In medieval times, protection of the skills and knowledge of trademen was assured by membership of Guilds. In Scotland the Guilds also provided for the education and support of the children and widows of their members. Today, some of these Guilds still exist, and the Hammermen of Edinburgh still meet, giving support to students through their charitable status and assisting in other charitable works.
Membership is at the discretion of The Craft. Anyone with the good of Edinburgh and her citizens at heart and who is interested in maintaining the traditions and history of the Incorporation may apply.
You can read more about the history of the craft here.
The craft meets regularly throughout the year and we have invited guests and members who give talks. We also make visits to sites relevant to the Craft.
In normal times, the Craft meets annually for it's AGM and the Award Dinner, when invited speakers and the Awardees for the past year give informative
and (hopefully) amusing recollections.
The members of the Craft are normally accompanied by the Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh and the Deacons of other Hammermen from around Scotland.
A number of students from Edinburgh College of Art (now part of Edinburgh University) and from Heriot-Watt University receive awards from the Craft each year. These awards allow student to develop skills and experience, preparing them for their future careers.
The craft assists projects which use and develop the skills of allied trades through grants towards the restoration and development of Edinburgh landmarks.
Our support has assisted projects in the Royal Mile and other city centre sites and in futher parts of the city and the Lothians.
The history of the Incorporation of Hammermen is difficult to determine accurately. The Incorporation appears to have been regularly meeting on or before 1477, the year in which one of its freemen masters, John Dalrymple, endowed its altar of St. Eloi in St. Giles’ Church, placing it on the north side of the north-west pillar of the Crossing. As far as we can now tell, the Hammermen did not receive a seal of cause until 2nd May 1483 (Beltane) but meantime we know the name of one of its Deacons, Robert Galbraith, deacon of Hammermen, is mentioned in a writ dated 14th February 1480/1. He was probably elected at Beltane 1480, exactly three years before the earliest known seal of cause.
More information is available here.
At the present day the Incorporation of Hammermen is one of the largest and most thriving and active incorporations in Edinburgh. It awards an annual prize for engineering and is also active in the support of the young and in other charitable works. Text from the Incorporated Trades website (June 2015).
The earliest manuscript volume possessed by the Hammermen is a book containing the Kirkmaster’s Accounts covering the years 1494 to 1585. It is the oldest volume of any incorporated trade in Scotland, as far as the Convenery of Trades is aware. It is of the first importance for the study of pre-Reformation Edinburgh.
The Incorporation embraced all those who worked on metal with a hammer. They included blacksmiths, farriers, saddlers, lorimers, armourers, cutlers, sword-slippers, girdle-makers, locksmiths, tinsmiths, whiteiron-men, brass-founders, coppersmiths and pewterers. Altogether there were about 20 different disciplines. Later, clock and watchmakers were added to the Incorporation. The goldsmiths and silversmiths were originally members until about 1490-92, when they formed their own separate incorporation.
Until 1858 the Hammermen owned the Magdalen Chapel in the Cowgate, which was also their Convening Hall. By their agreement, the Convenery of Trades also met in the Magdalen Chapel from 1596 until 1858 (pictured here). The sumptuously restored Deacon’s Chair (1708), which is still in the Magdalen Chapel to this day, bears witness to the Incorporation’s importance and standing in the burgh in the early 18th century.
The order of precedence among the incorporations is determined not by their relative antiquity but by the Act of Sett of the Burgh of Edinburgh, which was agreed by King James VI in a decreet arbitral in 1583. Part of the reason for this is that by that time several of the trades, most of which were a century or more old, no longer possessed their original seals of cause and did not know the year in which they had been founded.
The Trades of Edinburgh website gives more information on the precedence here.
The Deacon, the Boxmaster (treasurer and secretary), the Deacon's Committee and the members of the Craft together make up the Hammermen of Edinburgh. Members are drawn from all sections of Edinburgh's cosmopolitan society. We all have the good of the city and it's citizens at our hearts.