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The Trades of Dunse

The Trade Guilds or Treads as they were known first developed around the middle of the seventeenth century. Initially there were seven such guilds 

  • The Cordiners or Shoemakers.

  • The Hammermen (which included such diverse trades as glaziers, slaters, watchmakers, jewellers,           coopers; indeed anyone who used a hammer in his trade however delicately)

  • Skinners and Glovers.

  • Tailors.

  • Weavers.

  • Butchers.

  • Baxters or Bakers.

The first five were subsequently incorporated by regulation enacted by themselves and styled Acts ratified by the Superior or Baron Baillie. This did not happen with either the butchers or the baxters who do not appear to have kept records, or if they did these have long since been lost.

Records of the other five Trades were kept in an omnibus book comprising “Acts”, Cash” “Minutes” and “List of Members”

The Acts set forth the conditions on which the trades would operate for instance it is provided in the Acts of the Hammermen;

"It is statut and ordained that non of the said tread shall take anie other tradesman''s customers work until the first workman be fullie satisfied of all bygone conditions and worke dew to him by the customers under payne of ffyve pounds money to be applyed to the common good of the tread".

The office-bears of each Tread consisted of the Deacon or Dickon, two Quartermasters, a Box Master (Treasurer) a Clerk and an officer or Officers.

Each Tread passed ‘Acts‘ for the regulation of business relevant to their members and others and include for instance the following from the Skinners;

I John Lorane Boksmaister to the Skinner and Glover tred in Dunss hereby enact and bind myself as casioner (cautioner/surety) for Eruphram Dodes, relict (widow) of Robert Dicksone, glover in Dunss, that she shall sufficiently maintain her prenytiss (apprentice) James Dodes in meat and work during the period of the indentours (indenture)…….

However regulations also covered such matters as attendance at Church and funerals, the Hammermen passing the following regulations;

4th. February 1714 None of the Tread be absent from prayer or preaching upon the Sabbath day under the paine of Ffour shilling the master and two shilling the apprentis toties quoties to be applied for the common use of the Tread. and

14th. May 1726 “It is forbidden for members at funerals of deceased members to go in at any burrill to take drinks or drams without they be near friends of the persons concerned under the paine of Six Pounds Scots to be applyed to the common use of the Tread.”

The Trades also administered some charitable purposes as witness the following extracts from the Accounts of the Hammermen;

1732 Aug 6 To James Ramsie and others of the shipcrew sore distressed - £0.0.6d.

1733 May 27 To William Taylor going to the bath with a boy - £0.0.4d.

1742 Oct 20 To three broken seamen with a pas - £0.5.0d.

The Trade however did seem to be able to afford themselves some luxuries and there are a number of such entries as:

1737 Oct 1 “For a treet to ye Bailie - £0.3.0d

1793 Oct 11 Thee micklemis dinner - £0.12.0d

In 1726 membership of each of the Treads was as follows;  (journeymen and apprentices were in addition to these numbers)

  1. Cordiners 38

  2. Hammermen 49

  3. Skinners and Glovers 33

  4. Tylers 16

  5. Weavers 28

These books have survived and can currently be accessed in the premises of  The Hub, Hawick. 

From 1735 to 1785 the affairs of the Town were effectively run by the Baron Baillie and the deacons of the above trades. A transcript of the Minute Book of the Baron Baillie covering the period 1753 to 1800 has been published by Borders Family History Society and is available to purchase or contact Lesley Gray

The banner of the tailors has survived and has recently been donated to the Society. The precise history of this particular banner is not known and any information that can be given would be much appreciated.

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