The Haill Six Incorporated Trades of Kirkcudbright

The Haill Six Incorporated Trades of Kirkcudbright were established in the town in 1425. In this year it was enacted that ‘every craft in the town should choose a wise man’, a Deacon to ‘govern and assay’ all its handiwork. The Trades were set up in direct opposition to the Merchant Guilds which held disproportionate influence in the community and who had amassed enormous wealth.

Membership of the Trades was much sought after as it allowed in many cases, the right to be a sole trader in the town. The Government of the 15th century quickly realised that the powers enacted on the Trades conferred too much influence on the Deacons. Their duties were soon restricted to a fortnightly enquiry into the skill of its members and quality of work produced. The position of Deacon was summarily abolished. The Trades men refused to accept this and continued to elect Deacons, an act which was seditious.

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The Kirkcudbright History Society had a fascinating insight into the history of the Haille Incorporated Trades of Kirkcudbright at their February meeting.

Chairman Mike Duguid flanked by Ian Swan and Ian McIntyre
Chairman Mike Duguid flanked by Ian Swan and Ian McIntyre

The Trades General Officer, Ian McIntyre along with the Deacon Convenor, Ian Swan, both in full regalia, told us the history, ethos and power of the trades since 1425, when it was enacted that every Craft in the Burgh should choose a “Wise Man” Deacon to “Govern and Assay all its handiwork”.

Over a period of years there were several power struggles resulting in a Royal Proclamation in 1456 when every Trade was allowed to elect its own Deacon. The Trades were then a very powerful body.

In 1633 they were incorporated by Charter granted by the King.

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