Ratification of the decreet arbitral between the merchants and craftsmen of Edinburgh

Our sovereign lord, by advice of his highness's three estates of parliament, ratifies, approves and confirms the decreet arbitral given and pronounced by his majesty between the merchants and craftsmen of the burgh of Edinburgh for perpetual union of the said burgh, after the form and tenor of the said decreet in all points, of the which the tenor follows:

At Edinburgh on 19 June 1583, in presence of the lords of council, compeared personally Masters John Sharp, John Preston, Thomas Craig and John Skene, procurators specially constituted for the provost, bailies, deacons, council and community of the burgh of Edinburgh, by the act of council underwritten, made in presence of the said provost, bailies, deacons, council and community contained therein of the date above-written, and gave in the said act of council, with the decreet arbitral after-mentioned, given and pronounced by his majesty and judges after-following, subscribed by them and parties after-rehearsed, and desired the same to be inserted and registered in the books of council, to have the strength, force and effect of their act and decreet in time to come, and letters and executorials to be directed upon the parties specified therein, in manner contained therein; the which desire the said lords thought reasonable, and therefore have ordained and ordain the said act and decreet arbitral to be inserted and registered in the said books, to have the strength, force and effect of their act and decreet in time to come, and have interposed and interpose their decreet and authority thereto; and decree and ordain letters and executorials to be directed upon the whole parties specified in the said decreet arbitral, for fulfilling thereof in all points in manner specified therein, of the which the tenor follows: The which day, Master Michael Chisholm, Andrew Slater, John Adamson, bailies, Master John Preston, dean of guild, Mungo Russell, treasurer, John Johnston, John Harwood, John Robertson, William Mauld, William Nisbet, Alexander Napier, John Morrison, Robert Ken, Henry Charteris, merchants, James Ferguson, bower, John Bairnsfather, tailor, and the deacons following: Gilbert Primrose, surgeon, John Watt, smith, Edward Galbraith, skinner, Edward Hart, goldsmith, William Pringle, tailor, Thomas Dickson, furrier, and likewise James Urr, butcher, William Weir, shoe-maker, Adam Newton, baker, William Coutts, weaver, Andrew Williamson, wright, William Somer, bonnet-maker, remaining deacons of the crafts, for themselves and the whole body and community of the town, as well merchants as craftsmen, make and constitute Masters John Sharp, Thomas Craig, John Preston, assessors, and Master John Skene, procurator fiscal, or any two of them, their procurators, to compear before the lords of session and council whatsoever day or days convenient, and there, in name and on behalf of the provost, bailies and council of the merchants, and of the said deacons for the crafts on the other part, to consent to the registering of the decreet arbitral given by the king's majesty and arbiters specified therein between the merchants and craftsmen in the books of council, interposing of their authority thereto, with execution to follow thereupon in manner specified in the said decreet, and generally promising ratification. Extracted out of the council book of the burgh of Edinburgh, by me, Alexander Guthrie, common clerk of the same, witnessing thereto my sign and subscription manual. It is thus subscribed, Alexander Guthrie.

Here follows the tenor of the said decreet arbitral:

At Holyroodhouse on 22 April 1583, we, Robert Fairlie of Braid, Sir Archibald Napier of Edinbellie, knight, and James Johnston of Elphinstone, judges arbitrators, chosen for the part of Master Michael Chisholm, Andrew Slater, John Adamson, and William Fairlie, bailies of Edinburgh, Master John Preston, dean of guild, Mungo Russell, treasurer, John Johnston, Robert Kerr, younger, Henry Charteris, John Morrison, William Maule, John Harwood, John Robertson, William Inglis, Alexander Napier, William Nisbet, merchants, being on the council of the said burgh, for themselves and in name and on behalf and as commissioners for the whole merchants indwelling in the said burgh on the one part, and John Cockburn of Ormiston, Master Robert Pont, provost of the Trinity College, and Master David Lindsay, minister at Leith, judges arbitrators, chosen for the part of James Ferguson, bower, John Bairnsfather, tailor, two of the craftsmen being on the council of the said burgh, Gilbert Primrose, deacon of the surgeons, John Watt, deacon of the hammermen, William Pringle, deacon of the tailors, Edward Galbraith, deacon of the skinners, Edward Hart, deacon of the goldsmiths, Adam Newton, deacon of the bakers, Thomas Dickson, deacon of the furriers, Andrew Williamson, deacon of the wrights, William Bickerton, deacon of the masons, James Urr, deacon of the butchers, William Weir, deacon of the shoe-makers, Thomas Wright, deacon of the weavers, William Coutts, deacon of the fullers, and William Somer, deacon of the bonnet-makers, themselves and in name and on behalf and as commissioners for the whole craftsmen, indwellers of the said burgh, on that other part, and the right, potent and illustrious prince, James, by the grace of God, king of Scots, our sovereign lord, arbitrator and oversman [communally] chosen by advice and consent of both the said parties, concerning the removing of all questions, differences and controversies which are or have been between the said merchants and craftsmen concerning whatsoever cause or occasion whereupon debate or question did arise in any time between them; and thereupon, both the said parties being bound, obliged and sworn to stand, abide and underlie and fulfil the decreet arbitral and deliverance of us, the said judges and oversmen, without appellation, reclamation or contradiction, as at more length is contained in a submission made thereupon, both the said parties' claims and griefs given in by them, with the answers made thereto and their rights, reasons and allegations, being heard, seen and considered by us, and we, therewith being ripely advised after many and sundry conventions and meetings, with long travails taken hereupon, have all in one voice accorded and agreed upon the heads and articles following: first, to take away all differences which have been heretofore concerning the persons who had the government of the town, their number, power or authority and manner of election, it is finally concorded, decreed and concluded thereupon as follows: the magistrates and office men, such as provost, bailies, dean of guild and treasurer, to be in all time coming of the estate and calling of merchants, according to the acts of parliament; and if any craftsmen exercising merchandise shall for his good qualities be promoted thereto, in that case he shall leave his craft and not occupy the same by himself nor his servants during the time of his office, and shall not return thereto at any time thereafter until he obtain special licence of the provost, bailies and council to that effect. The council to consist of ten merchants, to wit, the old provost, four old bailies, dean of guild and treasurer of the next year preceding and the other merchants to be chosen yearly to them, and also to consist of eight craftsmen thereof, six deacons and two other craftsmen, making in the whole the said council eighteen persons; and this by the office men of that year, to wit, the provost, bailies, dean of guild and treasurer. And as to the manner of the election, it is first generally accorded and concluded that no manner of persons be chosen provost, bailies, dean of guild or treasurer, suppose they be burgesses of the burgh and able thereof, unless they have been a year or two upon the council of before; and concerning the council, the old manner of giving in of tickets by the deacons out of the which the two craftsmen were yearly chosen to be abrogated, discharged, cease and expire in all time coming, so that the said two craftsmen shall be chosen yearly without any giving in of tickets indifferently of the best and worthiest of the crafts by the said provost, bailies and council only; and none to be of the council above two years together, unless they be office men or by virtue of their offices be on the council. Likewise concerning the leets of the bailies, they shall not be divided nor cast in four ranks, three to every rank, as they were accustomed to be, but to be chosen indifferently, one out of twelve leets, another out of eleven leets, the third out of ten, and the fourth out of nine leets. Concerning the deacons, that none be elected deacon unless he that has been a master of his craft two years at the least, and that none of them be continued in their office of deaconship above two years together. Last, in general, that none have vote in leeting, voting or electing of the provost, bailies, council and deacons, dean of guild or treasurer, but the persons hereafter following only in manner after-specified; and to proceed in the said election, it is found good to begin at the choosing of the deacons of crafts, which are fourteen in number, to wit, surgeons, goldsmiths, skinners, furriers, hammermen, wrights, masons, tailors, bakers, butchers, shoe-makers, weavers, fullers, bonnet-makers, so the deacons now present shall stand and continue until the third council day before the old time of the election of the new council, which was on the Wednesday next preceding the feast of Michaelmas [29 September], upon the which third council day the provost, bailies and council now standing extending to nineteen persons, and from that time forth yearly and each year, the provost, bailies and council constituted of the said twenty-five persons, shall call in before them the said deacons of crafts, every one severally, and require their opinion and judgement of the best and worthiest of their crafts; thereafter the said provost, bailies and council shall nominate and leet three persons of the most discreet, godly and qualified persons of every one of the said fourteen crafts, most expert hand labourers of their own craft, burgesses and free men of the burgh, whereof the old deacon shall be one, and cause deliver their names to the deacon every one according to their craft; which deacons on the morning thereafter shall assemble and convene their crafts, and every craft by themselves out of these names shall elect a person who shall be their deacon for that year, and upon the next council day after the said election the old deacons, with some of the masters of their crafts, shall present the new deacon to the council, who shall authorise them in their office. Next, to proceed to the election of the new council the said day of presenting of new deacons, the provost, bailies and council, now standing of nineteen persons, and from this time forth the same day yearly, provost, bailies and council of twenty five persons, shall choose out of the said fourteen deacons, six persons, to be joined with the new council for the year to come, and to have special vote in leeting and choosing of the provost, bailies and council; and the same day the old six deacons which were upon the council the year preceding to be removed and have no further vote for that year, unless some of them be of the number of the new elected deacons. Thereafter, upon the Wednesday next preceding Michaelmas each year, the provost, bailies, dean of guild, treasurer and ten merchants of the council and the said six deacons and two craftsmen, and in the whole twenty-five persons, and twenty-six votes by reason of the provost's two votes ordinarily standing at all times, shall convene and choose the new council to the number of eighteen persons, to wit, the old provost, bailies, dean of guild and treasurer of that year; and the said six deacons to make thirteen persons thereof and to them to be chosen the merchants and two craftsmen, and these persons to be called the new council; and if any person of the merchants chosen upon the new council happens to be put on the leet of another office and promoted thereto, another shall be chosen in his place by the said provost, bailies and council. Thirdly, to proceed of the choosing of the leets to the magistrates and office men, such as provost, bailies, dean of guild and treasurer upon the Friday next thereafter, there shall convene the said new council of eighteen persons and the old council constituted of twelve persons, namely, ten merchants and two craftsmen, the said new and old council making twenty merchants and ten craftsmen, and in the whole thirty persons, by the provost's odd vote, which persons solemnly protesting before God that they shall choose the persons whom they find most suitable, without favour, hatred or any kind of collusion, then shall begin and choose the leets to the said magistrates and office men, to every one of them three leets: that is to say, to the provost, two leets with himself; to the four bailies, every one of them three leets, the old bailies not being one, unless they be newly chosen thereto; to the dean of guild, two leets with himself; and to the treasurer, two leets with himself; which whole leets shall be of the order and calling of merchants, as said is. Fourthly, to proceed to the electing and choosing of the said magistrates and office men upon the Tuesday next after Michaelmas yearly, there shall convene the said thirty persons of the new and old council, and with them, the rest of the deacons of crafts which are not of the council, extending to eight persons, the whole persons so convening extending to thirty-eight persons by the said odd vote, thereof twenty merchants and eighteen trades, which persons shall begin at the leets of the provost and every one in their own rank give their votes to such as they find most suitable for the good of the town, according to their conscience and knowledge, without feud or favour; and on whom the greatest number of votes shall fall, that he be sworn, received and admitted provost for that year. And so to proceed through the leets of the bailies, dean of guild and treasurer until the said election be completely ended, the said provost, bailies, dean of guild, treasurer and council elected, as said is, making in the whole twenty-five persons, they only and no others shall have the full government and administration of the whole common good of this burgh in all things as the provost, bailies and council thereof or of any other burgh had of before or may have hereafter by the laws or custom of this realm, infeftments and privileges granted to this town by our sovereign lord's most noble progenitors, excepting always these causes following, in the which, the whole fourteen deacons of crafts shall be called and adjoined with them to give their special vote and consultation thereto, to wit, in the election of the provost, bailies, dean of guild and treasurer as said is, in setting of feus or any manner of tacks above the yearly rouping upon Martinmas, even in giving of benefices and other offices within burgh, in granting of extents, contributions, imprints and likewise, building of common works and in conveying of the common good above the sum of £20 together, providing nevertheless that the deacons not of the council, nor any of them being personally warned to that effect, and absenting themselves so often, the last deacon or any other that was in leet with him that year shall supply their place; and they being personally warned and absent, the rest compearing shall have power to proceed; if any of the provost, bailies and council be absent, the rest who are present shall choose another in their place. And to avoid all suspicion that has risen in time past through the particular assemblies, conventions and convocations contrary to the acts of parliament and to the trouble of the quiet state of this burgh, it is agreed and concluded that neither the merchants amongst themselves, neither the crafts and their deacons or visitors, shall have or make any particular or general conventions as deacons with deacons, deacons with their crafts, or crafts amongst themselves, far less to make private laws or statutes, poind and distrenzie at their own hands for transgressions, by the advice and consent of the provost, bailies and council, excepting always that the dean of guild may assemble his brethren and council in their guild courts, according to the ancient laws of the guildry and privileges thereof; and that any one craft may convene together amongst themselves for choosing of their deacon at the time appointed thereto and in manner before expressed, making of masters and trying of their handy work only. And if any brother or deacon of crafts shall find out or devise any good heads that may tend to the good of their crafts, they shall propose the same to the magistrates, who shall set forward an act or statute thereupon and interpose their authority thereto as it being found reasonable. Item, as touching the commissioners in parliament, general councils and commissioners in convention of burghs, it is thought good by the commoners that in all time coming that one of the said commissioners for the burgh of Edinburgh shall be chosen by the said provost and bailies out of the number and calling of craftsmen, and that person to be a burgess and guild brother of the burgh of the best expert ways and honest reputation. Item, it is agreed that the auditors of all the town's accounts shall hereafter be chosen of equal number of merchants and craftsmen by the provost, bailies and council. Item, toward the long controversies for the guildry, it is finally, with common consent, appointed, agreed, and concluded that as well craftsmen as merchants shall be received and admitted guild brother, and the one not to be refused nor secluded therefrom more than the other, they being burgesses of the burgh as suitable and qualified thereof; and that guild brethren to have liberty to use merchandise, their admission and trial of their qualification to be in the power and hands of the provost, bailies, treasurer and council, with the dean of guild and his council, which shall consist in equal number of merchants and craftsmen, guild brethren not exceeding the number of six persons by the dean of guild himself; and that no person, of whatsoever faculty he be, shall possess the benefit of a guild brother unless he be received and admitted thereto as said is. Item, that no manner of person be suffered to use merchandise or occupy the handiwork of a free craft within this burgh or yet to exercise the liberty and privilege of the said burgh unless he be burgess and freeman of the same. Item, because the merchants and craftsmen of this burgh are now to be incorporated in a society and to make a whole town and common good, it is thought expedient and concluded to be abrogated the former custom of dividing and setting of taxes wherein the merchants paid the fourth part and the craftsmen the fifth part; and therefore it is agreed that as they watch and ward together, so in all extents, imprints, contributions and the like subsidies to be imposed upon the burgh, merchants and craftsmen to bear the burden and charge thereof indifferently overhead according to their ability and substance, through the whole quarters of the town, without division of the rolls in merchants and craftsmen in any time coming, the extentors shall be of equal number of merchants and craftsmen, eight persons of the one calling and eight persons of the other, to be elected, sworn and received by the provost, bailies and council out of the most discreet and skilful of all the town, void of all partial affection and hatred; and that no manner of person using the trade of merchant or craftsmen and occupying the freedom of the burgh and able to [pay] any extent, not bearing the office of provost or bailies in the meantime, shall be in any way exempt from the real and actual payment thereof. Item, as the whole body of the town consisting of merchants and craftsmen does bear a common burden of watching, warding, taxing and of the like portable charges having a common good proper to none, so equal it is for making of an [equal] unity and charitable concord that there be in the whole town some collection and a purse not peculiar to any one, but common to all, of the whole duties and casualties called the entry silver of apprentices, upsets, weekly pennies, penalties and likewise to be collected in all time coming and received both of the merchants and craftsmen and put in a common purse; and to this effect, the merchants to take and have apprentices as well as craftsmen and to be restricted and obliged thereto, and no apprentice always to be received of either of them for shorter time than the space of five years complete; and for the better knowledge to be had hereof, and for observing of good order in collection of the same, that there be a common book made and kept by the common clerk of this burgh, present and to come, wherein the names of all apprentices to merchants and craftsmen, the name of their master, day of their entry and space of their apprenticeship, shall be inserted and booked, for the which the clerk shall have off every person at their booking 6d, and for the extract thereof 12d, which book shall be to the apprentice a sufficient probation of his entry and a charge to the collectors of the duty; if any man be an apprentice hereafter and not put in the said book, his apprenticeship shall be to him of no effect. Also by reason every industry is not of like valour and substance, it is declared that each rank or degree of apprentices shall pay, to wit, the merchant apprentices and such kind of people as were accustomed to stent with them and are not under [one of] the said fourteen crafts to pay at his entry the day of his booking to the said collection 30s and at his upset or end of his apprenticeship £5; the apprentices to a skinner, surgeon, goldsmith, butcher, shoe-maker, tailor, baker and hammerman at their entry and booking to the said collection 20s and for their upset £5; the apprentice to a mason and wright at his entry 13s 4d and at his upset £3 6s 8d; the apprentice to a weaver, fuller, bonnet-maker and furrier at his entry 10s and for his upset 50s; and these duties to be [taken] by their weekly pennies and duties of their burgess-ships. And to cause all persons to be more willing to enter themselves in apprenticeship with the burgesses and free men of this burgh, this privilege is granted to the said apprentices that they shall pay no more for their burgess-ship to the dean of guild [but]£5 by the duties aforesaid; and in augmentation of the said collection, when any persons shall happen to be made burgesses of this burgh who was no apprentice to a merchant or craftsman, free burgess of the said burgh, or has not completed his apprenticeship, shall pay to the said collection at his admission the double of the whole apprentices or entry silver, upset and booking by the duty paid to the dean of guild for his burgess-ship or guildry, which is £20 for his burgess-ship and £40 for his guildry, the privilege always of the bairns of burgesses and guild brethren not being prejudiced hereby, who shall pay the old and accustomed duty to the dean of guild only, their duties and collections or casualties of entry silver, upsets, weekly pennies, penalties and likewise, to be received in all time coming of all merchants and craftsmen, indifferently put in the common purse and employed by advice and command of the provost, bailies and council for support and relief of the failed and decayed burgesses, merchants and craftsmen, their wives, bairns and old servants and other poor indwellers of the town; the provost, bailies, council and whole deacons every year after election of the magistrates shall choose the collectors of the said duties and casualties of equal number of merchants and craftsmen and to devise and set down such good order as they shall think suitable and expedient for the perfect and ready bringing in thereof; and lastly the said collectors shall make yearly accounts of their intromission therewith at the time of the making of the town's accounts, and find caution at their admission for account reckoning and payment. Item, it is ordained that both the said parties, merchants and craftsmen present and their successors, shall inviolably observe and keep this present appointment and decreet arbitral and every head, clause and article contained therein, likewise his majesty and the said judges will and ordain them with willing hearts to put in oblivion all past enormities, embrace and entertain love and amity and, as they are of one city, so to be of one mind, then shall they be accepted of God, stop the mouths of them who take occasion by their division to slander the truth, then shall they be more able to do our sovereign acceptable service and have a standing and flourishing commonwealth, and finally his majesty and the said judges will esteem their long travail fruitfully bestowed. Moreover, his majesty and the said judges ordain [the] practise and execution of this present appointment and decreet to be and begin after the day and date hereof, and to continue and be observed and kept as a perpetual [law] in time coming; and whosoever contravenes the same shall be reputed and held a troubler of [the] quiet state of the commonwealth, incur the note of infamy and forfeit and lose their freedom for ever, and otherwise to be pursued and punished as seditious persons, according to the laws of this realm, with rigour and extremity. And ordain this act to be ratified and approved in his highness's next parliament, and in the meantime the same to be acted and registered in the books of council and session and have the strength of acts and decreets of the lords thereof, and that their authority be interposed thereto and letters and executorials to pass thereon in the appropriate form; and for acting and registering the same make and constitute Masters John Sharp, John Preston, John Craig, John Skene, [our] procurators jointly and separately, promising ratification in fuller form. In witness whereof, the said judges and oversmen, together with the said commissioners, in token of their consents and acceptance of the premises, have subscribed this act with their hands as follows, day year and place aforesaid. It is thus subscribed, James Rex. Robert Fairlie of Braid, Archibald Napier of Edinbellie, knight, James Johnston of Elphinstone, John Cockburn, Robert Pont, David Lindsay, Alexander Clerk [of Balbirnie], provost, Master Michael Chisholm, bailie, Andrew Slater, bailie, John Adamson, bailie, Master John Preston, dean of guild, Mungo Russell, treasurer, Robert Kerr, younger, Henry Charteris, John Morrison, John Harwood, John Robertson, William Nisbet, Alexander Napier, James Ferguson, William Maule, John Johnston, Edward Galbraith, Gilbert Primrose, John Watt, James Urr, with my hand, William Pringle, Edward Hart, John Bairnsfather, tailor, Thomas Dickson, Andrew Williamson, Thomas Wright, William Bickerton, William Somer, Allan Newton, William Weir, William Coutts, with our hands, at the pain led by the notaries underwritten because we cannot write ourselves. Thus is Mr Alexander Guthrie, notary public and witness in the forgoing, by mandate of the said persons who do not know how to write, as they assert, and witness this my sign and subscription manual, done on 14 and 25 May 1583. Thus is Mr David Guthrie, the writer in the foregoing, by mandate of the said persons who do not know how to write, as they assert, witness [my] own hand.

  1. NAS, PA2/13, ff.21v-23v. Back
  2. APS interpolation. Back
  3. The section 'to bear the burden and charge thereof indifferently overhead according to their ability and substance, through the whole quarters of the town, without division of the rolls in merchants and craftsmen' added in APS. Back
  4. APS interpolation. Back
  5. APS has 'needful'. Back
  6. APS interpolation. Back
  7. APS has 'but one'. Back
  8. The action of setting up in trade or business. Back
  9. APS has 'what'. Back
  10. APS interpolation. Back
  11. APS interpolation. Back
  12. APS interpolation. Back
  13. APS interpolation. Back
  14. APS has 'Thomas' in place of 'John'. Back
  15. APS interpolation. Back
  16. APS reads 'by the notaries underwritten at our command'. Back