The origins of the company date back to around 1680, when goldsmith Anthony Nelme (d.1722) set up a business in Ave Maria Lane, London. Edward Barnard (died 1855) was the first manager and in 1829 became the owner, trading as Edward Barnard & Sons, with his sons Edward Barnard (died 1868), John Barnard and William Barnard (died 1851) .  In 1838, they moved to Angel Street, London.
The Lily font was commissioned by Queen Victoria from Edward Barnard and Sons, for the christening of her first child, Victoria, Princess Royal, on February 10, 1840, her parents' first wedding anniversary.
In 1898 they moved to Fetter Lane, and in 1920 to Hatton Garden, London. In 1977, they became a subsidiary of Padgett & Braham, and closed in 2003.