LIVERY, originally the provision of food, clothing, etc., to household servants. The word is an adaptation of the AngloFrench liwee, from livrer, to deliver (Late Lat. liberare, to set free, to serve, to give freely), in the special sense of distributing. In the sense of a fixed allowance of provender for horses, it survives now only in "livery-stable," i.e. an establishment where horses and carriages are kept or let out for hire. From the meaning of provision of food and clothing the word is applied to a uniform worn by the retainers and servants of a household. In the 15th century in England a badge, collar or other insignia, the "livery," was worn by all those who pledged themselves to support one of the great barons in return for his promise of "maintenance," i.e. of protection against enemies; thus arose the custom of " livery and maintenance," suppressed by Henry VII. The members of the London city companies wore a distinctive costume or " livery," whence the term " livery companies." In law, the term "livery" means "delivery," the legal handing of property into the possession of another; for " livery of seisin " see FEOFFMENT.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)