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Charter and some Other Records of the Bowyers' Company 1901

In 1901, the Court published the principal documents of the Bowyers in a single hard-back volume which, being bound in red cloth-boards, became known within the Company as the Red Book. These documents were published not just for their historical interest: the Company is still bound by the Charter and Ordinances and, at the time of publication, the will of James Wood was a document of reference in connection with the administration of the charities. The book was printed privately by Shaw & Sons of Fetter Lane and was restricted to only 100 copies. The Court Minutes of 16th January 1902 record the payment of £53 1s 3d to the printers and that the Clerk was directed to send copies to the British Museum and to the London Library.

One additional copy, making 101 in total, is in the possession of Michael Griffith, the grandson of Herbert Edward Griffith who was Clerk at the time of the publication, which is kept with the following letter.

Shaw & Sons
Fetter Lane EC

7th November 1901

Herbert A Griffith Esq
Clerk to the Bowyers Co
11 St Bride's Avenue
Fleet Street EC

Dear Sir

We are enclosing you 1 extra copy of the Charter making 101 in all made up from the waste of the sheets worked from press. This with two file copies which we retain as specimens of our work completed the entire copies printed.

We are, Dear Sir, Yours faithfully

Shaw & Sons

The members of the Court are recorded opposite the title page: Master Sir Douglas Straight LLD, Wardens David John Morgan JP MP, Robert White, Assistants John Brown, Thomas Halhed Fischer KC, Alfred Sangster MB, George Richard Edmunds, Robert William Scobell, Algernon Tatham, Walter Edmunds MD FRCS, Walter Henry Glazier, Edward John Glazier, Charles Bennett Arding, Clerk Herbert Edward Griffith.

The five documents are listed on the title page:


The object of the Court of the Bowyers' Company in printing the present book is simply to produce copies of their Charter, and of certain other muniments, which it is felt could not but be interesting to the Members of the Court, as exemplifying the written history of the Company, for it has been said, with much truth, that the History of every Corporation is bound up in its documents.

It is remarked by Stow in his "Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster" (edition of 1633), and also by Guillim in his classic "Display of Heraldry," that: -

"The Company of Bowyers, in regard that the use of the long bow hath added no mean honour to the English Nation, making it famous in far remote kingdoms, may well stand on a great Privilege of Antiquity, yet their incorporating speaks but of the 21st year of King James."

But the Company had been, as is recited in the Charter, "an ancient fraternity within the City of London" long before, and doubtless were eminent when shooting with the long bow was "a principal munition and strength of this Kingdom in times of War and hostility," before the invention of Gunpowder.

It is also to be noted, as showing the importance of the Society at that time, that the Grant of the Arms as still borne by the Company was made, through the then Wardens, in the 4th year of King Henry VII. (20th November, 1488).

The original Charter delivered to the Society by King James I. was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, by which dreadful calamity the Hall of the Company, as well as most of their books and ancient records, perished.

The Charter of Inspeximus by Charles II. and other documents included in this Book are now printed solely for the use and guidance of the present Members of the Court and their successors in office.

The clerk, Herbert Edward Griffith, compiled a hand-written index at the back of his personal copy and this would suggest that he often referred to in connection with the business of the Court. The Court Minutes of 26th September 1901 record that it was resolved that the Grant of Arms be added to the "Book of the Charter". It would appear that the book had already been type-set for the pages of the Grant of Arms have been numbered as part of the preface and are not included in the main run of page numbering. As the Prefatory Note suggests, the inclusion of the Grant of Arms in the publication was important to establish the antiquity of the Company.


Guide to page numbering Document Pages
Grant of Arms ix - xii
Regrant of the Charter 1 - 29
Will of James Wood 30 - 48
Acts, Order and Ordinances 49 - 80
Agreement for the use of Broiderers' Hall 81 - 82
Accounts, to be audited 62
of Freemen 59
of Livery 57
Alms under James Wood's Will 35
Arms, Grant of ix
Assessments etc 71
Court to be 13 members 6
First 10 appointed 8
Election of 20, 56
Fine for refusing to serve 56, 57
Oath of 77
Audit 62
Appointment of 9
Election of 60
Oath of 79
Bows, see Longbows
Broadcloth, J Wood dole to poor men & widows 35
Broiderers' Company, agreement with 81
Casual Courts 68
Granted 1621 1
Recital 1670 50
Clerk 9
Election of 59
To make out indentures 58
Oath of 79
To enter accounts 62
Cobb John, warden 1674 82
Common Seal 5
Corporate Body 3
Quarter day 65
Special or Casual 68
Cow Crosse, leasehold house in St Sepulchres bequeathed by James Wood 40
Death of master or warden during office 19
Death of assistant 20
Election Day 18
Election of master & wardens 55
Assistants 20, 56
Livery 57
of arms ix
of charter 1-29
Exhibitions, founded by James Wood, 3 at Oxford, 2 at Cambridge 34
Fines & Forfeitures 15
how to be levied 75
Fletchers not to make or sell Longbows 27
Freemen 10
sons of 34
election to livery 57
admission of 59, 73
oath of 78
Government of Company, extent of 24
Gyles, Richard, 1st modern master 7
Hall, company may have 12
to purchase 36
Hitchcocke, Edward warden 1674 82
Isley Walton
manor etc granted to Co by J Wood 33
poor of, 10s every half year 36
Jefferson, John and Jones, William first modern wardens 7
Keys 64
Lands may be held & enjoyed 4, 21, 23
Power to make 13
Power to alter 14
Made 1670 55
Leasing 74
Election of 57
Fine on election 57
Fine for refusing 57
How to appear on quarter day 70
Leasing 74
Election of 57
Fine on election 57
Fine for refusing 57
How to appear on quarter day 70
Loan money £100 42
Long bows 2
To be kept by all City men 26
Shooting with 27
Fletchers not to make or sell 27
Manor see Isley Walton
To be one 5
First master 7
To hold office for two years 18
Election of 55
Fine for refusing to serve 56
Oath of 76
Master's Day 7, 18, 35, 55
Mortmain licence 36
Name of society 3
Oaths of
Assistants 77
Beadle 79
Clerk 79
Freeman 78
Master & Wardens 76
Patent roll of charter 1
Penalties 56
Place of meeting 16
To make laws 13
To raise money 15
To hold land etc 21
To choose officers 17
Quarterage 11, 67
Distress for 11
Quarter day Courts 65
Renter Warden
To give bond with sureties 58
Removal of
Master and wardens 19
Assistant 20
St James' Day
7, 18, 55
St Nicholas Parish
Gifts to, James Wood 47
Sermon of 35
Scholars see Exhibitioners
Seal, Company to have 5
Sermon every 2nd year 35
Shooting with the Longbow 27
Special or Casual Courts 68
Statute 19 Henry VII cap 7 49
Summons, fine for not appearing 57
Swearing reviling falsifying and the like, ordinance against 72
Thursday after St James Day every 2nd year for election of master 18, 55
Thursday come three weeks ie 4th Thursday after quarter day to hold Quarter Day Courts 65
To be two 5
First modern 7
To serve 2 years 18
Fine refusing to serve 56
Election of 55
Oath of 76
Will of James Wood
1st August 1625 30
Proved 29th July 1629 48
Gifts under
To company 33, 40
Poor scholars 34
Poor men & widows 35
St Nicholas Parish 35, 47
Isley Walton poor 36
Yeomanry 36

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