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The History of Burntisland
 Chapter XIII. The Guild Seats, Panels and Insignia


On previous page is a facsimile of the first entry in the “Gild Council book of the Burgh of Burntisland,” of which the following is a version :— “In the name of God, upon ye twentie fyf't day of December the year of God sixteen hundred and sevinteine years. Conveined David Seattoune . . .Pickard Ross, Jon Geddie, Jon Boway, Alexander Forrester, John Sybbald, Jon Quliyt, and Jon Seattoune. For granting ane voluntare contribution weekly amongst ymselves during yis year to come. To such goods necessr ... as shall be thought most expedient at vr nixt meitting They ilk ane for yr own pairts . . . Grantit and willinglie assent to give ilk weik during yis year as followis to witt David Seattoune two shillings money Scotts Pickard Ross ij* (2s), Jon Boway ij* Jon Geddie twelve pennies Jou Sibbald xij^ Alexander Forrester viij^ and Jon Quhyt viij^ And thought fitt and ordanit ye sd Jon Quliyt suld begin upone Sunday nixt ye 28 of December instant to collect at ye morneing prayers and ctinew ilk Sunday yraf'ter and maik compt (who) pay is and quha is restand.”

Succeeding entries show that the Society existed in 1611, and the Commissioners in their report in 1833 say the merchants had a box in 1606. There were 10 members in 1611, and only three new members were added up to 1631. Up to 1668 there had been 23 members. When the book ends, in 1828, there had been 308 members. In 1832 there were 82 members, and the Society was dissolved in 1860. The cause of its increased numbers in the later part of its existence was due to membership being- sought after more as an honour than from any expected trade benefit, and also to the reduction in the entry fees. In 1731 the Hon. Thomas Leslie (Provost) joined; in 1768 Captain William George Fairfax, commander of H.M. cutter “Greyhound”; in 1770 the Eight Hon. David Rutherford; and thereafter all sorts and conditions —sailors, fishermen, fisheurers, boatmen, bakers, Candlemakers, farmers, a watchmaker, etc.

The Society began with traders in materials in clothes, or what was called “merchant goods,” and who claimed the right to “pack and peel” (export and import) within the Burgh. This claim was only fully enjoyed when a “petition for a Gihlrie” was granted by the Town Council, 23rd January, 1710. The Council then appointed till Michaelmas “ Robert Seton, Lord Dean of Gild,” and six others as Gild Council. The following year the Dean and another were chosen by the Council; and, by and by, on the annual election of the Dean of Gild, he is directed to convene the retiring Gild Council “and make choice of a new Gild Council.” Tlie Gildrie at this time consisted solely of persons interested in the trade—skippers, shipowners, and merchants of all kinds—the capitalists of those days. They completely controlled the business of the town, and formed the bulk of the Town Council. It was not until 1732 that the seven incorporated crafts were each entitled by law to a representative on the Town Council.

From 1711 the Gild Council controlled weights and measures, the safety of buildings and their extension, public wells, streets, gutters, paving, and sanitation. The repeated visits of the pest or plague in the past century had given the authorities notions of cleanliness not to be despised. As early as 1602, to fight tbe plague—rampant in Leith and Kinghorn—fourteen bailies were created and twenty-eight assessors, to prevent intercourse of the inhabitants, or ingress of strangers. All cats, dogs, and “swyne” were destroyed, and all refuse burned. “Ludges” were erected at the south side of the Links to which the infected were removed, and the result was that Burntisland had comparatively few cases.

On 2nd February, 1710, John Seton, Town Clerk, was paid ten pounds Scots for an extract of the Gildrie Act, and the Town Officer 6s Scots for promulgating it at “Ye Croce.”

After the freedom of the box the two great privileges were the “loft in ye Kirk and ye morte-cloatli.” The box, with their money and documents, was in 1668 of iron, with two locks and two keys. At each meeting it was decided where the box was to rest until next meeting, and who were to have the keys—“1670 . . ye box to be in John Koss his bouse. Item David Keton to have on kay and William Callander ye other.” After 1666 there were usually six or eight old or sick men or widows receiving various sums according to the scale of contribution—a more manly principle than “something for nothing.”

As the Society prospered more seats were built in the Church, houses and ground were bought, and considerable sums of money lent on bond, usually to the town. The Society possessed at least two houses in 1752, one of which was for their Gild Officer. In 1746, this official having lost his life by an old wall falling on him, the Gildrie were in a quandary what to do with his widow and family. They decided, in addition to an allowance, to let her occupy the house on the condition that “she provide a proper man to officiate for them.” The widow, the bairns, and Gildrie would all benefit by a “proper man "

In 1752 the Gildrie bought a <>rass park 011 the east side of the Kirkyard for £24 11s. It was let from then to 1761 to Samuel Charteris, solicitor of Customs for Scotland, grandfather of Mrs Somerville, and afterwards to her father Captain W. G. Fairfax. Frequent mention is made of this park in the Council Records and Hammermen’s book, under the name of the “loupiug diks.” There was no road past tlie north wall of the Church, the ground at the gate end being six or eight feet higher than at present. The “dyke” itself, or its “yeat” was always being repaired or rebuilt, due to illicit traffic.. In 1782 James Morrison made a new “yeatt” for which he charged 11s 3d, including a “coat of pent and oil.”

The comforting assurance of being interred with one of the “mortecloaths” was in time improved on by hiring them out, and this was a source of considerable income. hi 17GG there were four mortcloths—a large one for men, having twelve yards of velvet with a fringe, and a smaller one for women. Either was let out for 5s. Another called “the maiden’s,” of black velvet and white satin lining, was 3s 4d, while a very small one for children was 1s 8d. The custodians of the mortcloaths were a long succession of Geddies, beginning with Marion Geddie.

At first the Gildrie had only one seat. In 1608 “It is agreit with David Stirling wright to ye Burgh that he shall repair ye Merchant’s seat in ye Kirk with lock and kay of ye door . . and for which work he is to have ye sounie of sixtein punds Scots. He said he was a loser by it, and was allowed ‘20 punds.’ This seat included the panel with scales to the corner. Shortly after this a second seat was built behind, and in 1705 a third seat—“boulding a bak sot in the Kirk which coins to tlio soum of 20 pond 19 shillong.” (The broad “Kircnwday” speech is no doubt a survival of the pronunciation of Knox’s time. James Melville writes “there was twa in Paint Androis whatever his 'Knox’s aydant heirars Mr Andro Yoang wha wrot Iiis sermonts . . . and . . . causit to wrait for what end God knawes.’’) In 1737 these three seats were lengthened eastwards about six feet, which includes two panels with dates there. Liberty to make this addition was obtained from the Kirk Session and “prymgild” on paying each member of these 10s 6d, and probably depended on some conditional arrangement between these bodies, entered into in 1621, when the amount of their several rights was fixed. The front seat, lined with green cloth and a fringe over the front, was reserved for the “Lord Dean of Gild" and his Council, " hose officer unlocked the door for them. One of the officer’s perquisites was two pair of shoes per annum. There were four Gildrie seats in 1705. The late Mrs Jialingall told me that she had seen a number of the Gildrie sitting in the West Gallery. In 1784 the stair (4 in plan) was renewed at the expense of the Gildrie, Baxters, and Mailmen.


The Guildry Panels.

Of the lour panels belonging1 to tlie Guildry — Nos. 7, 8, 9, 10, South side—No. 7 denotes the year in which their eliarter of incorporation came into practice. No. 8 indicates the date of an undertaking with the Kirk Session and Prime Guild regarding the frontage; the difference in the style of lettering and ornament is ample proof of their having1 been executed at these dates. Both these panels were restored for the late Mr John Gilchrist Cunningham, 2 Gladstone Terrace. Xo. 9, restored for Provost D. J. Balfour Kirke, is part of the Gildrie arms; and No. 10, restored for the family of the late Mr William Crow, represents their “mysterious figure four,'’ about whi(d) there has been a good deal of speculation. It was used by the merchants in Stirling and elsewhere, and may be seen on a tombstone at Crail, and on one in Burntisland Kirkyard. In the bitter case it appears correctly, as in the Stirling seal, that is a Homan figure four reversed. The figure is supposed to have been used in early times by the original “fonr burghs’’ exclusively. These were Edinburgh, Stirling, Berwick, and Roxburgh, the “court” of which disappeared by Act of Parliament in 1499. The date 1733 commemorates the year in which the Guildry would first enjoy the Act passed in 1732 hy which fourteen of their members were to have seats on the Town Council and to monopolise the Magistracy.

The Prime Gild Society still exists, and is known to have been in operation in 1605, but it must have existed at a much earlier date, considering the trade with foreign ports known to have been proceeding with great vigour for 70 years before. In a copy of rules printed in 1845, membership was confined to shipmasters, sailors, shipowners, and carpenters of sober habits, and under 4½ years. There was a pension at the age of sixty, according to the entry-money and annual payments. A widow received three-fourths of the pension “as long as she remained a widow,” and there was nothing against her moral character. There was a boxmaster and two keepers. I have endeavoured to obtain some idea of their early proceedings, but the Society is averse to giving information. Fourteen of the pictures are on panels in front of their lofts, and their papers might have shown when they were painted. I think it probable that no papers exist later than 1845. About that time a fire broke out in the house of the boxmaster, Air James Morrison, when most, if not all, the property of the Prime Gild was destroyed, including a mortcloth of black velvet with a gold border, which bad cost £60.

The Society appears from 1005 very frequently in the Council Hooks as bond-holders; on one occasion having a bond on the Lnmnierlaws of 2,500 merks. The name Pryme Cult is not peculiar to the Burntisland Society, the name being used by .sailors’ societies elsewhere. The designation is derived from prymgilt — the first charge, or anchorage, on a ship using a port. Early in the seventeenth century “Saylaris in merchandyce must be men of burrowis,” and had to show their burgess ticket on entering foreign ports. Sir James Marwiclc says the Convention of Burghs at Cupar in 1578 went further, and enacted that every sailor in merchandise must bp a guild brother of the town from which he traded, foreign merchants could trade only with Free Burghs, and that only wholesale. Colston in his "guildry” book shows that at Leith “nae ships” could be “fraughted outward nor inwards” but with the knowledge of the Dean of Build and his Council.

The frontage of the sailor’s loft on the east side began at panel 5 and ended at the south-east corner. There are eleven panels, of which eight have pictures. Panel 5, restored for Mrs Harrow, 1 Craighblm Crescent, in memory of her father, the late Bailie M'Intosli, is a graphic representation of a merchant brig of the seventeenth century, similar to panel 10, but more distinct than it in the details of the hull. The large iron grate on tlie poop, in which a fire was lit as a beacon, is well defined. The remarks about the early form of Union Jack in panel 10 apply equally to this, which, however, appear to have been executed earlier, if we consider that here both masts show the St Andrews Cross. It was illegal to use this flag on ships (except at the fore), after 1606; it would be more difficult to do .so after 1707 when more stringent laws were passed regarding the use of flags.

Panel G — restored for Miss Iv. J. Kirke, Hilton, is believed to show in the date of 1602, the erection of this portion of the galleries in that year. As has been seen, though some sittings were arranged for in 1595, a special effort was made to complete the seating in 1602, when this panel began the sailor’s loft. (No. 5 was only acquired later, and till then was a temporary panel, having the pilasters but no spandril.) The date 1773 commemorate the year when the decision regarding the proportion of members of the Guildry on the Town Council became operative. The dates were not painted at the same time. 1G02 is painted on the bare oak, and the lettering' that in use early in the seventeenth century, .similar to panel on South Gallery, while 1733 is painted on a thick ground of spirit varnish with the style of lettering in vogue then. In using this date 1733, the same as that on panel 9 South Gallery, it must be remembered that many of the Prime Gilt were also members of the Gildrie, and the Gildrie were tin# employers of the shipmasters, and sailors.

Panel 7—restored for Mr Thos. A. Wallace—is an example of the larger typo of war vessel called the carrack, in use from James IV. to the middle of the seventeenth century. It is intended as a Xing’s ship, as the Royal arms—not the Scottish arms—are emblazoned on the stern. I think it. a strong- proof of this picture having* been painted very early in the seventeenth century that the flags are all St Andrew’s Cross. It may be objected that the grounds of the flags are red instead of blue, but the guns are gold, not black. The artist used red and gold for decorative purposes only. The union of crowns in 1003 produced the first form of Union Jack, but there are none here. Mason says the war vessels of those days went into battle “with the banner at the main, the standard on the poop, the national flag on the fore, and with pennons and streamers of vivid colour waving from the yard arms.” The wind, seemingly absent below, blows a gale at the mast head. One would think the captain was getting-married. The guns in the stern are interesting. At the prow ramps the Scottish lion, and behind this is a mask, thought to represent St Michael, the patron of war. Provost Kirke in a recent, lecture thought this vessel might be a picture of the Great Michael built by James IV. The guns do not correspond, but the Great Michael was no doubt the protype of this.

Panel 8—also restored for Mr Thos. A. "Wallace —is a compass designed to show approximately the local difference between the geographic and magnetic north.

Panel 9—restored for Mrs Laurie, Starleyhall, in memory of the late Mr James Taylor of Starleyhall—is a picture of a master mariner of the 17tli century. The four-tailed coat, rosettes on shoes, and moustache, might fit into 1670-80. The curious combined cravat and bow at the neck may be seen in Blome’s Encyclopedia, published about 1680. The nautical instruments are the cross-staff and astrolabe described in panel 3 south side.

Panel 10—restored to the memory of the late Mr Jolm Wishart, for 50 years at Grange, for his children—represents a brig of about the middle of the 17th century. It has: the usual spritsail, and the artist lias forgotten the helm, but it is extremely interesting from the fact that the flags, with the exception of the St Andrew’s Cross at the fore peak, illustrate the first form of Union Jack, and make it certain that the picture was painted after 1606 and before 1707. Three years after the union of the crowns in 1603, the union flag of the St. Andrew’s Cross and the Cross of St George was ordered to be borne by merchantmen in the main top, with the St Andrew’s Cross at tlie fore, and on the Union of Parliaments in 1707, the proclamation was repeated, and the Cnion Jack constituted the national flag of Great Britain. Though illegal to use the St Andrew’s Cross (except on the fore) on ships after 1606, the date of proclamation, we may infer from its repetition one hundred years afterwards, that the law was not always obeyed. It was not till 1801 that the representatives of Ireland sat at Westminster, and St Patrick’s Cross added to the union flag.

The flag at the main in this picture has been described to me as “a swallow-tailed bird’s eye (burgee).” From the translation of Jas. Rodger, M.A., headmaster here, and the suggestion of Mr Allan Rodger, F.E.I.S., Barrhead, the inscription appears to be an adaptation from the ^Eneid when AEneas addresses his shipwrecked followers:—

“O socii—neque enim ignavi sumus ante nialorum,
O passi graviora, dabit cleus his quoque finem.”

“Oh, ye! who have suffered worse evils, God will end even these.” The idea supposed to be aimed at by “dabit-deus-his-quo-que-vela” may be “ God guides every sail.”

Panel 14—restored for tlie daughters, step-sons, and step-daughters of the late Mr Alexander Kidd, for many years banker in Burntisland and an elder in the Parish Church—is of a species unknown. From the peculiar form of mainsail it might be a dispatch vessel. From the two St Andrew’s Crosses displayed, and the early form of union ensign on the poop, we may conclude that it was painted between 1650 and 1T0T.


Panels 14 and 15—Ea.-t Sailors’ Gallery.

Panel 10 -restored for M. W. Jiennet, Craigholin Crescent, in memory of her father and mother—in the inscription, is the same as that, over the door of the sailors’ loft, 1671, but the style of letter would point to the panel being-earlier. This motto was a favourite in the seventeenth century, and appears on a house in Inver-keithing, and Taylor says  on the front of the plague-protecte:house at Chester.”


South Sailors’ Loft.

Panel 1, south sailor’s loft—restored for Miss N. Kirke, Hilton, in memory of the late Rev. Joseph Sage Finlayson, M.A., for 30 years Parish Church minister—is very quaint and picturesque, and in respect of its theme, beautiful. Before being painted over in 1822 it must have been in a very neglected state, as only a few particles of gold remained on the parts that had been gilded. It. may never have been re-gilded from the first, which may, from the lettering, have been in the latter half of the seventeenth century. In the following century churchyard sculpture passed through a Calvinistic gloom of crossed bones, skulls, and skeletons, but here we have affirmed n sure and beautiful hope. The word “suft-hinent” is, of course, “sufficient.”

Panel 2 was restored for Mr J. W. Muir, Seyton Avenue, Glasgow, in memory of his father and mother. This odd and almost elfish-looking personage seems to breathe of the forecastle, and may date earlier than the last mentioned, in spite of the buckled shoes. The curious ornament on the front of the waist, round which there is no belt, is not a buckle, but the survival of a frill in which the bodice ended, in a fashion thirty years before buckles became all the go. The figure is, as sailors say, “fathoming” a rope. Some have thought that this action is intended to draw a parallel between the allotted span of three score and ten, and the seventy-two inches in a fathom—the amount of rope we may be allowed. The arched rope is ingeniously descriptive of the curve followed by the hand in “fathoming.” The rope has been cut, we may suppose, from what appears to be a mooring post. A Dutch naval gentleman has expressed the opinion that the rope ought to be attached to what he says is a lead, and not a mooring paul; His reason being that the chief idea, strongly inculcated in the sailor, was that “the lead is the sailor’s paladium.” However, a photograph taken when the picture was first uncovered shows no rope there, and the knife is very distinct.

Panel 3 was restored in memory of Mr John Murrie, at one time Provost of Burntisland, and Margaret Murrie, for their daughters Elizabeth Burgoyne, Jessie S. Wilson, Margaret S. Murrie, and Isabella Murrie. The only indication that a picture was on this panel before the removal of many coats of white, grainings, and varnish was a circle low down on the left which was expected to prove the end of a scroll. A high pitch of excitement was attained when this gradually resolved itself into an instrument like an enormous watch held in a man’s hand. The interest was if possible intensified when it was found that the man held in his other hand some apparatus equally strange and unheard of. Arguing from the costume the picture could not be much earlier than 1680. But as the instruments, an astrolabe and cross-staff, must have been rarely in use at that time merely mentioned in “Robertson’s Navigation,” though well described in Blome’s Encyclopedia—and the Davis quadrant having been known from the beginning of the 17th century, I conclude that the person who had the panel painted would be some old sea dog, in his ‘‘retreat from (‘are and toil,” fondly musing on the good old days of his youth. Our Commander with cross-staff and astrolabe—more fortunate than Don Quixote, who in his perilous voyage in the enchanted barque prayed for an “astrolabe to take the elevation of the pole”—appears just to have purchased them and, on the way aboard, is seized with an irresistible desire to test them. I remember seeing an aged golf enthusiast, going to chinch one Sunday, suddenly stop in the middle of the road, and put himself and his umbrella in a driving attitude.

The cross-staff, or fore-staff, was used for taking altitudes, and consisted of a square rod about three feet long, the sides of which were graduated respectively for ten, thirty, sixty, and ninety degrees. Only one of the cross piec-es was used at a time. The staff was held to the right eye by the right hand, while the left slid the cross until one (Mid encountered the horizon and the other sun. The figure, therefore, is very conventional, but it is evident that if the figure is to appear moving from left to right, or to follow the sun, the artisl could not have put the staff to the right eye without painting the back of the figure towards us. In all the panels in which the designs are profile, the motion is directed with the sun, except panel 5 of this loft.

The astrolabe was also for altitude, and was used by the Greeks. It was divided iu 360 degrees, though only one part of these were required. It was suspended by the left thumb with the edge turned towards the sun, and the vertical line strictly plumb. The pointer had a sight at each end, and was turned until the shadow of the upper was thrown on the lower, the point of which then marked the degree of altitude.

Panel 4 was restored for Miss Landale, Edinburgh, in memory of her father and mother, Dr and Mrs Landale of the Binn. The compass on this panel is- somewhat similar to that on panel 8 east gallery, and there is the same attempt to show the difference necessary to allow for in steering for Burntisland.

Panel 5 was restored for Mrs John Kirke, London, in memory of her father, the late Mr James Shepherd of Eossend Castle. It represents a shipmaster taking the altitude of the sun with a Davis quadrant. With the exception of the shoe buckles, the costume is previous to 1680. The ribbons at the knee are much earlier. I suggest that shoe buckles may have been used at sea before the fashion came in on land. Observe the brim of the hat turned up to allow of using the quadrant. There is a hat in the navy at present very like this in the front, and perhaps originating from it. As already pointed out the ships and men in profile on these panels are all going with the sun, except this one, and it is interesting to find that, this figure has the back turned to the sun intentionally. In using the Davis quadrant-— employed from 1594 to 1740, when it was supplanted by Hadley’s—it was necessary to turn the back to the sun. One hand slid the Vane on the arc of the upper sector until a beam of sunlight from behind, passing through a hole in the Vane, struck a slit in another Vane at the point. This Vane is upright in the picture, but should be horizontal. There was a slit in it so that the horizon might be kept in view through it, and the perforated Vane at the observer’s eye. When the horizon was visible through, and the beam of sunlight struck the Vane at the point simultaneously, the altitude of the sun was found in the sum of the under portions of the two arcs, which were graduated respectively 60 and 25 degrees. I am indebted to Mr J. Nolain, Leith Nautical College, for an understanding of this instrument.

Panel G has already been described at page 173, and panels 7, 8, 9, 10, at page 168.

Combined insignia of the Smiths, Wrights, and Masons, painted on the detruction of the North Gallery.

The earliest entry in the “Hammerman's book” —1648—is near the middle. The intention may have been to collect their earlier proceedings from scattered papers and place them in the front pages. From this entry it may be gathered that the Society had been in existence long before. It is difficult to decipher, but appears to be a fine of 40s to be imposed on members working under certain circumstances; the fine to go to the “box." . . . "ordained be ye haill members of ye hammermen yt nane of,” . . . and concludes “In presents of (iod to stand be subscrvil with our hands upon ye twentie fyve of December 1648.’’ The signatures, initials or marks of 44 persons follow. Only two are unable to write, six use initials, the remainder written in full are equal to the average writing of the present day, and several are particularly fine.

The Society laid the usual stress on the defence of its members from the outlander, who persisted in coming in and offering his inferior (Y) services at a lower rate, lint it also provided for the members’ widows, sickness, and poverty. Xew members weie always “admited fremen to all ye libertie and privileges of our seat and box” (1601.) The cost of admission varied from five pounds to twenty-founr pounds Scots (in 1811 it was £10 sterling) “according to paction.” The rearing of apprentices was a chief item. These were nearly always sons of members. On one occasion this rule was tested by a baker’s soil, but he was rejected. At another time a stranger wright was admitted “frieman” at the fees expected from a son, on account of having’ married a “frieman’s” daughter. Each apprentice paid on joining 14s (increased latterly to 40s), and after serving five years, paid what was termed “ the gurnie (journey) money”—a grand excuse for a blow out.

There is some confusion in the designation “Hammermen.” The arms behind their seats are those of the hammermen, or smiths—hammer and crown ; the wriglits, square and compass; and the masons, castle and compass. In the whole book, 1648—.1739, there are only three “measons” or “mesons” mentioned, one cooper, and one “piinner and glasir.” The remainder are smiths and wriglits. The money was termed the “hammermen’s box” up to 1683 when the Society was incorporated. On October 18th, 1684, “ye deacons liev given this day to ye Town Clerk seventeen pounds Scots ye hammermen and wriglits sealle of cause qlk wes this day put in the box.” In the Council Records, 1683, a “sealle of cause” is granted to the wriglits and one to the hammermen. Originally choosing one deacon they now chose one from the smiths and one from the wriglits, and their box was now called the smith and wrights’ box. So that while incorporated separately the societies elected to use the same rules, box, and church seat.

Tlie joint Society met once a quarter at the house of the boxmaster to make the subscription, and in September books were balanced “ to presiding dent.’’ There were then chosen two deaeons, a boxmaster, men to hold the keys of the box, a keeper for the “cists for the niortcloaths,” and a person to whom was given the custody of the book. There were a “silver box” and a “paper box,"' with three keys for the one and two for the other. In 1G8I there were four mortcloths, “two of velvet and two of cloth seall.” Some of these mortcloths were not to be sniffed at. In 1711 “ bought els of velvet with five pounds and ane unee of black silk for a fring. Seven els and ane half fine black silk serg for the linin, and seven unces and four drops of more black silk to compleat tlie soeiug: total an hundred and fifty ane pounds eiglitin shiilin Scots mouney.” These mortcloths let out to tlie general public were a good source of revenue.

Like the other Societies, the Hammermen let such sittings as they did not require to outsiders. In 1731 “ . . . let their loft (a seat in) belonging to their treds to John Dickson, barber, for three shillings striing money.” The last member of the joint Society was David Aruot, a blacksmith, who disposed of the seats to the Kirk Session about the year 1850 for £50. lie had received one instalment of £5 when he died. In any case, he could not have conveyed the seats to anyone. His daughter, Mrs Henderson, possesses a flag- of the Hammermen dated 1832.

The joint Societies were prosperous in the first half of the 18th century. In 1704 they purchased a house and “yaird” from John Kirkland, shoemaker, for £47. In 1728 they possessed ‘‘apis of ground est sid of ye Kirk called ye louping diks,” which they let out. In 1737 “ David Heuton paid ye crofts rent.” They had good sums lent on bond, and at the same time borrowed money, let us hope at a lower rate than they lent it. On one occasion they lent a ”Talyeor” £9 to get him out of the Tolbooth.

That masons were eligible, and yet only three were members in about one hundred years, shows how few were permanently resident. The masons hailed from large centres, and were members of the masons’ Societies there. They moved in a gipsy fashion from place to place as work was projected, usually building huts to live in, round the work in progress, and taking the road again on its completion.

Little is known of the cordiuers. The plan, page 132, shows their seat (3) described on page 141. Their arms—similar to that of the craft in Edinburgh—are on the wall at the end of their seat.

The cordiuers', or shoemakers’, seal of cause, of which a part is here shown in facsimih, was granted by the Town Council in 1683. The


The Cordiners’ Amis.

following is a rough reading of it :—“Sealle of Cause in favour of ye eordiners. To all and sumlrie whom it . . . Mirhael Setoun. bail lie of ye Bur^li of Bruntilaud, Alexander Orroek,

Walt'er Adams. William Moves, -Tames Gardiner, William Mitehelson, -Tolm Crawford, Andrew Uobinson, John Ormk, Will in 111 Blankiter, -lames Anderson, -Tolm Yonn», (jeiirpe Wnlkel liusent, counselers of tin’s Bur^h Grc-etino' in God everlasting. \\'(‘ make it knowue tliat tliere did eompeir befoir us, we being- then sitting in judgment, John Young cordiner Burges of this Burgh,


Cordiners’ Seal of Cause.

and accompanied w* ye best and Avorthiest of ye Iiea.ll cordiner traid, Avlia presented ane bill and supplication together ay* eertaine propositions and articles,” and goes on to lay down that in future all shoemakers and tanners in the burgh must be burgesses, pay into the box for their own poor, must have no work done by any “outlaudnian or unfreeinan,” and bring up its apprentices under explicit rules regarding their “meat and drink,” years of service, etc.

Mrs M'Omish remembers a picture of a pair of “shears” on a panel of the tailor’s loft. At Crail the tailors had a good many lines of ryhme on the front of their loft. One of the lines ran:—

“Were it not for tailors we might all naked go.”

It was due to the neglect of the Burntisland tailors to keep their gallery in a state of repair that the carved oak front there was removed, and a white wood oak grained front substituted. They let out their seats, and every Michaelmas, when they drew their rents, they bad a great spree. St Michael was their patron Saint, some say, but Dr James Daniniack holds it was was St Goodman. I fear they would require at these times, the assistance of St Martin. These periodical* bouts kept them short of cash, and the seats fell into a serious state of disrepair. The Session called on them to put things right, and advanced them money for the purpose, the interest on which they were unable to meet; on which tlie seats came into the bands of tlie Session some time after 1822. About one hundred years before—1727—a ‘‘"William Brand, Talyeor,” caused a sensation in the burgh. "While drinking* in the company of three men of other crafts, he sold to them “ye Talyeors seat in ye Kirk for ane hundred rix dollars.” The Tailors’ Society petitioned tlie Town Council, who overturned the bargain, and fined “ilk ane” of the prisoners “twentie punds Scots.”

The late Mr William Melville was the last box-uiaster, but the box cannot now be traced.


The Weavers Box

The Weavers

This is the only one of the societies whose box still exists. It contains many old documents of the craft, and is in the possession of Councillor Stevenson, whose father received it from the last of the weavers. It is hy the courtesy of Councillor Stevenson that 1 am able to present the above picture of this interesting relic of by-gone days. Mary Somerville describes the weavers’ seat, noticed at page 141, as having- over it a picture of a shuttle with the inscription—“ Life is swifter than a weaver’s shuttle and is spent without hop Job.”

The Baxters and Fleshers.

Little is known of these bodies. Mary Somerville writes of the Baxters’ seat as having a “ sheaf of wheat painted on the front.” This panel, it is hoped, may yet be discovered. There is a notice of the Fleshers’ seat at page 141.

The Maltmen.

Of the three Guilds never incorporated—the FrymgiIt, Hirers, and Maltmen — the first has already been noticed. In the report of the Commissioners to the Municipal Corporations of Scotland in 1833 it is stated that the Maltmen in 1G08 were allowed by the Council to have a box and a “mutual band” and to levy a certain sum for each boll of malt that was made for the support of their poor.

The Hirers.

The Hirers, like the Maltmen, were a numerous body. A postmaster was first chosen in 1609 in connection with the imposition of a 5 per cent, tax on their drawings, called postsilver. Twelve years afterwards the Postmaster General for Scotland complained to the Privy Council that liurnt-islaiul and Ivinghorn were “posting on their own account, and infringing his patent.” In 1674 the pest of Sabbath breaking appears to have been specially virulent. It was kept up by people from Edinburgh crossing, and taking a day in the country on horseback. The wicked Xewhaven boatmen started it by landing passengers on the “Saboth .... Ordaines no boats cross without advertising the minister or magistrates,” nor any “Hyrer” to hire out his horse under penalties. The postmaster and others were admonished. But nothing would stop it. So a virtue was made of necessity, and liberty practically granted on payment of a sufficient fine. On one occasion the minister reports “fortie shillings Scotts received from D. Burnes, skipper, for breach of the Sabbath.”


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