Local Associations and Social Interests


The Guildry Corporation still exists in Peebles but only for social and philanthropic purposes. As early as the sixteenth century, however, it had specific powers conferred on it and in its own sphere was second only to the town council in importance within the burgh.

An Act of the Scottish Parliament in 1593 approved of the power of the Dean of Guild and his Council 'quhilk is to the great furtherance of justice . . . in all actions and maters concerning merchands . . .' By the Royal Burgh of Peebles Charter of 1621 the burgh was empowered to have a Dean of Guild and Council; it was not until 1647 that the burgh records show such an appointment. In 1649 the Dean's duties were more clearly defined, his principal duties being certainly in connection with the weights and measures used by the traders in the town. It is from about this time that the 'Peebles Pint' dates. The 'Pint' was a measure for the sale of cereals and now rests in the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The earliest minute book of the Guildry Corporation no longer exists; but the rules and regulations have been copied into the second minute book which begins in 1705. Here we learn that the Dean of Guild must be a councillor and a merchant of the burgh; he was to be chosen annually. His original council consisted of four merchants and two from the trade guilds. Further, the Dean was given a key to the Town Charter Chest.

A Guild Brother's oath was as follows: 'I doe here protest before God that I shall be a faithful Gild Brether. I shall not collour ony unfreeman's goods under pretence of my owne. I shall not pack or peill with any unfreeman . . . and so oft as I break ony part of this my oath I shall be lyeable and pay into the Gildrie of Peebles the soume of forty punds Scots money.'