The Incorporation of Wrights possesses a complete record
of its transactions for upwards of a century. This consists of (1) six
volumes of the Minutes of the Meetings of the Master Court, beginning in
1781; and (2) three volumes of the Minutes of the General Meetings of the
Trade from 1782. For the period prior to 1781 the only Minute Books extant
are three small volumes. The first, which is declared to be a Register of
the Acts of the Incorporation, extends from 1650 to 1710, the second from
1696 to 1780, and the third from 1755 to 1773. The first of these and part
of the second are written in a seventeenth century hand, legible only to an
expert. Unable myself to read them, I submitted them to my friend, Mr.
Robert Renwick, Depute-Town Clerk of Glasgow, who had them transcribed for
me. The greater portion of his transcription is now, by the kindness of
Deacon Watt, presented to the members in the following pages. The whole of
the first volume, or Register of the Acts of the Incorporation, has been
printed. It begins with a Minute dated 22nd February, 1650. This was in the
year of the Declaration of the Solemn League and Covenant, and the Minute
bears the stamp of the Covenant upon it. All meetings are appointed to be
opened and closed with prayer; and no one, it is declared, can be Deacon who
is not "of known affection unto and approved fidelity in the cause of God,"
or free of "scandalous sins." I am bound to acknowledge that the one part of
this regulation has fallen into abeyance, but I have never heard it asserted
that the Deacons of to-day do not attain to the high standard of morality
prescribed for them two centuries ago.
As an Appendix, a few excerpts have been added from the
second volume, which relates exclusively to meetings held under an Agreement
between the Incorporation and the Wrights of Gorbals. There is not even a
copy of this Agreement among the papers of the Incorporation; and Mr.
Renwick can find no trace of it in the Burgh Records. But, no doubt, it was
of the same nature as the Agreements which are known to have existed between
some of the other Trade Incorporations of Glasgow and their fellow-craftsmen
in the outlying suburbs, and would fix the terms upon which the Wrights of
Gorbals were allowed to exercise their craft within the Royal Burgh of
Glasgow. Whatever its nature, we find from the last Minute, dated 29th
September, 1780, that the Wrights of Gorbals then brought it to an abrupt
termination; and there is no evidence in the subsequent Minutes that it was
ever, to any extent, renewed.
The other Minute Books contain much interesting matter
illustrative of the history of the Incorporation and the City generally; and
I trust that the present volume is only the forerunner to a complete history
of the Incorporation.
In conclusion, I should say that Mr. Renwick has added to
my obligations to him by revising the proof sheets. In point of fact, he has
practically relieved me of all trouble in the matter, and I cannot thank him
JAS. A. REID.
172 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow,
15th December, 1887.