Worshipful Company of Carmen
The Worshipful Company of Carmen is one of the Livery Companies of the City of London. Carmen, or drivers of carts, caused upset in 1481. The King conscripted carts to carry his wine allowing rural carters to force food prices up. By offering to provide the King's carriage and clean the streets the Fellowship of Carmen was established in 1517 with authority to control the cartage trade. Carmen organised themselves into a fraternity and plied for hire. However, this was contested by the Woodmongers' Company, who owned more carts. The Carmen turned to Christ's Hospital, who were short of cash at the time. However by 1597 the Carmen had fallen out with Christ's Hospital, the Woodmongers asserted their control again, and absorbed the Carmen in 1605. However alongside other rearrangements in the haulage trade, the Carmen separated and formed their own fellowship in 1668, but were unsuccessful in gaining the power to regulate carmen, until the Woodmongers became defunct in 1746. The Carmen did not acquire a Royal Charter until 1946.
Now that carts have been rendered obsolete by cars, the Carmen remain as a charitable and ceremonial institution with over 460 Liverymen, 170 Freemen plus additional apprentices. The Carmen participate in the ceremony of Cart Marking, which originated in the rule that no cart could ply for hire unless licensed by the Carmen. Presently, the ceremony involves cars, rather than carts, and involves those who wish to voluntarily take part, regardless of whether they wish to ply for hire or not.
The Carmen's Company ranks seventy-seventh in the order of precedence for Livery Companies. After its acceptance in 1746 there would not be another new livery company until the Honourable Company of Master Mariners formed in 1932. Its motto is Scite, Cite, Certo, Latin for Skilfully, Swiftly, Surely.
- Bennett E. (1952) The Worshipful Company of Carmen of London. A short history, London: Simpkin Marshall
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