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Merchant and Craft Guilds
A History of the Aberdeen Incorporated Trades
Appendix - Charter by Queen Mary in Favour of Craftsmen, 1556


MARY, be the grace of God Queen of Scots, to all and sundry our leidges and subjects to whom thir present letters shall come wisheth health; be it known unto you, because we understand that our most noble progenitors, kings of Scotland, having an consideration and respect that the common wealth cannot long stand without artificers and good craftsmen, and therefore they gave and granted many and divers privileges and liberties unto the craftsmen of the burghs and cities of our kingdom, to witt, that they should choyce principally skillfull men of their own craft, and together superiours and deacons to visite and examine all crafts, and that no extortion be the leidges of our realm against them be used, but that every craftsman should work and labour diligently in his own craft without fraud, guile, evil, or deceit, and that they should make such laws, penalties, and pains as is agreeable and consonant to equitie and right ; And further put the samen to execution against those that offends in their craft, and that the persons daminfied by these craftsmen should be recompenced for their skaith; Further they gave privileges and power to good craftsmen that should be free burgesses of our burghs to use and sell merchandise as all other merchants of our realm uses, with divers other and sundrie privileges, liberties, and faculties granted to them under the great seals of our most noble progenitors seen and considered be us. The whilk notwithstanding being derogate by the Act of Parliament last holden in the moneth of July the year bypast for certain causes expressed and proposed by the samen Parliament, it was ordained that no deacons from that time should be chosen within the burgh, but that the Provost, Bailies, and Councill of every burgh should choose the best and most skillfull craftsmen in their own craft, and that every one of these persons should be called visitors of their craft, and should be chosen yearly att the feast of Michaelmas, and that no craftsmen within the burgh should bear office in time to come except two be chosen yearly upon the Councill of the burgh, with divers other restrictions as att more length is contained in the foresaid Act of Parliament, from the whilk time of the said Act of Parliament we have found no cause nor reason brought to effect whilk moved our foresail Act of Parliament unto the samen yea all things to be done by the saids craftsmen moe stablie than before, and therefore not willing to diminish the privileges of our predecessors without an great necessity and just cause, but all things according to equitie and right, granted of old to be restored unto the said craftsmen ; and also designing to remove the dissentions private and publick, hatred and contentions of our merchants and craftsmen dwelling within our burghs, and for certain other just and reasonable causes moving our mind thereto, of our knowledge and proper motion we dispense, and by thir presents dispenses with all and sundry craftsmen of our burghs and cities within our said realm concerning our last Act of Parliament, and all articles and clauses contained in the samen whilk is contrary and obstant to the liberties and privileges, and to the long and continuall possession had by them by virtue of the samen of our most noble progenitors, and we give them place again to use and have deacons of their crafts who shall give their sentences and votes in choycing of men that bears office in burghs, and all sorts of craftsmen should be chosen within the burgh, and they shall use and exercise the samen if they be found convenient and meet for the samen, and they shall bear the compt of the common goods, and they shall be a part of the auditors of the samen, and shall conveen and make lawful statutes and ordinances concerning of their affairs for the keeping of good order amongst craftsmen, and maintaining of good service at their altars, and they shall sell, use, and exercise all sorts of merchandise within our realm and without the same as it shall seem most expedient for them, with all and sundry privileges, liberties, faculties, and customs, and given and granted unto them by our most noble progenitors, used and possessed by them in time bygone, notwithstanding our forsaid Act of Parliament and pains whatsomever contained therein concerning the which we dispense with them by thir presents. Further, we ratifie and approve by thir presents all privileges and faculties given and granted by our most noble progenitors unto the saids craftsmen in times bygone, to be used and exercised by them with form, force, and effect in times to come as they enjoyed, possessed, and used the samen before without any variety. Wherefore we command you and every one of you our leidges and subjects in so far that ye nor none of you presume in time coming to make any impediment, molestation, or obstacle in contrary of thir presents unto the saids craftsmen enjoying, possessing, and using the liberties, privileges, and faculties prescrived unto them, notwithstanding any Acts, letters, statutes, precepts, or proclamations whatsomever made or to be made in the contrary or any pain contained in the samen under the highest pain, danger, or offence whilk ye or any of you may incur or committ in this point against Our Majesty. In witness of the whilk unto thir presents we have commanded our great seal to be affixed at Sterling, the 18th of Aprile, the year of God 1556, and of our reign the 9th year.


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