The Charter

Original Charter
Original Charter

The original Charter is held by the London Metropolitan Archive and can be seen by advance request to the Guildhall Library, London.

The Costs of the 1629 Charter

A parteculer note of all the charges laid out for the spectakell makers pattin and ordenances of law

Item given to Mr Stone the counseler for his advise,0-10-0
Item to his clarke that our pettecion,0-1-0
Item to hainlet clarke for his fee,0-4-0
Item to a screvenor for writtinge tow petteseones to the kinge,0-2-6
Item to Sir Signe mownttegou for procuringe a refference,1-0-0*
Item to his clarkes,0-13-4
Item to Mr Tople our soleseter,0-3-4
Item to his man wher upon he coppyed out our patten,0-1-0
Item to Mr Micgill for a coppy of the order maid in the courte of Alldermen,0-[missing ?0-5-6?]
Not yet paide- Item to the officer that named in the commissioners,0-5-0
Item to one Sutcliffe that firste soleseted our cause,2-12-6
Item to Mr Herbarte Wintres For informinge his masters and som of the Aldermen of the equity of our demandes,2-0-0
Item to the recorder for perposinge the copy of our pattin,2-0-0
Item to Sir Signe Monttegeu for the kinges grante,2-0-0*
Item to his clarkes for thear fees,1-15-0
Item to the kinges attorney for perposinge the coppy of our pattin,5-0-0
Item to Mr Alleson for more coppiing our pattin,5-0-0
Item to the kinges attornies chamber keeper demanded by and paid to Mr Alleson,0-12-0
Item to Mr Ottery for procuringe the kings hand to our pattin4-0-0
Item for the signet and prevy seale Mr Tople paid but what I know not sertenly
Mr Bembow Item to Mr Bembo for the great seall as apereth by his bill,18-7-10 (see below)
Item paid to Mr Topple for which he is to account with the company31-19-2
Item to the recorder for perposinge our ordenances,2-0-0
Item to Lord Richardson for perposinge our ordenances5-0-0 *
Item to his clarke,0-10-0
Item more dew to him by promis when his lord shall seall to them,0-10-0
Item to the Lord Hide for perposinge our ordenances,5-0-0 *
Item to his clarke,0-10-0
Item more dew by promis when it is sealed to,0-10-0
Item wee expecte to pay the same all the Lord keepers,6-0-0
Item what the ingrossinge of them will coste wee knowe not,
The som is:98-10-2

By mee John Turlington

15 May 1630

(on reverse) A note of the charges of the spectacle makers patent 15 May 1630


The chardge of the great seale for the Spectakle makers Charter paid to Mr Benbow as followeth beinge almost two skins of velume

The seale9-3-0
The dockett etc.0-11-0
The Ainrollment2-0-0
The document2-0-0
The Officers Fee2-3-4
The docket &c0-13-0
The Clerke1-0-0
Vellume and skyns0-17-6

paid by as above October last
Thomas Copley
John Turlington

(on reverse)

Thomas Copley and John Turlingtons Presentment of £18 7 s 10 d payd by them in October last to Mr Benbow for the Spectacle Makers Charter containing almost two skyns

(5) Per duos ss.


Using the Retail Sales Index, the sum of £98 10s 2d would have been equivalent to c. £14,700 in 2010. £18 7s 10d would have been equivalent to c. £2, 740.

Sir Thomas Richardson (1569-1635) was Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.
Sir Nicholas Hide (or Hyde) (died 1631) was Lord Chief Justice of England, 1627-31.
Sir Sidney (‘Signe’) Montagu (died 1644) was Master of Requests.

Thomas Copley was the Company’s first Clerk.
John Turlington is the first named of the 13 men who, according to the Corporation’s records for 11 November 1634, were translated from the Brewers’ Company to “the Society of Spectacle Makers”. He was appointed one of the first Assistants of the Company in the Charter. The same man (or his son?) is listed as having been Master of the Company from 1665 to1669.

The Bye-Laws of 1630

The original Charter is held by the London Metropolitan Archive and can be seen by advance request to the Guildhall Library, London.


The Supplemental Charter

The Supplemental Charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 May 1956, on the recommendation of the Privy Council.

The Company had petitioned in January 1956 for an expansion in the number of people to be appointed to the Court of Assistants and modernisation of its processes for decision making, to bring it more in line with business practice.

This reflected the great expansion of the optical profession since 1629 and the Company’s role in qualifying entrants to that profession. At the time of the Petition to the Privy Council, the Company had around 4,000 Freemen of the Company who had been awarded its Diploma and were in practice in their communities.

The Supplemental Charter reads as follows:

ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.


WHEREAS by their humble Petition the Company of Spectacle Makers (hereinafter called “the said Company”) have represented unto Us that the said Company was incorporated as one body corporate and politic in deed and in name by Royal Charter of Incorporation granted by His Majesty King Charles the First on the sixteenth day of May and in the fifth year of His Reign in the year of our Lord One thousand six hundred and twenty-nine whereby it was ordained (inter alia) that the said Company should have continuance for ever by the name of the Master Wardens and Fellowship of Spectacle Makers of London and that there should be chosen and named one person to be and to be called the Master and two persons to be and to be called the Wardens of the said Fellowship and that there should be named and chosen eight of the said Fellowship to be and to be called the Assistants of the Said Fellowship with power for the Master, Wardens and Assistants from time to time to choose and name others of the said Fellowship to be Assistans in the place of any of the said Assistants who should die or be removed from his or their office or offices:

AND WHEREAS the said Company by their said Petition further showed and submitted that it would be to the advantage and benefit of the said Company that the number of persons who should be elected and chosen as Assistants of the said Company should be increased beyond the number of eight:

AND WHEREAS the said Company by their said Petition humbly prayed that having regard to the circumstances therein set out We should be graciously pleased to grant to the said Company a Supplemental Charter for the purposes aforesaid:

NOW KNOW YE that We being satisfied that it is to the interest of the said Company that the powers conferred by the said Charter of His Majesty King Charles the First should be extended and varied in manner hereinafter mentioned of Our Special Grace certain knowledge and mere motion have willed granted and declared and Do by these presents for Us Our Heirs and Successors will grant and declare (notwithstanding anything in the said Charter to the contrary) as follows:-

The Court of Assistants of the said Company shall consist of the Master Upper Warden Renter Warden and not more than fourteen Assistants and upon resignation removal or demise of any Assistant or Assistants other or others may be elected in their stead.
The Master or failing him the Immediate Past Master shall be the Chairman of all meetings of the Court of Assistants, but if neither of them be present a Chairman shall be elected from the Past Masters who are present.
The Chairman and six other members present (of whom one shall be a Past Master or Warden) shall form a Quorum.
For the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that the Common Seal of the Company shall be affixed in the presence of the Master or a Past Master or Warden and the Clerk or a Deputy Clerk.
AND WE do will ordain and declare that these presents shall be considered supplemental to the said Charter of His Majesty King Charles the First and shall be construed therewith as one instrument:

AND lastly We do for hide sp Our Heirs and Successors grant and declare that this Our Charter or the enrolment thereof shall be in all things valid and effectual in law according to the true intent and meaning thereof and shall be taken construed and adjudged in the most favourable and beneficial sense for the best advantage of the said Company as well in our Courts of Records and elsewhere by all Judges Justices Officers Ministers and other Subjects whatsoever of Us Our Heirs and Successors any non-recital mis-recital or other defect or thing to the contrary notwithstanding.

IN WITNESS whereof We have cause these Our Letters to be made Patent.

WITNESS Ourself at Westminster the Twenty-first day of June in the fifth year of Our Reign.