Barbers' Poles (Origin Of). In the reign of Henry VIII., who confirmed the charter of the College of Surgeons, there were few surgeons - in fact, only ten in rumber - who confined themselves entirely to the profession of surgery, and whose portraits have been handed down to us in one of the finest efforts of Holbein's pencil, where these ten worthies are represented on their knees before the king. This celebrated painting is now in the possession of the Barbers' Company. Up to this time a co-partnership existed between barbers and surgeons; and we find a branch of the fraternity at Newcastle, in 1742, ordaining that "no brother should shave on a Sun-da ;" and, moreover, that "no one should shave John Robinson till he pays what he owes to John Shafto." The sign, or signal, announcing the residence of one of this fraternity was a long pole affixed to the doorpost, as may be seen in many places in the metropolis at this hour. According to the historic account of this sign, it had its origin in "ancient Rome," where " 'Twas ordered that a huge long pole, With bason decked, should grace the hole, To guide the wounded."
"But when they ended all their wars, And men grew out of love with scars - Their trade decaying: to keep swimming They joyn'd the other trade of trimming; And to their poles to publish either, Thus twisted both their trades together."