The present work on the
Scottish Staple was projected by the late
Professor John Davidson. The notes left by him
consisted, firstly, of an accumulation of facts in
regard to the Staple; secondly, of an account of
various aspects of Scottish economic history; and
thirdly, of a sketch of the history of the Staple to
about the middle of the eighteenth century.
In addition to this, in a
fourth volume, bearing the title
The Organisation of the Staple, a few pages
only were written.
To complete a work thus
outlined by another writer is a task of peculiar
difficulty, as perhaps can be realised only
by those who have attempted
it. I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to
expand the book on the lines
which I think Professor Davidson
would have adopted. In
the first part, in the subjects dealt with in the various
introductory chapters, I have followed closely the
order indicated in Professor Davidson's notes, and the chapters, as
completed, embody all that he wrote on these
general questions. It is not, I think, improbable
that Professor Davidson may have
intended to expand this part into
an economic history of
Scotland. Indeed the history of the Staple should
properly be regarded from such a wider point of
view, but the second part, dealing with the
history of the Staple port, has grown so large
that I feel that no apology is required for
refraining from a task which
would necessarily demand many years of incessant research and study.
While the preliminary chapters are somewhat disconnected, I
hope that they may be found
sufficient to indicate the economic conditions in
which the institution of the Staple arose.
In dealing with the history
of the Staple, I have relied chiefly
on the Records of the
Convention of Burghs—a
mine of information in regard to the economic
history of Scotland—and on
An Account of the Scotch
Trade in the Netherlands, written by the
Rev. James Yair, a minister of the Scottish
church at the Staple port, who had access to
papers now unfortunately lost. The
Acts of Parliament, the Register of the Privy
Council, and the Records of various
burghs also contain much useful information. The
history of the trading agreements of two countries
cannot, however, be satisfactorily written
from the point of view of
one country only, and there are many incidents in
the history of the Staple on which the Scottish
Records throw little light. Apart
from the Dutch chroniclers and the works of
Ermerins, the eminent Dutch antiquary, there is
much that is useful in the records of Bruges and
Middelburg, and the archives at
Veere contain much that is of interest in the history of
Scotland. For the use made
throughout the book of these sources of information I am solely
responsible. In writing of the Scottish Staple
town I have used the form "Campvere,"
although on the title-page the modern form
is preferred. I have done so for the
sake of uniformity in the text, as I
have not infrequently quoted from
various Scottish Records, in which the
older form is almost
invariably used. It is rather curious that this form
should have been so consistently used in
Scotland to as late a date
as 1847, when the last memory of the Staple system
disappeared from Oliver & Boyd's
Almanack. With almost equal consistency "Veere"
has been the form used in
the Netherlands, even in the earliest chronicles
of Zealand. My acknowledgments are
due to many who have extended ready
assistance to me in this work by giving me access
to papers in their custody. To Mr. Th.
H. R. van Riemsdijk,
keeper of the archives at The Hague;
Mr. H. Turing, British Consul
at Rotterdam; Mr. R.
Fruin and Mr. W. O.
Swaving, of Middelburg; Mr
J. W. Perrels, of Veere; to the
Convention of Burghs and their agent,
Mr. J. L. Officer; and to
the librarian of the University of Edinburgh, I
wish to express my indebtedness.
For the illustrations my thanks are
due to the Burgomasters of
Veere and Middelburg, and to
the authorities of the British Museum. I am also greatly
indebted to Mr. D. P. Heatley, of
Edinburgh University, for the interest
he has taken in this work.
In addition to much that I owe him in other
matters, my thanks are due
to him for reading a large part of this book in
manuscript. By Professor Nicholson I was also
encouraged to undertake this
To the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
I also wish to express my thanks.
London, 3rd December, 1908.
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