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John Kennedy Melling

John Kennedy Melling FCA, FFB, FRSA, FTII, MCFA, OMAA.
1927 – 2018

PM John Burrell writes:

“On 2nd November we learned that John Kennedy Melling (JKM) had died on 10th October. Being almost 92 he had been inactive for many years and it is doubtful many of our current membership knew him.  However, we have all benefited from the time he devoted to the then Company of Builders in its early years.

JKM was a singular man, a self-described dilettante immediately recognisable by his monocle and velvet cloak.  Not in any way one’s idea of a conventional Liveryman but John was ‘Livery’ through and through.

He was a Past Master Poulter (1980-81) and a Liveryman of the Bakers, Farriers and Constructors (admitted July 1977). He published many works on many subjects including Discovering London’s Guilds and Liveries, London and the Guilds of Europe and The Poulters of London. He was a past editor of The Liveryman Magazine.

Being an acknowledged authority on the Livery caused our Founders to seek John’s advice on City and Livery ways, and that freely gave. He subsequently wrote a history of our early days which members can find on our old website, and is also available by clicking here.  Alongside that is a potted biography detailing his many interests and achievements.

Having joined the Company of Builders in July 1977 he continued to advise and contribute organising the Masters Summer visits to Chatsworth (Master Peter Allen 1979-80) and Aberdeen (Master Ken Davis 1990-91).

I cannot overstate the importance of the contribution JKM made to our formation and first steps as a then Guild seeking Livery. Moreover I cannot forget the help he gave me personally. As Senior Warden I also sought his advice on the ways of the City and the Livery.   Despite my having asked him a favour he twice invited me to the BAFTA Club (he was a long standing member) for lunch at his expense where he sought to steer me away from errors of which I avoided a few. In return I invited him to be principal guest at my Installation Dinner where he spoke on the lighter side of the City and Livery.

As I said, he was a singular person but a kind and generous man who the Builders / Constructors were lucky to have.”


JKM’s passing was subsequently marked by an obituary in “The Times” newspaper on 4 December 2018.  The full obituary can be read here.

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