England was relatively late in the gun-making game and at the time when Henry VIII ascended the throne of England in 1509, there were very few guns in England's arsenal and there was only one expert cannon maker in all of England who knew how to cast guns. Henry VIII quickly rectified the gun shortage situation by importing every gun he could buy from continental Europe and built up a sizeable arsenal very quickly. In fact, by 1513, just before a war with France, Henry placed a large order of guns with the kingdom of Venice and caused the outraged Ambassador of Venice to report back to the Doge that he already had "enough cannon to conquer hell!"
Due to the monopoly of the local guilds throughout continental Europe, many who had learned the profession could no longer practice it if they moved from one town to another, since they were not members of the gunmakers guild of the new town. Luckily for England, the guilds did not have as much power there and so when Henry VIII invited skilled gunmakers to settle in England and carry their trade there, many were only too glad to accept. Arcanus de Arcanis from Italy, Peter van Collen from Belgium, Bawde from France, Cornelius Johnson from Holland and several other skilled gunmakers of that era all made their way to London. By 1545, Henry VIII had plenty of people in his service who knew how to use, repair and make arquebuses. Along with setting them up around the Tower of London (where England's Royal Arsenal was situated), Henry requested that they train local Englishmen in their trade as well. These gunmakers were the start of the gun-making industry in England and for the next few hundred years, the industry was concentrated around the neighborhood of the Tower of London. By the time Henry's daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, ascended the throne, there was thirty-seven gunmakers plying their trade and a Dutchman named Hendricke was the most famous gunsmith in the 1590s. However, King James repealed an act of Queen Mary and granted the monopoly of gunmaking to one Edmund Nicholson and the industry declined to the point that, by 1607, there were only five gunmakers left and they petitioned Parliament to abolish the monopoly so that the "mysteries of gunmaking could be retained." Their grievance was addressed, but it wasn't until 1637 that the London Gunmakers Company was established and this guild later began to dominate England's firearm industry to the detriment of other centers of manufacturing. In fact, there were several legal battles between the members of the London Gunmakers Company and the Birmingham Gunmakers Company in the years to come.