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Cordwainers

Cordwainers or corvisers and shoemakers practiced similar trades.

As early as 1356, one of the Chester rows was known as ‘le Corvyserrow’. The earliest surviving charter granted to a Chester company was granted to the shoemakers by Edward, the Black Prince, in 1370, reversing a decision made eight years earlier which forbade them to meddle in the tanner’s trade. For a brief period in the 15th century, the Cordwainers and Shoemakers were amalgamated with the Skinners. In 1433, the Mayor and the Sheriffs were ordered to find and punish all foreigners who used the trade of skinner and shoemaker within the liberties of Chester and in 1483 Edward, Prince of Wales, ordered that no skinner or shoemaker was to practice that trade in Chester without licence the company on pain of £10.

In the 16th century cycle of Mystery Plays, the Shoemakers produced the ‘The Coming of Christ to Jerusalem’. In 1550, the expenses of their play included 19d for riding the banns; 2s 8d for a dozen boards for the carriage; and 22d for 2 ½ yards of flaxen cloth for Mary Magdalene’s coat. Together with the drapers and the saddlers, the shoemakers were responsible for providing prizes at the Shrove Tuesday races.

In 1835 the Company was said to have once owned a meeting house in a rock near St John’s Church, presumably the Hermitage. It was then still quite large with about 30 members.