Article Index

being, and how they became possessed of broad lands few people now care to think or enquire”.

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.


In 1775 “the Church Wardens of the Synagogue” represented by “Emmanuel Cowan” (Cohen) had been given a licence to rebuild no. 52 Leadenhall Street and were then given an extended lease at a fine of £100. In 1782 the Lessees, now described as “the Elders of the Synagogue”, were allowed to surrender their lease and were given in exchange a new lease expiring in November 1883 at a fine of £300 and a rent of £40 p.a. In 1818 the lessees of nos. 51 (The Cock Tavern) and no. 53 were granted a building lease at a rent of £84 p.a. to expire also In November 1883. We may assume therefore that the 16th century houses well known to us from the two prints of the Company’s Leadenhall Street frontage ceased to exist by 1818 and had been replaced by the typical Georgian facades depicted in William Grellier’s view book of 1849.