Record

CodeNA4671
Dates1678-1975
Person NameAberdeen City Chamberlain; 1678-1975
ActivityThe essentially subordinate nature of the office of Chamberlain is reflected in its development in Aberdeen from the post created to shoulder the administrative burden of the Council’s six office bearers; the Treasurer, Dean of Guild, Master of Kirk and Bridgeworks, Master of Shoreworks, Master of Mortifications and Master of Guild Brethren’s hospital. These Councillors between them took responsibility for the estates and monies held in trust or in property in the name of the Royal Burgh of Aberdeen. Until 1812 their accounts were kept individually. After the introduction of unified accounting in that year, the Burgh Treasurer gradually became the elected member most dominant in financial affairs. This office was itself abolished in the wake of the reorganisation of local government under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (c.65).

Aberdeen Town Council first employed a chamberlain and Town’s Factor for five years from 1678 at an annual salary of 400 merks Scots. In 1685 the Council agreed to the office bearers’ proposal that the burden of this salary be removed on their promising to undertake the work involved themselves. There were two successive Chamberlains appointed for the terms of years between 1711 and 1728 at the same salary but the post was discontinued from the same motive as before. From 1701 the Town Clerk Depute was responsible for writing out the office bearers’ accounts and attending the audits. By 1812 the state of the Town’s finances was evidently such that some professional and continuing control of the accounts was recognised as necessary. On 12 June 1812, the Council, acting on the recommendation of the Provost, appointed James Hardie, Advocate, to act as Chamberlain during the Council’s pleasure at a salary of £100 per annum. The first three permanent City Chamberlains were lawyers who combined the post with that of Town Clerk Depute for at least part of their period in office, two of them resigning the post of City Chamberlain on their appointment as Town Clerk. This close arrangement continued until 1876, when the Department was split and the Police Treasurer (who was a paid official) was appointed City Chamberlain. The accountant within the Department, who, it appears, was employed and paid by the legally qualified City Chamberlains to enable them to fulfil the obligations of office, was paid by the Town Council from 1875 and in 1876 raised to the post of Assistant City Chamberlain. Since that time the Council’s legal and financial departments and their employees have been distinct.
Corporate NameAberdeen City Chamberlain
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