A bronze erected by the Company in 2006 in the original Covent Garden Market

 

The History of Livery Companies and the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers

In medieval times craftsmen and traders in the City of London formed themselves into guilds, societies and brotherhoods in order to govern their trade, maintain the quality of their products and services, train apprentices and care for their members.

In due course the Crown, recognising the increasing power and importance of these Companies, granted charters of incorporation. The Companies adopted a common hierarchy headed by a Master or Warden (for a one year term only) and a Court of Assistants. The hierarchy also took to wearing distinctive dress known as the Livery.

As the influence of the London Companies grew, they demanded a louder voice in the government of the City, and were successful in obtaining electoral rights for Mayoralty and the Sheriffs.

For more than 500 years, the Livery Companies were at the heart of the commercial, social and religious life of the merchants and manufacturers of London. Largely through these bodies, the City achieved its eminence as the greatest trading metropolis in the world.

By late Victorian times, the connection most Companies had with their craft had atrophied, nevertheless they continued to flourish as City institutions. There are now more than 100 such Companies in the City of London.

The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, which has been in existence since before 1300 AD, is among the oldest Companies, and stands 45th in order of precedence of the Livery Companies.

1292 First reference to ‘Free Fruiterers’

 

1416 John Gaunt and Geoffrey Whyt sworn as Wardens of the ‘Mysteries’ of the Fruiterers

 

1463 First official Grant of Ordinances during the reign of King Edward IV

 

1606 Charter granted by King James I

 

1686 James II having compelled the Company to surrender to him the Charter of James granted a new Charter to the Company. This surrender was annulled later by an Act of William and Mary which Act revived and restored the Charter of James I

The full history of the Company written by A.W Gould and published in 1912 is available to read online here

The Company’s Arms

Azure on a mount base vert the tree of paradise environed with the serpent between Adam and Eve all proper.

First Motto: ‘Arbor vitae Cristus, fructus per fidem gustamus’ – Christ is the Tree of Life whose fruit we taste through faith

Second Motto: ‘Deus dat incrementum’ – God gives the increase

The Company has used these arms since 1476.
They were re-confirmed by Letters Patent from the College of Arms in 1979.