Guilds (or "Mysteries") were probably in existence before the Norman Conquest and were to be found, not only in London, but in other parts of the country and on the continent. The term "mystery" is still used and comes from the Latin "misterium", meaning "professional skill". In the City of London, trades tended to concentrate in discrete areas, and the present Wards of the City still reflect that. For example, the Vintners' Company is in the Ward of Vintry.
There are presently 108 Livery Companies in the City of London. They are the direct descendants of the medieval trade guilds which exercised considerable influence in the City from the 13th century, defining and controlling both trade and the City's resultant wealth and power.
Some maintain very close links with their trades, but all continue to be influential bodies which, in addition to being the custodians of their fine Livery Halls and historical contents, also play a substantial role in the fields of education and charity. A number of Companies have extensive interests in a wide range of schools and universities, many maintain almshouses, and all donate significant sums to worthy causes.
The Twelve Great Livery Companies are the senior Companies by precedence of 1515.
Please click HERE for more detailed information from Wikipedia, including order of precedence
The Corporation of London and the Livery Companies share many common goals and objectives. Only Liverymen may elect the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and many ceremonial occasions are supported by the Companies.