The Convenery of the Trades of Edinburgh consists of the deacons of all the incorporated trades, who meet together regularly for the mutual benefit of incorporations. Any Deacon unable to attend is expected to send a proxy to stand in for him or her.
The Convenery was formed just after the Reformation in about 1562 with the aim of combining the strength of the trades in the Town Council and in the city in general, to combat the power of the merchants of the burgh.
In the broadest sense of the term the Convenery may be looked upon as embracing all the freemen and freewomen of all the incorporations, their deacons merely forming a committee of management. Any member of an incorporation has the right to appear before the deacons to have a petition heard or a grievance settled.
In the 21st century the Convenery continues to look after the interests of the incorporations and their freemen and members. It co-ordinates many of their activities, such as the Kirking of the Deacons (usually the first week in May) and the Riding of the Marches (early September). It also administers the Trades Maiden Fund, which was founded by the Trades of Edinburgh and Mary Erskine in 1704 to promote girls’ education.
Deacons ceased to form part of the Town Council in 1833 and further privileges were lost in 1846. Since then, the Convenery has continued to play an important role in controlling the crafts and helping them when required.
At the present time the Convenery helps to co-ordinate the activities of the incorporations, including the Kirking of the Deacons (usually the first week in May) and the Riding of the Marches (early September), when the banners of all the incorporated trades are carried in procession. It also administers the Trades Maiden Fund, which was founded by the Trades of Edinburgh and Mary Erskine in 1704 to promote girls’ education.
The Convenery is headed by the Deacon-Convener of the Trades of Edinburgh, who has the distinction of being the first tradesman in Scotland. He also takes precedence among the citizens of Edinburgh in third place, after the Lord Provost and the Lord Dean of Guild.