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anything has been done. There are many collections of old plate in our northern counties, and if the owners of these would generously permit them to be examined, a catalogue would gradually be formed. Should these remarks come under the notice of any collector or inheritor of plate who possesses even a single piece bearing the Newcastle marks of one or three castles, I shall be obliged if he will inform the editor of the fact, and say whether he is willing to allow his treasure to be examined with a view to its being described in the projected catalogue.
I have to thank the stewards of the Plumbers' and Goldsmiths' Companies for the unrestricted access to their archives which they have afforded me, and I have especially to thank Mr. W. J. Cripps, C.B., of Cirencester, for much valuable help and information.
HISTORY OF THE COMPANY.
The earliest allusion to goldsmiths in Newcastle occurs in an injunction issued by Henry III. in the 33rd year of his reign, in which he commands the bailiffs and men of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that in full town-court they shall choose (by the oath of four and twenty good men), four persons of the most trusty and prudent of their town, for the office of moneyers in that town, and other four like persons for the keeping of the king's mints there, and two fit and prudent goldsmiths to be assayers of the money to be made there, and one fit and trusty clerk for the keeping of the exchange; and to send them to the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer, to do there what by ancient custom and assize was to be done in that case.
In 1423 (2 Hen. VI. cap. 13) an act was passed fixing the standard of wrought silver, and a second act requiring all such silver made within the city of London to be assayed, “and touched with the touch of the Leopard's head, if it may reasonably bear the same touch, and also with the mark or sign of the workman of the same.' In this act we have the following clause:
* And also it is likewise ordained in the city of York, Newcastleupon-Tyne, Lincoln, Norwich, Bristol, Salisbury, and Coventry, that every one shall have divers touches, according to the ordinance of the mayors, bailiffs, or governers of the same towns.'
HISTORY OF THE COMPANY.
After this we have no reference to the goldsmiths of Newcastle till 1536. In that year they were incorporated together with freemen of other trades as a company of goldsmiths, plumbers, glaziers, pewterers, and painters. The original charter of incorporation, or ordinary' as it is usually styled, granted by the mayor, sheriff, and aldermen of Newcastle, still exists amongst the archives of the Plumbers' Company. It requires the brethren of the company “yerly from hensforth amyably on the ffest and day of corpus Christi loovyngly [to] goo togedders in p'cession All in a leverey,' and maytaygne ther play of the thre kyngs of coleyn.' The company was to be governed by four wardens, viz., a goldsmith, a plumber, a glazier, and a pewterer or painter. No brother was to follow any trade except that to which he was apprenticed, on pain of a penalty of 3s. 4d. Any brother taking a Scots man borne in Scotland' as apprentice or workman was to be fined 40s., half of which went to the company, and the other half to "the upholdyng the works of tyne Bridge.' Every apprentice on attaining his freedom was to pay 6s. 8d., 'and a pott of ale wt thappurtenances.' If any brother defamed another by calling him 'a Scott, a morderer, a thefe,' and 'at sise or sessions was ffounde culpable’ he was to be expelled from the company, and not received again till “such tyme that he be clerely & duely purged & acquited by dew order of the law. If any members of the company at any meeting should by lye one an other, chyde or bralle with any malycias or slanderus words or draw a knyf or dagger or any other wapen in any malice' the brother so offending was required to pay a fine of 3s. 4d. The first stewards of the company were appointed by the charter itself, and were Thomas Cramer, goldsmith ; John Chekyn, pewterer ; Richard Bradforth, plumber ; and Henry Cooke, glazier and painter.
Attached to this deed were nineteen seals, but except two fragments, on neither of which can any impression be discerned, all are destroyed. The names of the original members of the company are arranged in five columns at the foot of the charter. The first column is headed 'goldesmythes,' the second 'plumerz,' the third 6 pewterers,' the fourth glaciers,' and the fifth “paynterz.' Subsequently an additional column of names has been introduced between the glaziers and the painters. headed “poticaries.' The names of the original members, apparently twenty-one in number, are all written by one hand. Other members, on attaining their freedom, usually signed their names on the same document, though many only made their marks, and sometimes three or four names are found together again in one hand. Of the original members of the company five were goldsmiths, viz., Thomas Cramer, James Chawbre, Geoffrey Hall, Humphrey Coyll, and Nicholas Cramer. The trade of the goldsmith evidently flourished in Newcastle in the days of Henry the Eighth. From 1536 to 1650 only thirteen goldsmiths appear to have been admitted to the company. They were Valentine Baker, James Austold, Nicholas Brutte, John Harper, John Cramer, Francis Sose, Anthony Sympson, William Seaton, John Sympsoun, Oswald Carr, John Baker, James Wylson, and John Baynes. At the very bottom of the charter we have the almost obliterated signature of William Ramsey, certainly enough identifiable by the long tail of his R.
The hundred and twenty years of constant reference and hard usage which the original charter had suffered when William Ramsey took up his freedom in 1656, had impaired its legibility. About that time a transcript was made, wherein I find, on comparison with the original, blunders innumerable, not only in the text of the document, but in the names which are appended to it. I have been obliged, however, to adopt the readings of this transcript in those places where the original is either illegible or entirely worn away. Two other transcripts have since been made ; one in the last century and the other a few years ago. The second transcript is far worse than the first, and the last is the worst of all. The goldsmiths who joined the company from 1656 to 1697 signed the first transcript. The column headed “Gold-Smiths,' after a transcript of the names appended to the original bears the signatures of William Ramsey, John Wilkinson, William Robinson, John Dowthwaite, John Norris, Francis Batty, Albany Dodson, Eli Bilton, ffrancis Anderson, Cuthbert Ramsay, William Kamsay (junior), Abraham Hamer, Robert Shrive, and Thomas Hewitson. The last named attained his freedom in 1697.
One of these persons, Francis Anderson, was not a goldsmith, but a confectioner. In 1685 he addressed a petition to the Mayor and Aldermen of Newcastle setting forth that his grandfather, Henry
HISTORY OF THE COMPANY.
Anderson, was a free merchant of Newcastle, and that his father, Francis Anderson, then of Howdon Pans, had taken his freedom of the town, but not of the Merchants' Company, and praying that he might be admitted to his freedom in some society or other, and that he might take apprentices for management of his calling and employment of a confectioner.' Accordingly at a meeting of the Common Council held, 31st March, 1685, it was ordered that the said ffrancis Anderson have free liberty to admitt himself into what fellowpp he thinks Convenient, either the Upholsterers, Tinplateworkers and Stationers; or the Goldsmiths, Plumbers, and Glaziers, or what other society shall seem most meet. On the 15th April, in the same year, he was admitted into the Goldsmiths' and Plumbers' Company as a Goldsmith,' and was required to enter bond that 'neither he nor any of his servants shall exercise any of the trades of this Company, but exercise the trade or art of a Confectioner only.'
In 1598 the company consisted, apparently of only 14 members, of whom three were goldsmiths, viz., Anthony Sympson, James Wilson, and John Baynes. On the 19th June, 1599, Baynes paid 40s. to the company for some 'agrementt' which shold have ben thre pound, but 20s. were generously “remitted for his wyffe.' On the 17th August in the same year he took one Thomas Royd, son of Thomas Royd, ‘mylliner,' as apprentice; and on the 3rd February, 1599-1600, he took as apprentice one John Nicholson, son of George Nicholson. After this date I find no further reference to Baynes or his apprentices; but in 1613 occurs a list of 'names of bretheren,' then twenty in number, amongst whom is not a single goldsmith. Indeed, it is presumable that four years before that time the goldsmith's art had ceased to be practised in Newcastle, for on the 13th December, 1609, certain orders were adopted, which are signed in the minute book by 17 brethren, not one of whom was a goldsmith. From this time till the year 1656, in which William Ramsay joined the company, the society had no goldsmith amongst its members. There is indeed one person, William Robinson, described as a 'Goulsmith, late of Newcastle, deceased,' in the enrolment of his son's apprenticeship (20th Aug., 1657), and once elsewhere as an 'imbroderer,' who doubtless was a manufacturer of the gold and silver lace, then so largely employed as an item of costume. This elder William Robinson's occupation led to the description of the company in one of their orders (11th June, 1623) as “the whole Companye and ffelloweshipe of goldsmyths, plumers, pewterers, pannters and imbroderers.'
In 1620 the Mayor (Sir Peter Riddell) granted the Morden Tower to the Plumbers’ Company for “a meattinge hall.' The record of this grant is given in the Plumbers' books.
One of the privileges conferred upon the society by its charter is that of making ‘reasonabell and gud orders ffor the coen welth of the hole ffelosshypp,' a right of which they have availed themselves most liberally. The orders' or regulations enacted by the Plumbers' Company before the final separation of the goldsmiths are amongst the papers, as are also later repetitions of these orders, in which only verbal changes are made. These documents, lengthy as they are, give a complete view of the interior life and history of one of the incorporated companies of Newcastle. A history of all the fraternities of our ancient borough will I trust be written hereafter by some one, and if my extracts serve to show how interesting is the material for such a work I shall not regret their length.
Ramsey's accession to the company was followed two years later by that of John Wilkinson. From this time to the end of the century the art of the goldsmith flourished in Newcastle. In 1698, however, an act was passed which fixed a new and higher standard for the manufacture of plate, and at the same time gave to the Goldsmiths' Company of London the sole right of assaying. This was a great hardship and inconvenience to all manufacturers in the provinces, who were compelled to undergo the risk, expense, and delay of sending their plate to London to be assayed. The goldsmiths of Exeter, Chester, and Norwich petitioned parliament to reestablish their assay offices, and in 1700 an act was passed establishing assays at York, Exeter, Bristol, Chester, and Norwich, but making no mention of Newcastle. The reason why Newcastle was not included in this act was probably because it was not one of the places wherein the mints had been established for recoining the silver money of the realm. On the 9th February, 1701-2, a petition was presented