Drapers' Hall set for the Election Dinner
The Livery Companies of the City of London are the descendents of the ancient guilds which controlled England’s trades in the middle ages, and which now administer large charitable funds, as well as supporting schools, universities and almshouses. Their wealth is based mainly on bequests and gifts of land and buildings acquired over the centuries. Few of them have any links with their original trades, though some, like the Goldsmiths, still do.
Of the 108 livery companies, the oldest make up ‘the Great Twelve’, and the Drapers - which once controlled the woollen cloth trade - ranks at No 3 in an order of precedence settled as long ago as 1515 (the Mercers - the general merchants - and the Grocers are No 1 and 2). The Queen is a Freeman of the Drapers' Company, as is Prince Charles. The Companies are run by the Clerk, usually a distinguished retired serviceman or businessman, while a senior Liveryman is elected Master for a year.
Lawfords have been liverymen of the Drapers' Company since the 1700s, when Valentine Lawford (1709-1783) became the first Lawford Master in 1775. Neither my father Patrick nor his father Capt VA Lawford were liverymen and it was not until I was looking through Uncle Valentine's papers in the 1980s that I noticed the connection, and was admitted to the Livery in 1988. By then, no less than six Lawfords had become Master, as well as others who were married to Lawford women. My great - great-great grandfather Samuel Lawford (1749-1835) and great-great grandfather, also Samuel Lawford (1777-1864), were Masters in 1809 and 1850 respectively. In addition, John Lawford (of Downhills, Tottenham) became Junior Warden in 1871 but died before he could become Master. The full list is:-
Valentine Lawford 1775
Samuel Lawford 1809
Samuel Lawford 1850
Robert Wrench 1882
George Lawford 1885
Herbert Lawford 1925
Evelyn Lawford 1957
John Stitt 1990
|A portrait of Edward Lawford (1787 - 1864) by Pickersgill|
The Lawford connection with the Drapers' Company is illustrated by the family's coat of arms appearing on the ceiling of the Court Dining Room at Drapers' Hall, which is widely regarded as one of the finest livery halls in the City.
The Court Dining Room at Drapers' Hall. The Lawford crest is third from the left, immediately over the middle window.
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