Many people meeting us for the first time assume that the Spectacle Makers’ Company is one of the “modern Liveries” founded in the 20th Century. In fact, the Company was founded in 1629 at the petition of craftsmen who had established their trade over many years and wanted it to be protected and recognised.

We know the names of the first Master and Wardens and the Clerk from the original Charter. We can also see something of the lives of the members of the Company at that time from the Company’s rule book, the Book of Ordinances of 1630. Important information has also recently come to light about the first Master, Edward Gregorie, who was a Master Goldsmith and Robert Alt, probably his Upper Warden and one of the founders and petitioners for incorporation of the Company. After the death of Edward Gregorie, his widow Martha kept trade and family together by marrying Robert Alt. She herself appears to have trained several Spectacle Maker apprentices. Robert and Martha Alt were buried in the churchyard of St Ann, Blackfriars, only steps away from the Company’s current base in Apothecaries’ Hall.

Like most of London, the Company suffered in the flames of the Great Fire of 1666. All the records, other than the Charter and the Book of Ordinances were destroyed. It is only thanks to the quick thinking of the Clerk, we believe, that these documents were carried safely away out of the City.

The original Charter and the Book of Ordinances are held by the London Metropolitan Archive and are available for public inspection by advance request. 

The London Metropolitan Archive also holds other important archival records of the Company including quarterage records, lists of Freemen and minute books, including the oldest Minute Book of the Company dating from 1666, just after the Great Fire of London.

The Guildhall Library also holds all other important records of the Company including quarterage registers and minute books, including the first Minute Book of 1666, begun just after the Fire.