Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 30, 2018

Merchant Taylors of London’s shift to business English: New insights on the languages of record in their Master and Wardens’ Accounts

José Miguel Alcolado Carnicero

Abstract

French and Latin used to be the two main languages of record in the Merchant Taylors, as well as other London livery companies, as late as the fifteenth century, at least. From the fourteenth century onwards, English was becoming more and more present in this guild’s business accounts, until it replaced both Romance languages as their new official medium of written communication. Seen the inconsistent dates of adoption of English in the Merchant Taylors’ Master and Wardens’ Accounts suggested in the literature, this article applies two different approaches to language shift in the late medieval period in order to analyse and illustrate when exactly the whole Company is supposed to have substituted French and Latin for English forever. As the search of that permanent and communal shift leads to the necessary consultation of financial manuscripts kept as late as the seventeenth century, it is concluded that the construction of a unitary framework for the study of the different language shifts in the London livery companies at different periods would yield more comprehensive results.

Appendix

Table 1:

List of Merchant Taylors’ Company’s extant account books and missing years.

Item numberReference codeDate
1CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0011398–1445
[1445–1453]
2CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0021453–1469
3CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0031469–1478 [1478–1479], 1479–1484
[1484–1545]
4CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0041545–1557
[1557–1569]
5CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0051569–1581
6CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0061581–1592
7CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0071592–1601
8CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0081601–1604
9CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0091604–1609
10CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0101609–1613
11CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0111613–1617
12CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0121617–1623
13CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0131623–1625
14CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0141625–1629
15CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0151629–1633
16CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0161633–1637
17CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0171637–1641
18CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0181641–1644
19CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0191644–1648
[1648–1652]
20CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0201652–1660a
21CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0211656–1660
[1660–1663]
22CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0221663–1666
23CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0231666–1669
24CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0241669–1672
25CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0251672–1675
26CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0261675–1682b
27CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0271678–1682
28CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0281682–166c
29CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0291686–1690
30CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0301690–1694
31CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0311694–1700
32CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0321700–1708
33CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0331708–1715
34CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0341715–1722
35CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0351722–1733
36CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0361733–1744
37CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0371744–1754
38CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0381754–1763
39CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0391763–1771
40CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0401771–1784
41CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0411784–1795
42CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0421795–1807
43CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0431807–1814
44CLC/L/MD/D/003/MS34048/0441814–1821

  1. There seems to be a mistake here; the year 1656 should appear instead.

  2. Another mistake appears; in this case, 1678 seems a better option.

  3. A number 8 is missing in between the two sixes (1686).

  4. Source: London Metropolitan Archives’ website (accessed 27 July 2017).

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Published Online: 2018-03-30
Published in Print: 2018-03-26

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