The Haill Six Incorporated Trades hold their Annual General Meeting in the ancient Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright on Friday 6th October.
The Incorporated Trades have existed unbroken since they were instituted by Charter granted under King Charles II on 20th July 1633. The history before Incorporation however dates from 1425 when it was enacted that every craft in the Burgh choose a “Wise man” (Deacon) to “Govern and Assay all its handiwork”. They were in essence, an early form of Trade Union and were set up in direct opposition to Mercant Guilds who through their position, amassed great wealth and held disproportionate influence in the community. The Trades soon found themselves falling foul of the Government of the day who termed the meetings and powers of the Deacons seditious. There was much resentment and rebellion amongst the Trades who in defiance, continued to meet. In 1456, by Royal Proclamation it was enacted that every Trade be allowed to elect its own Deacon. The powers of the Trades were greatly reduced in 1846 by Act of Parliament and its powers and priveleges were abolished. The Trades have played an important part in the history and development of the town of Kirkcudbright.
Today, their role in the town is a ceremonial but never the less important one. The Kirkin’ of the Deacon Convener takes place annually as does the Kirkin’ of the Cornet and his Lass. They play an important role in the street theatre re-enactment of Kirkcudbright’s 17th Century in “Maggies Tours”, performed every Friday in August. The Deacons meet monthly at the Deacons Court to discuss business. The organization was male only for most of its 600 years until Provost Lesley Garbutt became the first female member and Deacon in 2015. The Trades now have a number of female members and for the first time in its history the position of Box Master (Treasurer) is held by Lynda Meechan.
There are still extant, seven Incorporated Trades in Scotland. Kirkcudbright is the smallest but holds great reputation across Scotland and England. Friendships have been formed with Trades and Guilds across the country. There is a danger that these ancient, historic and honourable organisations will cease to exist.
Like many other clubs, societies and groups, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract younger people to take on roles as Deacons and Office Bearers. Deacon Convener Ian D. Swan said “It is unconceivable but realistic that this generation could be the last to uphold the ancient rituals of an important and influential part of the history of the town.
We need younger people to reach out to us to ensure succession planning for the future and to secure the continuation of our wonderful Incorporated Trades of Kirkcudbright. Further information is available on our Facebook page or by contacting Ian McIntyre, General Clerk by email [email protected] or by calling on 07761285910.”