History of the Company


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The precise origins of the Company fade into antiqity and are unrecorded. It is known that in earliest days, places of worship were the focal point for social and craft life, and most trade guilds came into existence in close association with a parish church.

In 1375, the Guild of St. James, Garlickhythe, was established and the brotherhood of that Guild was certainly an assembly of the early freemen of the Joiners Company.

By reason of their origins, it was inevitable that the Guilds should become involved in charitable works and education, as well as seeking to establish the principles of fair and honest trading and insist upon the maintenance of good workmanlike standards. This also reflected the natural desire of men with a common bond of trade or craft, to join together for fellowship, mutual aid and protection.

Transcriptions of Joiners’ Company apprenticeship bindings and freedom admissions from 1640 to 1720 are included in the British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO) database. It is now available to view online at https://bifmo.data.history.ac.uk and is free at access. I thought that perhaps members of the Company

Dr Laurie Lindey Research Officer, British and Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO)


Message from Mark Snelling August 2015

The earliest reference to a joiner in the City of London records found so far is John de Trillawe, “joignour,” late apprentice of John le Franceys, “joignour,” admitted to the freedom, before Sir John de Gisors, Mayor in 1311.
The Joignours clearly existed as a mystery in 1376 when they came, with 40 other mysteries [guilds], before John Warde, the Lord Mayor.
The connection made between the Joiners and Fusters appears to have been due to a mistranslation of the work Fustarii by Riley in his translation of the 1409 Liber Custumarum in Munimenta Gildhalle Londoniensis.
The fact that the Fustours and the Jognours were separate mysteries would appear to be confirmed when in 1377 members of both mysteries were elected onto the court of common council.
On 18 March 1400 the Mistery of Joynours had their petition to the Mayor and Aldermen to elect two Wardens to govern the mistery and for ordinances for regulating the mistery granted.
Notably on the same day in the same meeting Thomas Bristow, “fustour,” was discharged by John Fraunceys, the Mayor, from serving on juries, owing to increasing age. This further highlights that the two mysteries were separate but concurrent mysteries.
The Guild of St James Garlickhythe established in 1375 to nourish good fellowship. I was not started by the Joiners, nor was it a predecessor of the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers, but was adopted by them as there was such a large concentration of them in the vicinity. The adoption of it specifically by joiners can be seen by the members of the fraternity not necessarily being parishioners of St James Garlickhythe, but joiners coming from other parishes.
On 14th April 1571 a Charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth I to “the mystery or faculty Junctoriim et Celutormii”.
A ‘Junctoriim’ was a Joiner however according to Dr. Laura Wright, Reader in English Language at the University of Cambridge ‘Celutormii’ is a Latinised agentive noun:
• from the Middle English noun celature ’embossed or carved work’;
• from Latin caelatura; (the celatormij are the people who do the embossing or carving);
• with the Middle English verbal noun celing (celuring was “The act of lining or paneling – the walls or ceiling of a room; paneling – as on walls or ceiling; and also, a lining of metal or tile.) [defintions from the Middle English Dictionary by Hans Kurath].
Latham’s British Latin dictionary published by the Oxford University Press has the same root with meanings of ‘ceil, panel, carve’. In Anglo-Norman, the celatour is a carver. Essentially the root of the word crosses Anglo Norman French, Middle English and Medaeval Latin but means ‘carver, paneller’ in all three.
This would explain why the Company was known for many years as the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers or Carvers and sometimes Joiners, Ceilers and Carvers. It does not however mean that Ceiling means Carving, a fact that was clarified in 1632 when in documents created, in response to a dispute between the Joiners Company and the Carpenters Company, both Carving and Sealing (Ceiling) were included separately on a list of activities that fell under the joiner’s jurisdiction.
“Item all sorts of Wainscott and sealing of Howses”
“Item carved works either raised or Cutt through or sunck in with the grounds taken out with wrought and cut with carving tools without the vse of plaines.”
The meaning of ceiling is confirmed in the Carpenters account book. In 1500 a sum was:
“Itm: paid to a Joyner for Selyng of pe (the) plar (parlour) and making a chest iiij formys & a tabyll”;
“itm: paid for xxiiij waynyscots for the selyng of pe (the) plar (parlour)”;
and in 1572 the sum of £30 was had “out of the blake chest” for “the seling of bothe the sids of the hall to be wainscoted with wainscott in man and forme as the vpper end of the hall is wainscoted.”
Wainscot; (Dutch Wayschot) is a term usually applied to the wooden lining of walls in panels. The wood originally used for this purpose was a dutch oak hence the name of the material became attached to the work itself.
In 1579 there is also reference in the Carpenters account book to a sum: “paide to the Carver for carving the Armes of the companie”
The historical records would therefore appear to confirm the information given within the Middle English Dictionary by Hans Kurath which define Ceiling (also sel-, Syl-schyl- [From celen]) as “The act of lining or panelling (the walls or ceiling of a room)”.
Interestingly the Middle English Dictionary defines a Joinour (also joinor, joignour, joiner) as “ maker of furniture, small boxes, handles, etc. also a wood carver.”

Today there are 108 Livery Companies of the City of London. A dozen of these are known collectively as “The Great Twelve”, nd include the wealthiest and most powerful. They reflect the ascendancy of the Merchant Guilds over the Manufacturers, (represented by the Craft trades) of which there is an echo in our social and economic life today.

The Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers has ranked 41st in the list since 1515 when the order of the Companies was last approved by the Court of Aldermen. This order, however, is not  based on chronology.

Joiners-Hall-Site-20071-200x150Joiners Hall

By 1500 the Company had acquired land in Thames Street and a Hall was built on it sometime between 1518 and 1551 but, sadly, the building was destroyed in the 1666 Great Fire of London. History records that it was rebuilt and destroyed — or at least badly damaged — several times more between 1680 and 1811, on the last occasion once more being razed by fire.

By the 18th century, the impoverished state of the Company’s finances meant there was no option but to liquidate the  contents and let it as a warehouse. The minutes of the Court of Assistants, dated December 12, 1799, state: ” All the ornaments, property and effects in the Hall to be sold, excepting the silver cup and cover, the painting over the fireplace, the colours, the Masters carved Chair [now in the Victoria and Albert Museum], poor box, hammer, Beadle’s staff and four spoons, with the dates named, the painting to be delivered to the Chamberlain Clerk to take care for the Company”

This painting — showing the then Joiners Court of Assistants inspecting the plans for the new Hall — now hangs in the Guildhall, on permanent loan to the Corporation of London.

By 1806 the Hall was again in such a dangerous condition that the leaseholder, Mr Cookson, had cause to complain to the Company, but after it was destroyed by fire in 1811, he agreed to rebuild it as a purpose-built warehouse, in which role it survived until it was finally destroyed in 1940, this time by German bombers in the London Blitz.

The site was acquired by the City Corporation in 1951 as part of the post-war regeneration scheme.

Past Masters




View the Company’s Past Masters right back to 1855 here

Armorial Bearings

The Arms were granted on the August 10, 1571 and are reproduced on the Great Seal of the Company, although similar arms were in use by the Company before 1530. The 1571 seal bears the motto “GOD GRANNTE US TO USE JUSTICE WITHE MERCYE”.

This was changed in 1769 to the present: “JOIN LOYALTY AND LIBERTY” a political slogan associated with John Wilkes, who was the Worshipful Master in 1774. The statue of Past Master John Wilkes can still be seen in the middle of Fetter Lane, London.

The supporters originated early in the 18th century and are associated with the Boyce family. Past Master William Boyce was a significant figure in music. Although th full armorial bearings have been in use for over 200 years, it was not until 1995 — following Letters Patent completed by the Lancaster Herald of Arms — that submissions were made to the College of Arms for recognition and acceptance.

Company History


The exact date of the founding of the Joiners and Ceilers — or Carvers — Company  is unknown but it must have existed as a Craft or skilled brotherhood by this date. It received civic recognition in 1269 when  William le Joynier, the Mayor of London, “builded ye choire of ye Grey Friars Church of London”.

Although it is not certain that le Joynier was a joiner or carver by trade, he must be admired for the fact that he refused to recognize a Sheriff who had purchased his office from King Henry III. His stubborn resistance finally led to Le Joynier being removed from the office of Mayor by the King.


JACOB LE JUNCTOR OR SEELER – Master Joiner and Carver to Archbishop at Canterbury. Carver at “Alter Serene” at Westminster Abbey.


POLYT, Walter – “Whitawer Fuster or Joiner” — Master Joiner mentioned by Riley in his “Memorials of London Life”.


A “serious affray” arose on May 20, 1327 when the Saddlers were accused of physically maltreating  the Joiners and Ceilers, Loriners and Painter Stainers, over some years, and refusing to pay  amounts due by them to members of these crafts. The amount owed to the Joiners in particular was £10. 11s 4d.  (worth as much as £2.5 million in 2014)

The Companies joined forces to compel the Saddlers to pay their debts and punish them for their maltreatment. The Saddlers called all their craftsmen to assist and things took such serious proportions that they “manfully began to fight as well in the Chepe as in the Street of Cripplegate” and it became so serious as to be hardly appeased through the intervention of the Mayor and Aldermen.

The Mayor, however, made judgement in favour of the Joiners, Loriners and Painters. He also decreed that “if either side to the dispute shall be convicted to breach of the judgement then the offending party shall pay to the other and in addition shall pay to the Mayor 15,120 bottles of wine”.


The forming of the Guild of St James Garlyckhythe was undoubtedly the first official recognition of the Guild of Joiners or Ceilers as distinct from the trade craft granted in 1269.


Petition of the Joyners to elect two Wardens for the Government of the Mistery March 18, 1400.


SERLE, Simon and Richard Resioun Magrd are sworn in by the Mayor as Wardens to faithfully rule the Faculty.


HAYWARD, Thomas – Carver and also Leatherseller. First to produce fancy leather by stretching wet sheepskin or scivers over wood carvings. Also presented first “Hall”.


RYPLEY, John – Chief Joyner to the King [Henry VIII] at a salary of XVIII.Vs. In list of “feoffees” of Joiners’ Company 1518 and 1529. Rypley was churchwarden at St. Margarets, Westminster, between 1542 and 1544.


RYDGE, Richard – History at Hampton Court (Ernest Law): after the death at Wolsey (1538) an item in the old accounts relating to the carved tracery is as follows: “Payde to Richard Rydge of London, Carver, for cuttyng and Kervying of 32 lintells wrought with the Kyngs Badges and Queynes standing in the screnes within the Kyngs Newe Haul 2/2 the pece”. Richard Rydge served on the Court of Assistants in 1572.


CHAPMAN, Edmond – Joiner to  Queen Elizabeth and Yeoman of her Armoury at Greenwich (Epitaph in St. James, Garlickhithe Church, 1588). Court of Assistants, Joiners’ Company 1572.


Plague broke out in the City resembling spotted fever and fatal in 4 to 5 days. ” All Livery Companies forbidden to assemble during the time of this visitation excpet for ther annual election of Officers of the City.”


King Charles I attempted to level “ship monies” upon the City Companies, which they resisted. Lord Mayor requiring them to provide ammunition & gunpowder, matches, bullets from each Company’s store, Sep 1640: Charles levied a “loan” upon the Companies through the Lord Mayor of £200,000 each Company to pay according to rank & poll The Joyners met their obligation of £50. Some of the Companies had sold their Hall and silver to meet the demands , but of those who failed to pay the Wardens were sent to Newgate by the King.


0n 30th Nov 1648 Sr Thos Fairfax advised the Lord Mayor of his intention to demand another loan of £40,000 to pay his troops, and if this we would billet his troops in Livery Halls instead of private houses. Joiners Hall served as a barracks for his troops.


EMMETT, William – “In the reign of Charles II William Emmett was sculptor to the Crown before Gibbons and had succeeded his uncle one Phillips” (Walpoles: Painters, etc.). William Emmett apprentice of Henry Phillips made free 1660.


SIMPSON “THE JOINER” – employed by Samuel Pepys, himself a Liveryman of the Clothworkers’ Company. Simpson (or Symson) the joiner is mentioned no less than six times in the diary of Samuel-Pepys, but in no case is his Christian name given. He carried out much work for the diarist, including the finely carved “presses” or bookcases. These presses were left to Magdalen College, Cambridge, by Pepys, and are still there. During this period there were five members of the Company named Simpson. Three of them, Richard, Walter and Tobias, are referred to on one occasion each in the Joiners’ records. Stephen, who took four apprentices between 1624 and 1641, and (most probable of all) Thomas, who had ten apprentices, and must have been in a fair way of business. He fined for Renter Warden in 1685, and became a member of the Court of Assistants in 1686.


King Charles II demands a loan £100,000 to support the war with Holland, and extorted this from Livery Companies, Most Companies, who exchequers were empty by now had recourse to borrowing their contribution at interest.


POULTNEY, Thomas – Carved the screen which divided the Chancel from the body of the Church, the pulpit, and the King’s Arms at the Church of St. Peters, Cornbill, when the Church was rebuilt in 1680. Several of the Poultney family were members of the Joiners’ Company.


Charles II, being vexed by the spirit of opposition shown by the citizens of London to his desires and with the intention of rendering the City more amenable to his wishes, proceeded against the City Companies by a writ of Quo Warrant and obtained the arbitrary forfeiture of the City Charter, also of the City Companies’ Charters with the object of appointing his own men well disposed to him to the Court of each Company. Meeting summoned regarding King’s demand that the Company surrender its Charter. Charter surrendered to King James on advice of Lord Mayor 27th July 1886. Master and Wardens removed from office by King’s command.


HOPSON, Charles – Joyner and Carver. In the reign of Queen Anne, employed by her in works at Whitehall, also Chelsea College, etc. Livery 1685-Master.1708-Sheriff of London.


PEPYS, Charles – Joiner (Cousin of Samuel Pepys)

James II in view of intelligence that the Prince of Orange was contemplating invasions on November 19 restored City Charter and Companies Charters and all privileges, of which the Liveries had been deprived. As a new Charter was not acceptable to Joiners, the old Charter was allowed to stand in Toto In the 2nd year of the reign of William and Mary an ” Act for reversing the Quo Warranto against the City of London and for restoring the City of London its rights and privileges was passed.


ALLEN, Lewis — His Majesty’s Carver at Portsmouth — Summoned for Steward 1691. Indentures sent to Ports~ mouth in 1696 so that he might bind an apprentice.


MAlNE, Jonothan – Carved the ornaments of the Morning Prayer Chapel at St.Paul’s (referred to in Stowe’s London). Livery 1694. SANDERS, Capt. Richard – of King Street, Cheapside. Carved the Giants, (Gog and Magog) in Guildhall and was paid £70 for them. 1707 (Timbs London). Livery of Joiners’ Company 1694. JONES,Robert – King’s Carver at Woolwich.


MAYUN, Joseph -– Bellows maker and carver to the King.


FLITCROFT, Henry – Joiner and Architect 1697-1769. King’s Comptroller of Works in England. Sheriff 1744.


BISHOPP, Richard – Joiner, became tipstaff to Lord Justice King.


ROBINSON,Samuel – Clerk of the Company 1724 – 1127. Elected Chamberlain of the City 1728.


BOSON, John – Carver in the Prince of Wales’ household 1737. Livery 1730.


DOWBIGGIN, Launcellot – Joiner and Architect of Islington Church 1754. Livery 1731. Master 1756. SMALWELL, John – Master Joiner to King George II. Livery 1710. (Master-of-the Company 1731).


FLITCROFT Henry, Joiner Nominated Sheriff


RICHARDS, James – Master Carver to King.


SMALLBONE, John (Jr.) – Master Joiner to King.

DR WILLIAM BOYCE 1711-1779, celebrated english composer was Master of the Company.

Born in London, Boyce was a choirboy at St Paul’s Cathedral before studying music with Maurice Greene after his voice broke. A house in the present choir school is named after him. His first professional appointment came in 1734 when he was employed as an organist at the Oxford Chapel. He went on to take a number of similar posts before being appointed Master of the King’s Musick in 1755 and becoming one of the organists at the Chapel Royal in 1758.

When Boyce’s deafness became so bad that he was unable to continue in his organist posts, he retired and worked on completing the compilation Cathedral Music that his teacher Greene had left incomplete at his death. This led to Boyce editing works by the likes of William Byrd and Henry Purcell. Many of the pieces in the collection are still used in Anglican services today.

Boyce is best known for his set of eight symphonies, his anthems and his odes. He also wrote the masque Peleus and Thetis and songs for John Dryden’s Secular Masque, incidental music for William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Cymbeline, Romeo and Juliet and The Winter’s Tale, and a quantity of chamber music including a set of twelve trio sonatas. He also composed the British and Canadian Naval March “Heart of Oak”. The lyrics were later written by David Garrick for his 1759 play Harlequin’s Invasion.

Boyce was largely forgotten after his death and he remains a little-performed composer today, although a number of his pieces were rediscovered in the 1930s and Constant Lambert edited and sometimes conducted his works. Lambert had already launched the early stages of the modern Boyce revival in 1928, when he published the first modern edition of the Eight Symphonies (Bartlett and Bruce 2001). The great exception to this neglect was his church music, which was edited after his death by Philip Hayes and published in two large volumes, Fifteen Anthems by Dr Boyce in 1780 and A Collection of Anthems and a Short Service in 1790 (Bartlett 2003, 54).


HORNE, Robert-Drum maker and Carver to the King.
See pictures of Robert Horne drum.


WILKES John, the great freedom fighter of his day and noted as the founder of Freedon of the Press” admitted to Freedom of the Joiners Company by Redemption and elected to the Livery.


WILKES John nominated as Alderman of Faringdon Ward Elected MP for Middlesex seven times.


WlLKES, John–Master of the Company 1770 Lord Mayor 1774, Chamberlain of the City 1779. To this remarkable man with many good qualities and some very bad ones – the cause of much rioting and disorder the country at any rate owes the liberty of the press to publish reports of proceedings in parliament which they had previously not been allowed to do.


LEWES, Sir Watkin (1740-1821) was the son of a Welsh clergyman and born in Wales. educated at Shrewsbury School and Cambridge. He was a Lawyer. He was master of his Masonic Lodge The Lion and Lamb in 1789 having been initiated in 1781. Alderman for Lime Street Ward, Master Joiner and Sheriff in 1772 and Lord Mayor 1780. MP for City of London 1781 until 1796. Died in the London Coffee House within the bounds of Fleet prison where he was imprisoned for debt on 13th July 1821 having spent his acquired fortune in election expenses for parliament in Worce` ster.


DAVIS, John – Coach carver (late Master of Coachmakers’ Company).


CLARK, Richard – 1776 Sheriff-Lord Mayor 1784. City Chamberlain 1810.


FAY, William – Musical Instrument Carver to the King.


LANGTON, John – Sheriff.


Salters’ Company pay five years’ dividend on Company’s interest in Irish Estates (Gascoignes “Stowe’s London” gives a good account of Joiners’ Company).


New Master’s chair ordered to be made; Edward Newman carved it (Master in 1749)-now on display at Victoria and Albert Museum.


Due to death of King George II, Lord Mayor’s Day cancelled. Company stand not set up, and Livery not required for procession.


John Wilkes, a great freedom fighter of his day, admitted to Freedom of Joiners’ Company by Redemption, and elected to Livery.


John Wilkes nominated as Alderman of Ward of Farringdon. Elected M.P. for Middlesex seven times. (Ref.: “Wilkes and the City” by Sir W. P. Tfeloar.)


Dr. Wilson, prebend of Westminster, admitted to freedom and Livery. John Wilkes, Master of Joiners, nominated Sheriff of London, the Company pays his fees to the Chamberlain. John Wilkes Lord Mayor 1774. Dr. Wilson presents Loving Cup (still used at Livery Banquets today). Sir Watkin Lewes takes Livery of the Company. The first mention is made of turtle soup being served to the Court.


Sir Watkin Lewes nominated as Sheriff (Lord Mayor1780) – Company hire Drapers’ Company’s Barge for the Lord Mayor’s Day.


Two Door lackeys engaged for the Ladies’ Feast-Lord Mayor’s Day stand erected in Cheapside. Twelve Whistlers.


The Oil painting of the Joiners Court sitting in the Joiners Hall and now placed on the end wall of the staircase area of the Guildhall, was commissioned at this time.


KIRK, Adam K. – Sheriff-Master 1965.