It was in the spirit of this view of the Livery Companies and the Corporation of London that an increasing feeling arose and began to demand another Commission of Enquiry and reform, the more vocal critic being Joseph Bottomley Firth, a barrister and Liberal Member of Parliament.
It was in response to this growing criticism that another Royal Commission was appointed by Gladstone’s Liberal administration, into the Livery Companies alone, this time it was accepted that the Corporation itself must be left alone. The Royal Commission carried out its investigation between 1880-1884. The result was their report but no recommendations. The Report itself is interesting in that without the guiding hand of Francis Palgrave the Commission accepted what the Livery company representatives claimed were their constitutions, approved ordinances had become charters, and the Quo Warranto Charter in force despite James II’s recantation and Parliament’s Statute.
However, if the Companies were spared the reforming hand of Parliament, they set about the task themselves, it has been called “The Great Awakening”. From that time onwards they directed their energies to raising standards in their crafts and to charitable activities which have continued ever since.