Trades of Edinburgh – Incorporation of Waulkers
This Incorporation no longer exists, it having been wound up in 1895 when the last surviving freeman member died. In practice the natural home for persons who might otherwise have belonged to this craft is now the Incorporation of Bonnetmakers and Dyers.
When the Incorporation received their earliest-known seal of cause from the town council on 20th August 1500, they clearly had achieved some sort of corporate existence, since they already possessed an altar in St. Giles’ Church and their petition was presented by their deacon and eight other masters and craftsmen (two of whom were widowed women). Furthermore, the petition was presented “for thame self and in the name and behalf of the haill brethir of the said craft”, which implies that there were other craftsmen and craftswomen in the burgh besides those named in the petition.
The principal occupations of the craft were the fulling and shearing of cloth, the preparing of felt and the manufacture of felt hats. (The earlier making of fur hats was the prerogative of the Incorporation of Furriers.) The shearing did not imply cutting the cloth into lengths but refers to the trimming and evening of the nap; it is a very skillful and difficult craft. In the 19th century a number of silk-dyers were members of this Incorporation even though most dyers were members of the Bonnetmakers & Dyers.