The governance and structure of the Company today would be very familiar to the Innholders of 1514, but with one key exception – equality. The first 1514 charter would have been celebrated by a men-only membership; however, this inequality has long since been addressed.
The affairs of the Company are presided over by a Master and three Wardens (Upper, Middle and Renter), who each hold office for a year, with a court of twenty Assistants. The Company’s business is managed by a Clerk and an Assistant Clerk, whilst matters directly relating to the Hall and ceremony are the responsibility of an individual with the traditional title of Beadle.
The Master, Wardens and Court are elected from the body of the Livery, numbering approximately 120 Liverymen. The word Livery is derived from the traditional right to wear a distinctive form of dress (a livery) during official City occasions.
The Livery are drawn from the ranks of Freemen, who may qualify by patrimony (inheritance), servitude (apprenticeship), redemption (purchase) or election.
Regardless of the incumbent’s gender, the masculine titles Master, Liverymen and Freemen are steeped in tradition and are respectfully accepted by women and men within our Company.