Person NameUnited and Incorporated Trades of St Mary's Chapel, Edinburgh
ActivityThe 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 controlled standards of craftsmanship amongst its members. An entry fee had to be paid to gain admission. 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 usually 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 by the Abolition of Exclusive Privilege of Trading in Burghs in Scotland Act (9 & 10 Vict., c.17). Thereafter the functions of the Incorporation were purely charitable. The Incorporation of Wrights and Masons of St Mary's Chapel, Edinburgh, was established by Seal of Cause on 15 October 1475. Several more occupations were subsequently added to the Incorporation, including coopers, bowyers, glaziers, plumbers and upholsterers. The Seal of Cause provided for support of the altar in the chapel of St John the Evangelist in the Church of St Giles, Edinburgh and for the regulation of the crafts. By 1588 it was the principal lodge in Scotland. The last meeting was held at St Mary's Chapel on 8 May 1787 and was attended by all the lodges in Edinburgh. The Incorporation continued to meet in the meeting places used by other lodges and in 1893 purchased premises at 19 Hill Street, Edinburgh. In 1911 neighbouring premises at 17 Hill Street were bought and the two properties combined. After 1846 the Incorporation evolved into a benevolent society for its members.
Corporate NameUnited and Incorporated Trades of St Mary's Chapel, Edinburgh
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