In 1403 the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London approved the formation of a fraternity or Guild of Stationers (booksellers who copied and sold manuscript books and writing materials and limners who decorated and illustrated them). Each appointed a warden to control and regulate them.
By the early 16th century printers had joined The Stationers' Company and by the mid century the printers had more or less ousted the manuscript trade. In 1557 the Guild received a Royal Charter of Incorporation and in 1559, the right to wear a distinctive livery. They became a livery company, numbered 47 in precedence.
The Stationers' Charter secured them from outside competition, but they had to settle their own internal disputes, which mostly concerned infringements of ownership of 'copies' or what we would now call copyright.