Did your ancestors become masters of their trade? Reveal details of their lives through almost 650 years of records of the occupations in Scotland.
Each record includes a transcript of the original record. While the amount of detail will vary from transcript to transcript most will include a combination the following details:
Occupation and trades
Details of close relations
Notable life events
For help deciphering the abbreviations in the additional information, please see the below key terms:
Guild Burgess g
Trade Burgess t
Honorary Burgess G
By right of father's burgess-ship J
Medieval and early Scottish burghs were controlled by a minority of residents known as burgesses.
The burgesses were merchants and craftsmen of the burgh, they had the right to elect the Town Council, and the merchants were more influential. The other residents of the burgh were ‘unfree’ and had no vote of special privileges from living in a town. Affluent householders such as chamberlains and lawyers were often ‘unfreemen’, although many were awarded the status of burgess ‘gratis’, this conferred citizenship but little else. Widows who were respectable, may also be awarded this citizenship.
Becoming a burgess was viewed as the key to social position, it was evidence of economic success within the community.
There were several ways in which a person could become a burgess. They could pay a fee and prove that their name was listed in the town’s apprenticeship books. If a son’s father was a burgess, they could pay a smaller fee and serve a shorter apprenticeship than the sons of a non-burgess. A son in law of a Burgess were able to avail themselves of the same privilege.
If a person has served their apprenticeship outside the town, they generally had to pay a substantial amount for the title, the Towns Council carefully vetted those individuals with regard to their moral and financial credentials.
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