[Musicians.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Feltmakers.]238

[Musicians.] The TEMPORAL GOVERNMENT. [Feltmakers.]


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[ Click here to view Image of coat of arms, Feltmakers' Company   ]

THE Company of FELTMAKERS were incorporated by Charter the 2d Day of August, in the second Year of King James I. by the name of Master, Wardens, and Commonalty of the Art or Mystery of Feltmakers of London; and again by Charter of Incorporation and Confirmation by the same Name, bearing date the 27th of June, in the nineteenth Year of King Charles II.

The Fashion of wearing Hats or Felts (as they formerly called them) began to take great place in Queen Elizabeth's Reign. And they were of two sorts; viz. fine Felts and coarse: The former were made of Wool brought from Spain, called Spanish Wool, and the latter made of Estridge Wool, brought from the East Countries. These were for the wearing of Country People and of the meaner sort: And sometimes they were covered with Velvet, Taffata, or such like.

The Fashion of wearing Felts.

In the year 1576, the Feltmakers sued to the Lord Treasurer to befriend them in their Supplication to the Queen, to be incorporated: being, as they set forth in their Petition, the ancient and discreetest sort of them. That those of this Trade were four hundred Housholders, dispersed and resident in sundry parts of the City and Suburbs, as Southwark, St. Katharine's and other Places. That they had no Government of themselves, as other Companies: and that they made their Felts for the most part very deceitfully, and of corrupt and unlawful Stuff, brought out of Spain and other Places; bought up by such as had no Skill or Knowledge, whether they were good or bad; and by them retailed to such Feltmakers as for Lucre were content to make deceitful Wares, to the deceiving the Wearers thereof, to the Breach of the Queen's Laws, and the Slander and utter Reproach of the whole Company. Which, if it were not in time foreseeen and reformed, would be the Overthrow of the whole Company, and the utter Impoverishment of their poor Wives, Children and Families. Therefore they sued that they might be made a Body Corporate by her Majesty's Letters Patents.

Their Petition to be a Corporation.

But it seems the Haberdashers (of which Company these Feltmakers were) proved too hard for them. So that the Lords of the Council would not then allow their Petition. But after much Contest between them, they came to an Agreement. And the Feltmakers were to submit themselves to the Haberdashers, to be searched, ruled, and governed by the Master and Wardens, and governed by the Master and Wardens; and that there should be certain Rules drawn between them, for the better Government of the said Trade of Feltmaking, and of their Servants. At length Orders and Rules were by their own Consents made and devised, and on both their parts pormised and agreed to be performed and kept; and which were required to be set down in the Starchamber between them.

The Haberdashers hinder the Grant of their Petition.

The Hatmakers or Feltmakers, in the Year 1583, endeavoured to get a Patent from the Queen to put that Statute in the 8th. of her Reign in Execution, which was made about their Trade, that none should occupy the same, but such as had been Apprentices to it seven Years. For afterwards, divers that had not served that time, and others that had never been Apprentices at all, enticed divers young Apprentices and hired Servants from London from their Masters, and maintained and kept them at work at the same Trade: and would keep, some three, four or five Apprentices, and for less Years than the Statute limited. Whereby they were grown to so great a Number of Feltmakers in the Country, that the Feltmakers in London living within the Compass of the Statute, and keeping all other Duties and Observances within the City of London, were not able to live upon the said Trade, and to maintain themselves and their great Families, without some present Remedy. Richard Seckford, one of the Queen's Masters of Requests, July the 3. 1583. moved the Queen, then at Greenwich, in this Suit. Who then referred the same to the Lord Treasurer. Thomas Blank, Lord Maior, and Master of the Haberdashers Company, wrote to the said Seckford, March 27. the Year abovesaid, that a Motion having been made by the Fletmakers to them, for the furtherance of their Suit, they thought the Suit very reasonable, and needful to be granted for all Offenders against the said Statute. But forasmuch as the Feltmakers, and all within three Miles of London, were under the Government and Correction of the Company of Haberdashers, the Company prayed him, that there might be a Proviso in their Book, that they should not, by force of their Grant, intermeddle with any Hatmakers inhabiting within the City, or three Miles Compass, than, to the Master and Wardens of the said Company, for the time being, should be thought meet and expedient. And that when any Occasion should be, to use their Grant for the punishment of any Offender within the Limits of the said Company, the Patentees to have the one half of all Forfeitures coming in that behalf, and the Company to have the other half, towards the Relief of the poor Feltmakers.

Their Petition about Apprentices that served not out their time.

The Feltmakers bought their Wools, Flocks and other Stuff for their Hats, of the Merchants, both Strangers and English. Which Wools were brought from Spain, France, the East Country, and other Foreign Countries. But these Commodities were often very bad, being fallen May-Wool, rotten and other ill Wool, not apt, meet nor capable to be wrought or used in making of any Hats or Felts; and partly unwashed and full of Sand, Filth, Dross, corrupt and unlawful Stuff, most deceitfully packed up in Sacks, and other close things, and wound up in Fleeces, being neither such merchantable nor staple Wares, as it had been, nor in Truth, Conscience, Justice and Equity it ought to be. By which deceitful Wools and other Stuffs, the Feltmakers sustained great Loss and Damage, and many times a Number of them, their poor Wives and Families utterly undone. Whereupon in January 1579, they made a Petition to the Queen, under the Names

They petition the Queen for for an Officer, to search the Wools and Flocks.