Trades of Edinburgh – Incorporation of Candlemakers
From at least as early as 1488 (the date of the Fleshers’ seal of cause), and possibly earlier, the candlemakers of Edinburgh were associated with the Incorporation of Fleshers and shared the payment of stent with them. At an unknown date, apparently after 1492 and certainly before 1517, the Incorporation of Candlemakers was granted its first seal of cause by the town council. This fact emerges from the wording of their subsequent seal of cause grant in 1517. In 1597 they received another seal of cause which was ratified (in part only) by a charter under the Great Seal.
For a short time (1598-1604) the deacon of the Candlemakers sat with the other deacons of crafts in the Convenery of Trades and took part in their deliberations. The episode of the Candlemakers forming a fifteenth incorporation within the Convenery is not referred to by historians, so the references to them in the Convenery’s Act Book are specially valuable as a record of that part of their history. The original incorporation went out of existence in 1884 and its remaining funds were dispersed. However, in 2009 a new Incorporation of Candlemakers arose, phoenix-like from the ashes, in place of the one which used to illuminate the darkness of Edinburgh’s winter nights long ago. It was welcomed back into the Convenery in 2011 after an absence from that body of 407 years.
Candlemakers’ Hall, built in 1722, still exists at the head of Candlemaker Row. It is the last remaining old Incorporation Hall to survive in Edinburgh in its more or less original state, complete with panels round the walls commemorating donations from past deacons. Although it no longer belongs to the Incorporation, the freemen members are permitted by the current owners to continue holding their meetings and social gatherings there.
Much of the general history of the Incorporation is well-known from the excellent article by W. Forbes Gray in The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club. (See: W. Forbes Gray. 1930: “The Incorporation of Candlemakers of Edinburgh, 1517-1884”. In BOEC. vol. XVII, pp.91-146.)