Trades concerned with leather were important in Chester in the Middle Ages and the tanners probably existed as an organised body in 1361, when they offered the Black Prince twenty marks (£13 6s 8d) and a perpetual annual payment of 6s 8d for letters patent forbidding others to meddle with this craft. This Charter, granted in 1362, was rescinded in 1370. In the list of companies in a Mayor’s book for 1475-76 they appear under the alternative name of barkers, because oak was used in the tanning process.
By the later 6th century, they had established their position as the company producing the first on the cycle of Mystery Plays, ‘The Falling of Lucifer’. Despite this privileged position, the Tanners appear not to have received a charter of incorporation.
In the early 18th century, they corresponded with Chester’s members of parliament over the tax on leather and the export of oak bark to Ireland.
In 1835, the Company comprised 10 members and met annually in an inn.