[The Arms and Crest were confirmed to them by Robert Cook, Clarencieux King of Arms, Anno 1588, and in the Visitation of London, made by Sir Henry St. George, Richmond, Deputy to Sir Richard St. George, Knt. Clarencieux King of Arms; the Demy Lion in the Chief altered to a Lion passant, Gold, 1634. The Master being Mr. John Addison; William Hide and Eusebius Palmer, Wardens.]

Their Hall before the Fire was in Thamestreet; since that they met at Loriners Hall on all Occasions.]

J. S.


[ Click here to view Image of coat of arms, Clarks' or Parish Clarks' Company   ]

THE Company of CLARKES, commonly termed PARISH-CLARKES, I find to be very ancient in Continuance, and stand registred in the Books of Guild-Hall. They became first to be incorporated in the seventeenth Year of King Henry III. and followed on still in all the Princes Reigns, to the ninth Year of our Sovereign Lord King James I.

A Composition was anciently made between the Chamberlain of the City, and the Parish-Clarks, for having the Liberty of the City.

J. S.

They were a Guild or Fraternity for 400 Years and upwards; being first incorporated by King Henry III. Known then by the name of the Brotherhood of St. Nicolas. Whose Hall was near Little St. Helen's by Bishopsgate-street within the Gate, at the then Sign of the Angel. Where the Parish Clarks had seven Almshouses for poor Clarks Widows, as Stow shews. Unto this Fraternity Men and Women of the first Quality, Ecclesiastical and others, joined themselves: Who, as they were great Lovers of the Church-Musick in general, so their Beneficence unto Parish Clarks in particular, is abundantly evident by some ancient Manuscripts at their Common Hall in Great Wood-street. Wherein Footsteps of their gteat Bounty appear, by the large Gifts and Revenues given for the Maintenance and Encouragement of such as should devote themselves to the Study and Practice of this Noble and Divine Science; and in which the Parish Clerks did then excel, Singing being their peculiar Province.

This Company ancient.

Parish Clarks Guide, printed 1698.

King Charles I. renewed their Charter, and conferred upon them very ample Privileges and Immunities; and incorporated them by the name of Master, Wardens, and Fellowship of Parish Church Clarks 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. And of which Privileges this is not the least; viz. That in respect of their great and continual Service, and the Charge which they undergo, they should be free from all Offices, unless they desired or yielded themselves thereunto. Which Privilege was confirmed to them by the Order of the Lord Maior and Court of Aldermen, in the Maioralty of Sir Robert Viner, in the of King Charles II. in these Words, viz. All Parish Clarks to be exempt from all Parish Offices, as by their Charter, and by an Order of the Maioralty of the City of London. But if any Parish Clark within the Bills of Mortality shall happen to live in any other Parish than that of which he is Clark, he may not expect that Privilege; but must take his Lot, and bear his Office as well as other Parishioners. Another Privilege is, that they are allowed to have a Printing-Press in their Common Hall, for the printing of their Weekly and General Bills of Mortality. And a Printer for that purpose is appointed them by the Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being.

Their Privileges and Charter.

By their Charter also they are enjoined to make Report of all the Christnings and Burials, which do happen in their several respective Parishes, on every Tuesday weekly by six a Clock in the Afternoon at the farthest, (but according to the By-Laws, by Two) that the King or Queen may have a true Account thereof upon Wednesday following. Form whom a Book is drawn up by the Clark of the Company, and sent to his Majesty; and another Book prepared for his Lordship's own use.

To report Christnings and Burials weekly.

They are by their Charter empowered to administer an Oath to the Members of their Corporation, upon their first Admission; "To be observant of, and obedient unto all such wholsom Rules and Orders made or to be made, which may conduce to the common Profit and Benefit of the said Company or Fellowship." And before the Oath be ministred to one newly chosen a Parish Clark, he must procure a License under the Seal of the Office of the Bishop of London. Upon producing which, the next Court-day he may be sworn, and received as a Brother of the Society of Parish Clarks. Notwithstanding, if the Person have not obtained his License as aforesaid, he may not be refused his Admittance, provided he produce a Certificate under the hand of the Minister and Churchwardens of such his Election into the Place of Parish Clark.

Their Oath.

Rules and Orders are printed and given to every Parish Clark, when he is sworn: The same with those that are appointed to be hung up in a Frame in the Common Hall, where all that are concerned may take notice of them. They chiefly relate to direct the Clark in his Care concerning the Bills of Mortality; and to take a careful Account of all that Die in his Parish, or are Christened; with their Names, Diseases, Places of Dwelling, &c. And to bring all in duly to the Hall, in order to the printing the said Bills. But again, to look a little upon them in times foregoing.

Rules for Parish Clarks.

Formerly this Society of Parish Clarks used to attend great Funerals; going before the Hearse, and singing, with their Surplices hanging on their Arms, till they came to the Church.

The Parish Clarks Meetings in Guild-Hall Chappel.

Some certain Days in the Year they had their publick Feasts, which they celebrated with Singing and Musick. And then received into their Society, such Persons as delighted in Singing, or were studious of it. These their Meetings and Performances were in Guild-Hall College, or Chappel. Thus the 27th of September, 1560, on the Eve thereof, they had Even Song, and on the Morrow there was a Communion. And after, they retired to Carpenters-Hall to Dinner. And May the 11th, 1562, they kept their Communion at the said Guild-Hall Chappel, and received seven Persons into their Brotherhood. And then repaired to their own Hall to Dinner. And after Dinner, a goodly Play of the Children of Westminster, with Waits, and Regals, and Singing.]

I FIND anciently there were divers other Mysteries, which are now abolished and gone, or swallowed up in other Societies. As,

Other Mysteries abolished.

J. S.