Unfortunately, the widest gap in our history occurs in the reign of Elizabeth. Under this great queen, the Nation made astonishing progress; although we have no written records of events during this interesting period, we have convincing proof that the Blacksmiths’ Company advanced in wealth and influence to a remarkable extent.
The Company was prosperous for the first half of the Seventeenth Century. At this time, National disturbances did not affect the lives of the citizens of London as they do today. Passing events and circumstances, which would provoke intense alarm and distress among the people of the Twentieth Century, were not considered worthy of more than passing comment. When James I came to the throne there was a severe outbreak of Plague in the City and arrangements for his coronation had to be modified in view of the risks of infection. Four Wardens of the Blacksmiths’ Company and their clerk died in the space of four years, but apart from entries recording the fact that their places were filled, there is nothing at all to indicate that anything very unpleasant had occurred. Neither did these visitations place any undue pressure upon their finances; much money was given to the cause of charity, but the yearly average never varied to any considerable extent
At the time of the accession of Charles I there was an even worse outbreak of Plague; but it is not until later, when the Civil War was in progress, that marked signs of distress are noticeable in the accounts. Entries in the Minutes and Accounts show that the craftsmen of London suffered acutely from lack of trade and many concessions were asked of the Wardens which were, as a general rule, freely granted. Under the Protectorate, the life of the Company continued as usual; the Court and Livery joined in the Civic reception of the Lord Protector when he rode through the streets of the City to dine with the Lord Mayor at Grocers’ Hall. There are no hints of any strong political or religious leanings; the Blacksmiths’ Company was always law-abiding and obeyed the commands of the Lord Mayor. At the time of The Restoration, an occasion of great rejoicing, the Wardens and Court of Assistants displayed their loyalty in no uncertain fashion and spent lavishly to welcome the new King.