Control, power, and punishment
On the 11th July 1482 , King Edward IV granted the Company the first of its 8 Charters.
In the preamble it states: “The freemen of the Mistery of Cooks have for a long time personally taken and borne and to this day do not cease to take and bear great and manifold pains and labour at our great feast of Saint George as at others according to our command.”
The Charter granted by King James I in 1616, again describes the Cooks’ many services to the Crown: “As well at the Royal Feaste of our Coronacon at the intertayninge of our deere brother the Kinge of Denmarke, the Marriadge of my well beloved daughter the Ladie Elizabeth, our annuall Feastes of Sainte George, as at the intertayninge of Forraine Princes and upon all other occasions.” (sic)
Today the Company acts under the Charter granted by King Charles II in 1664.
Masters, Wardens, and the Court were granted control over the trade in the City and suburbs. They wielded considerable power, being sanctioned to search, examine, and scrutinize the business places of Cooks, and, to punish by seizure and fine the selling of unseasonable meat or the breaking of other ordinances of the Company.
In the 14th Century, one of the most common punishments for providing bad food was to send the wrongdoer to the pillory where the offending food was burnt under him.
In addition, the Cooks controlled the system of apprenticeship, holidays, hours of work, wages, and prices. They arranged pageants and made charitable payments to widows, orphans, and former Cooks in poverty.
King Edward IV