Tales of the Shoemakers Trade

25 May Tales of the Shoemakers Trade

In 1715 and 1745, the Aberdeen Shoemakers Incorporation was a hot bed of revolt during both the Jacobite rebellions. There are numerous references to the members of the trade and their apprentices being involved in illegal activities at the time of the rebellions.

There were at least two members of the Incorporation involved in the Battle of Culloden and it seems that the Trade in general favoured the Pretender. As a result, in 1746, all members of the Shoemakers Trade and new members of the future were required to take Oaths of Allegiance (to the King) and of Abjuration (disowning the Pretender).

For this historical insight, we refer to a member of the Shoemakers Trade with the wonderful name of Hercules McCook, who is listed in the members register as entering the trade on 17th April 1749.

The Shoemakers booklet ‘Acts, Oaths and Ordinances’ has the following entry, dated 27th July 1748:

“At this date Hercules McCook, Shoemaker, said to have been a late Apprentice to James Birnie, Senior applied for admission, craving to be tried in his qualifications; his petition was accepted, and his essay prescribed in usual form; but during the time he was executing his essay, the Trade came to learn that he had not served his apprenticeship to one who was a freeman of the said Trade, nor was his name entered in the trades’ book, thereupon he was refused admission as an Apprentice.  He again applied to the Town Council and procured another remit craving to be admitted Extranean; his essay appointed to be one pair of men’s and one pair of women’s shoes – his former essay had the addition of a pair of boots. He was admitted 17th April 1749”.

McCook appears to have been an interesting character. Frances McDonnell mentions him in the ‘Jacobites of 1745’ as ‘Shoemaker, Spittal, Oldmachar. At Falkirk (17th January 1746) and Culloden (16th April 1746)’.

There is no other information involved but he survived to join the trade in 1749.