|Activity||The power to grant incorporated status to trades rested with the magistrates of royal burghs. An incorporated trade was granted the right to monopolise and control their trade within the burgh. Trade incorporations were usually constituted by a seal of cause granted by the magistrates but some were constituted by use and consuetude. A strict monopoly was enforced within the burgh and non-members of an incorporation were not allowed to trade within the bounds of the town. The Incorporation set strict guidelines controlling the quality of workmanship and protected work for the craft within the burghs against outsiders. It prevented apprentices from being drawn away from their masters and stopped irregularities and irresponsible craftsmanship amongst its members. An entry fee had to be paid to gain admission to the Incorporation. The son of a burgess paid the lowest fee, the son-in-law of a burgess paid more and a stranger paid the highest fee. Trades incorporations were governed by a deacon with the aid of a boxmaster and a council of craftsmen who were elected annually. They held a court which could fine craftsmen for contravening the rules and held the ultimate penalty of expulsion. The Trades often incorporated with others to form united trades who had a right to representation in the council of the burgh along with representatives from the merchant guild. The representation on the council by trades and merchants was abolished in 1833 by the Royal Burghs (Scotland) Act (3 & 4 Will. IV, c 76) which provided for an elected town council. The exclusive privileges of trade were in decline towards the latter half of the eighteenth century and were finally abolished in 1846 (9 Vict., c 17). Thereafter the functions of the Incorporation were purely charitable. |
The Incorporation was seventh in precedence of the Nine Trades of Dundee and is purported to have been granted its Seal of Cause on 21 September 1525. Twenty or more different crafts working with metal and hammer were included in the Incorporation over the years. In 1602 the goldsmiths were separated from the guild. Dundee guns, produced by the hammermen, were famous all over Europe. After the 1846 Act, the nine trade incorporations of Dundee functioned more as social clubs than charitable or protective institutions.See 'The Nine Trades of Dundee' by Annette M. Smith.