Order in Council 1687
In 1687, King James II, as part of his plan to relax the laws on religion which penalised Catholics, instituted a widespread purge of any office-holders who might oppose him. Those affected held appointments under the Crown, sat on Municipal Corporations or on the Courts of the City Livery Companies. A single-sheet manuscript held with the Company's records at Guildhall Library (MS 35162) records how this policy affected the Bowyers' Company.
At the Court at Windsor the 25th of September 1687
By the King's most Excellent Majestie and the Lords of his Majestie's most honorable Privy Councell
Whereas by the late Charter granted to severall Companies of London, It is Provided that his Majestie his heirs and successors may by order in Councell from time to time displace or remove the Master Wardens and Assistants of the said severall Companies or any of them. And thereupon the place or places of such person or persons so removed shall be void. And whereas his Majestie hath thought fitt that severall Members of the said severall Companies should be removed His Majestie in Councell is pleased to order, and it is hereby ordered accordingly that Thomas Sisson Warden, Edward Hitchcock, Simon Tomlyn, Edmund Johnson, John Fox & Tho Breamer Assistants of the Company of Bowyers, And Henry Allen Assistant of the Company of Fletchers be and they are hereby removed & displaced from being any longer Wardens or Assistants of the said Companies or either of them And his Majestie is further pleased to order that the Lord Mayor & Court of Aldermen do forthwith signify his Majestie's pleasure herein unto the said Companies.
A true copy of the Order in Councell
The full text of the Order is also to be found in the Minute Book of 1679 to 1727 (MS 5349 Vol 1 – folio 20).
As a last-ditch attempt to save his throne in the events leading up to the Glorious Revolution, the king restored many to their former offices. The re-instatement of those removed from the Bowyers is recorded in the minutes of the Court Meeting held on 11th October 1688:
Pursuant to the King's Majesty's Order signified by the precept (last received) from the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, this Court does order that Mr Edmund Hitchcock, Mr Downhall Thursby, Mr Tho Sisson, Mr Symon Tomlyn, Mr Tho Breamor, Mr Widdowson, Mr Elias Fletcher and Mr Richard Price be restored to their respective places in this Company and they are hereby ordered to be restored accordingly.
Whatever is was that caused the members to be selected for removal is not recorded, but one might assume that it was a religious matter.
Note: MS 36162 is dated 1689 but Guildhall Library librarian Stephen Freeth has written "1687 surely! SF". The year of 1687 is much more likely to be correct as the removal of the members in that year fits in with their restoration in 1688.