Extinct Companies

Nineteen companies are listed in the Mayor’s book for 1475-76. Of these, several later amalgamated, for example the mercers with the ironmongers and the coopers with the bowyers and fletchers. Others assumed different names, for example the barkers and the cooks, now known respectively as the Tanner’s and Innkeeper’s Companies. Three have become extinct: the drawers of Dee, the hewsters and the fishmongers.

In the 16th century the water leaders and drawers of Dee performed ‘Noah and his Ship’ in the Chester cycle of Mystery Plays. They petitioned the City for a charter in 1587. They are usually thought to have been water carriers, but may have been connected with salmon fishing.

Hewsters were dyers of cloth, and in the 16th century the Dyer’s Company produced the play ‘Antichrist’. The fishmongers were associated with the bellfounders, who do not appear elsewhere as a company, in producing ‘Whit Sunday: The Making of Creed’. Both companies were said to still be in existence in 1794, when they paid small subscriptions towards the St George’s Plate at the Chester races; nevertheless, they were both reported in 1835 to have long been extinct.