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Foundation of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners

At the annual shipmaster’s dinner in Liverpool on the 2nd March 1921, the Member of Parliament for Wallasey, Mr. Robert Chadwick, suggested that the profession was entitled to form, and was capable of forming, a Guild or Company very much on the same lines of the City of London livery companies. A man of some influence, his vision was realised on 25th June 1926 with the formation of the Company of Master Mariners. 

The City of London welcomed the new Company with great warmth, indeed many of the existing Companies made generous gifts of silver at the time of the inauguration, which are displayed in the cabinets on each side of our Courtroom.

Our Mission

Over the next five years the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, through its committee structure and the Court will continue to:

Further the standing of the Honourable Company in the wider maritime community throughout the UK

Increase the engagement of the Wardens and Court in the Director level of operation of the Company

Formalise the Apprenticeship Mentoring Scheme and incorporate within the London City and Guilds structure

Develop membership structures to enable greater career support for British Merchant Navy Officers

Further the Company’s support for and connection with, the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation

Work towards the Company's second floating Livery Hall

An ‘Honourable’ Company 

Until recently, we were unique among the city livery companies. The Master Mariners are entitled to use the prefix ‘Honourable’, the others being ‘Worshipful’ (a title originating in the middle ages meaning ‘deserving of respect’). His Majesty King George V had been very moved by the great loss of life that resulted from the sinking of so many merchant ships during The Great War 1914-1918 (First World War) and, in recognition of the sacrifices made at that time, accorded the Company the right to use the title ‘Honourable’. 


Our three main objectives are:

Encourage and maintain a high and honourable standard of ability and professional conduct in the officers of the British Merchant Navy

Promote and maintain in all respects efficient and friendly cooperation between the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy

Advice and consultation on all questions concerning or affecting the Merchant Navy, or judicial, commercial, scientific, educational or technical matters relating thereto

Order of Precedence

In 1515, the Court of Aldermen of the City of London settled an order of precedence for the 48 livery companies then in existence, based on those companies’ contemporary economic or political power. The 12 highest-ranked companies remain known as the Great Twelve City Livery Companies. Today there are 110 City livery companies, all post-1515 companies being ranked by seniority of creation.

In 1932 the Court of Alderman conferred the status of Livery on the Company, so enabling the Company to participate in the corporate life of the city. This, the first new Livery Company for 240 years, became the 78th in order of precedence. The creation of a new company did not go unnoticed and there are now 32 more ‘modern’ companies. This is why we are informally referred to as the ‘father of the modern liveries’. 

To find out more on the order of precedence and other Livery Companies, click here

To find out more on our role as a Livery Company, click here.