Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Merchant and Craft Guilds
A History of the Aberdeen Incorporated Trades
Part III. Chapter IX - The Wright and Coopar Trade


WORKING the same material, and using very much the same class of tools, it was natural that the Wrights and Coopers should club together into one association. It has generally been supposed that Masons were at one tune associated with the Wrights and Coopers, but there is no evidence that this was the case farther than that the Masons are mentioned in the Seal of Cause granted in 1532 to the "Couparis, Wrichts, and Measones." This does not imply that these crafts formed one association. At that time each craft had its separate deacon, and it was not until nearly a century after that date that the Wrights and Coopers came to act under one deacon and one set of office-bearers. The Masons appear to have kept by themselves, and there are good grounds for believing that their Incorporation or Trade was the nucleus of what ultimately became the Aberdeen Mason Lodge. In the oldest minute-book belonging to the Aberdeen Lodge there are inscribed the "Laws and statutes for Measones, gathered out thir old wreatings by us, who ar the authoires and subscribeiers of this booke," and these laws and statutes bear such a close resemblance to those enacted by the other crafts in the town, that there is little room for doubt that the original organization was constituted in a manner similar to the other craft associations.

The coopering trade was very early established in Aberdeen in connection with the curing of fish, at one time the staple industry in Aberdeen. About the year 1280 large quantities of salmon and salt fish were sent to different parts of England in barrels, and the Aberdeen coopers seemed to have been famed for the quality of the casks they produced. This was an opinion which the coopers themselves held down to quite a recent period. In 1740 they enacted that no coopers were to be


WRIGHTS AND COOPERS [168 ]—Quarterly. First: Gules, a tower of Aberdeen. Second: Gules, a compass or Third: Azure, a square or. Fourth: Azure, a wright's axe argent, classed or. Motto: Our Redeemer liveth for ever.
WRIGHTS AND COOPERS [6th April, 1696. New Grant].– Quarterly. First: Gules, a wright's compass or. Second: Azure, a cooper's axe argent. Third: Azure, a square or. Fourth: Gules, a cooper's compass or. Over all, on at escutcheon, the Coat of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen (Gules, three towers triple-towered, within a double tressure flowered and counter-nowered argent). Above the shield, on a suitable helmet with a mantle gules doubled argent, and wreath or, gules, argent and azure, is set for crest an adder in circle proper, with this motto in an escroll above: Our Redeemer liveth for ever.

employed except they served their apprenticeship in the town, "as the coupars of Aberdeen have been long famous for the best work all over the kingdom, so they could not be so much answerable for a journeyman's work who had not been bred with some of themselves." Like the bakers, each cooper had his own special mark, and their work was supervised by the magistrates, for the purpose of seeing that all barrels were of sufficient measure. On 8th October, 1507, it was enacted by the Council "that all couparis mak sufficient barrelis of mesour, efter the law of the realme, and consuetud of this burghe, and ilkan man set his avne merk to his avne werk; and quhay failzeis hereintill, to be punisit efter the tenour and rigour of the law." Previous to the practice of preserving salmon in ice, all the salmon exported either to England or the Continent, were packed in barrels or kits and pickled with salt and vinegar, as many as 1500 barrels of salmon being exported in the course of a year. The price of salmon barrels was fixed from time to time by the magistrates, in accordance with the price of staves. On 17th April, 1729, the magistrates appointed that the coopers "shall for the year following have for each salmond barrell, and for packing, ticketing, and double girding of the same, three pound Scots, and no more, the price of the staves fitt for salmond barrells being presently forty-two pounds Scots the thousand; and they appoint the coupers of the burgh to observe this Act under the failzie of five pounds Scots, to be paid to the Dean of Guild for each transgression."

A couple of centuries ago the coopers were extensive importers of timber, and in so doing they frequently came into collision with the Burgesses of Guild. On 15th June, 1641, "William Andersone and John Makie, coupers, friemen of the burgh, were convict of thair awne confessioun for frauchting of William Walker, skiper, his ship laitlie to Norroway, contrair to the priviledgis and liberties of craftismen, and bringing of the said ship to the burghe loadenit with timber and dailies contrair to the privileges and liberties of the said burge as said is, and thereby usurping the libertie of gild burgessis whairanent they referrit themselffis in the counsillis will, be thair supplication subscruit with their hand. For the quhilk the said Wm. Andersone and Johne Makie wer unlawit in the soume of ane hundrethe poundis to be payit equallie betwixt tham to the deane of gild; and ordains the said dean of gild to buy the said loadening frae the sadis couparis for the use of the toun as he buyes the lyk commodities frome strangeris and unfriemen be resone they have no richt to traid with oversea wairis." The fact of a couple of coopers being able to freight a cargo—small though the craft might have been at that period—is a good indication of the extent to which the coopering trade was carried on in the town.

In addition to a Seal of Cause granted in 1527, a second grant of privileges was made to the masons, wrights, carvers, coopers, slaters, and painters, under which each of the crafts mentioned had power to elect its own deacon. The masons, as already mentioned, developed into a free mason lodge, the painters amalgamated with the hammermen in their capacity as glaziers, the carvers remained eligible for membership among the wrights; but as to the slaters, we have been unable to discover whether they had any corporate existence. That they were looked after by the magistrates is, however apparent from the following entry in the Council Register :-

28th June, 1648.—The said day the Counsell considering the exorbitant pryces taken be the sklaitters from all they work too, of their extortioning of the inhabitants of this burghe, for remeid hereof, and restraining sic exorbitanires in tyme coming, statute and ordaines that every maister sail have 24s. ilk day without meat or drink : and everie man that works with the trewall 12s. daylie, and the caner of the lyme 6s. 8d. daylie, all but meat or drink, except those they work to sail be pleasit of thair owne accord; and this statute to endure during the Counsellis plesure.— Council Register, vol. liii., p. 169.

The following are the Seals of Cause granted in 1527 and 1541 :—

The said day the Provost, Baillies, and Council of this burgh of Aberdeen with consent and assent of all the neighbours of the town being present for the time representing the haill body of the town, gave, granted and assigned to their lovit neighbours and servitors John Souper, James Wright, and George Baxter, deacons of the Coopers, Wrights, and Masons crafts for this instant year, and to their successors, deacons of the said crafts for ever and all manner of time to come, their full, free, and plain power and licence to receive, uptake, and inbring of every brother of the said crafts that enters of new to work within the said burgh for his entry silver half a merk at his first beginning; of every master that fees of new an apprentice at the entry of the said apprentice half a merk; of every feed man that works for meat and fee yearly one pound of wax ; and likewise of every master man of the said crafts every week one penny of offering, which entry silver, apprentice silver, weekly offering, and yearly pound of wax of the servants shall be well, truly, and faithfully gathered by certain masters of the said crafts, and truly spent in the decoring, upholding, and repairing of St. John, Evangelist's Altar within the parish kirk of Aberdeen, their special patron in Imagerie, vestments and towels, chandeliers, desks, lights, and all other ornaments required to the service of God and of their said patron, and attour the said Provost and Baillies, Council and community give grant and assign to the said deacons and to their successors, their full plain and powers express jurisdiction and authority to correct, punish, and amend all manner of crimes, trespasses, and faults of the said crafts, or committee of the brethren and servants of the same crafts, ontak bluid and ditt; with the power to onlaw and amerciate the said trespassers and committers of the said faults, the unlaws and amerciaments be applied to uptak and inbring: Providing always that the said unlaws and amerciements be applied to the honour and decoration of the said patron, with all the duties above written, shall be put to the greatest profit that may be by the advice of the said crafts to the honour and utility of the said patron as they will to God, their patron and their own consciences, by the advice and consideration of all the masters of the said crafts, whilk masters and each of them shall yearly decorate their said patron with an honest candle of a pound of wax, and uphold the same, and in this way God willing the said patron and chaplainry shall be honestly decorated, and doted with all necessaries effeiring to the honour of God and their said patron. [From a parchment copy written in modern style by William Carnegie, Town Clerk, in 1793.]

Be it kend till all men be thir presents, us provost, baillies, counsill, and communitie of the burgh of Aberdeen, To have given and committed, and be the tenour hereof gives, grants, and commits to our neighbours and craftsmen under written, That is to say, measons, wrights, carvers, coupers, sclaters, painters, and to the deacons of the samen crafts and to their successors or actuall indwellers in our said burgh our full, free, plain power, privilige, and authority upon all and sundry occupiers, users, and exercisers of our said craft, within the freidome of Aberdeen. To correct, punish the tresspassers, their own laws and amerciaments, and to take and unbring the utilities and common weal of the said craft ; and to do justice to all parties complainen of the said craftsmen intill their actions (blood and blae reserved to us and our punition) ; acts and statutes among themselves to make and cause to be keepit, to the honour of God and St. John, their patron, and utilitie of the said craft frae the present the said act as an statute to us first, and they be admitted to us as consonant to justice and reason (and not else), with power to choice deacons of the saids crafts, they being condign and worthy to choyce the said office, and be admitted by us thereto whilks shall answer to us, to all and sundrie neighbours, masters, servants, and prentises of the said crafts for their faults and crimes that lyes under their correction if they leave such faults unpunished whilks neighbours, masters, servants, and apprentices we shall cause intend and obey their said deacons and their successors in all time to come in all lie-some things concerning their said crafts or any point thereof, and if any of them disobey and beis contemptuous to the said deacons and to their statutes made by them and admitted be us as said is they complain to us thereupon, and we shall cause them be obeyed and the deforcers, desobeyers, and contemors really punished theirfor in their persons or goods as we shall advise for the time ; and also we ratefie and approves and confirms that no freeman shall be made of the said crafts neither be us nor our successors until he be examined be the deacons of the said crafts and found sufficient by experience of his work and presented to us be the said deacons as an convenient and able person to be made freemen of his craft or he be admitted be us thereto, and that none be sufficient to hold and uptake an booth of his own to occupie the foresaid crafts to joyse the privilege of an freeman untill the time that he be made free admitted be us advice of the deacons of the said crafts as said is. And generally all and sundry our privileges to joyse and brook and exerce that concerns the said crafts to the common weal thereof, and of our said burgh, conform to the old laudable use and consent of privileges grantit be us and our predecessors in tymes bygone to be observed in all times to come, providing always that this gift of authoritie and privilege make no derogation to the Act of Parliament made of new anent craftsmen in our Sovereign lords last Parliament, and we, the said Provost, Council, and communitie, binds and obliges us and our successors magistrates to keep and defend all and sundrie the liberties, gifts, and privileges above written to the craftsmen foresaid, and to defend them and their successors thereintill, but without revocation or obstacle in all times to come against all deadly. In witness of the whilk to this our gift of privilege we have appended the common seal of the said burgh, together with the subscriptions manuall of the said provost and baillies att Aberdeen, the sixteenth day of April, one thousand five hundred fourty one years. Sic. Sub. Thomas Menzies, Provost; Andrew .Menzies, David Anderson.

A ratification of this grant of privileges is recorded in the Council Register (vol. xvi., p. 785) as follows :—

6th May, 1541.—The said day the haill towne present for the tyme consentit and assentit to the giving of the privileges to the wrichts, messownis, cowpers, carvars, and painters, read be the provost in judgment. And affermis the samin and ordains thair commond seill to be affixit to the samin and charges the keeparis of the same to seill the fore-said privilege.—Council Register, vol. xvi., p. 785.

The wrights complained to the Magistrates in 1565 against unfreemen being allowed to labour and exercise the craft, whereby those who were free of the craft were skaithed and deprived of their means of livelihood, and the Council granted them the following special privilege :-

7th July, 1565.—The said day anent ye supplicatioune presented and exhybit unto ye provost, baillies, and counsell be Androw Bisset and Gilbert Andersone, dekynis of ye wrychtis in name of ye remanint friemen of thair said craft, complenand that yai ar hurt and wrangit in ye libertie of thair craft be unfremen that ar sufferit to labour and use ye exertionne of thair craft within yis burgh quhair throw quhilkis ar frienien of thair craft and scottis and lottis, wachis, walkis, and wards, can skantlie get be thair laubour thair necessar sustentation. And thairof desyrit ye provost, baillies, and counsell to menteynie thair lihertie and privilege that na unfriemen be sufferit to use and exerce ye said Wrycht Craft within yis burght bot thai only quhilk ar free of thair craft and thai obleist thame to guarantee ye toune sufficientlie for reasonabill expenss to be modifeit be ye counsell having consideration of thair wyffs, bairns, and familie, and sic thingis as belangis to the sustentatioun thairof; quhilk supplicatioune and desyir ye provost, baillies, and counsell thocht reasonabill and grantit thairto, and obleist thame to observe ye same, and with consent of ye said dekynis modifeit ye expenss and stipend of thair labour as follows:—That is to say, ilk maister to have for his dais labour aucht penies besyd his ordinar meit and drink, without his ordinar coistis, to have thre schillings for his dais labour, and his feit servant that can labour to have xiid. in ye day besyd his costs, and twa schillings without his costs, and prentisses to have be discretionne as beis appointed betwix ye maister of ye wark and ye warkman, and as ye pris of victuallis and viciaris rysis, or diminissis ye prices and expenses foresaid to be alterat be the counsell in reasonable maner.—Council Register, vol. xxv., p. 617.

About the end of the sixteenth century the wrights and coopers agreed to act under one deacon, the arrangement being that the wrights and coopers should have the privilege of electing the deacon alternately. This arrangement was

"homologat and approv en" in 1694 in the following terms:-

"In presence of George Leslie and Alexander Gordone, baylyes, it is statute and ordanit unanimously be the haill traid, for holding and keeping peace and concord amongst them as formerly, and also according to antient practique, that ane wright be still deacone to the traid for ane year, and ane couper for ane other year, and so to continue, vicissim, tyine about. And upone the day of election, only the thrie maisters of that traid who falls to be deacone to go downe staires, and not the haill six maisters, and this to be observed in all time coming."

No attempt was made to break through this arrangement until the annual election of 1833, when a motion to discontinue the rotation system was carried by the casting-vote of the deacon. An election followed under the new arrangement, but an action was immediately raised by the dissentients in the Court of Session to have the minutes of election reduced and annulled. The minority were successful, the old order was re-established, and the majority were found liable in expenses. In course of time the number of coopers became greatly reduced, chiefly in consequence of the substitution of boxes instead of barrels for packing salmon and other kinds of fish, and a difficulty often arose in finding a sufficient number of coopers to fill one-half of the offices. Accordingly, in 1874, an agreement was entered into with consent of the whole members, that the old order should be abolished, and this arrangement has been allowed to remain undisturbed.

Both the wrights and the coopers were in the habit of taking their goods to be sold at the Market Cross when "the Timmer Market" was a weekly, in place of a yearly, institution. All kinds of furniture were made by the wrights in early times, cabinetmakers not being known until a comparatively recent period. The wrights frequently complained to the magistrates against the unfreemen of the Old Town coming to the Market Cross to sell their goods, and in consequence of the frequent encroachments the following prohibition was issued :—

22nd April, 1691.—In presence of the Provost, Baillies, and Counsell of the burgh of Aberdeen, the said day anent the petition given in to them by James Colinsone, deacon of the Wright and Cooper Trade of Aberdeen, for himself, and in name and in behalf of the rest of the said calling; mentioning that whereas they had several Acts of Counsell in their favour, approvan of and confirmed by their predecessors, that no wark should come to the public mercatt in the said burgh but what should be revised by the Dean of Guild, and deacon of the said calling to consider the sufficiency thereof, in respect that the inhabitants of the same are mightly prejudiced thereby, especially by the unfriemen of the Old Town and others within the town and freedom in bringing in upon mercatt days unsufficient chaires and all other work belonging to the said Wright and Cooper Trade contrary to the privileges and Acts of Counsell concurred in their favours. Therefore desizing the said Provost and Counsell to take the premises to their serious consideration and to homologate their former acts concerned in their Trade's favour thereanent for visiting of the mercatts weekly, and to punish the transgressors according as they should find expedient ; which petition the said provost, baillies, and counsell having heard, seen, and considered, and being ripely and att length advised therewith, and with the said acts of counsell in their favour, do hereby homologate and approve the same ; and hereby ordaines and appoints the said James Colinsone, deacon, aforesaid, to revise and take inspection of all timber work brought to the Mercatt Cross of Aberdeen to be sold, such as chairs, and all other work belonging to the said Trade by any unfreemen ilk mercatt day, and in all time coming after the date of thir presents, the said provost, baillies, and counsell being always judges therein, and to collect and ingather the said fines accordingly for the use of the town.

The oldest minute-book, which is dated 1682, contains, as the preface bears, "the acts and statutes recorded in their former books, and now ratified and homologat and approved, 1684." These are as follows :—

ANENT KEEPING THE SABBATH.

Item, it is statute and ordained for the glory of God and good example of neighbours that ilk freeman with their servants and prentices keep the holy Sabbath at divine service both forenoon and afternoon, and that none wilfully absent themselves therefrom under the pains following, namely—the master shall pay six shillings eight pennies, and the prentice or servant three shillings four pennies scots money toties quoties. And that none be playing at links, bowls, or other pastimes, or drinking in taverns or ailhouses in time of divine service under the pain of double unlaws ; and that there be ane visitor of the said crafts that shall go throw the town and pairts thereabout to try the breakers and violators of this ordinance ; and when they apprehend such persons, masters or prentices, to make declaration thereof to the Deacon-Conveener, or the deacon of their own craft, to the effect they may take such order therewith as appertains, and that by and attour what censure the kirk-session shall put upon them. And this to stand unalterable in all time cuming.

ANENT BITTER AND DESPITEFUL SPEAKING.
It is statute and ordained that none of the said crafts, superior or inferior, shall use any bitter, dispiteful, or litigious language either to molest ane another before the court, or at any mail's table where the crafts shall happen to be in companie, but honestly and humbly reason ane with ane other with reverence, and leave askit and given by the company convenit. And whasomever transgresses the same he shall be debarred fra the company till his fault be confessed, and to be in the crafts amerciament, and his unlaw to be fourtie shillings scots toties quoties. [Among the few breaches of this act recorded is the following:- 2nd April, 1735.—The court, considering that Adam Baxter called William Moir a brute in presence of the court, they therefor amerciate him, the said Adam Baxter, in fourty shillings Scots, to be paid by him to the trade, for use of the poor, for the said transgression, In terms of the third act of this book ; and debar him from voting in any affair of the trade until satisfaction be made before the court, which being paid by the said Adam Baxter, the trade discharge the above amerciament, and ordered the said sum of forty shillings to be repaid to him.]

ANENT APPEALING TO OTHER COURTS.

Item, it is statute and ordained be the deacon and masters that none of the occupiers of the said crafts, masters, servants, or prentices shall not gang before no judge, spiritual or temporal, with no wrong nor injurie (except blood or blae) whatever, before the deacon and masters of the craft, and the fault being instructed and made out before them ; and whosoever contravene the same, his unlaw be taken up and unforgiven, as it shall please the craft to modifie.

ANENT THE ELECTION OF DEACONS.

In presence of George Leslie and Alexander Gordon, baillies, it is statute and ordained unanimously by the haill traid for holding and keeping peace and concord amongst them as formerly, and also according to ancient practique, that ane Wright be still deacon to the traid for ane year, and ane coupar for ane other year, and so to continue viccissim tyme about. And upoune the day of election only the thrie masters of that traid who falls to be deacone to goe down staires, and not the haill six masters, and this to be observed in all tyme coming.

ANENT ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS.

Item, it is ordained that any disobedient person, warned to the court be the officiar after the hour appoynted, being within the town, shall pay in fines for his absence four shillings scots, and to be poynded therefore except he show ane reasonable excuse.

ANENT APPRENTICES.

Item, it is statute and ordained that no prentice be accepted by any of the freemen for fewer years than five, and one year thereafter for meat and fee; failing to do so he is to lose the benefit of his prentisship and be classed as an extranean.

ANENT SUMMER AND WINTER WORKERS.

The deacons and remanent masters and members of the said traid having taken into their serious consideration the great damage and disadvantage which (lid redound and befall to them through accepting, hiring, and feeing of unfreemen or journeymen in the winter quarter who spent their time and labours in the country in the summer quarter when the freemen of the said traid hath greatest necessitie of them; they for remeid thereanent have statute and ordained, and be thir presents with unanimous consent and assent for themselves and their successors in their said offices, statute and ordains that every freemen of the said traid who shall accept of any unfreeman or journeyman, hereafter in winter that uses and frequents to work in the country in the summer, shall pay to the box-master of the said traid for the time the sum of six pounds Scots, tot es quoties, who shall be convictit of the said fault, and found guilty of the said transgression, and this act to stand unalterable in all time coming.

ANENT "DIGHTED" DEALS.

16th April, 1698.—The said day by voyce of court, it is strictlie statute and ordained that no frieman of the wright traid, work ony deals dighted on both syds and sex and greeped for less pryce than four shillings Scots ilk daill ; and ony daills dighted upon the ane syde and sex and greeped for less price than three shillings four pennies for ilk dail, and ilk clift at three shillings four pennies sex and greeped. And also that no cooper mak and pack salmond barrell for less price than four marks for ilk barrell. Likewise it is statute and ordained that whatsomever person or persons, either wright or cooper, shall happen to transgress in the premises, and that the same be proven against them any manner of way, that the person or persons trausgressors shall pay to the boxmaster for the time for the use of the poor ten marks Scots money, to be uplifted and unforgiven, and ordains this act to stand in all tyme coming.

ANENT WHEELWRIGHTS.

30th August, 1709.—The whilk day the wright and cooper trade considering that the wheelwrights may several ways encroach upon their trades and airts which may occasion debates in the incorporation, for preventing of all mistakes and encroachments compeared the said Charles Ramsay, wheelwright, and bind and obliged him for himself and in name and behalf of his successors wheelwrights, that he nor they shall not in all tyme coming meddle with nor taking on them to make or mend any wright or coupar whatsomever, or any other airt thereto belonging, but allenarly with wheelwright wark, or what may directly concern the same, under the pain of fourty pounds to be paid to the boxmaster at the time by an attour forfaulture or privileges and benefits in the said traid, that they shall not receive or permit any wright or coupar, servant or journeyman whatsomever, in no tyme coming to work iu their shops.

ANENT CARRYING WEAPONS.

3rd October, 1704.—The said day it is statute and ordained by unanimous consent in presence of Patrick Whyt, Deacon Convener, that no member whatsomever of the said incorporation shall come either to court or meeting wherever the same be, with long rules, compasses, gaiges, or any private weapon, and whosoever contravenes the premises, and brings either to meetings or courts, weapons or any working instrument, excepting folding rules, shall pay twenty shillings scots toties quoties before he who shall happen to contravene shall have vote or concern in the said traid.

ANENT DRINKING.

17th March, 1707.—The same day the haill traid unanimously statute and ordain that none whatever, servants or prentice, visit, convene, or debauch, and drink together to the scandal of the incorporation, nor shall they be tollarat to take on them the title of deacon, boxmaster, or other members of the traids as they have done heretofore ; and in case the same abuses do continue among servants, the contraveners thereof shall in no time coming have any benefit in the traid, besides further censure as the traid thinks fit to impose.

ANENT COMBINATIONS AMONG WORKMEN.

27th June, 1732.—Abstract--The trade condemning the many and great abuses and evil practices that have lately crept in amongst and prevailed with their journeymen and servants, and their entering into signed associations among themselves whereby they become bound to one another under a penalty not to continue in their master's service or to work after seven o'clock at night contrary to the usual practice.

The trade approve the acts made against meetings of servants and apprentices, fixing the hours from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and no master to employ journeymen who had been dismissed for breach of this ordinance.

ANENT COOPERS' APPRENTICES.

6th February, 1747.—It is statute and ordained that no freeman of the Coupar Trade shall at any time hereafter employ as a servant or journeyman any stranger or others who bath not served ane apprenticeship to some member of the Trade within their burgh, because as this Trade have great trust from the merchants both in receiving, curing, and packing their fish, pork, and beef, whereof embezzlement could be made without being easily discovered, and that the masters must often entrust their servants by themselves with the doing thereof, so they cannot with the same certainty answer for the fidelity of stranger servants as they can for those who have served apprenticeships in town, and have given testimony of their honesty ; besides it being a piece of justice due to apprentices and an encouragement to others to follow after the business; and as the coupars of Aberdeen have been long famous for the best work all over the kingdom, so they could not so much answer for a journeyman's work who has not been bred with some of themselves, it not being so easy a matter to take full grown people out of their way as to teach young ones, besides a coupar must necessarily entrust a journeyman to push work as he could not afford to teach and pay him at the same time, whereas their apprentices are not entrusted until they know them capable, so that it clearly appears that there is a hazard in their work being made worse, and the whole trade suffering in their reputation for the best of work. . . . It is therefore enacted that no journeyman be employed who has not served an apprenticeship to some of their trade within the burgh, under the penalty of one shilling sterling for each day he shall employ such person, to be payed to the boxmaster for the use of the poor.

In addition to the foregoing there is a long act prohibiting members from taking on work too cheaply, so that "they are unable to pay for the timber, and keep their families." There is also an act under which a master is liable to a penalty of six pounds Scots if he employs a journeyman who " works after hours on pretence that he is working for his master." The following are a few extracts of sentences passed for breaches of the acts and ordinances of the craft :—

At Aberdeen, 27th February, 1694.—In presence of Adam Mark, deacon, the said traid ordained that George Wright should have no voice amongst the traid until the deacon did get amends for abusing him, when he was going about to furnish a man to their majesties' service at the time, conform to the magistrates order, and denied the deacon assistance when required, and thereupon the deacon required act.

31st December, 1702.—The said day the traid by voyce of court statute and ordained that John Scott, plumer, have no voyce airt nor pairt among the wright and coupar traid in tyme coming until he suplicat the traid, and give satisfaction for taking brybs and connivieng with unfreemen, divulging the traid's secrets contrair to his oath, and thereupon the deacon took instruments.

At Trinity Hall, the thirteenth day of October, 1704, in presence of John Findlay, deacon, compeared John 'Watson, John Youngson, William Pirie, John Kempt, Patrick Gray, John Mair, and George Gray, and submitted themselves to the court of the Wright and Coupar Trade for their abuse therein in contravening and vilipending the deacon and other misdemeanours. And the trade having considered the circumstances of the matter they ordain John Watson and John Youngson to crave the conveener, deacon, and traid's pardon, and ordains William Pirie, John Kemp, Patrick and George Gray, and John Mair, each of them to pay two pounds soots and to crave pardon also. And that ilk ane of them bind themselves to the paine in all time coming for their peaceable behaviour under the failzie of six pounds scots, by an attour extrusion. And ordains public satisfaction to be given, and the ref users thereof to have no voyce or concern in the traid until this present act be fulfilled.

18th June, 1706.—The said day anent the complaint given in against James Robertson, wright, for his contumecy to the Deacon Convener and his unmannerlyness to the Deacon and Court in contempt of their respective authority, and the court considering the same, they do by thir presents expell and debarr him from the court meetings or concern of the said trade, and fixes and amerciates him in twenty shillings scots tones quoties until pardon be sought and granted from the deacon and trade, and ordains this act to stand unalterable.

16th June, 1706.—The said day anent the complaint given in by the whole court against Alexander Anderson, wright, for his disobedience to the deacon's commands as their officer and public servant of the traid, and for his breach of his oath of admission, and several other unchristian faults; and the court considering the same and being well known to them, they do hereby fine and amerciate him in the sum of ten merks scots for his faults and unchristian behaviour, to be paid to the poor of the traid within terms of law, and also hereby debarrs and excludes him being a member of this court or traid or from voting or sharing in their concerns in all tyme hereafter. And hereby ordains that no member of this court converse with him as their neighbour or a member of his family in respect of his perjury. And ordains this act to stand unalterable until the fine be paid, and the highest of satisfaction given.

1st August, 1701.—The said day Alexander Burnet, coupar, was amerciate in fourty shilling scots conform to the act in the books for saying to the deacon in a fenced court when he civilie socht his poynd, "the divell tak' it from him." And ordains the fine to be paid, and the court's pardon obtained before he get a voyce.

11th August, 1707.—The said day the whole trade excludes and debarrs Alexander Annand, wright, for his robbing and endeavouring to tear in pieces ane bond belonging to the trade in face of court, and in contempt of their authority, from having any voyce or concern in courts or meetings until he make satisfaction to the trade, and undergo whatever they shall inflict upon him for such an intollerable cry me.

The essays prescribed for `rights about the middle of the last century were remarkably severe tests of workmanship; indeed, it is doubtful if there are many wrights of the present day who could make such an essay as the following :—A spring table, consisting of three folding leaves, every leaf folding above another; the first leaf, when folded over, is to answer a dining table; the second leaf to answer a quadvile or whist table; the third leaf to answer a backgammon table, the said three tops are to hang on one pair of hinges; out of the body of said table is to arise a writing-desk with nine drawers, and a book-frame on springs, the said frame to have eagle claw feet with a shell or flower on the knees of every foot, the said table is to have close banded and chequer feather bands. A medall case of thirty-six drawers with a carriage below, which is to have eagle claw feet, on the tops of which case to be a scroll pedament with a shield in the centre for a coat of arms ; every drawer to be divided into thirty-six parts in order to hold different kinds of meddals; every one of these parts is to be round and hollow within, with a hole below in order to take the meddal out and in. A dressing chest of drawers and cabinet, the drawers to have two projections consisting of four drawers in each projection, with a sliding cupboard in the middle, the cupboard to be circular on the back, with ane Esiolloy (?) shell the whole breadth of the cupboard; above the cupboard there is to be a writing table to draw out with springs supported by itself, every drawer to be divided so as to hold all manner of necessaryies for a lady's toilet, every division of said drawers to have boxes for filling its own place four square every way. There is to be a cabinet on the top of the said drawers with arch-headed doors. In the inside of the cabinet is to be a prospect full of drawers; below the said prospect there is to be eight drawers, and above it six in the flanks are to be sliding partitions for books, the whole outside to be feather headed. The middle part of the cabinet to be scroll pediment with the two sides of the ingoing circular. A library table consisting of twenty-four drawers, six on every side, with a swinging ball or bowl in the centre of said table to hang plumb at any position, the table and drawers to be cross banded and chequer feather binded. A dining table, six feet long on the top, by five and a half feet in breadth, with two folding leaves, the said leaves to be hung without the help of any kind of metal hinges; the table to have eagle claw feet, with a moving ball in the centre of the claw to answer instead of brass castors ; the carriage of the table to be made to answer the top by an equal margin below when folded out or folded in, and round the top of the table on the edge is to be a piece of carving commonly called the egg and anchor. The frame of the table is to be chequer feather banded of different kinds of wood. A table twelve feet diameter on one carriage for folding in four corners for a corner table, and to serve when folded out, all hung with hinges, for a large dining table, and the frame to fold together to serve for a corner table.

The cooper's essay was simply "ane salmond salt for holding four barrels of salmond, or ane three boll salt for brewing; ane firlot and peck, ane salmond barrell conform to bind and measure of Aberdeen, the goadges made for that effect to be given to him be the deacon and masters."

The essay masters were strictly enjoined "to examine the work without speaking to each other, and declare their voices to the clerk and deacon, so that the one could not know what the verdict of the other was." When testing an applicant the essay masters had, and still exercise, the power, when considered necessary, of locking him into a stranger's workshop while he is at work. The fine imposed on an essay master for failure in his duty is four pounds Scots.

Under the following resolution, passed by the Convener Court, Wheelwrights were joined to the Wrights and Coopers in place of the Hammermen :—

11th August, 1709.—The Convener Court ordains and hereby appoints that wheelwrights petitioning to be incorporate shall be joined to the wright and cooper traid in tyme to come, and not to the hammermen traid, and orders the wright and cooper traid to make a report to the Town Council.

In addition to the amount annually set aside for the education of orphans and children, an additional educational fund was established in 1862, by the widow of the late Mr. James Allan, upholsterer. On the death of her husband, Mrs. Allan directed that her annuity from the Trade and from the Widows' Fund should be retained by the boxmaster in a separate account for future disposal by Mrs. Allan or her trustees, as she or they might afterwards direct. A short time after Mrs. Allan's death, the trustees directed that the revenue from the accumulated annuities should be made available to the Trade; and, as they considered that the sons of members were already well provided for (educationally), they proposed that, as the capital would yield a suns of £10 per annum, two bursaries of £5 each should be given to daughters who had passed school age, and who might wish to continue their studies (preference being given to the most necessitous and deserving). Rules were accordingly drawn out in 1879 to carry this direction into effect, the scholarships being made tenable for two years.

The Wrights and Coopers are superiors or proprietors of a portion of the estate of Garthdee, ground at King Street Road, Princes Street, Canal Terrace, Bon-Accord Street, Crown Street, Loanhead Terrace, Springbank Terrace, Rosebank Terrace, Gallowgate-Head, Banchory Park, Urquhart Road, Mounthooly, Old Aberdeen, &c.

The panel with the emblazoned arms of the Trade, which hangs in the `Vest Committee Room, along with the others, was painted by Charles Whyt, painter, his payment "not to exceed fourscore pounds Scots, and all other dues." On 18th June, the Trade " appointed and ordained that the boxmaster cause made ane square whyt flag of whyt taffitie, and in the midst thereof the arms of the Wright and Cooper Trade, conform to Mr. Lyon's order, as they are painted on the broad in the Trinity Hall; and that the same be painted on fine holland by Charles Whyt, on both syds, and the same to be perfected and ended in all haste." Underneath the arms on the panel are the following lines :—

Our trade is renown'd by sea & Land,
By timber work compleated by our hand,
Which trades practised by us, are holden rare,
As witness our Compass, Adze & Square.
The Carpenter & Hooper makes one trade,
In great esteem these men ought to be had,
Their traid -should be the first in place by right,
For Mary was betrothed to a Wright;
And Justin Martyr, he down right awoues,
That Jesus Christ himself made yokes and plows.
Great families deryves their pedigree,
From persons matcht with them, as wee may see,
Assume their honores, & themselvs sett forth,
By reckoning....... worth.*

* When the "brod" was touched up about thirty years ago the painter seems to have filled in several words at random. In the next line he also altered the word Virgin to Origin!

Shall not the Virgin, who was matcht with one
Of this high trade, Honor reflect thereon?
If Christ, both God & man, this trade did try,
Let none compute with it: let all stand by.
From the first Adam some their trade commence,
The second Adam will speak better sence.
Did not just Noah, at command of God,
Build the life saveng ark of goopher wood, [Gen. ch. 6, v. 14.]
Which did hold man, beast, fowl, & creeping thing,
Till the great deluge should asswadge again:
By which, the seed of each kynd sav'd should be
To yield the earth a new posteritie.
God also did Bezaleel's heart inspire, [Exod. ch. 31,]
Who was the son of Uri, the son of Hur,
With Aholiab Ahisamach's son,
The first of Judah's tribe, the last of Dan,
With his oueu sprit in Wisdom & in Art,
And all whom he had blist with a wise heart
To carve in wood, and in all kynd of work,
The tabernacle, the mercy-seat, & ark.
Which they all wrought in gold & shittim wood,
In which were keept God's laws, & holy word.
When Ahab & his father's hous had gon
From God's commands, & unto Baalim ran,
Did not Elijah, sent by th' word of God,
Convert that people, & their king Ahab?
To do this mighty work, this prophet thought
It needful that four barrells should be brought
Of water fill'd, which, on the sacrifice,
And wood, he ordred to be poured thrice,
Which round the Altar ran, & then he cry'd-
"O Lord God hear me, that your people stray'd,
May turne their hearts again, yea & admire,
The God of Israel: "—then straight down fell fire,
Which did consume all the burnt offering
And wood, & lick't the water up again.
'Twas by our art, you see, the Lord did save
Poor mankynd, & all breathing kynd that live,
Our art should be then honor'd by all men,
Since it hath alwayes helpfull to them been.
Then may all know our art proceeds from none
But the wise, great, & glorious God alone
To whom let us give praises, thanks, & honour
And glorie this day forth for now & ever. Amen.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast