Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks
The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks is one of the Guilds of the City of London. It has no livery, because: "In the 16th century , the Parish Clerks declined to take the Livery on the grounds that the surplice was older than the Livery and was the proper garb of members of the Company." It is not, therefore, technically a livery company although to all intents and purposes it acts as such. It is one of two such historic companies without livery, the other being the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.
Although they have no place in the order of precedence, which governs only liveried companies, The Master, Wardens, Assistants and Brethren of the Parish Clerks of the Parish Churches of the City and Suburbs of London and the Liberties thereof, the City of Westminster, the borough of Southwark and the fifteen Out-Parishes adjacent, are among the oldest City companies. Individual members held property on behalf of the Fraternity near Bishopsgate in 1274. The Company was incorporated by Letters Patent on 22 January 1441/2. Later Royal Charters, granted by Charles I, dated February 1635/6 and February 1638/9, are kept in the Guildhall Library.
The number of parishes at the time of the 1639 charter was 129, of which 108 were in the City of London. A further 21 parishes in Middlesex and Surrey within the Bills of mortality were added between 1639 and 1825. The Company's 150 parishes are listed below.
Churches included in the Charter of 1639:
In the City of London: All Hallows Barking (Berkyngechurche), All Hallows Bread Street, All Hallows the Great, All Hallows Honey Lane, All Hallows the Less, All Hallows Lombard Street, All Hallows London Wall, All Hallows Staining, Christ Church Newgate Street (Greyfriars), Holy Trinity the Less, St Alban Wood Street, St Alphage London Wall, St Andrew by the Wardrobe, St Andrew Holborn, St Andrew Hubbard, St Andrew Undershaft, St Ann Blackfriars, St Ann and St Agnes, St Antholin, St Augustine Watling Street, St Bartholomew by the Exchange, St Bartholomew the Great, St Bartholomew the Less, St Benet Fink, St Benet Gracechurch, St Benet Paul's Wharf, St Benet Sherehog, St Botolph by Billingsgate, St Botolph without Aldersgate, St Botolph without Aldgate, St Botolph without Bishopsgate, St Bride, St Christopher le Stocks, St Clement Eastcheap, St Dionis Backchurch, St Dunstan in the East, St Dunstan in the West, St Edmund King and Martyr, St Ethelburga, St Faith under St Paul's, St Gabriel Fenchurch, St George Botolph Lane, St Giles without Cripplegate, St Gregory by St Paul's, St Helen Bishopsgate, St James Duke's Place, St James Garlickhithe, St John the Baptist Walbrook, St John the Evangelist Friday Street, St John Zachary, St Katherine Coleman, St Katherine Cree, St Lawrence Jewry, St Lawrence Pountney, St Leonard Eastcheap, St Leonard Foster Lane, St Magnus the Martyr, St Margaret Lothbury, St Margaret Moses, St Margaret New Fish Street, St Margaret Pattens, St Martin Ludgate, St Martin Orgar, St Martin Outwich, St Martin Pomeroy, St Martin Vintry, St Mary Abchurch, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Mary Aldermary, St Mary at Hill, St Mary Bothaw, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch, St Mary Magdalene Milk Street, St Mary Magdalene Old Fish Street, St Mary Mounthaw, St Mary Somerset, St Mary Staining, St Mary Woolchurch, St Mary Woolnoth, St Matthew Friday Street, St Michael Bassishaw, St Michael Cornhill, St Michael Crooked Lane, St Michael Queenhithe, St Michael le Querne, St Michael Paternoster Royal, St Michael Wood Street, St Mildred Bread Street, St Mildred Poultry, St Nicholas Acons, St Nicholas Cole Abbey, St Nicholas Olave, St Olave Hart Street, St Olave Old Jewry, St Olave Silver Street, St Pancras Soper Lane, St Peter Cornhill, St Peter Paul's Wharf, St Peter le Poer, St Peter Westcheap, St Sepulchre, St Stephen Coleman Street, St Stephen Walbrook, St Swithin London Stone, St Thomas Apostle, St Vedast Foster Lane, Bridewell Precinct (extra-parochial place)
In the Liberties of the Tower of London: Holy Trinity Minories
In the City of Westminster: St Margaret Westminster
In the Borough of Southwark: St George Southwark, St Olave Southwark, St Saviour Southwark, St Thomas Southwark
Out-parishes in Middlesex: St Clement Danes, St Martin in the Fields, St John Baptist Savoy, St Giles in the Fields, St James Clerkenwell, St Leonard Shoreditch, St Mary Whitechapel, St Dunstan Stepney, St John at Hackney, St Mary Islington, St Katharine by the Tower (Liberty)
Out-parishes in Surrey: St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey, St Mary Lambeth, St Mary Newington, St Mary Rotherfield
Additional parishes within the 'Bills' of which the Parish Clerk may be admitted to membership of the Company:
St Peter ad Vincula (Tower of London), St Anne Soho, St George Hanover Square, St James Piccadilly, St John Westminster, St Mary le Strand, St Paul Covent Garden, Christ Church Southwark, St John Horsleydown, All Saints Poplar, Christ Church Spitalfields, St Anne Limehouse, St George Bloomsbury, St George in the East, St George the Martyr Queen Square, St John Clerkenwell, St John Wapping, St Luke Old Street, St Matthew Bethnal Green, St Paul Shadwell, West Hackney
Coat of arms
The Company was first granted arms on 16 July 1482. The second grant was made in 1582; these were replaced by a new grant on 16 October 1991, which granted supporters in addition to the previous arms, blazoned as follows:
On either side and standing to the front on the capital of an Ionic Column Or and Angel gazing outwards proper winged Or vested of a tunic Argent garnished Or draped over the interior shoulder with a mantle Azure and holding with the interior hand a Trumpet baldrick-wise the bell upwards all gold.
"Unitas societatis stabilitas"
- Parish Clerks website, history section. Accessed 12 November 2012.
Christie, James, Some Account of the Parish Clerks, more especially of the ancient Fraternity of St. Nicholas, now known as the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks. The Company, London 1893; xxii+219 pages
Ditchfield, P.H., The Parish Clerk. (Chapter VIII-The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks pp. 104-114; Chapter IX-The Clerks of London: their Duties and Privileges pp. 115-129; Chapter X-Clerkenwell and Clerks’ Plays pp.130-139.) Methuen & Co, London 1907; x+340 pages. Illustrated
Adams, Reginald H., The Parish Clerks of London. A history of the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks of London, Phillimore & Co, London & Chichester 1971; xiv+152 pages
Ellen, R[onald] G[uy], Clerks' Chronicle. An account of the Parish Clerks' Company of London from 1971-1987. The Company, London 1987; 40 pages.
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