Short History of Farriery in England until 1691 October 05 2015

All horse owners have a farrier who they trust and call out regularly to shoe their horses.  The farrier is a source of advice about the health of our horse’s hooves.  However how did the occupation in England develop from what it was in the past to what it has become today?  A farrier used to be a horse doctor which of course covered shoeing too and it is only in the last hundred years that people who shoe horses became known as farriers. 

There are two versions of how the name farrier came to be about – it could have come from the Latin faber ferrarius which translates to blacksmith.  Or it could have originated from the name of a nobleman who came over with William the Conqueror in 1066.  Henry de Farrariis was a French nobleman who came from the French town of Ferrieres, a place that had many iron mines.  So, of course, Henry got his name from the town, which in turn got its name from the iron mines.  In Dollar & Wheatley's "Horse Shoeing and the Horse's Foot," it is said that Henry de Farrariis was asked by William the Conqueror to superintend and encourage farriery.  It is most likely that the people that Henry asked were the horse doctors, thus the two occupations merged. 

We next hear about farriers in 1356 – the mayor of the City of London decided that the farriers needed to be controlled more as there many dangerous incidents in London.  The mayor formed them into "Marshalls of the Citty of London. “ The word marshall came from an old Frankish word meaning horse servant.  Over time they became organised as a group and farriers operating in London and Westminster were granted a charter in 1674 by King Charles II, setting up the following "Brotherhood of Farryers within our citties of London and Westminster."  The charter named 49 farriers working within seven miles of the City of London and one of the farriers was Andrew Snape, farrier to Charles II.  Andrew Snape wrote the book the Anatomy of the Horse.  The charter does not make any direct reference to horseshoeing but does mention that properties and parts of the city could be searched in order to root out and prosecute those producing defective workmanship. 

However it is believed that much of the history of the farriers was lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666: in 1691 it was stated in a testimonial by George Daggett (the new clerk to the Company of Farriers) that he was only given three books by the outgoing clerk.  It is believed that the rest were destroyed in the fire, as the surviving three books were kept in a different place.