Toast given at the Convenor Court Election Dinner 2016 by:
Professor Robert I. Frost, FBA
Burnett Fletcher Chair in History,
University of Aberdeen,
Department of History,
Aberdeen AB24 3FX
Deacon Convener, Patron, Master of Trades Hospital, Lord Provost, Lord Dean of Guild, Members of the Convener Court, fellow guests.
It is a signal honour for me to be invited to propose the toast to the Convener Court of this great institution this evening. I hope that my background will not put you off. I am an Edinburgh boy by upbringing and that most unpractical of trades by profession—a University teacher. Even worse, although my family was in trade, my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before me were members of the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, and I am aware that relations between merchant companies and the incorporated trades of the Scottish burghs were not always marked by the Bon Accord that is the motto of this great city. Furthermore, had I entered the family business of soft furnishings, I note that under Alexander II’s Charter of 1222 to the city of Aberdeen, I would have been classed as a ‘stranger merchant’, and would not have been permitted to cut my cloth for sale in the market of Aberdeen, ‘save from the day of the Ascension of our Lord to the Feast of St Peter in Chains’: that is between May and early June (depending on the date of Easter) and August 1. I also note that according to this charter, the ‘waulkers and weavers’ were specifically excluded from the Merchant’s Guild of Aberdeen, which indicates the nature of the relations between the two bodies: the very incorporation of the trades in the Scottish burghs reflected the necessity of banding together to fight for the privileges of the craft guilds against the encroachments of the predatory merchants. (more…)
In 1823, the trustees of the Incorporation of Tailors of Aberdeen decided to feu the land at Crabeston at a public sale. This formed Bon Accord Square and a number of detailed feuing conditions were stipulated; the Incorporated Tailors maintained that Adam Coutts, Advocate, Aberdeen and his heirs were obliged to conform to all the details of the Feu Charter, specifically the construction of a pavement, iron railing and a dwarf wall in Bon Accord Square. With some complications regarding the nature of the tenure and counter claims by the superior that ‘under cover of night’ Coutts had made connection to the main sewer, together with appeals, the case was only resolved in 1840 when Lord Brougham delivered the Lords’ judgement that there was a real burden upon the property in question and is binding of the defender Coutts. The Aberdeen Tailors Incorporation hold the original paperwork involved with the case and this has now been put on display within the Library at Trinity Hall.
In 2003 the importance of these papers was recognised by Sheriff Douglas Cusine. It was thought appropriate to make a number of copies so that the originals could be preserved whilst the information therein could continue be used by future legal scholars. (more…)