Family History enquiries
We receive many emails and phone calls along these lines: "I believe one of my relatives was an optician. They were probably a member of your Company. Can you send me copies of any papers you have about them? "
Whilst we would love to have the time to find out more with you, we do not have a professional full time Archivist. Most of our records are still in their original paper form and are not held on site in our office. Searches can take a lot of time and although we are very happy to point you towards potential sources, we simply do not have the resources to undertake the hard work for you.
The more precise you can be, the better. You will achieve results more quickly if you know full names, their date of birth, an address or at least the town where they lived or practised and dates of Company membership and/or qualification, other memberships or registrations (such as a General Optical Council registration number) and, where relevant, the date and place of their death.
We can check our database but records are not always complete. For Freemen, our records usually only show the name of the individual, their address at the time of membership and the date on which they were admitted to the Company. For Liverymen, there may be slightly more but in most cases, we are still unlikely to have any more information than you would find through online searches.
The following links may be of help :
Ancestry.co.uk (a subscription is needed) - online searches of parish and electoral registers, by name and district
London Metropolitan Archives - holds census records, registers of London parishes and organisations and thousands and documents and images relating to life in the City of London across its history
Guildhall Library, London - Freedom records of several Livery Companies and documents such as minute books can be called up in advance for private consultation in the Guildhall Library
ROLL - Records of London Liveries - an online database of apprenticeship records from some of the older Livery Companies. These records have indicated links between the early Spectacle Makers, Clock Makers and Goldsmiths
The College of Optometrists' Museum - which holds examination registers for both the British Optical Association and the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers as well as thousands of objects telling the history of optics, including historic items from the Spectacle Makers' Company
If you do find a wonderful story, we would be delighted to share it with members in our journal "From The Master & Wardens" and we are always pleased to hear from people whose ancestors were Freemen of the Company and who are themselves interested in continuing the family tradition. Children who were born after their father or mother became a Freeman of the Company or a Freeman of the City of London can themselves apply for membership by the ancient right of Patrimony. Where the direct link has been lost or has skipped one or more generations, membership is still possible but would be by recommendation. Please contact The Clerk for further information.