Incorporation of Tailors

Trades of Edinburgh | Incorporation of Tailors

The Incorporation of Tailors is first mentioned in 1473 in connection with its altar in St. Giles’ Church, dedicated to its matron saint, Saint Anne. By that time they had a deacon or kirkmaster and may or may not have received their first seal of cause. They received a subsidiary seal of cause on 26th August 1500. The document lays down that an apprentice must serve seven years; it then adds all the usual clauses about behaving well towards one another and not defrauding the public. The Incorporation also received two royal charters, one from James V in 1531 and the other from James VI in 1594.

The freemen of the tailors are unusual among the incorporations in that they played no part in the preparation of their raw materials, all of which was done by others.

The Incorporation possesses a copy of a letter written in the name of James VI in 1584, requesting them to admit to their freedom the king’s personal tailor, Alexander Millar, even though he had not been apprenticed to a freeman and therefore was not eligible to be admitted. Understandably, the Incorporation felt obliged to bend their rules in order to keep in the king’s good books and so Millar was forthwith admitted. It was not long before he was quite at home in the Incorporation, being twice elected deacon in 1596 and 1597; indeed, so assimilated into the community did he become that in the latter year he was also elected by his fellow deacons to be Deacon-Convener of the Trades of Edinburgh.

The coat of arms of the Tailors of Edinburgh are the simplest of any tailors’ incorporation in Scotland, consisting only of a pair of expanded scissors proper on an azure field.


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