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Paviors’ Archives On Display 16 January 2020

It is over 20 years since the Paviors’ archive has been put on display for viewing by the membership. However, at this year’s Paviors’ Common Hall, held in Saddlers’ Hall on 16 January, a display of artefacts in the archive was again put on display. This initiative was instigated by the Master, Sue Illman, and was achieved thanks to the efforts of the Archivists, Ian Dussek and Martin Snaith, and the Paviors’ Clerk, John Freestone. ​

​The display contained a selection of items, some of which are valuable and some of which are simply ‘interesting’. Nearly all date from the time the Livery was ‘re-invigorated’ in 1889. Prior to this time, the archives were lodged with the Guildhall, the staff of which did an amazing job in looking after them on the Company’s behalf. The earliest of the artefacts goes back to 1479. Since 1889, the Livery has progressed from an establishment of 60 to over 300 today.

The archive became usable thanks to the work starting around twenty years ago by Ian Dussek and the Company’s current Almoner, David Marshall. A huge amount of work was undertaken pulling together the artefacts and paperwork which had been ‘dumped’ in the basement of Cutlers’ Hall over the years. This mass of ‘items’ was catalogued by them in digital format and placed into numbered boxes which, thanks to the generosity of Past Master John Mills, were neatly housed on a set of accessible shelves. In 2018, the archives were moved from Cutlers’ Hall and are now housed in cellars adjacent to Paviors’ House at Charterhouse. The noteworthy, largely silver, ‘valuables’ which have been acquired over the years, have been painstakingly dimensioned, drawn, recorded and catalogued by Ian Dussek.

Over the past few years Ian Dussek and Martin Snaith have been working together with the Learned Clerk to try and compile a full list of Livery men, .... and women, since the Company was founded. This has involved a detailed inspection of records going back to 1280 held by both the Guildhall and the Company itself. This task is not yet complete, but all the ‘modern’ Paviors since 1889 are now logged, representing something over 1,000 people. Many hours in the Guildhall have also dug out a similar number, going back continuously to 1670. In addition, before that date, the list also includes a few extra names, but also some gaps.

The first recorded Pavior was William de Pavour in1282. The list is then reasonably continuous up until Thomas de Chalgrave in 1315, but then a sizeable gap exists until 1595. However, from that year on there is another period of reasonable records up until the Widow Butler in 1611. The records between 1611 and 1670 are in Old English script which has proved too difficult to read. If anyone knows of someone who would be prepared to ‘translate’ these early entries, then the Company would love to hear from them so that this task can be completed. Again, there are good and now fully logged records after 1670.

The Company had a female member, Widow Butler (as above) in 1595, and there are further examples in 1773 and 1778 and onwards. These include Sarah Moon Cadbury in 1811, who was a member of the Cadbury family who later became famous for their chocolate. Were the Paviors Company the first to accept women?

Many of the early Paviors were illiterate and there are a number of entries where ‘marks’ have been made rather than a signature. No doubt this led to the need for a ‘learned’ clerk, who could both read and write to make and keep records.

The plan is that during the first half of the coming year all this historical information about the Company will be included in a ‘Liber Enormosa’ in both hard-copy and digital formats. It will contain historical members’ lists, a catalogue of items held in the archive, a note of Past Masters who have become Lord Mayors, etc. Hopefully, this will provide a helpful and reliable database for the future.

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