THE Barbers of London were a Fraternity before the Time of Edward the Second, and by Letters-Patent of Edward the Fourth were made a Body Corporate, and invested with several Powers and Pri­vileges. In the 32d Year of Henry the Eighth, the publick Policy thought proper to unite them with another Company (not then incorporated) called the Surgeons of London, in order, (as is most probable) to transfer those Powers and Privileges to the latter, without directly appearing to wrest them from the former to whom they had been originally granted.

This Coalition of the two Companies having now subsisted above Two Hundred Years, the Barbers are surpris'd to find an Attempt made by the Surgeons to dissolve it, by Authority of Parliament, without their Participation or Consent.

The principal Reasons assigned by the Surgeons, in their printed Case, to induce the Legislature to this extraordinary Act of Power, are,

Firſt, That the Barbers, in the Time of Henry the Eighth, were all Sur­geons, and that the Parliament, by uniting them with others of supe­rior Abilities, intended their Improvement in that Profession; but that they having, long since, ceased to intermeddle with any Branch of Surgery, this Intent of the Act is frustrated, and the laudable Purpose of the Union at an end.

Secondly, That by this Alteration of the Circumstances of things, the Junction of the two Companies (how advantageous soever in former Times) is now become highly inconvenient.

Thirdly, That the Surgeons, if distinctly incorporated, would be encouraged to meet and communicate to one another their Experiments and Successes.

And Fourthly, That the like Separation has taken place at Paris, Edinburgh, and Glascow.

BUT the first of these Reasons is grounded on a Mistake in point of Fact; for tho' it be true that the Barbers were all originally Surgeons, and incorporated as such, yet long before the Union in question, most of them had quitted the actual Exercise of that Profession, and the Right itself of exercising it in virtue of their Charter, had been * taken away [Page 2]by Parliament: And tho' in the Preamble of the uniting Act, both Companies are stiled Surgeons, yet from the Enacting Part (which ex­presly restrains the Barbers from occupying any part of Surgery, except Tooth-drawing) it is evident the Legislature did not consider them as real Surgeons, nor could intend their Improvement in a Science they were forbid to practise, so that the Circumstances of Things are not altered from what they then were, or from what they manifestly were designed to be; and therefore the Barbers having no Relation to the Surgeons, or their Art (as it was then deemed no Objection to their Union) [...]annot now, with any Propriety, be insisted on as a Reason for their Separation.

With regard to the Inconveniencies complained of, as the Charge is general, this general Answer only can be given, That the Barbers have always, with the greatest Deference, submitted to the Surgeons in all Matters peculiar to them, and chearfully contributed, out of their com­mon Stock, towards every Expence which they have declared necessary for the Honour or Advancement of their Profession. And since none of these Inconveniencies have been of Consequence enough to deserve being particularly pointed out, we may venture to pronounce them in­considerable, and unworthy the Attention and Redress of Parliament; and the rather, as all of them put together, have not prevented the Surgeons of London from carrying the Improvement of their Art, both in Speculation and Practice, to a greater Height than has been done in any other Place or Nation.

That the frequent Meetings of ingenious Men, and their free Com­munications on the Subject of their Profession, may tend to the Benefit of Mankind in general, and to the Honour of their Country in particular, is not denied: But surely the Constitution of the united Company is no obstacle to these laudable Purposes. The Barbers have for many Years, at their Monthly Courts, submitted to withdraw at a stated Hour, and resigned the Parlour to the Surgeons: And if this Condescen­sion is not supposed to afford them sufficient Time for Conversation on these particular Days, nothing hinders them from holding seperate Assemblies at the Hall almost every other Day in the Year.

As to what is said to have been done at Paris, Edinburgh, and Glascow, no particular answer can be given, unless it appeared by what Means, for what Reasons, and upon what Terms the Separations in those Places were brought about. In London there are but two Instances of Separations of Companies, viz. that of the Feltmakers from the Haberdashers in 1604, and that of the Apothecaries from the Grocers in 1617; but both these were effected by mutual Consent, without the Intervention of Parliament; and it may be proper to observe, that the Feltmakers miscarried in a former Application for an exclusive Charter in 1576 for want of the Haberdashers Consent.

Upon the whole, therefore, the Barbers humbly hope the forgoing Reasons will be deemed insufficient to induce the Legislature to destroy an Union they themselves thought proper to form, an Union which two hundred Years Existence has rendred venerable, and which, by [Page 3]the Improvements above-mentioned, appears to have answered all the Purposes for which it was established.

But if for other Reasons (which the Surgeons say may be given) the Parliament shall be inclined to favour them in this part of their Re­quest; the Barbers, from the scrupulous Regard and Tenderness which that August Assembly has always shewn for private Property, cannot but hope they shall be continued in the Enjoyment of all their present Possessions, without any Division whatsoever, and that, for the follow­ing Reasons:

Firſt, Because most of the united Company's Lands and Tenements, (particularly the Site of their Hall, Parlour, &c.) originally belonged to them, and by the uniting Act * seem with great Justice to have been intended to remain to their sole and separate Use, tho' in fact the Sur­geons have hitherto been indulged in the equal Enjoyment of them with the Barbers.

Secondly, Because the Surgeons Share of what may have been acquired since the Union, will scarce be an adequate Recompence to the Barbers for the above Indulgence, much less for the unmerited Loss of a Bro­therhood now so honourable and advantageous to them.

Thirdly, Because the Expences of the Barbers when distinctly incor­porated, can fall but very little, if any thing, short of those of the united Company, so that a Reduction of Income must subject them to very great Difficulties, which (considering that they neither desire, nor have given the Surgeons just Cause to desire a Separation) would be extremely hard and unreasonable.

Laſtly, Because the present flourishing Condition of the Surgeons, (the only real Alteration in the Circumstances of Things) will sufficient­ly enable them to support the Dignity of their new and favourite In­stitution with becoming Splendor, without distressing their less happy Brethren the Barbers.


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