Reminiscences of the Royal Burgh of Haddington The Incorporation of Hammermen
HAMMERMEN were another of
the nine incorporated trades of Haddington. The corporation included
trades which used a hammer, viz., smiths, saddlers, tinsmiths, and watch
and clock makers. Hence its name. It was always reckoned to be a
respectable corporation, and often the trades bailie and convener of the
trades were chosen from it. The only members of it now alive are Mr
Ferme and Mr Porteous, saddler. The yearly election of the deacon and
office-bearers in the month of September, was an event looked forward to
with much delight, especially by the older members, such as old John
Cochrane, “hinges Tamie Cowan“ downright Adam Cockburn; John Pinkerton,
"pinkie;” George Young, “sindie;” and others. At the election they were
persons of great importance, and were dressed out in their best. The
following stanza from Fergusson’s poem, “The Election,” fitly describes
“Whare’s Johnny gaun,”
cries neebour Bess,
“That he’s sae gaily bodin,
“Wi’ new-kaimed wig, weel-syndet face,
Silk hose, for hamely hodin?”
“Our Johnny’s nae sma’ drink, you’ll guess,
He’s trig as ony muir-cock,
An’ forth to mak a deacon, lass;
He dou’na speak to poor fock
Like us the day.”
On such occasions “high
festival” was held in one of the principal inns; some of the magistrates
and burgesses were invited as guests. There was always a supper when the
election dinner was ordered: the election dinner itself and another
supper when the bill was paid. As the funds of the corporation were
ample, the viands and the liquors provided were first class and in great
John Darling, an old
member, always stipulated that a boiled gigot of Southdown mutton with
caper sauce was to be on the table, which he declared was food fit “for
Much hilarity with the
feast of reason and the flow of soul prevailed at these annual meetings.
William Aitkin, watchmaker, “Muffie,” used to sing his song; “The Hazel
Rung,” in great style. Deacon George Spears also often sung, and told
old stories and anecdotes connected with the corporation and old
Haddingtonians in byegone times, and often broke out in vehement terms
against “strangers, outlanders, and interlopeters,” who came into the
burgh and who wanted to make themselves persons of importance in
opposition to old Haddington folk.
Bailie Matthew Dawson,
watchmaker, “Pivot,” was a perfect chronicle of old events, which had
happened during the stirring war times, when officers and landed gentry
of high degree lived in the town, and made it a place of great
Corporation, like the others, is now extinct; and the names of many old
members may be remembered by few, while the recollection of the festive
occasions is become a matter of history.
Masons and Wrights.
The United Corporation of
Masons and Wrights, which included plasterers, glaziers, and slaters, is
the only one which possesses property and funds, which at present amount
to betwixt five and six hundred pounds. Mr Andrew Dickson and Mr R. W.
Smiles are the only remanent members.
Among the old members of
the Incorporation of Tailors were—
William Dudgeon, "Singie.”
Adam Richardson, “the
Eel,” was the last deacon. It has long ago been extinct, and no members
The Nisbets and Thomsons
were long ago members* of this incorporation, also Messrs Gaff and
Walker, Robert Johnston, a well-known Haddington man, was the last
deacon. It is now extinct.
The skinners were always
a small incorporation, and were long represented by the Pringles. George
M'Cullagh was the last member, who was entered in 1832.
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