Social and Economic

Liveried Apparel

The court had several Wardrobes. The Great Wardrobe was essentially the clothing and apparel of the King. There was a Privy Wardrobe, and members of the royal family and nobility often had their own. The various wardrobes linked in with the regulations set out in Sumptuary Laws and saw the crown and servants of the crown wearing apparel that was regulated for their exclusive use. 

The task of being Keeper of the Great Wardrobe involved purchasing, tailoring, or overseeing tailoring and ensuring that the right garments were available for each type of formal occasion.

Here we see the Keeper of the Great Wardrobe being told that a James Damport has been entered into the King’s service as a sergeant-at-arms.

As a member of the King’s own household, it was the King, through his great wardrobe, who would provide the correct attire.

Grant of liveried apparel to James Damport for life

You also see how such sergeant-at-arms were remunerated in this extract from the Close Rolls of Edward IV, dated 7 July 1461.

“To the keeper of the great wardrobe for the time being. Order every year to give James Damport during his life livery of one gown of the suit of esquires of the household; as the King has granted to him the office of one of his serjeants at arms for life from 4 March last, on which day he did actually occupy the same, taking therein 12d. a day of the issues, profits and revenues of the lordship, manor and hundred of Odyham co. Southampton, and one gown a year as aforesaid towards Christmas.”

Rules were in place as to who could distribute Livery. Edward IV updated these in 1468 and they were again updated and enforced more stringently under Henry VII.

Livery and Maintenance links

Murray and Blue Blog – Livery, Colour and the Battle of Barnet

Erenow – The Livery and Maintenance System –  What was Livery and Maintenance?

Livery Badge Image Credit

Livery badge; lead alloy. In the form of a collared swan standing in a crescent. This livery badge is in the form of a shield bearing the arms of St. George within a collar of Esses terminating in buckles. The shield is being held by an angel beneath cloud frills and the field behind the cruciform device is shaded with beading. The reverse of the badge bears hatching. Late Medieval, English. British Museum released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license © The Trustees of the British Museum.

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