for its own sake is worthless without a vision and a purpose for the
at the 400th Anniversary Dinner of the Craft 1987
INCE the 16th Century at least nine trades have
advanced the interests of trade in the City of Dundee. These trades
are fully autonomous but have incorporated and are known as the Nine
Incorporated Trades Of Dundee. Also in existence are the Three United
Trades who are involved in the Building Trades.
Nine Trades in order of precedence are:-
or Bakers, Cordiners or Shoemakers, Skinners or Glovers, Tailors,
Bonnetmakers, Fleshers, Hammermen, Braebeners or Weavers and Listers
Trades have always maintained a very strong connection with the
church. For much of the 18th Century the three parish churches in
Dundee were cared for by the town council and a kirk session. In the
1770s it was decided that Dundee needed another church, but the town
council would not fund the building. The Twelve Trades therefore
agreed to pay for two thirds of the sum required, and St Andrews
Church, 'The Trades Kirk', was built. In 1775 the Trades, led by their
Deacon Convener, marched in procession from their meeting place in the
Howff to the opening of their church. The strong connection is
maintained by the Trades and the church. Stained glass windows
representing the Nine Incorporated Trades and the Three United Trades
are on either side of the pulpit and more recently two further windows
in memory of a dearly loved chaplain, Rev T. R. S. Campbell, were
donated by the Trades. These are certainly worthy of a visit. The
trades also have a 'Kirkin' ceremony each year, currently held on the
Sunday nearest St Andrews' Day when a dedication service is preached
by the minister of St Andrews Church who is Chaplain to the Trades.
roots of the Hammerman Incorporation lie lost in the early days of
many other early records those of the Hammerman Craft were assumed to
have been lost when General Monk sacked the City. The earliest
surviving records therefore date the Craft as 1587. However there is a
record of the Craft under its Deacon, Alexander Moir, dated 1525 when
the Hammermen undertook to provide sustentation for a chaplain to
'sang and say God save us' before an alter to St Eloy, their patron
saint, at the northmost part of the north aisle in the town kirk,
which they would maintain. The chaplain was to carry out his duties
just as the chaplains of the 'lave (rest) of the crafts of the burgh
before this, however, Hammermen of all kinds were working in the
burgh. A local armourer, Wat Moncur, frequently supplied James 1V with
specially made suits of armour. Another Moncur, John, was working in
Dundee in the 1440%.
a town as important as Dundee where gold and silver ornaments were
worn on belts and used for buckles there were a good many Goldsmiths
and Silversmiths in the Craft.
were and indeed are required to take the oath upon entry to the craft
and no one shall be fully qualified until they have made the following
shall be leall and true to our Sovereign and to the Provost, Bailies
and Council of Dundee and to my Deacon of the Hammerman Craft thereof,
present and to come. I shall maintain and defend the word of God and
his Evangel which is presently professed amongst us, so far as lies in
me, and shall never decline therefrom. I shall obey my Deacon of
Craft. I shall obtemper and fulfil all laws and statutes made, or to
be made, for the liberty of my said Craft, and we/fare thereof. I
shall make concord among my brethern where discord is. I shall
fortifie the common weil. I shall use myself uprightly in my ca/ling.
I shall relieve the poor and needy, and help support the widow and
orphan to my power. I shall use no fraudful dealing. I shall also use
no unfreeman's goods under co/our of my own. I shall assist the Deacon
and brethern of Craft in al/respects that tend to the liberty of our
said craft and, as far as possible, I shall attend all the meetings
when ca/led thereto. I shall never contravene, directly nor
indirectly, all just and lawful statutes made for the welfare of the
said Craft. I shall be no mutineer, nor raiser of tumults nor discords
among my said brethern. So help me God.
Seal Of Cause has been lost but the Nine Trades' Inventory of Charters
includes what purports to be a copy, giving the date as 21st
September, 1525 during the Deaconship of Alexander Moir.
records show that two Cutlers were before the burgh court for 'invading'their
Deacon, one Silvester Ramsay, with a 'winger' (dagger). This happened
some time before 1587 because Patrick Ramsay, who was Deacon in 1587,
was the son of Silvester.
Iockit book, now rebound, was repaired at an earlier date and many of
the pages are out of sequence. It is fair to assume that some were
record in 1602 gives licence for a Hammerman from Strathdichty, David
Thoms, allowing him to work in Dundee by paying a weekly penny to the
Craft. This was one way in which the Craft retained the work for its
own members within the town.
constant money worries showed very real concern for the poor and
needy, the ageing craftsmen and their widows and orphans. Their
well-being was of paramount concern and the Deacon had authority to
give immediate relief and recover the money later when he cleared his
accounts at the end of the year.
in mind that there was little or no opportunity for a craftsman to
save during his working life, this was the only lifeline to those who
fell on hard times. This part of the Trade's work continues to this
day, although there are fewer opportunities to show this benevolent
side without infringing some of the social benefits to which these
people are entitled.
protectionism mentioned earlier was done partly by limiting the number
of people who could be trained in the craft by insisting upon a long
period of training i.e. seven years plus two as servant or eight and
one followed by an 'essay' or test piece set by the Deacon. Outsiders
or unfree men were ruthlessly dealt with.
were also severe and these can be read in the Rules and Bylaws of the
1653/4 Alexander Guthrie, a saddler, was expelled from the Craft for
striking the Deacon and 'other causes not to be publish'. In fact he
had been guilty of 'filthie carriage to his brethern by lying daily to
the English commander'. This was not the result of anti-English
feeling because the Craft had two Englishmen in their ranks at that
time. Discipline, however, was sharp and swift. It also shows that the
English were not unwelcome and had support in the town.
than thirty crafts figure in the Hammerman records such as Armourer,
Bucklemaker, Blacksmith, Gunsmith, Goldsmith, Silversmith, Jeweller,
Clocksmith, Watchmaker, Knocksmith, Cutler, Sword Slipper, Locksmith,
Farrier, Saddler, Lorimer, Brassfounder, Plumber, Pewterer, Guardmaker
to irreconcilable differences, the Goldsmiths were given permission by
the Town Council to separate from the Craft, although the records show
that many still retained heir membership of the Hammerman.
the 16th and 17th Century Dundee guns were famous all over Europe and
were much sought after. A high proportion of the Trade between 1587
and 1620 were Gunmakers with the Ramsay and Alison families featuring
prominently. Sadly, very few guns of the 'fishtail'and 'lemon but'
design were superbly crafted and there is an example of each in the
National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Craft worked hard at keeping their monopoly. Keeping the work of the
unfree out of the burgh on the grounds that it was not up to standard
was one ploy used and, since the Craft was the sole judge of
standards, it was an effective method of keeping outsiders from
trading and for ensuring high prices for their own products.
the Deacon, for example, was allowed to buy the 'smiddy coal' for the
forges as it arrived at the Port. He ensured that it was separately
weighed to ensure that the poor fund got its just dues.
1699 Journeymen were charged £1.10/- if they moved from one master to
another. The master was charged 10/- if the servant stayed for more
than a year.
1846, by Act Of Parliament, all trade privileges were abolished and
the authority of the Trades was slowly eroded, including removing
their rights to sit on the Council, until the present day when the
Trades are reduced to doing charitable works, mostly connected with
education, and acting as a pressure group.
industrial life of the City has been greatly enhanced by members of
the Craft and it could be said in all modesty that without the
Hammerman Craft of Dundee its industrial future would be bleak indeed.
Craft continues to expand its interests into new technology and is
sure to play an important part in the life of Dundee.
to the Incorporation are welcomed from men over 21 years of age who
are engaged in or who are qualified to engage in any Trade in which
the working of metal and the use of the hammer plays an important
information may be obtained from
Clerk, Royal Exchange, Dundee
by PDC, 110 Commercial Street, Dundee
|scottish church records|scots
2000 David Duffus. All rights