Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Merchant and Craft Guilds
A History of the Aberdeen Incorporated Trades
Part II. Chapter II - The Crafts and the Church—Before the Reformation

Any inquiry into the history of the craft associations in Aberdeen would be incomplete which did not take into account their relation to the church, both before and after the reformation; and the extent of its influence in determining their character, aims, and constitution. It may at first sight appear a somewhat far-fetched notion to say that the pageants and religious processions of the pre-reformation period helped in no small measure to bring about the combination of the craftsmen in the community under appointed leaders. But such undoubtedly was the case. These pageants, religious ceremonials, and miracle plays, constituted nearly all that the artizan classes of that early period had in the way of instruction either in religion or literature, recreation, and social intercourse, and when each separate body of craftsmen was called in to combine for the purpose of finding banners, ornaments, and other paraphernalia, they at the same time were naturally led to combine for more secular purposes, such as the protection of their trade privileges, the establishment of schemes for mutual aid in sickness and old age, and for kindred objects. In other respects, such as the light it throws on the origin of dramatic performances, and the nature of the influence exercised by the ecclesiastics, the connection between the church and the crafts in Aberdeen during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries opens up an interesting field of inquiry, and few towns, either in England or Scotland, possess records so well fitted as those of our own ancient burgh to throw light on this somewhat obscure period in the history of the social and religious life of our country.

The ecclesiastics of the fifteenth century had a strong influence among all, classes of the burgesses; and in the Town Council, such as it then was, their influence was paramount. So far as the craft burgesses were concerned, the first burgess fee imposed was in the nature of a contribution to the church, generally a gift of wax " to decore " the altars, while nearly all the fines for breaches of the ordinances of the town went to the same destination. The duties imposed on the citizens, nominally by the Town Council, but in reality inspired by the ecclesiastics, embraced not only the religious and moral conduct of the citizens, but extended to the regulation of their amusements and pastimes. This influence was specially manifest in connection with the pageant and miracle plays, common throughout nearly the whole of Europe for over two centuries. Much though these performances have been condemned by a class of modern writers, it ought to be borne in mind that in giving them countenance the ecclesiastical authorities of the Roman Catholic Church encouraged them mainly as a means of impressing upon an ignorant people the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Supernatural displays and the use of rude imagery were the only means then available for teaching the people. But while in their original design these plays were looked upon as sacred and devotional exercises, in course of time, they rapidly degenerated into gross buffoonery of sacred subjects and scriptural characters. In the time of Gregory the Great (the twelfth century) the priests were in the habit of commemorating the passion of Christ by processions, choruses, chants, and dialogues, and gradually the laity were introduced to take part in them. " The custom of representing miracle plays at certain church festivals and on other great occasions spread itself over the length and breadth of the land; the custom was almost as universal as the celebration of the church festivals themselves. During the fifteenth century these exhibitions had made such progress that nearly every large city had its own company of performers, generally composed of the various trade corporations, and the king himself and many of the nobility kept among their retainers complete companies of players who often went about from place to place giving performances. They continued to be as common and popular as ever during the sixteenth century even after the regular drama had been developed, and did not cease to be represented in England till at least the beginning of the seventeenth century." [Keltie's "British Drama."]

The reference made to the various trade corporations taking part in these processions and plays is fully borne out by what occurred in Aberdeen. As early as 1440 a leader was appointed, called the Abbot of Bon-Accord, to conduct the play of Halyblude at Wyndmy lhill, the eminence now known as the Porthill. His appointment is noted in the Council Register as follows :-

13th May, 1440—Curia Gilde tenta per prepositum in pretorio Burgi de Abirdene xiij die mensis Maij Anno Domino millesimo quadringentesimo et xlmo. Item, eodem die, per commune consilium concessus fuit Ricardo Kintor, tune Abbati de Boneacord, vnus burgensis futurus faciendus, ad libitum suum quandocunque ipsum presentauerit pro expensis suis factis et faciendis in quodam ludo de ly Ilaliblude ludendo apud ly Wyndmylhill.

Two years after this appointment the following edict was issued, calling on the craftsmen to appear annually at "the ofterand of our Lady" at Candlemas:—

In one of his caustic notes, Joseph Robertson points out that the tailors are the only craftsmen who were not enjoined to find "honest" squires ' The minstrels which the bakers had to find are often referred to in the Council Register, and seem to have been maintained in a somewhat similar manner to the chaplains of the altars in the kirk:—

28th January 1500.—The said day, it was statnt, ordanit, and grantit be the alderman, balyeis, and maist part of the consal and comunite present for the tyme, that Jonhe and Robert, thar comone menstralis, sal haue resonabile diets, sevralie, throw the nichtbors of the towne ; And gif ony persone, or personis, refuss to rescue thame to thar dietis, it sal be lesum to them to gif to the said menstrals xij d. one the day, bat [both] for meat, drink, and wagis, for simpile folks.

13th January 1504.—The said day, the alderman and counsale grantit thame avand, in the townis nayme, to Davy Theman, foure markis, vsuale money of Scotlande, for the kepin of thar comon horelege and knock, and for ane vnce and [half] vnce of silver, quhilk he put in the coinon arnies of the tonne, gevin to thai comone menstralis, quhene thai passit to our souerane Lordis marage, at the tonnes comand ; quhilk thai grauntit to pay to the said Davy.

21st January 1509.—The said day, the borgh fundin be Robert Piper and Johnne Piper, comon menstralis, upoun David Ines, for the wranguiss withhaldin fra thame of thar dietis yerly, and thar fie, was fundin awaile; and for the quhilkis, it was deliuerit be ane suorne assis, Cristofer Prat, forspekar, that the said David was in ane amerciament of the court, and aw to pay to thame yerly xviij d.: Nothwithstanding, the alderman and baillies defalkit ij d. yerly ; and say the said Dauid sail pay to the said menstralis xvj d. yerly.

22nd January 1535.—The said day, the prouest and counsale, in name of the haill tovn, tharof thar exprest comand and chais, gevin and grantit to thame, convenit, an 1 elect Johnne Tulidelf and WiIle Murray, to [be] the tovnis comond menstralis, during the tovnis vill ; Quhilk personis sail serve the guid tovn, as use hes bene in tymes bigane ; and sail pas every day, thro all the rewis and stretis of the guid tovn, at five hours in the morining, and betuix aucht and nyn at evin ; quhilk thai suore to do lelie and trulie : ffor the quhilk, thai [sal] haue ther dalie meit of the nychtbors of the guid tovin, annd, ilk day, of euery burgess of gild, they eit with xvj d., and of euery craftisman xij d. ; and sal pas thro all this tovin, and slip na man ; and quha refuss to gif thame meit and drink, sail gif them dobble vaigis ; and quhen they get doble vagis, they sal lef that day on the vaige, and pas to na man for meit and vaig that day.

24th November 1574.—The said day the haill counsale being warnit to this day, ordaint Johnne Cowpar to pas everie day in the mornyng, at four houris, and everie nycht at viij houris at ewyne, throw all the rewis of the toune, playand vpon the Almany quhissil, (Almany phissii—German whistle.) with ane servand with him, playand on the taborine, quhairby the craftisman, thair servandis, and all utheris laborious folkis, being warnit and excitat, may pas to thar labouris, and fra thar labouris in dew and convenient tyme ; and ordains the said Johnne to haff for his stipend and fee, yierlie, twa shilling of euerie burges man, and xviijd. of euerie free craftisman, at four termer in the yier, Candilmes, the Ruid day, Lammes day, and Alhallow day; and the first terme to begyn at Candelmes next to cum, and that upon his gud seruice, enduring the consellis will.

On the 30th April, 1445, "it was concludit, statute, and ordanit be the comoune counsale and mony others of the gilde for lettying and stancheying of diuerss enormyities done in tyme bigane be the Abbits of this burgh callit Bone Acorde that in tyme to come thai will give na feis to nae sic Abbotis;" and it was "sene speedful to thani that for this instant yher thai will haue nae sic Abbot, bot thai will that the Alderman for the tyme and a balyhe quham that he will tak til him supple that faute." But this arrangement, which would suggest that the Council were jealous of the influence exercised by these functionaries, did not last long. On 8th May, 1496, "the alderman, balyeis, and consale present for the tyme at the Womanhill for uphaldin of the ald louabill consuetud, honor, consalacion, and plesour of the burghe like as has bene usit in tymes of thair worthie and honarabill progenitouris, chesit Thomas Leslie and Robert of Cullane conjunctlie Abbats and Priors of Bonaccord tile vyse and exerce the said office this instant yer; and granted to pay theme v. marks of the common guds this tyme tuelf months."
It was also ordained by the alderman and council in 1484 that " the talzeours and al utheris craftismen within the toune sal in tyme to cum beyr thare takyinis of thare craft apon their beristis, and thare best aray on Candlimes day at the Offerand; and quha that contervenis and dois nocht sal tyne their fredum for a yer." It was also ordained that each craft should have a standard:—

23rd January, 1496.—The saide day, it was statut and ordainit be the alderman, bailyeis, and consale, for the honor and defenss of the tone, that everie craftsmen within the burghe sale ger mak ane standart for thar craft. And on 12th January, 1512, it was ordained by the magistrates that " every craft within this towne sail have a pair of torcheiss, honestlie maid of four pund of wax, to decoir and worschip the sacrament on Corpus Christi day and at the Fest of Pasche, at the Resurrexioun, at Youle, and at all utther tyines quhen neid is to the honor of the towun; and ordainns all Erie and unfrie to loit and scot and pay their part tharto as thai ar extendit to, be the deknys of thair craftis."

The exact nature of these plays and pageants remain shrouded in a food deal of obscurity. They have frequently been held up to ridicule; and many are the lampoons, rather unmerited, that have been made upon them. These lampoons, however, have served a very useful purpose. They supply us with interesting material as to the character of the plays which would not otherwise be in existence. Take for instance the following quotation from the "Popish Kingdom" describing the ceremonies of Corpus Christi day in Coventry:--

In a MS. by Archdeacon Rogers, who died 1569, and who saw the Whitsun Plays at Chester, we have the following interesting description (Harlean MSS.)

The manner of these playes weare, every company had his pagiant, or p'te, which pageants weare a high scafolde with 2 rowmes, a higher and a lower, upon 4 wheeles. In the lower they apparelled themselves, and in the higher rowme they played, beinge all open on the tope, that all behoulders might heare and see them. The places where they played them was in every streete. They begane first at the Abay gates, and when the first hagiante was played, it was wheeled to the highe crosse before the Mayor, and so to every streete, and soe every streete had a pagiant playinge before them at one time, till all the pagiantes for the daye appoynted weare played, and when one pagiant was neere ended, worde was broughte from streete to streete, that soe they mighte come in place thereof, excedinge orderlye, and all the streetes have their pagiantes afore them all at one time playeinge togeather ; to se w'ch playes was great resorts, and also scafoldes and stages made in the streetes in those places where they determined to playe their pagiantes.

The manner of which playes was thus: they weare divided into 24 pagiantes according to the companyes of the Cittie & every companye brought forthe their pagiant which was the cariage or place which they played in. And thei first beganne at the Abbaye gates, and when the firste pagiante was played at the Abbaye gates then it was wheled from thense to Pentice, at the hyghe Crosse, before the .11aior, & before that was donne the seconde came,—and the first went into the Watergate Streete, from thense unto the Bridge Streete, and so one after an other, till all the pagiantes weare played appoynted for the firste daye, & so likewise for the seconde & the thirde daye—these pagiantes or carige was a highe place made like a howse with 2 rowmes, beinge open on the tope—the lower rowme theie apparrelled & dressed themselves, & the higher rowme theie played, & thei stoode upon VI wheels, & when they had donne with one cariage in one place theie wheled the same from one streete to another.

In the records of the Guild of Smiths in Chester some amusing entries are to be found of expenses incurred in connection with the plays, such as:—

In his "Curiosities of Literature," D'Israeli also gives amusing anecdotes by way of illustrating the rude character of the performances and the ridiculous blunders that resulted from ill-managed machinery. "In 1437 when Conrad Bayar, Bishop of Metz, caused the mystery of the Passion to be represented on the Plain of Veximel near that city, God was an old gentleman, named Nicholas Neufchatel, of Touraine, curate of Saint Victory of Metz, and who was very near expiring on the cross had he not been timely assisted. He was so enfeebled that it was agreed another priest should be placed on the cross the next day to finish the representation of the person crucified, and which was done; and at the same time the said Mr. Nicholas undertook to perform the Resurrection, which, being a less difficult task, he did it admirably well. Another priest, whose name was M. Julu de Nicey, curate of Metranae, personated Judas, and he was like to have stifled while he hung on the tree, for his neck slipped; this being at length luckily perceived he was quickly cut down and recovered."

Joseph Robertson, in his "Book of Bon-Accord," enters into an interesting speculation regarding the Candlemas Day pageants in Aberdeen which will be read with interest. He says :—"The Emperor, who appears in the spectacle of 1442, was probably Augustus; and he differed little, perhaps, from the Monarch, who, in the procession which welcomed Queen Margaret in 1511, was figured

rydand under croup,
Richt awfull, strang, and large of portratour,
As nobill, dreidfull michtie campioun.

The `Doctors,' it may be conjectured, were representatives of the Jewish saes, with whom Christ disputed in the Temple. The `Three Kingis of Culane,' or Cologne, are the same with the personages commemorated by Dunbar, in `The Queen's Reception ' :-

And syue thow gart the Orient Kingis thrie
Offer to Chryst with benyng reverence
Gold, sence, and mir with all humilitie,
Schawand him King with most magnificence.

These are the wise men or shepherds, who came from the east to welcome the infant Saviour; the eldest, Melchior, who appeared bowed down with years, and wearing a long beard, offered gold; franckincense was the gift of Gasper, who was represented as a beardless youth; and Balthasar, who presented myrrh, was figured as a gigantic Moor or nea o, with a large flowing beard. I cannot offer any explanation of the group of The Virgin, St. Bride or Bridget, St. Helen, and Joseph; the latter personage was believed to be advanced in age and of a crabbed temper; perhaps the Flight into Egypt, -a favourite subject in such spectacles, was represented. St. Bridget, who flourished in the fourteenth century, was designated Sponsa Christi, and her book of revelations was held in great esteem. We may pass the two Bishops and four Angels, personated by the Tanners, without any other remark than that among the productions of Bale is enumerated, 'Of the Councils of the Bishops, one comedy.' At the festivals celebrated at Aix, in Provence, Simeon was represented with a mitre and cap, carrying in his left hand a basket of eggs; but no notice is taken of his disciples. Indeed, there is more reason to conjecture that the scene delineated was that which occurred in the house of Simon the leper, in Bethany, when Mary Magdalen annointed the feet of the Saviour, and his disciples were displeased. Moses was generally depicted with horns—an irreverend absurdity, arising from an error in the vulgate translation of the Scriptures; the Messenger is a name frequently given to the Archangel Gabriel, and the incident figured on this occasion was probably the appearance of the Angel of the Lord in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush on Mount Horeb. The Woodmen, provided by the Butchers, were perhaps Satyrs, such as were exhibited at the baptism of James VI., and by the witty agitation of their tails so highly offended the English embassy. The Brethren of Guild were charged with, it is likely, the most costly part of the show, the Knights in armour; and the Bakers were burthened with the provision of the Minstrels, who, as we gather from Dunbar, were dispersed through the pageants, 'blawing to the sky.'"

It was in connection with these pageants that the first orders of precedence were established among the different bodies of craftsmen, a matter which appears to have given the magistrates no small amount of trouble. The earliest statute with regard to the order in which the craftsmen were to walk in the procession is as follows

30th January, 1505.—The said day, it was fundin by the aid lovabile consuetud and rite of the burgh, that in the honor of God and the blissit Virgin Mary, the craftismen of the samyn, in thar best aray, kepit and decorit the procession one Candilmes day yerlie; quhilk auld and louable consuetud, the prouest, baillies, and counsale, riplie avisit, ratifeit, and approvit the said rite; and atour statut and ordanit that the said craftismen and their successoris, sale perpetualie in tyme to cum, to observe and keipe the said procession, als honorabily as they can: and they sale, in order to the Offering in the Play, pass tua and ij togidr socialie; in the first the tlesseris, barbouris, baxturis, cordinaris, skineris, couparis, wrichts, hat makars and bonat makars togidr, walcaris, litstaris, wobstaris, tailyeouris, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, and hammermen; and the craftismen sal furnys the Pageants; the cordinaris, the Messing; wobstaris and wolcaris, Symeon; the smyths and goldsmiths, iij Kingis of Cullane; the listaris, the Emperor; the masons, the Thrie Knichts; the talyouris, our Lady, Sanct Brid, and Sanct Elene; and the skynners, the Tua Bischopis; and tua of ilke craft to pass with the pageant that thai furnyss to keip thair geir ; and gif ony persone or persouns happinis to failze and brek ony poynt befor writin, and beis convictit tharof, sale pay xl sh. to Sanct Nicholas werk, and the balzeis unlaw unforgiven : ande to the obseruing and kepiug of the samyn, ale the said craftismen was oblist, be thair handis uphaldin.

This order did not give satisfaction to the skinners. They rebelled against being mentioned after the cordiners, and on 28th May, 1507, "the provest and bailyis statut and ordanit that all skynaris sail gang before the cordinaris in al processions, baitht at Candelmes play and utheris processions that accordis thame to gang in." The statute of 1505, however, was reenacted in 1510 in exactly the same terms, and the skinners had to go back to their old place. It was not, however, until 1531, that a definite order was established. This order, as will be seen from the following extract, was fixed in conformity with the order observed in Edinburgh:—

The said day it was statut and ordanit be the prouest bailyeis and counsaile pnt for the time conforme to the auld lovabill consuetudis and rytt of this burgh and of the nobill burgh of Edinburgh of the quhilkis rite and consuetude the forsaid prouest has gottin copy in write. That is to say that in the honor of God and the blessit Virgyne Marye the craftismen of this burgh in thair best array keipe and decoir the procession on Corpus Cristi dais and Caudilmes day als honorabillye as thai can every craft wt thair awin baner wt the Armes of thair craft yrin. And thai sal pas ilk craft be thame self tua and tua in this ordour. That is to say in the first the flescharis, and next thame the barboris, nixt thame skynaris and furrowris togidder, nixt thame the cordonaris, nixt thame the tailyoris, efter thame the vobstaris, valcaris, and litstaris togidder, nixt thame the baxtaris, and last of all nrest the Sacramet passis, all hemermen, that is to say, symthis, wchtis, masonis, cuparis, sclateris, goldsmythis, and armouraris. And every ane of the said craftis in the Caudelmas procession sail furniss thair pageaue conform to the auld statut maid in the yeir of God jaj ve and x yris [1510], quhilk statut was maid wt the aviss of the haile counsaile and appvit be the craftisme of the toune for the tyme for thame and thair successoris. And oblist thame to the keping of the samyn vnder the pane of xl ss and the bailyeis vnlaw unforgevin to be vptakin of thame that beis absent but ane resonabill causs fra the said processioun, or that makkis trubill or perturbatioun yrin. To the quhilkis they wer oblist be thair handis vphaldin in ingement. And the prouest, bailyies, and cowtsale put for the tyme ratifeis and approvis this pnt statut and the painis contenit yin to be kepit inviolablye in all mauer in tyme cuming. The craftis ar chargit to furneiss their pangeanyis vnder written :-

An important change in the character of these displays took place in 1508, when the Abbot and Prior gave place to "Robyne Huyd and Litile Johnne." In the month of May of that year it was ordained that "al personis that ar abill within this burghe salbe redly with their arrayment made in grene and yallow, bowis, arrowis, brass (?), and all uther convenient thingis according thairto to pass with Robyne Huyd and Litile Johnne all times convenient thairto, quhar thai be requirit be the saidis Robyne and Litile Johnne;" and in the following month a more explicit ordinance was passed :-

17th November 1508.—The said day, the prouest, bailyeis, counsaill, and comunitie of the said burghe, representand the haill body of the samyne, warnit be the hand bell, ale in ane voice considerand, riplie avisit, for the auld rit and lovabile consuetud of the said burgh, vsit and perseurit all tymes bigane, past memor of man, in the honor of thar glorius patron Sanct Nicholaice, statut and ordainit, that all personis, burges, nichtbouris, and inhabitaris, burges sonnys, habill to ryd, to decor and honor the towne in thar array conveinant therto, sail rid with Robert Huyid and Litile Johne, quhilk was callit, in years bipast, Abbat and Prior of Bonaccord, one every Sanct Nicholaice day, throw the towne, as use and wont has bene, quhen thai war warnit be the said Robert Huyde or Litile Johne, or ony ane of theme ; and giff ony man haffand taks of watris, fischeingis, landis, or ony pensioun or profit of the toune, habill to rid, beand warnit, be the saidis Robert Huyd or Litile Johne forsaid, and will nocht ryd, and beis convict tharintill be ane suorne assiss of the said burgh, [thai] sail tyne thar takis, pensiounis, and proffitis that thai haue of the said burghe, and salbe secludit, removit and uterlie expellit fra ale takis, pensionis, proffitis, quhatsumever thai have of the said burgh, in tyme to cum; without reasonable causs,schawin and propinit to the prouest, bailyeis, counsaill, Itobene, and Litile Johue, obefoir, and be considert be thame to be lauchfull impediment and excuss quharthrow thai mycht not ryd ; and the personis havand na takis of the said burghe, beard warnit be the said Robert Huyd or Litile Johnne, and will not rid, sail pay xx shilling to Sauct Nicholas werk, and viij sh. to the bailyeis unlaw vnforgevin.

With the exception of the following protest from the deacon of the Hainmermen, the order of precedence established in 1510 seems to have been faithfully observed for a number of years after the change in the nature of the displays took place :-

21st June, 1538.—The sayd day, Walter Hay, goldsmyth, dekyne of hemermen, comperit in judgment, and complenit to the balyes, allegiand wrang don to thaim be the armeraris, in usurping of their place in the processioun of Corpus Xri, this day, and ganging behind thame, agains the comond ordinance and statute of this nobill burght, and all the borrowis within this realm; requyrand thaim for remeyd of law; protesting, gyf thai ref usit, that it be lesum to call the said armerars befor gugis sperituall or temporal, and for remeid of law.

Whether this "wrang don to thaim be the armeraris" was put right the Council Register sayeth not. A still more serious dispute regarding the order of procedure arose in 1554, when the deacons of the wrights, masons, coopers, and slaters complained against the smiths and. hammermen for not keeping their proper place. Judgment was given in favour of the hammermen, against which judgment the other four crafts protested. The following minute (Council Records) regarding this dispute is doubly interesting from the fact that it contains the name of William Jamesoune, grandfather of George Jamesone, the Scottish Vandyk. The artist's father was also a mason, the register of indentures stating that he served his apprenticeship with Andrew Bethleam. He is described in his indenture as "Aiidroa Jamesoun, sone naturall to umq "Wilzeam Jamesoune." The minute also contains one of the few references made in the Records to a deacon of the mason craft :—

21st May, 1554.—The said day, Andro Bisset, dekin of the wrychtis, William Jamesoune, dekyne of the masonis, and Jerome Blak, dekin of the cowperis, comperit in jugement, and exponit to the bailies, quhow that Johnne Jenour, thair officiar, at thair command, and chargit thame, and thair haill craftis, to pass in order upoun Corpus Xri day now approacheand, in the processioun, by the aid maner and ordor; that is to say, to pass be thame selffis, and with the sklateris, all togidder, havand ane honest baner and Pagane of thair awin, immediatlie befor the smythis and vtheris hamyrmen ; quhair thai had wont to gang, with the said smythis, as thai allegit, all togidder, under ane baner and Pagane; and producit ane statitut maid theruppone, of the dait the xxii day of May, the yeir of God m. vc. xxxi yeir: And Williame Robertsone, dekin of the smythis, comperit in judgement, and allegit thai war in vse of gangging be thame selfis in the said processione, vnder thair awin baner, hindmaist and nixt the Sacrament, and the saids wrychtis, masouns, cowperis, and sklaiteris to proceid togidder befoir thame, under ane baner and pegane, separat fra the saids smythtis, and producit ane statitut maid therupon, of the dayt the xiij day Junii, the yeir of God m. vc. xxxiij yeris : And the baillies decernit and ordaint the last statitut to be observyt and keipit, under the panes contenit in the same, becaus thai all wer present, and consentit therto, and oblist thame to obserf the same, as the said statitut proportis at lyntht : And the saidis wrychtis, masonic, cowperis, and sklayteris protestit that quhat the baillies dois or decernis this day, anent the ordor forsaid, mak na dirogacioune to the forsaid statitut first maid, producit be thame in judgement, hot that thai may haf thair aid prevelege observit, and for remeid of law, quhen tyme and place requiris: and Alexander Kempt, dekyne of the bexteris, allegit imlykwyiss, that thai ar put by thair rowme and ordour vsit obefor, and protestit sicklyk, that quhat be done this yeir be the baillies, anent the said ordor, hurt thame nocht in tym cumyn.

To illustrate the strictness with which the ordinances of the town with regard to these processions were enforced, we give the following extracts from the Council Register :—

3rd February, 1502.—The saide day, Johne Rede, wobster, John Williamson, &c., ilkane of thame was convict be ane suorne assise, Alexander Reid forespeker, because thai did nocht it that accordit thame to do one Candilmese day, in the Passioun, efter the auld honerabill and lovabill consuetude of the burghe, and for the quhilkis thai war in ane amerciament of the court, and to amend as law will, and forbere in tym to cum, because thai pretentit thame to precede and pass in the place of the processione, quha the tailzeours had vyss to pass tymes bigane.

3rd February, 1510.—The said day, Thomas Meldrum, William Patonsone, Andro Jonsone, younger, John Allane, and Richard Wricht, was, ilkane of thame, in amerciament of court, be thae avin toung condemit, because thai passt not in the procession of Candilmes day to decoir the samyn, and tile amend as law wile, and forber in time to cum.

5th February, 1523.—The same day, Johne Pill, tailzeour, wes convikit be his awin toung grant maid in jugement for the dissobeing of David Anderson, bailze, becaus he refusit to pas in the Candilmess processioun with his taikin and sing of his craft in the place lemit to his craft, and in likwiss for the mispersoning of the said Dauid Andersoun, the merchandis of the said guid toun, in calling of thame Coffeis, and bidding of thame to tak the salt pork and herboiss in thair handis; for the quhilk the prowest and hail [councel] chargit the said Johne, he beand oblisit in jugement be his hand wphaldin thair deliverance, to cunt on Sonday that next cumis in the tyme of hiemes, barfut, and bairheid, with an candle and ane pund of wax, and offer the samyn to thair patroun Sanct Nicholace, and sit doun humelie on his kneis, besikand the prowest and guyd toun to ramyt his forsaid falt, an inobedience doyne to the bailze, and to bring on his briest the usit taikin of his craft, that is to say, ane pair of patent slieris; and gif ever the said John committis ony siclik falts in tym cumin, to pay to Sanct Nicholas wark x merkis but remissioun.

The sayd day, tha prorest, with the aviss of the haill counsell present for the tym, fund and delyverit, that the craftismen of the said burgh had failzet in the observing and keeping of the lovabill auld statut, maid be their predecessoris, with the consent of the haill craftismen, in the honoring and decoiring of the procession on Candilmes day, because thai that wer absent for the maist part, and that thai that wer present, buyr nocht the taikins of thar craft, eftir the forme of the said statut : And ordanit the bailyes to wptak thair vnlawis of the absent, and thai that failyeit in the bering of thair taikins, to amend in tym cuming, vnder al payne contenit in the auld statut, to be uptakin by ramissioun.

5th June, 1553.—The said day, the dekyn and haill craft of the smyths wer convickit, be ane suorne assis, for the disobeying of the baillies in refusing coutempurindlie to gang in ordour in the procession of Corpus Xris day last bipast, befor the sacrament, as thai yied in ordor, the yier immediately bypast; and the baillies war maid quit, be the said asses, of all strublens of the said craft; and it was gevin for dome.

The year 1555 saw the extinction of Robin Hood and Little John. An Act of Parliament was passed which " statute and ordanit that in all tymes cumming na maner of,persoun be chosin Robert Hude nor Lytill Johne, Abbot of vnressoun Quenis of Maij nor vtherwyse nouther in Burgh nor to land-wart in ony tyme to cum and gif ony Prouest, Baillies, counsall, and communitie, chesis sic ane Personage as Robert Hude, Lytill Johne, Abbottis of vnressoun, or Quenis of Maij within Burgh, the chesaris of sic sail tyne thair fredome for the space of fyve zeiris, and vtherwyse salbe punist at the Quenis grace will, and the acceptar of sicklyke office salbe banist furth of the Realme. And gif ony sic persounis sic as Robert Hude, Lytill Johne, Abbottis of vnressoun, Quenis of Maij, beis chosin outwith Burgh and ethers landwart townis, the chesars sail pay to our Souerane Lady x pundis, and thair persounis put in waird, thair to remane during the Quenis grace plesoure. And gif ony wemen or vthers about simmer treis singand makis perturbatioun to the Quenis liegis in the passage throw Burrows and vthers landwart townis the wemen perturbatouris for skafrie of money or vtherwyse salbe takin handellit and put upon the Cukstulis of everie Burgh or towne."

This Act of Parliament led to serious trouble, not only in Aberdeen but throughout Scotland. In Aberdeen the craftsmen appear to have been the leading raisers of tumult, as the following interesting entries in the Register fully set forth:—

4 May 1562.—The said day, John Kelo, belman, wes accusit in jugement for the passing throw the rewis of the tounn, with the hand bell, be oppin voce, to convene the haill comunite, or sa mony thairof as Wald convene, to pass to the wood, to bring in symmer upoun the first Sonday of hiaii; contraveinand the actis and statutis of the Quenis Grace, and Lordis of Consel; epperandlie to raiss tumult, and ingener discord, betuix the craftismen and the fre burgesses of gild, and the saidis craftesmen to dissobey and attempt aganis the superioris of the toun, gif it stud in thair power, as the saidis prowest and baillies ar informit; the said Johnne having na comand of the saidis prowest and baillies to do the same ; and inlykwyss, Alexander Burnat, alias Potter, wes accusit for passing throw the toun with ane swech, to the effect and occasioun aboun wrytin; quhilk Johne and Alexander confessit the samyn, alleigand thai did the samyn of na ewill mynd, but conforme to the auld wse, and be comand of Johnne Grant, quha is ane fre burgess, and brother of gild ; and had done na wrang tharin, as thai allegit: And the said Johne Grant inlykmaner beand accusst for giffing command to the saidis Johnne and Alexander, as is aboun wrytin, and passing throw the toun, fortifeing and menteining thame as he mocht, to the effect forsaid, grantit and approwit the same, and denyit ony wrang done be him thairintill : Quhilk mater wes put to the decisioun and knawleg of the assiss aboun wrytin, [consisting of twenty-one persons] chosin, suorne, and admittit in jugement; quhilk accepit the said mater on thame, and efter consultacioun and consideracioun, ryplie awisit, enterit in court, and fand and deliuered all in ane voce, be the moutht of Gilbert Menzes, elder, chancellar of the said assiss for the tyme, that the saidis personis had grytlie wrangit in the comitting of the said enormitie and heyt atemptat, but the awiss of the prowest, baillies, and superuris of the toun ; quhairfor thai, and ilkane of thame, wer in amerciament of court; and that wes gevin for dome, and the modificacion of the amendis referrit to the discretioun of the consell ; quhilk thaireftir being deulie convenit, discernit and ordanit the saidis persones to compeir vpoun Sonday nixt cums, within the paroche kirk, and thair, immediately eftir the preching, in presens of the congregacioun, grant thair said offens as done throw ignorance ; and, upoun thair kneis, ask God and the congregacioun forgifnes, and obleist thame selfiss, thair opinlie, that gif thai be convickit for sic offens in tym cuming, to tyn thair fredome, proffit, and privilege of this guid toun, and to be seperat and exulat fra the societie tharof, frathensfurtht ; and quha of thame dissobeyis the said ordainnce, to incur the samyn pane, but fauor or request to be hard on the contrar.
14 May 1565.—The said day, Johnne Kelo, belman, maid faytht, in jugement, that he, at comand of the prowest and baillies, past on Setter-day was viij dais, viz the v day of Maii, the rewis and gettis of this toune, be oppen voce, and maid inhibitioune to all burges men, craftismen, and all utheris, inhabitantis and induellaris of the said toune, that nane of thame tak upone hand to mak ony conventione, with taburne plaing, or pype, or fedill, or have anseinges, to convene the Quenis legis, in chusing of Robin Huid, Litill Johnne, Abbot of Ressoune, Queyne of Maii, or eicklyk contraveyne the statutis of parliament, or mak oily tumult, scism, or conventione.

The said day, James Marsar, Lourens Marsar, Mathow Guild, Thomas Huntayr, and Androw Wysman, wer convickit for the cumyng throw the toune, upon Sunday last wes, eftir none, with ane menstrall playand befor thaim, throch the Gallowgett, in contemptioune of the townis actis and proclamaciouns maid obefoir, and breaking of the actis of parliament, and contravening of the saim ; quherfor thai wer put in amerciament of court, and were ordanit to remane in the tollbuth, quhill thai find sourtie for fulfilling and satisfeing of the emends to be modifyt be the consell.

18 May 1565.—The sayd day, the consell present for the tyme, being convenit to decern anent the emendis and punyshment of James Marsar, Lourens Marsar, sadlar, Mathow Guild, armerar, Andrew Wysman, cordinar, and Thomas Huntar, cutlar, quhilk are convickit for contempning and dissobeying of the townis actis and ordinans obefor, and contravening of the actis of parliament: The counsall, reply adwysit, considering the said attemptat, and ground quharof the same proceidit, to be to genir schism and discord within the burgh, dischargit the saidis personis of their fredome, and fra all exercitioune of their crafts, conform to the act of parliament ; and ordanis publict proclamacionn to be made heirupoun; and the consell alsua statut and ordanit, with consent of the hails toun present for the tyme, that na craftisman be maid fre for sewin yeirs to cum, except fremenis sonis.

The James and Lawrence Mercer, Matthew Guild, Thomas Hunter, and Andrew Wiseman, mentioned in the foregoing extracts were all leading craftsmen in the city at this period, and took a prominent part in connection with the Common Indenture entered into a few years after for removing the differences that had arisen between the craft and merchant burgesses. Matthew Guild, armourer, or "sweird slipper," as he was more commonly described, was the father of Dr. William Guild, and Jean Guild, wife of David Anderson of Finzeauch, well known for their benefactions to the Trades and to the citizens generally. Matthew had also another son, named William, who was slain in 1584, two years before the doctor was born. The elder William was buried in St. Nicholas Churchyard, the record simply mentioning that he was " slain by John Leslie, son to James Leslie, burgess."

The close connection between the craftsmen and the religious ceremonies of the church prior to the reformation proved very disastrous to a number of their associations throughout the country. Many of their societies were put down "on suspicion of being superstitious foundations" and their property seized by the crown; in fact, the reformation shook the whole system of Guilds to its foundation, more particularly in England. By an Act passed in the reign of Edward VI. all money devoted by "any manner of corporations, guilds, fraternities, companies, or fellowships of mysteries, or crafts " to the support of a priest, obits, or lights, was vested in the king; and under the same Act, the property of "all fraternities, brotherhoods, and guilds, being within the realm of England and `Vales, and other the king's dominions, and all manors, lands, tenements, and other heriditaments belonging to them, or any of them, other than such corporations, guilds, fraternities, companies, and fellowships of mysteries, or crafts, and the manors, lands, tenements, and other heridaments pertaining to the said corporations, guilds, fraternities, &c.," were handed over to the crown. Mr. Toulmin Smith describes this seizure as "a case of pure, wholesale robbery and plunder, done by an unscrupulous faction to satisfy their personal greed under cover of law. No more gross case of wanton plunder is to be found in the whole history of all Europe. No page so black in English history."

Nothing, however, like the same wholesale appropriation of funds and property devoted to the purposes of religion by the guilds took place in Scotland at the time of the reformation such as occurred in England. But the records of the Aberdeen Trades show that they suffered to some extent in a similar way. Previous to the reformation each trade had its own patron saint, each of the wealthiest of the crafts maintamed a chaplain, and paid so much yearly both individually and collectively, for " deeoring, upholding, and repairing the altars within the parish kirk," and for supplying " imagerie, vestments, and towels, chandeliers, desks, lights, and all manner of ornaments required to the glory of God." These payments were rigorously exacted, and if any of the crafts failed in their duty in this respect they were summoned before the Town Council to answer for their derelictions. On one occasion (in the year 1495), the cordiners (shoemakers) of Aberdeen were summoned before the Town Council for refusing "meyttis, drynkis, and sustentatioun" to that "discrete mane, Shir Alexander Gray, chaplane of Sanctis Crispini and Crispinianis altar, situat within ye parroche kirk of yis burghe." The appeal by this worthy and " discret mane" for redress, is worth giving in full :-

The said day (26th September, 1495) comperit ane discrete mane, Shir Alexander Gray, chaplane of Sanctis Crispini and Crispinianis altar, situat within ye parroche kirk of yis burghe, and producit and shewit ane autentyrie Instrument under the subscriptioune of Shir Johnne Striveling, notar public, and seile of Thomas Fyf, makin mentione and schewin that ye honest and faithful meue of craft, cordonars of the said burghe, with ane consent and assent in the honour of God Almichtie, the blissit Virgine Mary, Sancts Nicholas, Santis Crispini and Crispiniani and al Sanctis, had chosen and taken ye said Shir Alexander thair perpetuale Chaplane to mak ministracioune of dyvine seruice at the said altar as efferis; for the quhilk they were bundin to sustene the said Chaplane honestlie as efferis, in meyttis, drynkis, and sustentatioune circualie, be sevin of ye best and worthaist of the said craftismene, ilkane ane day in ye oulk, ande payand to him xis. usual monie of Scotland, yeirlie for his fie, of uviris, ye remanent of ye craft, as in ye samyn mair fullie is contenit ; quhilkis instrument, seyne and understandin, ye haill cordonaris lauchfullie warnit, callit and comperit, the said chaplane humlie meynt him to ye aldermen, bailzies and counsale, yt he wantit his fie and pairte of his dietis in the oulk, besehing thame for remede of law ; quhilk peticoune ye said aldermen, bailzies and counsale and diuerss of the communitie, understandin richtness and consonant to resone express consent and assent of ye best and worthaist of ye said craft, ordanit, fand, and delyverit ye said evident of availe and ye saids craftismen to sustene ye said Chaplane honestlie efter ye tenour of ye samyn ; and maide and ordanit Thomas Meldrum and William Ranisone, dekyns and maisters of ye said craft, in that parte, to compell and distrinzie thair nichtbouris craftismen and cordonaris to the sustentatioune of thair said Chaplane efter ye tenoris of his evident.—Council Register, vol. vii., p. 660.

Again in 1591, the alderman and baillies found fault with the cordiners for refusing to "sustain" their chaplain, and " ordainit Williame Scrimgeur, officiar, to pass with Shir Jonhne Litster, chaplan of Sanctis Crispini and Crispiniani, altar with ye dekyns of ye cordonaris and causs him to be pait and content of his fee of al ceruies bigane efter ye tenor of his warrande documentis maide to him yairupon aucht to him be ye haill craftismen of ye cordonair craft, within yis burght, and to charge thame tile obey thar dekyns yairvintill according to justice."—Council Register, vol. viii., p. 82.

As to what became of the altars, stalls, and property which the crafts had contributed to the kirk very little is known, When the protestant religion was established the churches were found to be divested of all the altars and carved work nothing remaining but the bare walls. The craftsmen evidently had their suspicions of who had appropriated the church property, as the following extract from a summons served upon the magistrates will show. The summons was at the instance of the Trades against the Magistrates of Aberdeen requiring them to answer before the Privy Council of Scotland to a charge of "dilapidating, alienating, and appropriating to themselves for their own use, profit and emolument, the Common Good, lands, revenues and property of the Burgh; and of continuing the magistrates in a few families by electing themselves from father to son for three or four generations,' more particularly

(1) For disposing, dividing, and sharing among themselves, the lands of Tullies, Bogfairlie, Gardens, Brotherfield, Countesswells, Itazelhead, ShetocksIey, Forresterhill, Rubislaw, Kingswells, and Cruves, all belonging to the Common Good of the Burgh.

(2) For sharing among themselves the whole plate, furniture, and plenishing of St. Nicholas Church extant at the alteration of religion, viz. 8 chandeliers, of fine silver ; 8 chalices, and other patens, 2 eucharists, 1 steip (font), 1 cresie (lamp), with a silver stock; 6 altar spoons, and 2 censers of fine silver, amounting to 40 pounds weight of silver in whole; also, 52 brass chandeliers, a great latron of massey brass within the choir, wherein the Evangel (gospel) was read, in form of the pelican and her birds, weighing 520 lbs. of fine brass; also, 5 new stands of Kapis (copes), of fine gold, and 3 inferior ones; also, 10 stands of fine mass cloths of gold, crimson, green, black, and purple velvet, starred with gold with thin cliesables; several other fine latrons belonging to the various altars, &c.; also, a pair of fine organs, complete and perfect ; also, 10 pairs of hangings before the various altars, of crimson velvet and satins, drapped with gold and golden letters, &c.

(3) Also, 8 great oak trees in the churchyard cut down, and with the rest of the foregoing articles, applied to their own uses.

(4) For selling great pieces of artillery belonging to the town, such as Zang meg, yettino , double and single falconers, double slings, slings, &c., together with ammunition belonging to the same and sharing the price among themselves.

(5) Also, a great chain of iron and shipmasts linked together with the branders thereof, which was for going across the harbour to protect the shipping.

(6) Also, materials provided for repairing the blockhouse.

(7) Sharing the profits arising from the town's marking irons (for stamping measures, &c.), and from the keep of the shore.

(8) Also, the yearly income from the town's seals.

(9) Selling a quantity of fine wainscotting, and a great deal of other materials purchased for public works, and dividing the proceeds among themselves.

(10) Sharing among themselves the profits arising from the town's customs.

(11) Also, the profits of the handbell.

(12) Also, 1200 merks raised from the inhabitants to buy lead to theich the north aisle of the kirk.

(13) Also, an impost of 1000 merks raised upon false pretences, and so parted.

(14) Selling 3000 pieces of fine hewn freestone for building the pier head and quay, and parting among themselves the proceeds.

(15) Also, £40 of the poor's money, so parted.

(1(3) Another impost, or tax, of 4500 merks, so parted.

(17) Also, another of 3200 merks.

(18) Also, the sum of 58000 belonging to the community.

(19) Allowing the Bridge of Dee to fall into disrepair and appropriating to themselves the funds destined for its support.

(20) Also, the Tolbooth steeple dilapidated in like manner, and

(21) Allowing the Town's Commonties to be destroyed by permitting them to be torn up, occupied, and cultivated by individuals, suffering them to burn heather, cut down wood, &c., to the great injury of the poorer class of the community, &c., &c.—Convener Court Papers.

The records are silent as to whether the Trades were successful in the action; the probability is they were not. The property had gone whence it had little chance of returning.

After the change of religion the connection between the crafts and the church underwent a radical alteration; but the influence of the pageants was long visible in the processions that were held upon fixed holidays, when the craftsmen turned out with the banners and insignia of their crafts, finishing the day in jollity and feasting. An indication of the change that took place is apparent in an ordinance passed in October, 1587, on which day "it was devysit, statute, and ordanit be the prouest, bailleis, and counsall of this guid toune, and ratifet and apprevit be the haill toune, alsweill craftsmen as burgessis, being lauchfullie warnit to this day, &c., that all maisteris of housholdis alsweill craftismen as burgessis sail repair to the paroche kirk, keep and observe the sermonis and prechingis on the oulk dayis, to wit, Tuysday and Thurisday, of heiring of the wourd of God and Christis Evangell trewlie prechit, in all tyme heirafter under penaltie of twa s. to be uptaken of ilk burgess, and xii d. of the craftisman absent fra the serinone the saidis dayis without lauchtfull excuiss of infirmities, seikniss, or absence of the toune ; and heirunto the haill craftismen, alsweill burgessis, voluntarlie obliest tham selfiss, being particularlie inquirit be Gilbert Mengzes, prouest, and consentit therto, prowyding that this act be extendit onlie to maisteris of househaldis." And, again, in 1588, owing to the " cauldness enterit in practiss of a gryt numer of inhabitants professing Christ, and be gaming and playing, passing to the tavernis and ailhoussis, using the tred of merchandise and handie labour in tyme of sermone on the oulk day," it was ordained that there should be paid by " everie householder and his wyff, burgessis of Gild, for thair remaining fra the sermon on the Sabbath day xiii s. iiii d., and for thair remanin ilk oulk day tua s.; and for everie craftsman houshalder and otheris inhabitantis for thair remaining fra the sermonis on the Sabbath day sax s. viii d., and everie oulk day xii d., and in caice ony merchant or burgess of gild be find within his merchand buith efter the ringing of the third bell to the sermone on the oulk day to pay sax s. viii d." This "gude and godlie statute made ebefoir" was ratified in 1598, and in the following year all "brither of gild and craftsmen alike" were specially enjoined " that in all tyme theirafter thair suld be a pastyme day oulklie, to vit, every Mononday, quhairon it suld be lesum to all the laboraris of the ground within this realm to do thair awin business, and navayes to be answerabill to thair niaisteris that day, for eschewing of the prophanatioun of the Sabbath day, quhilk hes been prophanit be the laboraris of the ground of the meaner sort be schearin of their cornis, and doing of their uther handis labour, be occasion that na lassour was given to thame in all the oulk be thair masteris for doing thareof, being then occupeit in thair masteris service."

Following the example set by the Town Council the individual craft associations passed rigid statutes for the observance of the Lord's Day, and went the length of ordering that no Papists, Quakers, or heretics should be eligible for office, "but only those of the sound Protestant faith." That this ordinance was acted upon is evident from the following minute in the books of the shoemaker trade :—

17th October, 1674.—The said day George Troup is electit and chosin ane maister to the traid, in choiss and plains of Thomas Mylne quho culd not carrie office, in respeck of his professions, being ane quaiker, being also refusit be the Deacon Convener Court to be ane member thereof.

The kirk-session had also summoned this same Mr. Mylne before them, in order to check and, if possible, to turn the current of his zeal into its former channel; but Mylne was impervious, and with considerable skill he maintained and defended the propriety of strictly adhering to his newly-embraced creed. Certain ministers of the gospel were appointed to commune with him thereanent, but they soon found that neither their presence nor their arguments were of any avail. At last the Kirk Session found it impossible to make any impression "whatsomever" on Mr. Mylne, and they allowed him to go without further molestation.

From the following extract it would appear that Mylne had been at times twitted by his brethren of craft regarding his being a Quaker

23rd Feb., 1674.—The said day Thomas Mylne, having given in ane bill of complaint against Alexander Idle for some scandalous speaches spokin against him, which wer verified and prowin, therfor the traid ordanit the said Alex. Idle to acknowledge his transgression, and to enact himselff not to transgress in the lyk, nor speak any scandalous or opprobrious speaches to the said Thomas in tyme comein; under the pain of four puuds tones quoties conforme to ther ancient actis."—Shoemakers' Records.

The burial of the dead and the use of snort-cloths were also matters which formed the subject of frequent disputes and arguments between the craftsmen, the Council, and the Kirk. The following "solemn contract and agreement" was entered into in 1649, with the view of settling all differences, each trade being furnished with a copy of the deliverance for their guidance :—

Att Aberdeen, the ninteenth day of December, one thousand six hundred and fourty nine years, in presence of the Provost, Bailies, and Councill, conveened for the time, they are to say, Alex. Jeffray, Provost; George Morison, George Culline, John Jeffray, and Waltor Cochran; Bailies ; Thomas Melvill, Dean of Gild; and Thomas Boyes, Thesauror; Mr. Thomas Gray, Mr. Robert Farquhar, Andrew Burnett, Mr. William Moir, Mr. Alex. Forbes,.Alex. Watson, Gilbert Menzies, James Smith, Andrew Guidcieall, Patrick Murray, Baxtor; and William Scott, Wright. The said clay forsomeikle as by Act of Generall Assembly and the laudable practice of this kingdom the burying within kirks is now abolished, and persons of all sorts and ranks are buried in the kirkyards and other publick parts appointed for burials, and seeing thereby within this burgh many persons of mean quality who are buried in the ordinary place of burying cannot attain nor be able to satisfy and pay for their lairs according to the old rate as was erected for the burials within kirks afore: And the DeaconConveener, in name of the haill Crafts of this burgh having particularly supplicate the Councill for an ease of the said burialls, as also the said Deacon-Conveenor, in name of the saids Crafts having desired that the Councill would be pleased to appoint some of their number to nieet with the Deacons anent the taking away of any difference that has thir sundry years been in this town occasioned by the Crafts, their separating themselves from the brethren of Gild and remanent inhabitants of the burgh in not making use of the common mort-cloath of the town, and intending to have an wort-cloath of their own, and now being sensible of the prejudice, they were willing to give in their mort-cloath to the Thesaurer, which they intended to have used, and only to make use of the common mortcloaths of the town as the rest of the inhabitants doe, if it should please the Councill to show courtesie of the price and rent of burialls, and of the said mort-cloaths. Whilk the Councill having taken to their consideration and having heard the reports of those that were delegate to speak with the Crafts, and being willing to compose all difference in so far as may be and to show the inhabitants such ease as is reasonable, decerned and ordained the rate and prices of burialls and of the mort-cloaths in time coming to be att the rate and prices after-following, viz. :—That every person of whatsomever rank of what sort or quality soever they be within this burgh who shall be buried in the south side of the kirk, and in the north side within thirty foot to the church wall who shall be carried upon staves shall pay for their lairs three pound, and for every one that shall be carried under men's arms the sum of twenty shillings for ilk ane. And declares that the rest of the bounds in the kirkyard lying on the north side of the kirk being thirty foot from the kirk wall shall be free and any who please to lye there shall pay nothing for their lairs if they be poor and have not means. And the prices of the mort-cloaths to be as follows, viz. :--The price of the best velvet mort-cloath for persons of age three pound, of the second velvet mort-cloath for persons of age fourty shillings, the price of the best velvet most-cloath for bairns twenty shilling, and of the second velvet mortcloath for bairns to be ten shilling. The price of the mort-cloaths of blac cloath as well of these which were in the town's possession before as mortcloaths to be given in by the Crafts for persons of age to be twenty shilling, and for bairns to be ten shilling. And in testimony of the Crafts their contentment with the prices above written they gave in their mortcloaths of black cloath to be keeped by the thesaurer, and obliged themselves to make use of the common mort-cloaths in all time coming according as the rest of the inhabitants of the burgh doe, and that att the prices and rates above written. It is specially declared that the prices of lairs above written shall no ways be extended to those who shall have any tombs or lair-stones to lye upon graves, but the Councill shall sett down the prices therein as occasion and the quality of the persons shall require. Likewise if it shall fall out that the town shall have occasion of buying and erecting of an common houfe and buriall place by the churchyard, it shall be lawfull to the Councill to alter the prices of burialls and lairs in the said houfe as necessity shall require. And the Provost and Baillies for themselves and in name of the Councill, and also the Deacon-Conveenor and haill remauent deacons of the Crafts for themselves, and in name of the rest, in testimony, &c.—Convener Court Papers.

About the beginning of the seventeenth century the deacons on behalf of their respective crafts petitioned the Town Council for permission to erect "dasks" or lofts in the parish church of St. Nicholas, the prayer of which was granted after the following fashion

16th May, 1638.—Ye quhilk daye aneut ye petitionne given in to ye Provest, Bailzies, and Counsell be George Farquhar, deacone of ye cordiners of this burt., for hymselff and in behalfe of his bretherene, ye haill maisteris and friemene of ye said craft, makand mentionne that for decernment of the paroche kirk of this burghe, they intend, God willing, with permissione and lycence of ye Magistrats and Counsell, to build and erect ane dask in ye said kirk, foreagainne ye southmaist dor of ye auld kirk, at ye secunde pillar fra the wast gavel of ye said kirk, in the southsyd therof, till it cum to ye pillarr narrest the said gable, desyir therfor that warraud and lycence beis given for building and erecting of ye said dask at ye pairt forsaid, as at mair lengthe wes contenit in ye said petitioune. Quhairwith ye saids Provest, Bailzies, and Counsell advysin and haveing passit ye said paroche kirk, sein and considderat ye pairt foirsaid quhair they desyir to build ye dask, thay find the petitioune ressonable, and thairfor gives and grants lycience and tolerance to ye said petitiouners to big ane dask for ye vse of the bretherene, maisteris, and friemene of ye said craft, at ye pairt assigned, provydeing that ye samen beis built assweille for decernement as for ye vse of the petitiouneris, be aduyce of ye Mr of Kirk Workis, and all he sail give ordour and directioune for that effect.—Council Register, vol. lii., p. 378.

In addition to having seats in the parish kirk, the Trades maintained seats in the Trinity Chapel until it was sold in 1793; while the Bakers, who were almost all Episcopalians, erected a loft in old St. Paul's. In 1740 the crafts resigned their right to the seats in the parish kirks, a minute to the following effect being passed by the Convener Court, and subsequently endorsed by the individual trades :—

16th June, 1740.—The Convener Court, considering the several Acts of the corporations of the Trades of this burgh concerning the seats and lofts belonging to the Trades of this burgh in this old and new churches, they unanimously ratifie, homologat, and approve the same, and grant warrant to the convener, in conjunction with the deacons and paymasters of the several corporations to renounce and assigne in favour of the Magistrates and Town Council of this burgh with the powers to them and their successors to sit and dispose of the same to any persons they please in time coming. But with preference always to any freeman who shall incline to take seats or lofts pertaining to that trade whereof they are thembers. And in consideration that the Magistrates and Council pass from any bygane rents that may be claimed for the said seats and lofts for the time bygane, the Court hereby earnestly recommend to their successors and to the haill trades to contribute generously towards the repair of the old church how soon the same shall be begun to be repaired. But in case the seats and lofts in the old church shall happen to be removed at repairing thereof, the Court recommend and appoint the same to be removed to no worse place, but may be altered for the better, beautifying the church—Convener Court Book.

Thus ended the direct connection between the craftsmen in their collective capacity and the church, a connection that had subsisted in one way or other for over three centuries.

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