Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers
Websters are weavers. Webster is the old word for weaver.
The Websters is short for the Incorporated Trade of Websters, an association of websters (i.e. weavers) that has existed continuously since 1475 and is now run within the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.
An incorporation is a trade organisation whose members are craftspeople of a trade; the origins are in the Middle Ages.
A guild is a group of craftspeople of a trade; its origins are in the Middle Ages (while the Edinburgh Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers dates from 1965). In the Middle Ages an incorporated trade had more scope than a guild: through its Deacon (chairperson) an incorporated trade controlled who could trade in a place and the acceptable quality.
By 1938, the Incorporated Trade of Websters had contracted to one member. To keep the organisation going, he approached the Guild and asked if we could help. The Guild agreed to take over the Websters in 1985.
A member of the Guild acts as Deacon of the Websters and attends meetings of the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh. Another member of the Guild acts as Boxmaster, who traditionally carried the Deacon's papers in a box and today is a symbolic role.
The Guild holds the Websters annual general meeting straight after the Guild's annual general meeting; in practice this means hearing and approving the Deacon's annual report about their activities. The Guild owns and permanently loaned to the National Library of Scotland a bound set of some of the Websters papers from 1654 to 1954:
|Record book||Aug 1654 - Nov 1764|
|Treasurer's cash book||Nov 1838 - Oct 1918|
|Treasurer's cash book||Dec 1918 - Oct 1934|
|Minute book||Sep 1780 - Aug 1827|
|Minute book||Sep 1827 - Oct 1954|
The book "The Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh" by Charles K Bradbury and Henry S Fothringham, published 2018, is in the Guild Library (see Resources page). In addition, the website www.edinburghtrades.org is about the Incorporated Trades of Edinburgh.
The Guild is in the rare position of being the present form of a tradition that stretches back to 1475 without a break to a time when weavers and other craftspeople like us made all textiles traded in Edinburgh.
© Stephen Balmer Email: wm then @ then stephenbalmer.co.uk