The Tanners Company of Bermondsey
The Tanners Company’s ‘authority’
The Company’s origins in training and regulation was displaced by the Victorian movements that developed technical education colleges for working people, which was actively supported by the City Livery companies especially those in the leather trades and most notably that of the Leathersellers. All of the ‘regulatory’ powers over the trade were in practice annulled by later Parliamentary legislation so that these are a ‘dead letter’. The requirement to be a member of a Company in order to trade seems to be abolished nationally by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 §XIV but we have always retained the status of a legal incorporation and the titles of the officers are those of a guild albeit one of limited ‘authority’ over its members by free association. The ‘jurisdiction’ of thirty miles from the Parish is therefore an archaism. There were craft guilds in the City of ancient status, a list kept by the Brewers Company from 1422 names 111, of which fourteen were leather related trades including a Tanners guild (who are not mentioned in the 1518 list of Companies keeping the watch in the City). However, there is no other Royal Chartered Livery Company of the City of London with this trade as its charge, the Fellmonger would remove the hairs from the hide and although the Curriers Company clearly takes over responsibility next from the Tanners in the processing of leather into useful items, of which there are other ‘leather’ trade guilds, this ends in the chain from manufacture to retail with the Leathersellers.
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