The Society of Apothecaries was incorporated as a City Livery Company by royal charter from James I on 6 December 1617 in recognition of apothecaries' specialist skills in compounding and dispensing medicines. The Society received its Grant of Arms six days later.
Charter and Grant of Arms
The Society's Coat of Arms, dated 12 December 1617, is signed by William Clarenceux King of Arms. It features Apollo (the god of healing) killing the dragon of disease, supported by two unicorns (from King James's royal arms), and a rhinoceros as the crest (the powdered horn was believed to be medicinal). The motto, from the first book of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses', translates: "I am spoken of all over the world as one who brings help"
The Society of Apothecaries is no.58, and the largest, of the livery companies of the City of London. In addition to its traditional civic, ceremonial, social and charitable activities, the Society has been licensing doctors to practise Medicine since 1815. It continues to do so as a member of the United Examining Board, and also offers 11 postgraduate medical diplomas.
The Apothecaries acquired their Hall in Blackfriars in 1632. Re-built on the same site immediately after its destruction in the Great Fire of 1666, it is the oldest extant livery company Hall in the City.