History of the Haille trades

The Trades General Officer, Ian McIntyre along with the Deacon Convenor, Ian Swan, both in full regalia
The Trades General Officer, Ian McIntyre along with the Deacon Convenor, Ian Swan, both in full regalia

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

The Trades General Officer, Ian McIntyre along with the Deacon Convenor, Ian Swan, both in full regalia, told 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”.

Further information about the Incorporated Trades can be found on the website at www.kirkcudbrighthistorysociety.org.uk .

The next meeting of the history society is the AGM, along with a talk by Vivien Dania on “The History of a House” in the Church Hall on March 8th.

The society heard that 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.

In 1587, the Siller Gun, now the oldest sporting trophy in the United Kindom, which is still used for its intended purpose, was presented by King James 1 and VI of Scotland. “To be shot for occasionally, in order to accustom the Lieges in the use of firearms”. This trophy, on display in the Stewarty Museum, Kirkcudbright, continues to be shot for today by the Trades on Royal occasions, the results of which are still communicated to the Monarch, who always replies.

The Silver Arrow, a model of an arrow, which was presented by William Johnston in 1838, is used as a prize for the apprentices at the same time as the gun competition. Nowadays it is more often used as the runner’s up prize. It was made from 3 half crowns by William Law a local clockmaker.

The trades invested in a ship by buying a share in the Britannia in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars. They sold their interest in 1814 and, when the ship was later disarmed, the canon were stored for some years in the Tolbooth. They were later mounted on plinths on the Moat Brae. Another was later discovered buried in the High Street and is now mounted in an area there.

The power of the Trades existed until 1846, when by Act of Parliament, the powers and privileges were abolished but not the ceremonial role.

They have been involved in the building of several buildings in the town, including the Parish Church where their gallery still exists and is used by them on ceremonial occasions.

The Clothiers, Hammermen and Glovers, Shoemakers. Squaremen, Tailors and Weavers still meet today to elect their Office bearers, discuss local issues, elect their Deacon and their Deacon Convener. They have contacts with Trade Associations in other parts of Scotland and in York. In 2016 they agreed to admit women to their association.

They contribute to many events in the town, Maggie’s Tours, the Riding of the Marches and the Vehicle Parade.