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Fisherrow And Musselburgh Society Of Hammermen Roll Book
- Ref No: EL13
- Repository: East Lothian Archive Service
- Date: c.1759-1862
- Description: Fisherrow and Musselburgh Society of Hammermen Roll Book
- AdminHistory: In the Middle Ages, craftsmen set up trade guilds, later incorporations, in an effort to protect themselves against interlopers, poor workmanship, and also to provide relief for needy brethren. Such institutions created a virtual trade monopoly, benefiting their members at the expense of outsiders. These continued until the early nineteenth century when friendly societies became more popular. Members of craft guilds were divided into Masters, Journeymen, and Apprentices. The master was a very accomplished craftsman who was allowed to take on apprentices, usually boys in their teens who, for an initial fee, were provided food, clothing, shelter, and an education by the master, in return for working for them for free for a fixed term of service for five, seven or nine years. After this, an apprentice became a journeyman, (paid day/journe wages) who was allowed to work for one or another master and was paid with. Once a journeyman could provide proof of his technical and artistic skills, by showing his "master piece", he might rise in the guild and become a master. He could then set up his own workshop, and hire and train apprentices. However, to become a master was difficult, as masters in any particular craft guild tended to be a select inner circle, who possessed not only technical competence, but also proof of their wealth and social position. It is difficult to overstate the importance of these guilds in trade and commerce prior to the industrial revolution. Entry into Fisherrow and Musselburgh Incorporation of Hammermen provided the benefits to be found in the majority of guilds. For a subscription fee, a member received payments when too ill to work and a funeral grant when he or a member of his family died. Like most trade guilds, it had a written set of rules and regulation to protect both the guild and members, and to prevent disputes. Whilst the primary object of benevolent societies was to benefit their members in times of need, there was a distinct attempt to limit those who were eligible to enter. Those who were old or frequently ill, for example, were unlikely to be admitted. Article 10 in the Incorporation of Hammermen of Fisherrow and Musselburgh minute book notes that no person shall be admitted a member of the society who is older than thirty years of age. Anyone who is of a "sickly or weakly constitution" was not be admitted a member. Article I notes that those entering the Society had to pay 15s sterling, unless a members' son, who had to pay 7s 6d sterling. Article II notes that, once entered, a member will pay 2s sterling quarterly. Article III continues that all monies shall be kept in a secure box that has four keys for security. The Musselburgh box has at least four keyholes each with its own latch. Each key would have been held by a different member of the society, to protect against theft. The accounts record that during 1823-1824, members did paid 2s a quarter to remain a member of the society and receive its benefits. From the early 19th century trade incorporations began to decline due in part to changes in trade's legislation and in part to the rise of friendly societies. For around fifty years, the line between the two groups blurred, with surviving incorporations either formally becoming a friendly society or admitting members from other trades. Around 1826, the society began admitting members' not practicing traditional hammermen trades, although this may have been happening prior to this date; these include gardeners, bakers, a teacher, a fisherman, and a butler.
- PreviousNumbers: EL31
- Extent: 0.007
- Level: Fonds
- Access Status: Open
- For more information contact: East Lothian Archive Service