WCSM and the City

The Role of Livery Companies in the City of London

The livery companies and the City of London have developed and adapted together over the centuries to sustain London’s pre-eminence as a financial and business centre.

There are 110 Livery Companies, the “youngest” of which, the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars, received its Charter in 2014. On 12 May 2020, The Company of Nurses was approved by the City’s Court of Aldermen, as a Company without Livery. There are several more Guilds (including the Guilds of Human Resources Professionals, Entrepreneurs and Investment Managers) waiting in the wings.

The Spectacle Makers’ Company is pleased to enjoy very strong relationships with other Companies – particularly the Health Group (the Apothecaries, Barbers, Cutlers and Nurses) and those with interests in science (the Clockmakers, Lightmongers and Scientific Instrument Makers).

The livery companies still provide the City with its 25 Aldermen, and they are responsible for nominating one of them each year to act as its presiding officer, the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Since 1475, Liverymen have also had the exclusive right to elect the City’s Sheriffs. The Spectacle Makers are delighted to have among their Livery Alderman Vincent Keaveny who served as Sheriff of the City of London in 2018/19 and is now Senior Alderman Below The Chair ie next in line to become Lord Mayor, subject always to election.

Alderman Keaveny is the Alderman for the Ward of Farringdon Within, in which the Company’s offices are based. The links have been reinforced by the recent appointment of the Company’s Clerk, Mrs Helen Perkins, as Honorary Clerk for the Ward of Farringdon Within.

The elections of the Sheriffs and of the Lord Mayor take place in “Common Hall” in Guildhall, at the end of June and the end of September, respectively, each year. All Masters of the Livery Companies process into the Hall and all Liverymen who have satisfied the time period for qualification have the right to attend and vote by outcry. We encourage all Liverymen to participate at least once in this traditional ceremony, one of the oldest in the City of London.

Today, the formal link between the companies and the City is through the Livery Committee. The Livery Committee’s website is the ideal way to find out more about Livery Companies: see www.liverycommittee.org

Besides organising and supervising the two annual meetings of Common Hall, the Livery Committee’s key tasks are:

– To maintain a close liaison with the Mansion House and Officers of the City of London Corporation on matters affecting the livery companies generally.
– To research and advise livery companies on current practice and to develop best practice generally.
– To act as a forum to which livery companies can bring matters of concern for discussion.

The Livery Committee organises regular courses for new Freemen and Liverymen, Wardens, Clerks and Masters. Please contact the Clerk for more information.