A cordwainer (/ˈkɔːrdˌweɪnər/) is a shoemaker who makes new shoes from new leather. The cordwainer's trade can be contrasted with the cobbler's trade, according to a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to repairing shoes.[1] This usage distinction is not universally observed, as the word cobbler is widely used for tradespersons who make or repair shoes.[2][3][4] A major British dictionary[5] says that the word cordwainer is archaic, "still used in the names of guilds, for example, the Cordwainers' Company"; but its definition of cobbler mentions only mending,[5] reflecting the older distinction. Play 14 of the Chester Cycle was presented by the guild of corvisors or corvysors.[6][7]

Capri - 7224
A cordwainer making shoes, Capri, Italy
Schuhmacherwerkstatt HH
A cordwainer's desk in Hamburg, in the background a shelf with lasts


The term cordwainer entered English as cordewaner(e), from the Anglo-Norman cordewaner (from Old French cordoanier, -ouanier, -uennier, etc.), and initially denoted a worker in cordwain or cordovan, the leather historically produced in Moorish Córdoba, Spain in the Middle Ages, as well as, more narrowly, a shoemaker.[8] The earliest attestation in English is a reference to “Randolf se cordewan[ere]”, ca. 1100.[1][8] According to the OED, the term is now considered obsolete except where it persists in the name of a trade-guild or company, or where otherwise employed by trade unions.[8]


The terms cordwainer and cobbler have often been considered not interchangeable, according to a tradition in Britain that restricted cobblers to repairing shoes.[1] In this usage, a cordwainer is someone who makes new shoes using new leather, where as a cobbler is someone who repairs shoes.[1] Medieval cordovan leather was used for the highest quality shoes, but cordwainers also used domestically produced leathers and were not solely producers of luxury footwear.

British Isles

In the historic London guild system, the cobblers and cordwainers were separate guilds,[9] and the cobblers were forbidden from working in new leather. Historically, cobblers also made shoes, but only using old leather recovered from discarded or repaired shoes.[10] Today, many makers of bespoke shoes will also repair their own work, but shoe repairers are not normally in a position to manufacture new footwear.

Cordwainer statue Watling Street
A statue of a cordwainer in the Cordwainer ward of the City of London.

In London, the occupation of cordwainer was historically controlled by the guild of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. They were granted a royal charter of incorporation in 1439, but had received their first ordinance in 1272.[9] The ward of the City of London named Cordwainer is historically where most cordwainers lived and worked. [9]

Until 2000, a Cordwainers' Technical College existed in London. For over a hundred years, the College had been recognised as one of the world's leading establishments for training shoemakers and leather workers. It produced some of the leading fashion designers, including Jimmy Choo and Patrick Cox. In 2000, Cordwainers' College was absorbed into the London College of Fashion, the shoe-design and accessories departments of which are now called "Cordwainers at London College of Fashion".

In Scotland, in 1722, the cordwainers petitioned “to be incorporated and separated from the shoe-makers ‘or those who make single-soled shoes’”.[8]


Cordwainers were among those who sailed to Virginia in 1607 to settle in Jamestown. By 1616, the secretary of Virginia reported that the leather and shoe trades were flourishing. Christopher Nelme, of England, was the earliest shoemaker in America whose name has been recorded; he sailed to Virginia from Bristol, England, in 1619.[1]

In 1620, the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts near the site of modern Provincetown. Nine years later, in 1629, the first shoemakers arrived, bringing their skills with them.[1]

The Honourable Cordwainers' Company, a modern guild, was founded in 1984 by a group of shoemakers and historians, and drew up its charter in the following year. In 1987 it “incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization in the state of Virginia, the home of America's first shoemakers”, and was granted official status through recognition by The Master of The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, London, England.[11]


Cordwainers were also among the early settlers of Canada. On 14 June 1749, the newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Edward Cornwallis, arrived off Chebucto Head, Nova Scotia in the sloop-of-war HMS Sphinx with the objective of establishing what is now Halifax. By 27 June, the thirteen transport ships following the Sphinx reached the harbour with the initial 2576 British settlers; among them were nineteen cordwainers.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "What is a Cordwainer?". The Honourable Cordwainers’ Company. Retrieved 19 Oct 2015.
  2. ^ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  3. ^ Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster.
  4. ^ Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Merriam-Webster.
  5. ^ a b Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford Dictionaries Online, Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ The Chester Plays
  7. ^ This glossary defines corvisor or corvysor as shoemaker
  8. ^ a b c d "cordwainer". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ a b c "What is a Cordwainer?". The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. Retrieved 19 Oct 2015.
  10. ^ Goubitz, Olaf; van Driel-Murray, Carol; Groenman-Van Waateringe, Willy (2001). Stepping through time : archaeological footwear from prehistoric times until 1800. Zwolle [Netherlands]: Stichting Promotie Archeologie.
  11. ^ "History of the H.C.C." The Honourable Cordwainer's Company. Retrieved 19 Oct 2015.
  12. ^ Akins, Thomas Beamish, ed. (1869). "List of the Settlers Who Came Out with Governor Cornwallis to Chebucto, in June 1749". Selections from the Public Documents of the Province of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Charles Annand. pp. 506–557.
A Planet Named Shayol

"A Planet Named Shayol" is a science fiction story by American writer Cordwainer Smith (pen name of Paul Linebarger), set in his Instrumentality universe. It was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine in October 1961.

In the story, a man convicted of crimes against the Empire is sent for punishment on the planet Shayol—a name derived from Sheol, the Hebrew afterlife.

Atomsk (novel)

Atomsk, first published in 1949, is a Cold War spy novel by "Carmichael Smith", one of several pseudonyms used by Paul Linebarger, who wrote fiction most prolifically as Cordwainer Smith. Written two years after Winston Churchill's Sinews of Peace address, Atomsk is the first espionage novel of the Cold War, inaugurating a genre exemplified by writers such as Ian Fleming and John Le Carré.Linebarger's third published novel, it has long been out of print. Paper copies regularly command figures in the hundreds of U.S. dollars in the second-hand market, even though it is also available as an inexpensive e-book.As well as drawing on Linebarger's own expertise in the field of psychological warfare, it is a study of the personality of an U.S. operative (Major Michael Dugan) who has little in common with James Bond except his extreme resourcefulness under cover and in danger. A man of many identities who sees himself to some extent as a blank sheet, he goes from calling himself "Comrade Nobody" to saying "I'm anybody". The novel also has an underlying, albeit devious and ambiguous, message of peace. As one character says, learning to like people is "the only way to win wars, or even better, to get out of them."

Aye, and Gomorrah

"Aye, and Gomorrah..." is a science fiction short story by American writer Samuel R. Delany. It is the first short story Delany sold, and won the 1967 Nebula Award for best short story. Before it appeared in Driftglass and Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories, it first appeared as the final story in Harlan Ellison's seminal 1967 anthology, Dangerous Visions. It was controversial because of its disturbing sexual subject matter, and has been called "one of the best stories by a gay man published in the 1960s." Graham Sleight has described it as a "revisionist take" on Cordwainer Smith's story "Scanners Live in Vain".

Cheap (ward)

Cheap is a small ward in the City of London. It stretches west to east from King Edward Street, the border with Farringdon Within ward, to Old Jewry, which adjoins Walbrook; and north to south from Gresham Street, the border with Aldersgate and Bassishaw wards, to Cheapside, the boundary with Cordwainer and Bread Street wards. The name Cheap derives from the Old English word "chep" for "market".The following roads run north to south across the ward: St. Martin's Le Grand, Foster Lane, Gutter Lane, Wood Street, Milk Street, King Street, and Ironmonger Lane. Within its boundaries are two Anglican churches: St Vedast Foster Lane and St Lawrence Jewry; a third church, St Mildred, Poultry, was demolished in 1872. Several Livery Halls are located in Cheap, including those of the Mercers', Goldsmiths', Wax Chanders' and Saddlers' Companies.

A small part of the Guildhall lies within the ward's boundaries: the main entrance and main hall itself; the remainder is in Bassishaw. Also within Cheap are the Lord Mayor's and City of London Court and the southern end of Basinghall Street.


Cordonnier is a French-language occupational surname literally meaning "cobbler". From Old Fr.

cordouanier (cordonnier), a cordwainer, a worker in Cuir de Cordoue ("Cordovan leather"), literally meaning "leather from Córdoba"

The surname may refer to:

Alphonse-Amédée Cordonnier (1848–1930), French sculptor

Antoine Cordonnier (1892–1918), French fighter pilot

Eugène Cordonnier (1892–1967), French gymnast

Julien Cordonnier (born 1980), French footballer

Louis Marie Cordonnier (1854–1940), French architect

Victor Cordonnier (1858–1936), French Army general

Cordwainer (ward)

Cordwainer is a small, almost rectangular-shaped ward in the City of London. It is named after the cordwainers, the professional shoemakers who historically lived and worked in this particular area of London; there is a Livery Company for the trade — the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. The ward is sometimes referred to as the "Cordwainers' ward".

It is bounded to the north by Poultry and Cheapside (the boundary with Cheap ward); to the west by the eponymous Bread Street and the ward of the same name; to the south by Cannon Street (and Vintry and Dowgate wards); and to the east by Walbrook ward and a street of the same name.

Streets within Cordwainer's boundaries are, amongst others, Bow Lane, Pancras Lane and part of Watling Street. Queen Street runs north-south through the centre of the ward.

Cordwainer Smith

Cordwainer Smith ( KORD-way-nər) was the pen-name used by American author Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (July 11, 1913 – August 6, 1966) for his science fiction works. Linebarger was a noted East Asia scholar and expert in psychological warfare. ("Cordwainer" is an archaic word for "a worker in cordwain or cordovan leather; a shoemaker", and a "smith" is "one who works in iron or other metals; esp. a blacksmith or farrier": two kinds of skilled workers with traditional materials.)

Linebarger also employed the literary pseudonyms "Carmichael Smith" (for his political thriller Atomsk), "Anthony Bearden" (for his poetry) and "Felix C. Forrest" (for the novels Ria and Carola).

He died of a heart attack in 1966 at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, at age 53.

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Jay Ellison (May 27, 1934 – June 28, 2018) was an American writer, known for his prolific and influential work in New Wave speculative fiction, and for his outspoken, combative personality. Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho, described Ellison as "the only living organism I know whose natural habitat is hot water".His published works include more than 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, comic book scripts, teleplays, essays, and a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media. Some of his best-known work includes the Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever", his A Boy and His Dog cycle, and his short stories "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" and " 'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman". He was also editor and anthologist for Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). Ellison won numerous awards, including multiple Hugos, Nebulas, and Edgars.

Instrumentality of Mankind

In the science fiction of Cordwainer Smith, the Instrumentality of Mankind refers both to Smith's personal future history and universe and to the central government of humanity within that fictional universe. The Instrumentality of Mankind is also the title of a paperback collection of short stories by Cordwainer Smith published in 1979 (now superseded by the later The Rediscovery of Man, which collects all of Smith's short stories).

Knee-high boot

Knee-high boots are boots that rise to the knee, or slightly thereunder or over. They are generally tighter around the leg shaft and ankle than at the top. Originally made of leather, versions made of a synthetic rubber (PVC, Neoprene, etc.), they are used by fishermen, dairy workers, stable hands, duck hunters, clammers, etc. to protect the feet from water, mud, manure, etc. and to provide traction on slippery surfaces. Most slip on, but there are varieties with buckles and those that lace up.

Knee-high boots hare used in the fashion world since at least the 1950s. The fashion boot article discusses this in depth.

Certain types can also be known as muckers or fishing boots.

In university ROTC units, some members wear a dress boot reminiscent of a mounted cavalry boot, such as the boots worn by seniors in the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets. The leather slip-on boots may be accented with spurs or tassels, or be relatively unadorned. The boots are custom-fit by a cordwainer who takes a mold of the legs of the intended wearer to create a last for the bootmaking process. The unique pair of boots are then carefully sewn onto soles.

Such boots may be extremely difficult to remove, necessitating the use of talcum powder for lubrication, fellow cadets to manually pull the boot, and for elaborate boot pullers.


NESFA Press is the publishing arm of the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. The NESFA Press primarily produces three types of books:

Books honoring the guest(s) of honor at their annual convention, Boskone, and at some Worldcons and other conventions.

Books in the NESFA's Choice series, which bring back into print the works of deserving classic SF writers such as James Schmitz, Cordwainer Smith, C. M. Kornbluth, and Zenna Henderson.

Reference books on science fiction and science fiction fandom.


Norstrilia is the only novel published by Paul Linebarger under the pseudonym Cordwainer Smith, which he used for his science-fiction works (though several related short stories were once packaged together as a short novel Quest of the Three Worlds). It takes place in Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind universe, and was heavily influenced by the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. The novel is in part a sequel to Smith's 1962 short story "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell", featuring some of the same characters and settings.

Scanners Live in Vain

"Scanners Live in Vain" is a science fiction short story by Cordwainer Smith (pen name of American writer Paul Linebarger), set in his Instrumentality of Mankind future history. It was originally published in the magazine Fantasy Book in 1950. It was judged by the Science Fiction Writers of America to be one of the finest short stories prior to 1965 and was included in the anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929–1964. A revised text, based on Linebarger's original manuscript, appears in the 1993 NESFA Press collection The Rediscovery of Man (where it is accompanied by a facsimile of his original cover letter) and the 2007 collection When the People Fell. The story was nominated for a Retro Hugo award in 2001. It has been published in Hebrew, Italian, French, German and Dutch translations.

The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal

"The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal" is a science fiction short story by Cordwainer Smith, set in Smith's "Instrumentality" universe. It was first published in Amazing Stories in May 1964, and is collected in The Rediscovery of Man compendium.

The Dead Lady of Clown Town

"The Dead Lady of Clown Town" is a science fiction short story by Cordwainer Smith, set in his Instrumentality of Mankind future history. It was originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1964. It was included in the collection The Best of Cordwainer Smith and most recently in The Rediscovery of Man short story collection. A graphic novel adaptation by Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta was to have appeared in DC Comics during the late 1980s, but never materialized.

The Game of Rat and Dragon

"The Game of Rat and Dragon" is a short story by American author Cordwainer Smith, written in 1954 and published in Galaxy Science Fiction in 1955. It is set in the far future, though no date is given. It occurs in the same universe as other Cordwainer Smith novels, with a passing reference to the super-powerful regulatory 'Instrumentality'.

The 'dragons' are mysterious aliens which attack human starships and drive the inhabitants insane.

Cats guided by telepaths are used to fight the 'dragons', because of their very quick reactions. They see the aliens as giant rats: hence the story title. Also the humans form very strong bonds with these cats, seeing them as almost human. Non-telepaths sometimes mock them for this.

The Rediscovery of Man

The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith (ISBN 0-915368-56-0) is a 1993 book containing the complete collected short fiction of American science fiction author Cordwainer Smith. It was edited by James A. Mann and published by NESFA Press.

Most of the stories take place in Smith's future history set in the universe of the Instrumentality of Mankind; the collection is arranged in the chronological order in which the stories take place in the fictional timeline. The collection also contains short stories which do not take place in this universe.

Within the context of the future history, the Rediscovery of Mankind refers to the Instrumentality's re-introduction of chance and unhappiness into the sterile utopia that they had created for humanity. Other than Smith's novel, Norstrilia, which takes place in the same future history, the book collects all of Smith's known science fiction writing.

Tähtivaeltaja Award

Tähtivaeltaja Award is an annual prize by Helsingin science fiction seura ry for the best science fiction book released in Finnish.

William Billers

Sir William Billers, FRS (1689 – 15 October 1745) was an Alderman, Sheriff and Lord Mayor of London.He was born in Thorley, Hertfordshire, where the Billers family, who originated from Kirby Bellars in Leicestershire, owned Thorley Hall and manor.

He became a London haberdasher and a member of the Haberdashers' Company, to whom he donated a painting entitled "The Wise Men's Offering" which hung in Haberdashers' Hall.In 1720-21 he was elected joint Sheriff of the City of London and in 1733-34 elected Lord Mayor of London. In 1722 he became an Alderman for Cordwainer Ward.

In 1726 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1727.He died in 1745 and was buried in Thorley church. He had married Ann, the daughter of Sir Rowland Aynsworth, by whom he had 2 sons and 4 daughters. His two sons and a daughter predeceased him. His eldest daughter Ann, who married John Olmius (later Baron Waltham) was his eventual heiress.

After his death his extensive library was auctioned by Christopher Cock at his house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden on 22 November 1745.

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