Worshipful Company of Musicians
- Henry Raynor
English organization based in London. Its aim is to promote all aspects of the art and science of music. It grew from the London Fellowship of Minstrels, which became a guild in 1500, and it took its present name in 1604 when it was granted a charter by James I.
Because of the presence of the king’s and other royal minstrels in London, the London Fellowship was until 1500 prevented from becoming a guild and from acquiring the virtual monopoly of music-making in the city and its environs that similar groups outside London possessed. Its privileges were improved by a charter of Edward IV (1469), which created the ranks of marshal and two wardens (all members of the King’s Musick), and gave the London Fellowship control over the musical profession throughout the country (except for Cheshire where a separate arrangement obtained). This gave the fellowship some protection against unauthorized competition, but it did not resolve the conflict of rights between it and the royal and aristocratic bodies within London. With the charter of James I, the London guild was transformed into the Worshipful Company of Musicians, granted the civic influence and prestige of other livery companies, and given control over all music-making in and within three miles of London (except for Westminster and Southwark). Its relationship with the royal and aristocratic bands, however, remained precarious; in ...