London Metropolitan Archives - Item Details

CORPS OF COMMISSIONAIRES

Date of Creation:

1824 - 2022

Reference Code:

LMA/4777

Scope and Content:
  • This collection contains records of the Corps of Commissionaires, the oldest security company in the world, dating from its foundation in 1859 to the 21st century, as well as records relating to Captain Walter, the founder, which pre-date the foundation of the Corps (1824 onwards). The early history of the Corps, the ethos behind it and circumstances leading to its creation, development and subsequent success are particularly well documented through a comprehensive range of documents that include the founder’s correspondence, general orders, minutes, rules and regulations and newspaper cuttings. Founder’s correspondence includes letters from well-known individuals such as Florence Nightingale, the members of the Royal Family, and military grandees of the day.

    Unfortunately, the Corps archive contains no record of commissions taken up by individual members during their time in the Corps, and no record of individual employers. Early circulars contain alphabetical lists of permanent employers who have sought commissionaires’ services, but such listings ceased to be printed in the mid-1890s. Also, the archive contains no records relating to the links between the Corps and 'The Times', other than a number of letters and articles about the Corps published there.

    Most Corps records deposited at LMA are available for general access. However, as stated in the catalogue, some are closed due to data protection regulations, while others are available only with the depositor's written permission. To apply for such permission, please contact the Archive Custodian at archives@corpssecurity.co.uk.
Extent: 17 linear metres
Classification: BUSINESSES
Site Location: London Metropolitan Archives
Level of Description:
    Collection

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Administrative History:
  • Corps of Commissionaires, still active nowadays as Corps Security, is the oldest security company in the world. It was founded in 1859 by Captain Sir Edward Walter KCB (1823-1904), a retired cavalry officer of 8th Hussars, as a way of providing employment for ex-servicemen. At the time, veterans were considered mostly unemployable due to their physical injuries and effects of psychological trauma, and many ended up destitute on their return from active service. The initial financial means for the realisation of Captain Walter's vision came from his family: his grandfather John Walter founded the ‘Daily Universal Register' in 1785, a newspaper which became better known as ‘The Times'. Edward's father, also John Walter, was the second editor of 'The Times'.

    The first employees of the Corps - known as ‘the original eight' - were seven soldiers and one sailor disabled in the Crimean War; all of them were amputees. Initially Corps members were drawn exclusively from ex-military personnel, but in 1969 were joined by former police and fire officers. Corps opened its membership to women in 1974.

    COMMANDANTS OF THE CORPS:
    - Capt. Sir Edward Walter (founder, 1823-1904)
    - Maj. Frederick Walter (Capt. Walter's nephew,1904-31)
    - Lt.-Col. Edmund Walter (Maj. Walter's son, 1931-50)
    - Capt. Norman Walter (another great-nephew of the founder, 1950-60)
    - Lt.-Col. Reginald Walter (1960-75)
    - Col. Geoffrey Pring (1975-82)
    - Col. Bruce Robertson (1982-90)
    MANAGING DIRECTORS:
    - Bruce Robertson (1990-92)
    - Christopher Salt (1992-98)
    - Francis Peck (1998-2006)
    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS:
    - Richard Moule (2007-10)
    - Peter Webster (2010-17)
    - Michael Bullock (2018-

    THE ORIGINAL EIGHT (the first commissionaires):
    - Cpl. Hancock, VC (late 9th Lancers)
    - Sgt. Parsons (late R.N.)
    - Cre. Pitt (late E.I.C.)
    - Cre. Murphy (late 41st Ft.)
    - Crl. Sgt. Platts (late 24th Ft.)
    - Cre. Mara (late 24th Ft.)
    - Cpl. Kinning (late 90th Ft.)
    - Cre. Dow (late S.F. Gds.)
Copyright: Depositor
Source of Acquisition:
  • The Corps records were first deposited at the Greater London Records Office (now London Metropolitan Archives) in 1977, when the Corps headquarters moved from Exchange Court, The Strand, to new premises at 3 Crane Court, Fleet Street. Subsequent deposits arrived in 1994 and 2019, as follows:
  • AC/77/040
  • AC/77/071
  • ACC/3313
  • B19/083
Access Restrictions: These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 2018
Arrangement: The collection is arranged into the following groups of records:
LMA/4777/A - CORPORATE
LMA/4777/B - ADMINISTRATION
LMA/4777/C - FINANCE
LMA/4777/D - SHAREHOLDING
LMA/4777/E - PERSONNEL
LMA/4777/F - PROPERTY
LMA/4777/G - PUBLICITY
LMA/4777/H - PHOTOGRAPHS (cataloguing in progress)
LMA/4777/J - OFFICERS’ ENDOWMENT FUND
LMA/4777/K - OUT-QUARTER DIVISIONS
LMA/4777/L - SUBSIDIARIES AND TRUSTEE COMPANIES
LMA/4777/M - SISTER / OVERSEAS CORPS
Publication Notes:

"Our Sergeant: History of the Corps of Commissionaries" by Peter Reese was published in 1986 by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd