Trades of Edinburgh – Incorporation of Skinners
The Incorporation of Skinners of Edinburgh certainly existed by 12th January 1450/1, when seventeen skinners petitioned to be allowed to have their own chaplain for their altar, dedicated to their patron saint, St. Christopher, which had recently been established in St. Giles’ Church. On 2nd December 1474 the earliest-known seal of cause was granted to the Incorporation by the town council. One clause stipulates that the brethren were not to make or sell sub-standard goods. Further grants and confirmations of privileges were made in 1586 and 1630.
The craft of the Skinners consisted in the curing and preparation of skins, the pulling of wool, the tanning of leather and the making of gloves, thongs and other small leather items; they also supplied parchment and velum. The actual skinning of animals was part of the job of the Fleshers.
The present coat of arms of the Skinners shows three goats, because goat-skin was preferred for making the highest quality of gloves. Other versions show deer instead of goats.
From funds originally donated by the Master Skinners in the Nineteeth Century, the Incorporation , which is now a Charity, gives out grants to the retired pensioners of the Edinburgh Skinners Trade and their Widows and to the Master Skinners each Christmas.