The Livery of The Glass Sellers

The suits of livery, from which the London Companies derive their name, are a distinct relic of feudalism. Originally, “livery” meant the allowance of food and clothing to retainers and officers of great households, whether a Baron, monastery, college or guild. The term came to be restricted to the wearing of a type of clothing whereby the order, guild or allegiance of the wearer could be recognized.

The livery suit, hood, badge or other cognizance became a symbol also of privilege and protection. At first, the wearing of distinctive clothing by the Freemen of the City was a matter of domestic concern depending often on the prosperity of the trade. The wealthier companies provided clothing for their Freemen and new suits for ceremonial occasions.

Later, the companies began to restrict the wearing of a livery to the elders of each guild and, from 1560; the Court of Aldermen decreed that no further companies should assume a livery without its consent. Thus clothing came to divide the companies into two classes, those whose members could wear a livery and those who were still awaiting the privilege.

The Glass Sellers Charter was enrolled in the Chamber of London on 20th September 1664. However, it appears that, between 1664 and 1684, the Company assumed the right to have distinctive clothing or livery without the usual licence from the Court of Aldermen. However, this situation continued to cause embarrassment, particularly when others enquired “Quo Warranto”? The influence of this resulted in some members leaving the Glass Sellers to join other liveries.

This situation continued but, in about 1710, a revival took place in the state of the Glass business, and the number and character of the Company consequently improved. The Company decided to regularize their livery and applied to the Court of Aldermen for approval. However, circumstances had changed and, when the Court of Aldermen granted approval on May 8th 1712, it came with a new restriction – a limit to the number allowed in the Glass Sellers Livery.

The colour of the Glass Sellers since 1664 was Azure Blue. However the only ribbon available during WW2 was blue and maroon, so the colours changed at that time to Azure blue and Murrey Maroon, which have since been retained in the new 2009 Coat of Arms.

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