The Company of Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers of Richmond (Yorkshire) is the senior of the thirteen companies of merchants and craftsmen.
The 13 companies - Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers • Drapers Vintners and Surgeons • Taylors • Tanners • Glovers and Skinners united under the name Fellmongers • Butchers • Cordwainers and Curriers • Sadlers, Bridlers, Glaziers, Coopers, Bakers, Osiers and Painters • Carpenters and Joiners • Clothiers, Weavers, Fullers and Dyers • Blacksmiths • Masons, Wallers and Lime-burners • Cappers - flourished in the 15th and 16th Centuries in this ancient Borough andwhose arms are featured in the Mayor's chain of office and exhibited above the seat of the chief magistrate in the old Court in the Town Hall.
During the 17th Century at least 14 companies existed. In his researches for his book ‘The History of the Company of Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers of Richmond’, Ralph Waggett, Freeman and Past Warden of the Company, traced a record of 8 June 1669 in which ‘John Cowling and Christopher Breaks as Wardens of the Society of Goldsmiths, Armourers, Lorimers, Cutlers, Spurriers and Plummers within the town of Richmond’.
No one knows when the Company was formed but its minutes survive in continuous succession from 1580 to the present day.
The members met to safeguard their trade and their rights and obligations as freemen, then, as commerce and industry developed and the old restraints were seen to be obsolete they met as friends, dining in some style. In the aftermath of the Great War they began to take on their modern aspect of a fraternity upholding their ancient traditions, but developing a concern for education and charitable giving. They dine still, with their Warden in November and February each year and they rejoice in hospitable dealing one with another.
Top - R. W. Waggett at signing of his book the History of Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers 2002, accompamied by the Clerk - M.C. Clayson, and the Warden in 2002 J.K Hendren.
Bottom - Pair of Coconut Cups presented to MGH by Christopher Crowe of Kipling Hall. Warden in 1760
The Company has formed links with many other Gilds in London, York, Chester and other cities in the British Isles. They have a fine collection of silver, which is displayed when they dine and is on permanent display in the Green Howards’ Museum. Their Warden invites all present at Dinner to join with him in the ancient ceremony of the Loving Cup
The Arms of the Company are those of the Mercers, Grocers and Haberdashers united in one shield in a paly of three. First, the Mercers with their motto Honor Deo. Second, the Grocers whose motto is God Grant Grace and the third, the Haberdashers with their motto, Serve and Obey. The supporters and crest are those of the Grocers Company.
Present Warden Prof. Andrew J. Slade
Under Warden John G. Clarke Esq.