May 2nd. Temporary closing of the School at Ratcliffe due to the Plague.
1666 4th September. Plate and records removed by Wardens and Clerk and stored in the house of Mr. Morris, Upper Warden. 5th September. The Company's Hall destroyed in the Great Fire.
1667 Plate and records still to be held at Mr. Morris's house-now Master.
1668 September. First sketches and first list of contributors towards re-building Hall.
1669 March. A building committee appointed consisting of the Master, Wardens and some Court members.
1670 First meeting in new Hall.
1671 Royal Arms carved in wood fitted between windows and paid for by Mr. Mason, Master.
1672 April. Agreed that the Hall could be used for worship on Sundays, and let out for functions such as weddings and funerals.
1678 The Hall finally completed at a cost of £5,000. Subscribed by the Court and the Livery mainly between
1669-1671 October. The Pall Cloth sold for £8 towards cost of the new Hall. April 23rd. The Company surrendered Charter to the Crown.

Revised Charter issued by Charles II.

1686 Second barge built for £80.
1695-6 Ratcliffe Almshouses built.
1703 Henry Strode Master.
1704 6th May. Henry Strode died aged 59. In his will he left £50 to increase pensions of Ratcliffe almspeople, and £6,000 to build a free school and almshouses at Egham.
1706 Strode's school and almshouses built.

The Georgian Age

1715 William Alexander acquired Woodham Mortime Hall with 300 acres.
1718 Third barge built for £352.
1726 William Alexander died. He bequeathed his Essex estate to the Company and its revenue to the poor of the Company.
1741 Bye-laws for regulation and government of Company adopted.
1742 Robert Willimott Lord Mayor. He was the first person to hold office from a minor company.
1743 Robert Willimott elected Master of the Coopers Company. He presented two silver waiters to the Company.
1746 Major repairs to Egham School and Almshouses.
1767 Sir James Esdaile appointed Alderman for Cripplegate Ward and became a member of the Court of Assistants and Master of the Company.
1777 Sir James Esdaile Lord Mayor. He remained a Cooper.
1779 Committee appointed to build a new barge. Nothing came of the proposals so the bargemaster was dismissed. (From then on the Company either shared or hired a barge).
1786-7 Ratcliffe School and Chapel (added by Lady Knyvett) rebuilt at cost of over £1,200.
1793 Common Hall dinners and Lord Mayor's Day dinner discontinued.
1794 Ratcliffe Charity buildings destroyed by fire.
1796 School and almshouses at Ratcliffe rebuilt by insurance money north of old site with the quadrangle facing Schoolhouse Lane.
1802 Ratcliffe Chapel rebuilt and quadrangle paved.
1803 Second Hall used for State lotteries.
1816 Gas Lighting installed in the Hall.
1824 May 31st. Election of Abraham Algar to post of Under Warden. (The first time the Livery had voted for its own candidate.)
1825 May. J.F. Firth elected by Livery to post of Under Warden. (The Upper Warden was A. Algar.)
1826 William Alexander Memorial obelisk erected at Woodham Mortimer (still in existence) marking the centenary of his death. Second Hall no longer used for State lotteries.
1827 25th May at the "George & Vulture" tavern, Cornhill. The Society of the Livery founded to maintain the rights of the Livery, especially in the matter of the election of Wardens.
1828 Almshouses and school at Egham rebuilt.
1831 Felix Booth Master of the Company. David Salomons admitted to Freedom & Livery of Company after
1830 ruling by Common Council concerning the admission of Jews.
1835 Felix Booth made a baronet-due to financial help of £17,000 he gave to Captain John Ross to find North West Passage David Salomons elected Sheriff and member of Court of Assistants.

The Victorian Era

1840 Office of Clerk divided into Clerk-Accountant (non resident) and Clerk-Solicitor (resident)
1841 David Salomons Master of the Company.
1847 J.F. Firth Master of the Company. Sir David Salomons Alderman for Cordwainer Ward after 1845 Act of Parliament allowed Jews to hold municipal office. He established a scholarship at the City of London School to celebrate the event.
1848 J.F. Firth reorganised Ratcliffe School and saved it from extinction.
1855 Sir David Salomons Lord Mayor. 1865 Plans for third Hall approved. Accommodation provided for Beadle but not for the Clerk. The architect Geo. Barnes Williams, Surveyor to the Company.
1867 Offer of £21,000 from the City Corporation accepted by the Company for two-thirds of the site of second Hall. 1868 Third Hall erected. Foundation stone laid on 7th January by the Master C.J. Chadwin.
1869 October. Sir David Salomons made a Baronet. Completion of new Hall at cost of £5,200. 300 boys at Coopers' Company's School. New building for Upper School.
1872 The Master's Badge presented by Thomas Rowland Legg at the end of his year of office as Master.
1873 Mr. Cyrus Legg, Master (brother of Thomas) presented the three gold Wardens' badges.
1874 D. Henry Stone Lord Mayor and Master of the Company.
1875 The custom introduced of a silver medal being given to a new Court member, to be gilded upon leaving the office of Master.
1878 The Company established a Secondary School for girls at No. 141 Mile End Road.
1880 The Girls School moved to larger premises at No. 86 Bow Road.
1884 The City and Guilds of London Technical Institute founded, with the Company being a founder member.
1891 The Stepney & Bow Educational Foundation formed under pressure from the Charity Commissions who forced a merger of the Coopers' Boys School at Ratcliffe with the Coborn School founded in 1701 by Miss Prisca Coborn, on the premises of the latter school for boys at Tredegar Square, Bow. The school named Coopers' Company's School whilst the girls school renamed Coborn School at No. 86 Bow Road.
1894 Old Ratcliffe Almshouses demolished, and the inhabitants pensioned off.
1898 The girls Coborn School moved to new premises at No. 29-33 Bow Road, and opened by HRH Princess Christian.

The 20th Century

1904 Andrew Chalmers, Master of the Company, presented the silver-gilt chain to be worn with the Master's badge.
1908-9 The Boys School moved from Schoolhouse Lane, Ratcliffe and rebuilt at Tredegar Square, Bow.
1910 Electric light installed in the third Hall.
1912 Strode's Egham Almshouses demolished. A new Secondary School built on the site by Surrey County Council.
1924 A scheme for registering apprentices and for issuing certificates of competence to working Coopers starters.
1937 Harold Griffin, Master, bequeathed 6 houses in Thessaly Square, Battersea to Company.
1940 Sunday 29th December. The third Hall destroyed. Portraits of Strode, Salomons, Felix Booth and Avice Gibson (full length one from the old chapel at Ratcliffe Almshouses) destroyed; also the Master's chair and the wooden mantelpiece and the Royal Arms of Charles II from the second Hall.
1941 Temporary quarters for the Clerk at Carpenters' Hall.
1942 Temporary offices at No. 17 St. Helen's Place, Bishopsgate, and later at Painters' Hall. Court Meetings held at Carpenters' Hall, then Leathersellers' Hall and finally Vintners' Hall.
1957 The site of the third Hall sold to the Corporation of London.
1958 August. The Company acquired No. 13 Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate.
  July. Monthly Court Meetings changed from 1st to 3rd Tuesday in each month.
1959 March. First Court Meeting held in new Hall.
1966 Decision taken to amalgamate the Coopers' Company's and Coborn Schools.
1970 May 6th. The Foundation Stone of new Coopers' Company and Coborn School laid at Upminster. 1974 The new combined Coopers' Company and Coborn School opened by Sir Hugh Wontner, Lord Mayor.
1975 Sir Murray Fox Lord Mayor. The former boys' Grammar School reopened as Strode's VI Form College at Egham. 1976 Sir Murray Fox Master. Restoration completed of ground floor and sub-basement of Hall to provide a Courtroom and Museum and modern cloakrooms.
1978 July. Monthly Court Meetings changed from 1st to 3rd Tuesday in each month.
1979 September. Palmer Charitable Foundation established.
1985 Portrait of Past Master E.W. Palmer by Walter Woodington presented to the Company by the sitter on permanent loan.
1986 Celebration of 450th Anniversary of founding of The Coopers' Company' School by Nicholas Gibson.
  The Court debated and concluded that it was “not minded” to give a lead in granting Livery to women and elected to keep in step with the rest of the City Livery Companies.
1989 August. Flooding from the tenant’ quarters on the upper floors of the Hall caused damage and it was seven months before the Company could reoccupy. 
1992 The Finance Court was abolished and replaced by an Advisory Group with a wider remit.
  April 10th. Blast from a bomb planted by IRA terrorists at the Baltic Exchange extensively damaged the Hall.
1993 Strode’s VI Form College becomes a Corporation
  April 24th. Bomb planted by IRA terrorists in Bishopsgate damaged the Hall to an even greater extent than the previous year. 
1994 Cooper Brian Matson elected as Alderman for Bread Street Ward, but was rejected by the Aldermanic Court. 
1999 The Court voted to admit women to the Livery on an equal basis with men. 
2000 “Love as Brethren” – a history of the Company by Pamela Maryfield published. 
  March. Pamela Maryfield the first lady to join the Livery. 
2001 New Charity , “The Coopers’ Livery Housing Fund” established. 
  April 10th Foundation stone laid for Coopers’ Court in Bow . Partly funded by the Coopers’ Livery Housing Fund” 
  April 30th Quincentenary Anniversary of First Royal Charter - Celebratory Service in St Paul’s Cathedral 
  June. Six more ladies joined the Livery. 
2004 Alderman John Stephen Hughesdon Sheriff
2006 Alderman John Stephen Hughesdon Master.
2007 Alderman Ian Luder, Sheriff.
2008 Alderman Ian Luder, Lord Mayor. 
2011 May. Joint meeting of the two Courts at the Trades House in Glasgow.
  June 17th. Coopers’ Chase opened at Enham Alamein. Partly by the Coopers’ Livery housing Fund.
  “The Worshipful Company of Coopers – The first five Hundred years and Beyond” by Liveryman and Honorary Curator, Jonathan Palmer published
2013 Liveryman Sharon Ashby the first lady to be elected Underwarden.
2016 Alderman Ian Luder, Master. 
  Pastmaster Keith C Brown elected Deacon Convener of the Trades House of Glasgow 
  December. Museum closed after 40 years in order to take commercial opportunity. 
2017 Major exhibits from former Museum relocated throughout Coopers' Hall.
2022 Ms Clare Hughes OBE RD* elected first female Master.