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Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

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Title: Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks  
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Subject: Bills of mortality, Livery companies, Worshipful Company of Brewers, Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers, Worshipful Company of Firefighters
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Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

Clerk's Place off Bishopsgate, described by Tudor London historian John Stow in his 1598 Survey of London as the entry to the Court of the parish clerks.

The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks is one of the Guilds of the City of London. It has no livery, because: "In the 16th century , the Parish Clerks declined to take the Livery on the grounds that the surplice was older than the Livery and was the proper garb of members of the Company."[1] It is not, therefore, technically a livery company although to all intents and purposes it acts as such. It is one of two such historic companies without livery, the other being the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

Although they have no place in the order of precedence, which governs only liveried companies, The Master, Wardens, Assistants and Brethren of the Parish Clerks of the Parish Churches of the City and Suburbs of London and the Liberties thereof, the City of Westminster, the borough of Southwark and the fifteen Out-Parishes adjacent, are among the oldest City companies. Individual members held property on behalf of the Fraternity near Bishopsgate in 1274. The Company was incorporated by Letters Patent on 22 January 1441/2. Later Royal Charters, granted by Charles I, dated February 1635/6 and February 1638/9, are kept in the Guildhall Library.


The number of parishes at the time of the 1639 charter was 129, of which 108 were in the City of London. A further twenty one parishes in Middlesex and Surrey within the bills of mortality were added between 1639 and 1825. The Company's 150 parishes are listed below.

Churches included in the Charter of 1639

In the City of London

St Martin Outwich, St Martin Pomeroy, St Martin Vintry, St Mary Abchurch, St Mary Aldermanbury, St Mary Aldermary, St Mary at Hill, St Mary Bothaw, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch, St Mary Magdalene Milk Street, St Mary Magdalene Old Fish Street, St Mary Mounthaw, St Mary Somerset, St Mary Staining, St Mary Woolchurch, St Mary Woolnoth, St Matthew Friday Street, St Michael Bassishaw, St Michael Cornhill, St Michael Crooked Lane, St Michael Queenhithe, St Michael le Querne, St Michael Paternoster Royal, St Michael Wood Street, St Mildred Bread Street, St Mildred Poultry, St Nicholas Acons, St Nicholas Cole Abbey, St Nicholas Olave, St Olave Hart Street, St Olave Old Jewry, St Olave Silver Street, St Pancras Soper Lane, St Peter Cornhill, St Peter Paul's Wharf, St Peter le Poer, St Peter Westcheap, St Sepulchre, St Stephen Coleman Street, St Stephen Walbrook, St Swithin London Stone, St Thomas Apostle, St Vedast Foster Lane, Bridewell Precinct (extra-parochial place)

In the Liberties of the Tower of London

Holy Trinity Minories

In the City of Westminster

St Margaret Westminster

In the Borough of Southwark

St George Southwark, St Olave Southwark, St Saviour Southwark, St Thomas Southwark

Out-parishes in Middlesex

St Clement Danes, St Martin in the Fields, St John Baptist Savoy, St Giles in the Fields, St James Clerkenwell, St Leonard Shoreditch, St Mary Whitechapel, St Dunstan Stepney, St John at Hackney, St Mary Islington, St Katharine by the Tower (Liberty)

Out-parishes in Surrey

St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey, St Mary Lambeth, St Mary Newington, St Mary Rotherfield

Additional parishes within the 'bills' of which the parish clerk may be admitted to membership of the Company

St Peter ad Vincula (Tower of London), St Anne Soho, St George Hanover Square, St James Piccadilly, St John Westminster, St Mary le Strand, St Paul Covent Garden, Christ Church Southwark, St John Horsleydown, All Saints Poplar, Christ Church Spitalfields, St Anne Limehouse, St George Bloomsbury, St George in the East, St George the Martyr Queen Square, St John Clerkenwell, St John Wapping, St Luke Old Street, St Matthew Bethnal Green, St Paul Shadwell, West Hackney

Coat of arms

The Company was first granted arms on 16 July 1482. The second grant was made in 1582; these were replaced by a new grant on 16 October 1991, which granted supporters in addition to the previous arms, blazoned as follows:


Azure a Fleur de lys or, on a chief gules a leopard's head Or between two 'pricksong books' of the same laced vert.


On either side and standing to the front on the capital of an Ionic Column Or and Angel gazing outwards proper winged Or vested of a tunic Argent garnished Or draped over the interior shoulder with a mantle Azure and holding with the interior hand a Trumpet baldrick-wise the bell upwards all gold.


On a wreath gules and Azure, a cubit arm vested Azure cuffed ermine holding an open 'pricksong' book all proper.


"Unitas societatis stabilitas"


  1. ^ Parish Clerks website, history section. Accessed 12 November 2012.

Further reading

  • Christie, James (1893). Some Account of Parish Clerks, More Especially of the Ancient Fraternity (Bretherne and Sisterne) of St. Nicholas: Now Known as the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks. London: James Vincent. 
  • Ditchfield, P.H., The Parish Clerk. (Chapter VIII-The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks pp. 104–114; Chapter IX-The Clerks of London: their Duties and Privileges pp. 115–129; Chapter X-Clerkenwell and Clerks’ Plays pp. 130–139.) Methuen & Co, London 1907; x+340 pages. Illustrated
  • Adams, Reginald H (1971). The Parish Clerks of London. A history of the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks of London. London & Chichester: Phillimore & Co.  
  • Ellen, Ronald Guy (1987). Clerks' Chronicle. An account of the Parish Clerks' Company of London from 1971-1987. London: The Company. 

External links

  • Parish Clerks Company Site
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