Origins & History

Granted its Royal Charter in 1638, by Charles I

It was given the power to exercise a monopoly and regulate the distilling trade within the cities of London and Westminster and a radius of 21 miles.

Charter of the Incorporation

Charter of the Incorporation

The Worshipful Company of Distillers is a Livery Company of the City of London.

Our founder was Sir Theodore de Mayerne, physician to Charles 1st, who in 1638 obtained a Royal Charter to regulate the distilling trade in the Cities of London, and the City of Westminster and within 21 miles thereof (later extended to 31 miles).

In those difficult times, however, it proved hard to establish control over the distilling industry, especially in the face of other City Livery Companies who claimed an interest in distilling – one such being the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, who jealously guarded their monopoly. Accordingly, given the lack of City support, and the intervention of the Civil War, it was not until 1672 that our Charter was enrolled in the City and not until 1774 that an Act of Parliament was passed recognising and reinforcing the monopoly of the Distillers’ Company in the City.

The tradition of integrity, generosity and fellowship that governed the Company more than 370 years ago lives on to this day and creates an unbroken link with the past. At present, our Company has over 280 Liverymen, of whom a significant number have strong associations with the Distilling industry. There are now well over a hundred City Livery Companies; each numbered according to precedence (for those Companies founded after 1515/16, such precedence being the date of foundation) and our ranking
number is 69.

The activities of the Company are more fully described in our Aims and Objectives.


A selection of Company treasures

A Pair of Loving Cups

Presented in 1854 by James Scott Smith of the Whitechapel & Phoenix Distillery, Master 1849.

Dirk

Presented by the Chairman and Directors of the Distillers Company Ltd. (now Diageo) to mark the mastership of their colleague Michael Boileau Henderson, Master 1982-1983.

Eight Decanter Labels

Showing the Company’s Coat of Arms, produced in 1988 to commemorate the 350th Anniversary of the Company’s Incorporation. The first set was sent to Buckingham Palace as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by members of the Livery.

Four Goblets

One gold goblet (Master) and three silver goblets (Wardens) (silver), Gift of E. Price Hallowes, Master 1930-1931.

Gavel

As used by the Master at Court Meetings, presented by Charles Curtis, Master 1855-1856.

Pair of Quaichs

Presented to the Company by The London Scottish Regiment in 1966.

South Africa Medal with seven clasps

Was presented to the Company by H.M. King Edward VII in commemoration of the part taken by the Company in raising and equipping the City of London Imperial Volunteers in 1900.

Tercentenary Appeal Fund Cup

1672-1972, 107 Liverymen contributed to the Fund.

The Beadle’s Stave Head

A silver mounted beadle’s staff, the finial decorated with cast acanthus leaves topped with the Company arms, 6ft long, probably circa 1690.

Victorian Silver Gilt Rose Water Dish and Ewer

In form of a baluster still. Presented in 1849 by Joseph Benjamin Claypole, Master. The still is placed on the Master’s table at all Company functions.


Loving Cup Ceremony

The Ceremony of the loving cup, which is traditional in all livery companies, is said to date back to Saxon times (before the Norman Conquest of 1066), and to derive from the assassination of King Edward.

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