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Merchant and Craft Guilds
A History of the Aberdeen Incorporated Trades
Part III. Chapter II - The Convener Court

THE convenery or convention of deacons came into existence in Aberdeen about the end of the sixteenth century. In its original form this body consisted of the deacons only, one of whom was chosen to convene them when any question arose affecting the common or general interests of the craftsmen in the town. The first convener of deacons of whom there is any mention is George Elphinstone, saddler, who held office in the year 1587, when the Common Indenture was drawn up; and shortly after that date a regular court was formed, which hold stated meetings, and enacted bye-laws and regulations, for the management of the funds under their charge. When Dr. Guild gifted the Trinity Monastery as a meeting-house and hospital to the Trades, he nominated six of the deacons of the crafts to act along with a patron and convener in the management of the hospital, these six being the deacons who were selected among the crafts to vote at the election of magistrates. In 1657 the Flesher Trade was admitted to the benefits of the hospital in terms of an agreement sanctioned by Dr. Guild; and their deacon being at the same time admitted a member of the Convener Court, the number of trades represented in that body was increased to its present number of seven. In addition to the deacons, the Master of Hospital, the boxmasters, late deacons, and first master of each Trade are also members of the Convener Court.

Although recognised from the outset as a superior court by the craftsmen, the Convener Court has seldom exercised any jurisdiction over the affairs of the individual Trades. When disputes or difficulties arose, it has acted more as a consultative than as an administrative board. On several occasions when the Trades considered that the Convener

Court had overstepped its functions, an appeal was made to the Magistrates or Court of Session, and the decision was invariably in favour of the individual Trades having full control of their o ccn affairs. The last case of this kind occurred in 1711-2, when the Court of Session ruled that a judgment given by the Convener Court regarding one of the office-bearers of the Baker Incorporation was ultra wires, and had to be expunged from the minutes of the Convener Court. In 1881 a code of rules and regulations was drawn up for the "guidance of the members in the discharge of the duties of the court," but no departure of any consequence was made from the established "use and want."

Considerable doubt exists as to the period when the Convener Court, or in fact any of the craft associations, commenced to keep records of their transactions. The oldest minute books extant are dated about the time that the Trades began to hold their meetings in the "Trinities" or meeting house gifted to them by Dr. Guild in 1633, but, fortunately, into these books have been copied all the old acts and ordinances of the different corporations extracted, as the fly leaves tell us, "out of the old Registers." These old Registers seem to have been more of the nature of roll books and election records than of minute books for recording business; and after the old Acts and list of deacons had been copied out of them, they appear to have been held of little account, as all of them have disappeared. The Convener Court alone seems to have made an effort to preserve their old Register, as the following minute bears, but it also has long since disappeared.

21st August, 1677.—The said day the new Register was accepted by the haill Deacon-Convener Court, and approved by them, and the old Register to be kept within ane ambrie in the Trinities, and the present deacon-convener to keep the key thereof, to the effect that present access may be had thereto as may be needful.—Convener Court Book.

We may take it for granted, however, that everything of importance had been copied out of the old Registers into the set of new books that were obtained when the Trinity Monastry was turned into a Trades Hall; and previous to that date, it has to be borne in mind that written records could have been of little use to the craftsmen themselves. Even as late as 1587, when the Common Indenture was drawn up, none of the three commissioners appointed by the craftsmen could sign their names, the tell-tale explanation at the end of the deed being given—" With our hands at the pen, led by the notors underwritten at our command, because we cannot write ourselff5." And for many years after minute books began to be kept, it was the clerk and not the deacon that signed the minute. It is not until well through the eighteenth century that the deacon's signature appears, and even then there is abundant evidence of the struggle it must have been to put their names in writing. In some cases a deacon seemed to think he was doing well when he put down the initials of his name in capitals, and very original looking capitals some of them are.* Condensation and abbreviation, both in composition and writing, were also enforced virtues. The early Acts and Ordinances, which were penned by scribes and notaries, are remarkably brief, concise, and pithily expressed documents. Half a dozen lines are made to suffice where dozens of pages of foolscap would be required nowadays; while some of the deeds of gift made about the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth centuries are models of brevity and condensation, and remain valid titles

and burdens on property to this day. Even some of the more modern minutes are delightful specimens of laconic brevity, as instance the following—"The said day the Convener Court ordained the Master of Hospital never to sell the yaird at Gallowgett Heid, nor yet to hear ony mair thereanent."

Some indication is also given of the fate of the old hooks in a minute in the Convener Court Book to the effect that "a very old account book of the accounts under the charge of the Convener Court from 1700 to 1739 was sometime ago purchased by John Leslie, when about to be used for snuff paper, and he did so in order to preserve so valuable a book. Convener Leslie has now given it as a present to the Convener Court to be deposited among the records." On the whole, however, the Trades are to be congratulated upon the care with which their records and papers have been preserved. So far as we have been able to learn there are few towns in Scotland where the early records of the craft associations have been so well taken care of, and it is satisfactory to note that an equally careful disposition is being manifested by the present generation, a commodious fire-proof strong room for the better preservation of the books, title-deeds, and papers of the incorporations having recently been constructed in the new buildings. In olden times each craft had its small oak chest (a drawing of one of which is given) with three distinct locks, the keys of which were entrusted to three office-bearers, who had all to be present before the box could be opened; now each Trade has commodious repositories in the strong room for the preservation of their books and papers.

The old Convener Court Book, like all the other early records of the Trades, opens with a statute about Sabbath observance, and on the fly leaves are inscribed quotations from Scripture and quaint, old "saws," and scraps of moral and religious rhyme. Acts were also passed for imposing fines on those found guilty of swearing "or giving the lie," for absence from funerals, and for refusing to be dressed appropriately on all such occasions. The following pious reminders are copied from the fly-leaves:—

This booke belongs to the whole Traids of Aberdeine, and appointed for the use of the Deacon-Conveener Court wherein are contained several Acts and Ordinances to be observed in futur ages by the saidis traids, exactly extracted out of the old Registry from the year of God 1599 to the year 1677.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Then follow the Acts and Ordinances. It will be observed that a number of them are undated, these having been copied from the old Register, dated 1599 :—


Item, it is statute and ordained that every Deacon convene his own craft and set doun ane ordinance for the glory of God and keeping of his Sabbath and repairing to the church timeously upon that day, and that no master nor servant should be found absent from divine service under penalties following—to witt, each master, thirteen shillings four pennies; and the servant, six shillings and eight pennies, for the first fault, and doubling the same toties quoties ; and that said servants convey their masters to and from the church in decency as becomes, and that no master shall go to sitt or stand in the fields, but shall punctually attend the reading and preaching of God's Word in good behaviour and decency until the sermon be ended, and the blessing said; and it shall be lesome to everyone who desires the glory of God to give real information anent the persons who shall contravene and be guilty in the premises.


Item, it is statute, appointed, and ordained that whatsoever member of the Deacon-Conveener Court shall take the name of God in vain, sitting in ane fenced court or meeting, shall pay for his first fault sixteen shillings four pennies, and for each fault of that nature thereafter the like sum, toties quoties, by and attour what other censure the meeting shall propose upon him. And further it is enacted that whatsoever person shall speak rudely or uncivilie in ane fenced court or villipend [vilify] the DeaconConveener either publicly or privately, or give ane other the lie either in fenced court or in presence of the Deacon-Conveener to pay for said fault of this nature forty shillings Scots toties quoties to be taken up unmitigat or unforgiven.


Item, it is strictly statute and ordained that whenever the DeaconConveener shall please to call ane quarter court or any other extraordinary meeting the haill members thereof being lawfully warned and called thereto by the Deacon-Conveener his officer, and any of them staying away therefrom without ane relevant ground or excuse shall be liable to pay to the Deacon-Conveener's box thirteen shillings four pennies, and if any of the said members shall remain and come in after the court is fenced, shall consign before they sit down six Shillings Scots in the hands of the Deacon-Conveener before he gives in his excuse for his not timeous coming; and further, that whatsomever person or persons shall deforce the Deacon-Conveener his officer, in going about his duty in poinding of the absents either from courts or burials, he being lawfully ordained and appointed to about the same, shall pay for the first fault forty shillings Scots, and thereafter each fault to be doubled toties quoties by and attour whatever censure the court shall impose upon him, and this Act to stand unalterable in all tyme coming.

28th July, 1685.—The said day the Deacon-Conveener, Deacon, and remanent masters and members of the Deacon-Conveener Court taking to their consideration the ancient Act anent burials to be omitted and not well observed in some time by past, which was made upon the fourth day of March, 1655, in presence of Dr. William Guild, of worthy memory, and William Anderson, Cooper, Deacon-Conveener for the time, they voiced the same should be observed in time coming, whereof the tenor follows :The said fourth March, 1655, it is statute and ordained by the DeaconConveener Court, Deacons of Crafts, and members of the Deacon-Conveener Court, that whatsomever burials within this burgh shall occur hereafter to the wliilk the Deacon-Conveener is desired that upon his advertisement be his officer to ilk of the traids within this burgh, the said Deacons of Trades respectively shall give lawful warning to their respective traids to attend him at his own stair foot, the appointed time, in ane decent order, with hats, at least those who are in use to wear hats, and therefra, the said Trade, to convoy the Deacon to the Deacon-Conveener for the time to the effect the haill Trades may go to the burial orderlie, and in ane decent way. And whatsomever tradesman shall contravene this present statute and ordinance shall lay six shillings eight pennies for ilk day's absence, toties quoties.


Item, it is statute and ordained that whatsomever Deacon, master, or member of the Deacon-Conveener Court shall come to the Deacon-Conveener Court, or meetings, or to burials, or going about any public affair, wherein the traids are connected, with capes, blue, black, or grey bonnets, and not having hatts on their heids, shall pay thirteen shillings four pennies Scots money toties quoties by and attour what other censure the Court shall impose upon him; and if any Deacon absent himself frae frieman's burials, their wives' or children's, he being in town, and in health of body, he is to be poyndit, and the poind to be keepit until he redeem the same by payment of six shillings eight pennies Scots toties quoties.


27th May, 1650.—In presence of Doctor William Guild, foundator, the haill Deacon-Conveener Court being convenit, the said day it was strictly statute (the said patron being present) that at all meetings of Deacon, or Deacon-Conveener Courts, ane blessing shall be sought from God, and a right direction of their affairs to his glory, the good of the crafts, and that they may be approvid in their awin consciences in the day of their accounts and this to be done by the Deacon-Conveener, and Deacons of their several Courts respectfully, dutifully, and in a godly manner.


Item, it is statute and ordained that whatsoever Deacon-Conveener, or Deacons of the said traids shall convene with their haill craft or haill masters to their courts or meetings anent any of the affairs belonging to the traids in any other place than the ordinary conveening house in the Trinities, the said Deacon-Conveener and Deacons of traids who shall transgress shall pay to the Deacon-Conveener's box six pounds Scots within forty-eight hours thereafter under the failzie of doubling the sum, and to be poinded precisely for the same, although the said meetings should be held in their own houses.


The haill Deacon-Conveener Court statute and ordains that whatsoever traidsmen within the Incorporations of the said burgh shall go to the Magistrates anent any divisions, strifes, or debates (blood and blae excepted), the said traidsman is judged be the said Deacon-Conveener Court to have walked contrair to his oath at his admission of being freiman, and therefore strictly ordains that whatsomever animosities, contraversies, strifes and debates whilk may arise among the said traids betwixt neighbour and neighbour that they shall have redress first to the Deacon of his awin craft, and his Court, and if the matter be not decided there,. to have redress sent to the Deacon-Conveener's Court, and who shall contravene therein shall pay to the Deacon-Conveener's box the sum of ten pounds Scots, toties quoties; and that the party offended, and the party offending, when they shall desire the Deacon-Conveener to grant them ane court for deciding of the said contravening, that they shall consign forty shillings Scots, and shall stand and abyd at the Court's determination and sentence as they shall enjoyn in reason and equitie.


Item, it is statute and ordained that if any of the freimen of the said Crafts shall assist or maintain any unfreimen in their house or elsewhere, they that have contravened thereof (whatever he be) shall pay into the Deacon-Conveener's box the sum of five pounds Scots toties quoties without mitigation.


20th January, 1696.—The said day the Conveener Court did unanimuslie ordain that the present Conveener nor none of his successors in his said office should keep watch and ward as ane single sentinall, but should uphold and maintain their ancient privileges conform to the laudable custom and former use and custom. And the traids to be his warrand, and the boxmasters to have seven parts of expenses, and the hospital the eighth part.


Item, it is strictly statute and ordained that there shall be none who shall have power to carry place or office among any of the Traids but only those who are of the sound Protestant religion, and do publicly profess the same ; and it is hereby ordained that no papist, quaker, or other heretic shall nowise have power to carry any office or charge among the Traids ; and any of the deacons whatsoever that shall suffer or permit the same to be done, to be fined in the sum of three pounds Scots tones quoties, to come to the Deacon-Conveener's box.


22nd October, 1695.--The said day the Conveener Court statutes and ordains that the Conveener for the tyme advance all law affairs that concerns the Conveener Court, and that the Conveener uplift the half of the money payed in by the new members, and that the same be applied for the said law affairs, and that the other half be applyed for washing the heids, and in case his intromission be more or less, they are to count conform as the hospital does thereanent at ilk election. (This practice of "washing heads" was very prevalent at one time throughout Scotland. All entrants had to go through the process, and of course there was the usual social entertainment afterwards. Among the Aberdeen craftsmen this custom gave place to the more rational, if not more graceful, ceremony which was wont to take place at the annual riding of the marches.)


30th November, 1675.—The said day the haill Deacon-Conveener Court in presence of Mr. John Menzies, their patron, all in ane voice, without ony contradiction, did by thir presents renew, ratify, homologate, and approve ane former act of the Deacon-Conveener Court made by aduice of the deceased Dr. William Guild, foundator, of the date the fifth day of October, 1636, and subscribed by the said Dr. William Guild and the haill members of the Deacon-Conveener Court for the time, hearing for the onerous cause therein contained ; and it is strictly statute and ordained that whatsoever traidsman beis found to be ane finer or preoccupier of votes of whatsoever traid he be of (and being sufficiently proven) that such ane person shall in nowise have liberty to carry any public charge either as Deacon-Conveener, Deacon, Master, or Boxmaster for that ensuing year, neither to be elected nor have voice in any election. And in case any person or persons be found to fine for another he shall be held in the same condition, and ordains the foresaid act to stand inviolable to all future generatoins. And empowers the present Deacon-Conveener and his successors in the said office to call and convene the haill several Incorporations of the Trades about the Lammas time or thereby to make search and inquiry if any person or persons be about to violate or break the foresaid act in any manner of way, and if there be found any strong presumption by excess, or drinking, or night walking with any person or persons that have violate or broken the said act, that it shall be lawful for the DeaconConveener and his Court, with advice of the patron, to put such persons to declare upon oath whether they be guilty in that matter or not. And for the faithful performance thereof the said master John Menzies, patron, and the said Deacon-Conveener, with the haill remanent Deacons, have subscribed this present act with their hands for themselves and their successors in name of their respective traids.


Item, it is statute and ordained that no freiman of the said traids whatsomever that shall conduce and indent with prentiss ane or more, shall accept of them by way of indenture or otherwise, under no less years than is agreeable, conform to the custom and practice of the traid, and the master shall in no wise directly nor indirectly, under whatsomever colour or pretext, give his prentiss any backband or discharge of any of the years contained in his indenture; And if it shall happen that any master be found to transgress herein, to pay into the Deacon-Conveener's box the sum of six pounds Scots tones quoties. And further that the prentice so receiving the said backband or discharge, he shall lose all benefit he may have or obtained by his indenture and prentisship. And also that at the expiry of ilk prentice his prentisship, if there be any controversy or debate betwixt him and his master, that the Deacon and masters of the traid shall be the only judges competent thereto, and both master and prentice to be holden to stand to their determination thereanent, as they shall ordain in all points. And this to stand firm and stable in all time coming.

7th February, 1641.—It is statute and ordained by the Deacon-Conveener Court, conform to an act of Council dated the 29th of Sept., 1632, that all indentures that be made betwixt master and prentice shall be presented before the town clerk of this burgh within twenty days thereafter, to the effect he may take ane note thereof in his registry appointed for that effect, and mark the same on the back thereof, and whatsoever craftisman shall fail herentil his prentice not to receive the benefit of ane prentice, but shall come in as ane extraordinar to the council. And ordains every Deacon and his successor in his said office to make due and lawful intimation to his trade of this foresaid Act, and none to pretend ignorance, and who has any indentures mak as said is that, they present the same to the effect thereof.


19th December, 1632.—Forasmuch as the haill incorporations of the craftsmen within the burgh at that time having contributed liberally towards building and repairing of our church and conveening house founded by that reverend pastor, Dr. William Guild, minister of Aberdeen, to the effect decayed craftsmen (when overtaken with age) may be the better entertained in the hospital of the Trinities; Therefore the haill Deacon-Conveener Court with ane consent and assent have statute and ordained for them and their successors in all time coming that ilk new admitted freiman that shall be made hereafter shall pay and give in to the master of the hospital, for the time, as much money as they can goodly spare according to their ability, and to give order thereupon conform as the master of hospital, and they shall agree thereupon ; and if any shall refuse (according to their abilities foresaid) to offer to the said house and hospital, they are to be excluded from any part or portion of the said hospital, although poverty should seize never so sore upon them; and be ordained not to carry office in their respective traids if any shall refuse their help thereto as said is.

22nd July, 1677.—The said day in presence of the said patron, it is appointed that against the Lammas Court next precisely the haill traids to be called for in presence of the said Mr. John Menzies, patron, anent their giving their friewill offerings to the house and hospit-el. And the Master of Hospital to do all diligence whilk he can, or may thereanent.

28th July, 1685.—The said day it is statute and ordained with unanimous consent that whatsomever persone or persones in the respective traids that refuses to pay their friewill offerings to the hospital within twa years after they promise the same, the same being required by the Master of Hospital for that effect, that the same persons shall be depryved of any voyce in the Deacon-Conveener's Court or in their own traid court at elections or otherwise, aye and until they pay ; by and attour any other censure the Conveener-Court shall impose upon them. And this act to be insert in ilk respective traids books.


Item, it is statute and ordained with advice of the haill DeaconConveener Court'ena voce that whatsomever person lie be that is elected Deacon-Conveener shall not continue but for the space of one year except it be unanimously resolved by the haill traids in one voice, and humbly therefore desires that none may pretend ignorance thereof. And this Act to be observed in all time coming. (This Act was ratified In 1684 "in presence of Alexander Gordon and Andrew Mitchell, and James Shand, Deacon-Convener.")

Item, it is statute and ordained that upon the day of the election of the Deacon-Conveener every present Deacon shall lift out of his own mouth ane member of his own traid to be Deacon-Conveener, and they to be removed as use is until the voices pass in the election. And this Act to stand firm and stable in all time coming without any contravening whatsomever.

20th September, 1673.—The said day the haill Court statute and ordains that every late Deacon-Conveener (in respect he is acquaint best with the traids affairs for the time) be continued ane year after his outgoing from his said office to be ane adviser and informer to the Court anent their affairs; providing he remain a master of his own trade, otherwise to be but ane single member of the said Court as formerly, and thereby shall not add any further number of voices upon the said Court as late Deacon-Conveener, and that he shall not remain but for one year only upon the said Court upon the said account conform to the act made anent the late Deacons. This to be observed strictly in all time cuming for the reasons aforesaid.

20th November, 1722.—The said day the Conveener Court put it to ane vote whether or not one Convener or Deacon in this place should continue in their offices more than two years, and was carried nem con, to continue two years only.


Item, it is statute and ordained that whatsomever person shall happen to be Deacon-Conveener for the time, he shall not, upon any pretext whatever, spend or waste any of the Crafts Common Good without the advice or consent of the Deacon-Conveener Court, or at least of the present Deacons ; and further, that he is obliged to take all the pains he can for ingathering of all convictions and fines which shall fall in his time.


26th September, 1648.—It is strictly statute and ordained that at the choosing of ilk deacon and of his boxmaster their accounts before their outgoing thereof this place, that the present Deacon-Couveener for the time, with one or two whom he shall bring with him, shall be present at the laying of the said accounts, and to see that all things be done in due order and moderation; and whatsomever Deacon and Boxmaster shall proceed to their election without doing of the same, shall be amerciate and fined six pounds Scots by and attour what other censure the Deacon-Conveener Court shall impose upon them. And this to be observed in all time coming, and also at the time to present their register to be signed by them to the effect foresaid as is appointed by Mr. John Menzies, our patron, and his predecessors in the said office.


20th October, 1670.—The said day the haill Deacon-Conveener Court for the maist part statutes and ordains that it shall be observed in all time hereafter that no old Deacon-Conveener of the said traids shall have any voice in the electing and choosing of the new Deacon-Conveener yearly except he be ane master of his ain traid and be lifted, but that always the two present councillors yearly and Master of Hospital for the time, to be still members of the Deacon-Conveener Court, and to have ane voice therein in everything.

30th April, 1677.—The said day it is unanimously statute and ordained that in all time hereafter that at the next election in this present year every respective deacon of traids shall bring with him three of the ablest of his masters (the boxmaster being always one of them) to be members of the said Deacon-Conveener Court, and the rest of the members thereof to stand as before conform to the acts made or to be made thereanent, and this to be observed in all time coming in respect of several good and serious considerations.

20th September, 1675.—The said day the hail] Conveener Court statutes and ordains for good considerations moving them that no person whatsomever in the respective traids shall carry charge as Deacon of their ain traid until first he be one year ane member of the Deacon-Conveener Court, and if any traid shall prevaricate therein the said Deacon so to be chosen not to be holden nor accepted upon the said Deacon-Conveener Court.


1632.—Dr. William Guild, pastor of Aberdeen, and patron to the Traids of the said burgh, did mortify and bestow several annuities and casualties, and in particular did bestow somewhat freely in assisting of the foresaid traids to build and repair their meeting-house and chappel, and for y' effect did appoint that a faithful, Christian, honest man, one of the said traids, shall be chosen yearlie by advice of the patron and his successors, as patrons, with consent of the members of the Deacon-Conveener Court, to collect the whole rents and casualties belonging thereto, as he shall be appointed by the Acts made or to be made thereanent.

25th October, 1656.—It is statute and ordained that whatsoever craftsman shall be elected and chosen to be master of their Hospital, in all time coming, he shall be ane member of the Deacon-Conveener Court, and shall always vote as ane member thereof, and this Act to stand in all ages to come.

10th January, 1659.—It is statute and ordained that no Master of Hospital whatsomever shall have power or libertie of himself to build or repair any house or considerable work belonging to the traids, which shall amount or extend above the sum of twenty pounds Scots, without special leave, order, or warrant from the Deacon-Conveener Court, and ane warrant under the Clerk's hand for that effect; and in case he do in the contrair, the same to be null, and the traids not to allow the same except the haill Deacon-Conveener Court and members thereof assembled for the time shall give ane complete and full voice therein. And ordains this Act to stand in all time coming.

28th February, 1678.—The said day the haill Deacon-Conveener Court statutes and ordains, in all time coming hereafter, that the Master of Hospital shall be chosen yearly at Hallowmas, after the election of the Deacon-Conveener Court, and to continue yearly only to Hallowmas thereafter, and to have his accounts punctually in readiness before the said time, under the failure of ane hundred merks Scots, and his charge and discharge to be divided into three several parts of his books, with the first anent the affairs of the House and Hospital and rents thereof ; the second anent the Catechist's rent ; and the third anent the Bursars' (louse and rents thereof. And the Master of Hospital to charge himself with the haill rents and emoluments belonging to the respective charges, and to discharge himself only of what he shall receive, diligence being used by him for receiving the same.

31st October, 1684.—It is statute and appointed that the master of said Traids Hospital, present and to come, shall not give out upon bond or profit any of the Hospital means or moneys without consent of the patron, Deacon-Conveener, and haill deacons. And if he does, in the contrair, he is to charge himself thereof as debtor to the Hospital.

8th May, 1599.—The said day it was strictly statute and ordained that no person be elected and nominate Master of the said Traids Hospital except he be of ane good report, and that he have ane visible fortune in good credit ; and that none voice to give such person or persons that are not bona fama, or have a visible fortune, that place although he be lifted.

19th November, 1702.—In presence of Dr. William Blair, Patron, and Patrick Whyt, Deacon-Conveener, it was by voice of Court statute and ordained that notwithstanding of the Act upon the other side made anent the election of the Master of the Hospital, that in case any respective traid lift at the election of the Hospital ane honest man of good report, although he want heritage, and in case he carry to the Hospital, the Traid who lift him, in case he wants heritage, shall be cautioner ipso facto by lifting him for his fidelity and due performance of his said office of the Hospital.

23rd October, 1712.—The said day the whole Court with consent of their patron statute and ordained and declared that in all time coming no Master of the Traids Hospital shall presume to give out landward or bestow any money not exceeding four pounds Scots without consent of the Deacon-Conveener and the Deacons or major part of them, which are hereby declared to be a quorum with certification that if any Master of the Hospital do in contrair hereof that the same shall not be allowed to him at counting, but shall lose the same himself. This present Act to stand unalterable, notwithstanding all prior Acts. (On 3rd May, 1704, the Master of Hospital was fined £6 Scots for employing workmen without the consent of the Court.)

12th November, 1735.—The Court statute and appoint that in all time to come the Master of the Trades Hospital shall have only a yearly allowance of forty shillings sterling in name of all debursements and charges for managing the Hospital funds, providing the lands of Dumbreck continue under the Master of Hospital's management.


16th October, 1693.—The said day the Conveener Court, taking to their serious considerations the exhorbitant prices taken for deid chists for beidmen within the said Hospital, for remeid thereof hereby ordains that in all time coming ilk beidman's deid chist made of tlticke clefts shall be of price three pounds ; ilk deid chist having syds and gavills of haill wood, four pounds ; and ilk deid chist thereof of haill deals, five pounds of Scots money. And that the said deid chists shall be all coloured at the foresaid price, but in case any of them be required by the Master of Hospital to be picked, then and in that case the wricht to get ten shillings, Scots money, more for the chist picked, and this to be ane standard for the price of the deid chists to be made for the beidmen and poor of the said Hospital in time coming. ("Picked" evidently means pitched. It may be mentioned that in those days the common class of coffins were V shaped , the better class had "syds and gavills" as above mentionod.)


9th December, 1684.—The said day the haill Conveener Court present for the time, taking into their consideration the great loss the mortifications belonging to the said traids sustained, partly by the liberal and excessive spending, and partly by omitting to take particular inspection of ilk mortification by itself; for remeid whereof in time to come, it is strictly statute and ordained by the said Court, with consent of Doctor Patrick Sibbald, Professor of Divinity in Aberdeen, their chosen patron, that the Deacon-Conveeuer, Deacons, and remanent masters and members of the DeaconConveener Court and their successors in office stand to and observe the conditions and ordinances under specified, viz.:—(1) That there be no monies be cause restand to the Master of the said Hospital be uplifted or transacted without the special advice or consent of their patron for the time; (2) That there be no houses bought or sold by the said Master of the said Hospital and his colleagues, without the said patron's consent (3) That no houses be repaired belonging to the said Hospital which will cost sixteen inerks of reparation, without the said patron's consent; (4) That the said patron have a special voice, advice, and be ane eye witness to the election of ilk Master of the said Hospital, and subscribe the discharge and see every particular of his accounts, otherwise the same discharge not to be valid or sufficient; (5) That the Master of the said Hospital be chosen yearly by the old Deacons, and in their turn before Michaelmas yearly, as persons best known to the affairs throughout the year, especially conform to the will of the mortifier set down in the said Trades in their Magna Charta. And that no persons that joined for the said place get the same at that season. Likewise for the better flourishing of mortifications belonging to the said Traids and the encouragement of good men to add thereto, it is strictly statute and ordained that the free rent of ilk mortification be improven per se, and particularly the bursars and castlegate mortification; and that such money as the bursars have given bond for shall, after the same is uplifted, be secured upon land, bond, or annual rent, where best security may be had for making up that mortification; (6) That every mortification be kept in retentis; (7) That no charges and expenses at visitation of houses or public meetings burden the Hospital, but be out of the respective Deacons or others, members then present, their own pockets. And in case any do in the contrair, the Deacon-Conveener and Master of the Hospital for the time shall be answerable to the patron and other judges competent therefor, and shall be liable for cost, skaith, and damage, and, at the patron's pleasure, declared answerable by the haill Traids to carry the like thing again. Likewise compeared the said Alexander Patersone, Deacon-Conveener for the time, and James Smith, gunsmith, Deacon of the Hammermen for the time, for themselves and the remanent persons adherents, and protested that they nor the Master of the hospital for the time should not be liable for any bye past mismanagement of the said Traids, their mortifications, in respect they had no accession thereto, but that the person or persons in charge for the time be liable for the reparation thereof as their own proper faults and deeds. And that this Act should stand in all time coming.

7th January, 1688.—The said day the said Conveener Court, with consent of the said patron, statutes and ordains that ilk representative Deacon shall charge himself with so much money as any friemen who are now entered shall offer to the house at their entry, and that the said Deacon conform to their respective Trades make thankful payment thereof whomsoever the Deacon-Conveener and Master of Hospital shall call therefor. As also that the Master of the Hospital charge himself yearly with the haill mails of the houses belonging to the Hospital, at the least show diligence therefor, or then take them in his own hand, and that sicklike that the Hospital rents be nowise burdened with any contribution or money to the poor in the respective traids, but that ilk traid maintain their poor out of their respective boxes ; and sicklike that bursar's bonds be registered to the effect that none may be lost, and this to be observed in time coming and whatsoever Deacons contravenes and goes against these premises shall have no voice in the Conveener Court until he gives satisfaction.


26th September, 1619. —It is statute and ordained that no traid shall go on in an election of a new Deacon except the haill traid be lawfully warned to come to the meeting house and place appointed for that effect. And also it is thought fit and convenient that after the election the late deacon to be ane member of the Deacon-Conveener Court for that year; and if any Deacon shall act or do in contrair, to pay for the use of the said poor, to the Deacon-Conveener's box, the sum of twenty pounds Scots, and also whatever censure the Conveener Court shall impose upon him.


10th May, 1662.—It is statute and ordained that in all time coming every freiman's son who shall happen to be admitted freiman in any of the seven traids shall be received and admitted in as easy a way as if his father had been freiman of that self same traid, and this to be observed in all time coming.


25th October, 1662.—It is statute be the haill Deacon-Couveener Court in ane voice that ilk entering freimen amongst the haill traids shall be tried by his traid to see if he be qualified in his traid or able to pay what the traid shall impose upon him, and that he may have something considerable to begin him in his traid and employment for serving of the leiges. And that none of the respective traids suffer or allow the entrant either at the giving in of his bill, or at the making of his essay, or at the payment of his composition to drink or spend with any of them, but all the money that wis in use to be superfluously spent to be put into the Traids boxes for the use of the poor. And in case any of the said traids shall break or contravene this present act, after due trial and examination, shall be censured according to the will of the Deacon-Conveener Court.

10th December, 1707.—The said day the Convener Court taking into serious consideration the act anent entering freiinen, dated 25th October, 1662, against them drinking and spending at entry, do now of new again not only homologate and approve of the said act, but also hereby statutes and ordaines that in all tyme coming no deacon within this burgh shall suffer or allow either he himself, his masters, or members to cause any new entrant to be put to any expenses of drinking as in former tymes, but that the money so due by any entrant either for drink money or dinner shall be paid into the boxmaster of the traid for the tyme in cash, which is to be made use of for the use of the poor, and this to stand unalterable in all tyme coming under the failzie of ten pounds Scots money, to be paid by any Deacon, Boxmaster, or other member whatsomever that shall be found to contravene thir premises.


19th November, 1702.—It is statute and ordained that ilk respective traid [have] their own chamber in the Trinities, doors, bands, beds, locks, keys, and shelves, and that the master of the Hospital be nowise affected therewith in any time coming. And this to be observed in all time hereafter.


It is statute and ordained that every entering freiman upon the several incorporations, his sey being passed and accepted by their calling, that the Deacon of the said traid for the time shall punctually exact twenty shillings Scots from the said entering freiman to be given in to the Deacon-Conveener's box upon the day of election conform to our ancient custom ; otherwise ilk entrant Deacon who neglects to exact the said twenty shillings Scots to pay the same himself to the outgoing Deacon-Conveener, or those not to have vote in the said election until the said be paid.

29th October, 1674.—The said day the haill Deacon-Conveener Court do unanimously strictly statute and ordain that in all time coming hereafter ilk member of the Deacon-Conveener Court shall pay in quarterly to the Deacon-Couveener's box precisely six shillings Scots, for prosecuting or defending the actions and pursuits of law concerning the traids affairs, and to be strictly paid quarterly before they have any vote in the said Court, the first quarter's payment thereof beginning at the Hallow Court, 1674, and so to continue quarterly to all future ages, and the person or persons who shall happen deficient in payment thereof as said is, not to be called to meetings and courts of their ain respective traids until they pay the same. As also that no Deacon of whatsoever traid shall bring any master with him upon the said Court but those who are sufficiently able to pay their said quarterly courts. And ilk Deacon to be liable for paying the same themselves (in case their masters fail) before ever they get a vote in chosing of a new Deacon, or yet has any vote in chosing of their ain Deacon. And likewise the haill Deacon-Conveener Court una voce statutes and ordains that in all time coming hereafter the half of each particular sum which is exacted off every new entrant member of the foresaid Court, at and upon the day of election of the new Deacon-Conveener Court, shall exactly come in to the Deacon-Conveener's box the very self-same day before the election, ilk person proportionally as follows—namely, ilk new Deacon-Conveener, immediately after he is elected, to pay in the half of six pounds Scots; Item, ilk new Deacon who has not been upon the said Deacon-Conveeuer's Court before, the half of four pounds ten shillings Scots, ilk Deacon that has been upon the said Court before the half of three pounds Scots ; Item, ilk new boxmaster being a member of the said Court the half of forty-eight shillings Scots; Item, ilk new boxmaster although not upon the said Court the half of twenty-four shillings Scots ; Item, ilk new single member of the said Court the half of thirty shillings Scots; Item, ilk new entrant freiman who shall come in amongst any of the said trades to pay in his twenty shillings Scots to the said box conform to ane former act made thereanent. And further that ilk new councillor who has never been upon the Town Council of the said burgh before, the half of two pounds Scots. And ordains all the foresaid particular sums of money to be punctually ingathered by the Deacon-Conveener in place for the time, or any other who shall be appointed for that effect, and the same to be recorded in the public register or any other book that shall be appointed for that use. And whosoever he be that shall collect the same to make just count, reckoning, and payment of the same before his outgoing, and that all shall be furthcoming to the weal, stability, and profit of the said traids, and for maintaining and defending their ancient righteous privileges, offensive and defensive. And that no bill or any other public burden affect the same in any manner of way. And strictly statutes and ordains that the haill premises shall be exactly condynlie observed and fulfilled to all succeeding generations. And whatever person or persons who shall happen to contravene and fail in the premises of any part thereof that they shall be debarred and secluded both as members of the Deacon-Conveener Court and as members of their own traid's courts or meetings, and not to carry charge nor have vote therein. And likewise to be debarred and excluded from all benefit they may have or pretend to the traids house and hospital of the Trinities in any manner of way, and for the faithful performance of the haill premises, and every payment thereof the Deacon-Conveener and haill remanent deacons of their traids for themselves and in name of their respective crafts and their successors has subscribed this present act and ordinance with their ain hands individually.


1st December, 1730.—The Court statute and ordain in all time coming, every boxmaster of the respective incorporations shall give in their accounts and boxmaster's book to the conveners and deacons to be by them inspected, and that upon the day of giving the master of hospital his charge the said convener and deacon are to have a competent time for inspecting the said accounts, and making their observes thereupon, and they are to return the said accounts and books within six month after receiving the same.


24th November, 1728.—The Court hereby statute and ordain that in all times coming, when any of the beedmen in the Trades Hospital shall happen to decease, that the master of hospital for the time being shall pay into the boxmaster of the trade to whom such beedman belongs, allenary the sum of £12 Scots, in order to defray the charge of their funeralls, and that thereupon the said trade to whom such beedman belongs shall be obliged to burrie the said beedman without any further charge on the hospital, and appoint no goods, gear, or others belonging to such beedman to be taken out by any person from the hospital, but that the samen shall be disposed of by the master of the hospital in the public account.


27th May, 1728.—The Court taking to their consideration some former acts of this court granting privileges and authority to their patron beyond which is contained in the will of the mortification appointing their patron doe for remeid thereof restrict the powers of their patron to the will of the mortification allenarly, and hereby rescind and declare null all former acts to the contrairy.

The following extracts will serve to illustrate the nature and mode of dealing with breaches of the acts and statutes :—


20th July, 1683.—The said day [before Alexander Idle, judge-substitute for the time] the haill Court present for the tyme having heard, seen, and considered ane bill given in by Wm. Scott, goldsmith, burgess of Aberdeen, against Alexander Anuand, younger, wricht, burgess of the said burgh, anent the said Alexander, his injurious speeches, indecent behaviour, and mal-pairt striking of the said William Scott—present deacon-convener of the traids of the said burgh ; and, also having heard, seen, and considered the deposition of certain famous witnesses thereanent, the masters and members of said Court present for the tyme, ordained that the said Alexander Annand should have no voyce in any meetings or court, either of the Wright and coupars or of the Deacon-Couveneer Court, nor have no charge among the traids until such tyme that he supplicate the court and give satisfaction for his transgression to the said Alexander Scott, convener, as the said Court shall ordain, and that the haill masters and members of the Conveneer Court should concur and assist to their power to the said convener for his satisfaction ; and that the said Alexander Annand should pay any fyne the Conveener Court should impose upon him for his misdemeanour, before he hath power to voyce, and this to be acted in the convener's books as example to others to do the lyke in tyme to cum.


12th August, 1699.—The said daye George Gordon, tailzeour, was amerciat in fourty shillings Scots for giving his neighbour the lie in ane fenced Court, and for his misbehaviour to the convener, and the Court unanimously ordained that he have no voyce, and be extruded the Conveener Court until he page and crave the injured's pardon.


12th May, 1702--The said day John Craig did enact himself not to complain to the magistrates before he complained to the Convener Court conform to the act of the Convener Court under faylzie therein contained, and the court ordained him to crave pardon for complaining against William Donald to the magistrates before he complained to the Convener Court.


19th March, 1705.—The said day, considering all the extraordinary enormities committed by William Lorimer, baxter, ane member of this court, and particularlie in his being often drunk, swearing and profaning God's great name, and his probation thereof, and his own confession, they, the said Conveener Court, amerciates him in four pounds Scots, to be immediately paid into the hospital for the public use, and in the meantime debarrs him as a member, aye and until he give such suitable satisfaction to the court as shall please them, and pay the said fyne.

The said day it is also found (the said William Lorimer's habitual drunkenness and swearing) by the said Court, that they ordain John Craig to possess the chair as late Deacon notwithstanding of use and wont, declaring thereby that these presents shall no wise infer ane statute or ordinance, nor take of the laudable customs of the said trades, and debarrs the said William Lorimer therefrom until his satisfaction of the fyne be paid as use is.

25th July, 1705.—The said day compeared William Lorimer, baxter, and in obedience to the Court, acknowledged his former faults and craved pardon, and upon which the Court received him as a member of their society.

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