The Honourable Company of Master Mariners is governed by a Committee of Wardens who are responsible to the Court of Assistants. All of the Wardens and Assistants are elected by the full members of the Honourable Company. The day to day management is undertaken by the Clerk to the Company.
Each year the Members and Liverymen of the Honourable Company vote to elect candidates to the Court of Assistants. 21 members are then appointed and serve for three years, with one third re-elected annually. The members of the Court then elect from their own body, the three Wardens of the Honourable Company. Thus the Court consists of 18 Assistants and 3 Wardens and these meet quarterly onboard the HQS Wellington. All members of the Court have full voting rights and any changes pass with a simple majority.
Those Wardens who have not served as Master are known as ‘before the Chair’ and gain seniority until they are appointed as the Senior Warden.
The Senior Warden, for his year of office, works closely with the Clerk in supporting the administration and management of the Company while preparing for his year as Master. Traditionally the Senior Warden is elected Master for one year from 1 May to 30 April.
The three Wardens of The Honourable Company are elected from within the Court of Assistants. The Wardens meet in committee four times a year and have a responsibility as a ‘Cabinet’ to the Parliament of The Company, the Court. As such they are responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the Court and the routine management of The Honourable Company.
The Master is head of the Company, Chairman of the Court of Assistants and represents the Honourable Company in the Livery as a whole and with the Corporation of London.
Immediate Past Master
The retiring Master from previous year becomes the ‘Immediate Past Master” a post he holds for one year. In years to follow, that person becomes a Past Master. The three most recent past masters retain their seats on the Court.
Royal Past Masters
The Honourable Company was very fortunate to have several Royal Past Masters. HRH The Princess Royal, HRH Charles, Prince of Wales, HRH Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh and our very first Master, HRH Edward, Prince of Wales.