[Upholsters.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT.229



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THE Company of UPHOLSTERS or UPHOLDERS, were in elder times of Reckoning and Esteems, and had a Brotherhood or Fellowship among themselves. But concerning their Incorporating I find it not recorded.

In the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's Reign, and perhaps before, great was the Deceit by these Tradesmen used in their Feathers, in their Quilts and Coverlids, in their Quishions for Chairs and Stools. And from 1578, and forwards, most Feathers that were in Sacks came out of the Low-Countries, so packed up, out of the Spoil of Houses, with Lime, Dirt, Dust, Stones and all heavy Rubbish, to make them Weight; that when they did drive a Sack, to make Beds of them, they did garboil out of every Hundred, the Half of such Baggage and Refuse Stuff; and yet the Feathers still remained unmade clean for the Purpose, the Lime would cleave so fast on them. A better sort of Sacks of Feathers came out of Eastland; but near hand as faulty: which in driving fell out a little better, but not much.

Deceit in the Sacks of Feathers imported, &c.

J. S.

All made Stuff, that came out of France for Quilts and Coverlids, for Inns and Husbandmen of the Country, came all stuffed with Cow Hair, taken from the Head by the Tanners. And such Stuff made as came from thence or Flanders in Cushions, or for Chairs and Stools were filled with Thistle-Down, naughty Flocks, and all Baggage in them, that would breed Worms, and eat the Stuff, and stink. And so did they fill all their Mattrasses.

Stuffs for Quilts and Coverlids brought from France, and Flanders.

One Cordel about the Year 1585, sued to the Queen, that considering these Abuses in the Trade of Upholsters, he might be appointed to search and seal their Commodities and to have the Place of a Searcher, and accordingly to seize such as were thus abused, as forfeit by Law. The Lord Treasuter Burghley privately sent Peter Osborn, his Remembrancer, a discreet and honest Man, into the City, to get Information, the best he could, in this Matter. Who, without mentioning Cordel's Suit, asking an Upholster, whether a Search would not help? He said, All Retailers were then undone: For all their Stuff of that kind was such, and forfeited by the Statute. But if it began with the Merchants that brought it in, they would bring no more such, as he thought, till they might have better.

One sues to Search the Abuses of the Upholsters.

Then the Upholster complaining, how the Upholsters were no Corporation, Osborn moved, whether Incorporating them would help, putting the Search thereof into their Hands; he thought it would, if they had Authority: And tho' there were but six of their Company of any Substance, they would bestow and 100l. to have it; that this Suit of the Search which then they heard of, might stay. The Issue was, that Osborn sent the Warden of the Company of Upholsters to the Lord Treasurer. And his Advice was, that Cordel should have some good Sum to procure their Corporation, and some part of the Forfeitures upon Searches, and the Queen adding some little Portion on her part, would advance well Cordel's Suit, and bring a Reformation of a great Inconvenience to the Common Weal.

Thoughts of making this Company a Corporation.

I find again the in Year 1594, publick Complaints made to the Lord Treasurer, of divers Frauds and Mischiefs in Upholsters Commodities: As of the Badness of the Feathers, of their Smelling, of Fen-Down, of Squib and Strick Hair, of stuffing French Quilts with Cows Hair; of Wares made up of Flocks and part of Wool. And for the Redress of these things Petitions were put up by several of the Upholsters: And they (as it seems) the honestest of them. The Lord Treasurer upon this sent his Letters (together with the Petition offered him) to certain of the eminentest, and of them to know, if those Informations were true; and if they were willing a Searcher should be appointed to look into them.

A Searcher for the Frauds of the Upholsters.

These in their Answer (excepting two or three of them, who dissented) acknowledged the Abuses committed in the said Trade were very great, and rather greater than was exprest in the Petition. And that altho' several Laws had been made heretofore in the Times of King Henry VII. and King Edward VI. for Reformation of the said Abuses; yet for want of good Execution, the said Deceits were much more encreased. That in respect whereof, because they that were Traders in the said Occupation, consisting of divers Companies, namely, Upholsters, Drapers, Merchant Taylors, Skinners and Clothworkers, could not conveniently reform the same among themselves, their Desire was, if her Majesty passed any Graunt for the Oversight and Correction of the same Abuses, that then the Person to whom the said Graunt should be made, should call to his Aid and Assistance, as oft as he should oversee any of these Abuses, two or three honest Subsidy Men, of some of the aforesaid five Companies: Whereby no Wrong might be done to any Man, but that the Commonwealth might receive thereby such Benefit as was desired. In the which Course, they assured his Honour, there would be a Reformation of intolerable Abuses, and a general Good done.

Information from themselves of the need thereof.

But whatever Answer they gave, this was opposed by a great many others: Who in another Petition to the said Lord Treasurer, alledged these things; That of Feathers were divers sorts, and that they did much vary in their own Nature: And that it was not possible to make those good that of themselves were bad. That those that smelled could not be made sweet, but by some Continuance of wearing. That the Dust that was in them was by reason of the Dryness and Sandiness of the Soil wherein they were bred. That as for the Rubbish and Quills, they might be put into them by the Parties who had the using of them, and the other by the Negligence of them that had the making of them. Which they humbly beseeched his Honour might be look'd unto by Men experienced in such Cases, of the Company of Upholsters, and not by such as only sought for private Gain. For unless they underhand agreed with the Merchant (which would breed great Inconveniences) it was to be feared that the Merchant, seeing his Wares tossed, garbled and ript up, at length they should have neither good nor bad. That there were none to be found, but Exceptions might be taken against them in some Case: And that the Prices at that Day were so excessive, that where they had been in their Remembrance at 5d. now they were at 8d. the Pound, and not so good. That if they spake of good, there was but one Country, which was France, from whence they came; where they did once a Year pluck their Geese alive, and let them go again. And this was the Cause that no other Feathers would be sweet. Which French Feathers would be but few, if they had no others.

A Searcher opposed.


Secondly, For the Downe, in some Cases they found it to be tolerable: that is, for stuffing of Cushions and making of Bedding for the Poor;