Notes on the Company
- The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers is of considerable antiquity. Early records show that the Mystery, Fellowship or Brotherhood of the Company existed before 1300.
- The first mention of the Fruiterers as a corporate body occurred in 1416, when John Gaunt and Geoffrey Whyt were sworn in as Wardens of the Mysteries “to rule the Mystery well and truly, sparing none for love, nor molesting any from hate, and to present to the Mayor and Aldermen and the Chamberlain any defects that they may find”.
- Amongst the records of the City of London there are to be found references to the Ordinances of the Fruiterers in 1463 governing the conditions under which fruit might be sold and the rules for the metage or measuring the quantities of fruit sold in the City upon which tolls were levied.
- The office of Fruit Meter or Measurer was a highly prized and obtained by purchase of the City, in one instance as much as £3690 being paid. The office of Fruit Meter was only abolished as late as April 1902.
- In 1606 the Fruiterers received their first Royal Charter, granted by King James 1.
- The next event which occurs in chronological order relates to the Coronation of Charles 1 on October 11th October 1629, when the Fruiterers accepted a levy, in common with other City Companies, for the purpose of beautifying the City for that occasion.
- On the 19th June 1686 a second Charter was granted to the Company by King James II.
- Some of the earliest records of the Company were destroyed when a fire occurred at the house of Mr john Harwood the Clerk, in 1748 but fortunately two books were later discovered to have escaped the conflagration namely, the old bye-laws of 1627 and a journal of the Renter Warden giving a complete list of Renter Wardens from 1711 to 1748.
- In 1754 it is recorded that the Fruiterers was a very active body, having warehouses at the “Three Cranes”, situated in a lane called Fruiterers’ Alley, running off Thames Street.
- The Company’s meeting place or hall at that time was the Fruiterers’ Hall in Worcester House, Thames Street.
- An interesting fact regarding the Company’s warehouses is contained in a Government document dated 8th May 1660 which states that, “information has been lodged that several of His Majesty’s goods at the Fruiterers’ warehouse at the “Three Cranes” in Thames Street which were kept there as the goods of Mrs Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Oliver Cromwell deceased, sometimes called “The Protector” and it not being very improbable that the said Mrs Cromwell might convey some such goods, the Council ordered persons to view the same”.
- The Company (under the guidance of the Awards Council), makes grants and awards for the development of fruit growing, and for the meritorious service to fruit culture.
- The annual presentation of Fruit to the Lord Mayor appears to have originated in 1577, when there was a dispute regarding tolls levied by the City’s Meterers, which was most amicably settled by the Company agreeing to give to the Lord Mayor not more than twelve bushels of fruit each year.
- From 1754 annually this presentation acquired a ceremonial character, merited by its ancient tradition. So that from that date the Master and Wardens and Court of the Company have personally attended the Mansion House in full regalia to make their token offering of many fruits of the finest kinds to the Lord Mayor, who reciprocates in some fashion.
- St Paul is the patron Saint of the Fruiterers’ Company and on 25th January each year, The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, that the annual installation of the Master and Wardens takes place.
Past Master, Jeremiah Lear - Master in 1799 and1800, was married to Ann Clark Skerret, the twentieth of their twenty one children was Edward Lear, the nonsense poet (The owl and the pussy cat etc.)
Sir Joseph Lyons, was admitted to the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers in 1895. His name was synonymous with J Lyons - Tea Shops, The Trocadero and Lyons Corner Houses. He received a Knighthood in 1911.