The Provincial Guilds of Great Britain, Ireland and the USA

The City of London is not alone in having extant trade, craft and profession guilds in the Great Britain and Ireland. Other towns and cities in the UK and Ireland have their own guilds, some of them connected to their City of London brethren. There are also two guilds in the United States of America that have close connections with their City of London counterparts. What follows is a list of those trade, craft or professional guilds that exist in other parts of the UK, Ireland and the USA. More specifically this list includes those organisations that have a website discoverable by persistent searching! 

Other guilds, incorporations and associations of Freemen are known to exist that do not appear to have a website at the time of publication (August 18th 2018). I welcome contact from any ancient trade, craft, merchant guild or incorporation, or freemen’s association in the United Kingdom wishing to join this list. Please use the contact form if you wish to inform me if you spot any errors or omissions in the list below.

A printed directory of The Outwith London Guilds of Great Britain is available from The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass (published 1996). Many of the guilds listed below are drawn from that directory and were known to exist in 1996 prior to the widespread use of websites and Internet search engines. Tom Hoffman (Birkbeck College, University of London) has further produced a comprehensive bibliography of the guilds in London, the UK and elsewhere in Europe compiled in 2011. A comprehensive list of towns and cities in England that admit Freemen was published in 1976 by Harry Ward, founding president of the Freemen of England and Wales, not all of those towns and cities have associated trade, craft or professional guilds, although they may have associations of Freemen which may style itself as a Guild.

For the avoidance of doubt, the definition of Guild that I use is a trade, craft or professional association that is tied to a town or city, is recognised by the town or city government, and exists either by prescription or charter. This definition excludes modern trade associations that are companies limited by guarantee operating across the UK (e.g., the Guild of Beauty Therapists).



Among the Scottish Guilds and Incorporations the various guilds of the Glasgow Trades House are noted for being particularly active and well organised (not to suggest the other are not). Two Incorporations have important regulatory roles: the Edinburgh Goldsmiths’ Company administering the Assay Office in Scotland, and the Incorporation of Surgeons in Edinburgh being more commonly known as The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh which used to have a physic garden where Edinburgh Waverley railway station is now located.


A recent addition to the network of Guilds and Incorporations is the Worshipful Livery Company of Wales, formerly The Welsh Livery Guild. The Company is based upon the model of a City of London Livery Company, albeit not tied to one particular occupation, and received its Royal Charter in September 2013.

Note: Freemen are known to be admitted in several other towns in England and Wales, although they do not appear to have formed an association, or have connections with an extant guild in their town. A list of towns where Freemen are admitted may be found at the website of the Freemen of England and Wales.


Only two guilds survive in Ireland, that of the Dublin Goldsmiths' Company which like its London and Edinburgh brethren is responsible for administering that nation’s Assay Office and the Apothecaries’ Hall of Ireland which is the charitable vestige of a former Company of Apothecaries that had premises in Dublin’s Merrion Square (the building still exists).

  • The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin
  • The Apothecaries Hall of Ireland (while the Apothecaries had a physical hall at no. 95 Merrion Square, the Hall's archives are now located in the offices of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland). The Apothecaries of Ireland are sometimes referred to as The Worshipful Company of Apothecaries of Ireland, or the Guild of St Luke, though neither is strictly correct as the Guild of St Luke was a precursor organisation that became the Apothecaries Hall upon the formation of the company by Act of Parliament in 1791. (Thanks to Citizen and Apothecary Peadar O’Mórdha for this information).

The United States of America

Two companies have close connections with their City of London counterparts, and even go so far as to share armorial bearings.

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