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At Sixes and Sevens


A saying that refers to being disorientated or confused, or to a disagreement between parties. The origin of this saying is less clear, but it is popularly attributed to a dispute between two livery companies in the City of London. Livery companies started as trade guilds, as far back as Saxon times, which promoted and protected the craft and trade of their market (for example Woolmakers, Goldsmiths, Grocers, Fishmongers, Vintners, Salters). The various guilds vied for power and influence, and in 1484, this power struggle erupted into violence between the Merchant Taylors and Skinners. The Lord Mayor, Robert Billesdon, made a Solomon-like proclamation, resolving that the two companies should have precedence over the other in alternating years. In 1515, the order of precedence for the 48 livery companies at the time was established – with the Merchant Taylors and the Skinners alternating their position at 6th and 7th in the order of precedence, a tradition which continues to this day!

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