Since the 16th Century at least nine trades have advanced the interests of trade in the City of Dundee. These trades are fully autonomous but have incorporated and are known as the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee. The Nine Trades in order of precedence are:– Baxters or Bakers, Cordiners or Shoemakers, Skinners or Glovers, Tailors, Bonnetmakers, Fleshers, Hammermen, Brabeners or Websters or Weavers and Listers or Dyers.
THE Baker, or Baxter, Trade as it was originally known, has always been first in the order of precedence of the Crafts. There is no record of why this is so, but surely producing ‘the staff of life’ their place would be virtually automatic. Bearing in mind that all the Masters were working bakers it was probably also the largest of the Crafts. However it is also well worth noting that the crest of the Dundee Baker’s is almost identical to that of the Worshipfull Company of Bakers of London.
The Baker Lockit Book was opened in 1554, but the true history goes back well beyond this date and there may well have been an earlier book, long since lost. The fact that some 52 names were listed as Bakers on the first page gives testimony to this. Some names representing well known Dundee families appear even then, names like Carnegy, Sheppert, Gray, Kyd, Ramsay, Gibson, Wallace, Guthrie, Anderson, Allanson, Buchan, Drummond, Scrimgeour, Baxter, Brown, and Tyndal. These books contain the names of all the Masters entered into the Craft over the years along with the Acts and Statutes of the Craft. The earliest notice in public records of the Dundee Bakers is in 1364 and refers to the purchase of bread for the Kings household. Several times that year King David II had bread sent to him from Dundee and the names of Richard Norhame and Henry Leyis were the Bakers mentioned. Robert II also had wheaten bread baked for him in the town in 1373.
An entry in the Lockit Book dated 9th July 1556, shows that the first apprentice mentioned, “James Cathrow, son of vmqle James Cathrow in Curburne, is becum preteiss to Thamos Graym, baxt burges of Dunde, and to isobell, his spouse, ye langer livand of yaime twa, for all the dais and termes of sevin zeris”. In modern language this translates as “James Cathro, son of the foresaid James Cathro of Curburne has become an Indentured Apprentice to Thomas Graham, Baker and Burgess of Dundee and his wife Isobel, which ever lives the longer, for an apprenticeship of seven full years”. Even at this early date it shows that a wife could inherit and carry on her late husband’s business with the full approval of the Trade. However no woman could attend Meetings, vote, or have any say in the running of the Craft.
In common with the other Trades an apprentice would be required to produce an ‘essay’ or ‘masterpiece’ at the end of his apprenticeship and before he could be entered as a Master. This piece of baking would be carried out under supervision of and judged by three other Masters of the Craft. In addition to this, he would also have to become a Burgess of the Burgh. Becoming a Master and a Burgess was a very expensive business. It varied from time to time, but could cost as much as forty pounds Scots to become a Master. A Burgess ticket allowed the holder to have a stall in the Market and sell his goods. In addition the craftsman had to have a wife to care for and feed the apprentice and of course a house for them to live in.
Another requirement of a Burgess was that he had to own his own weapon, a sword or pike with which to defend the Burgh. Burgesses could be called out at any time for the defence of the Burgh. They were required to carry out drill parades (called wapinshaws) either beside Windmill Brae or on the Magdalen Green. How effective they were is not really known, but their mere presence may well have kept raiders at bay, and they certainly helped defend the Burgh when Montrose and later Monck laid waste to the town. The Bailies could also call upon them to assist in “Watching and Warding”, in other words patrolling their areas or Wards and taking malefactors to jail. This was before the time of any formal police force and so they were enforcing the law and doing work which would fall under the jurisdiction of the police today.
During one period the Bakers decided that there were too many Masters in the trade for the amount of business available. Part of the purpose of the Craft was to ensure that all the members had enough work, and at the right price for their goods. The answer was simple. They decreed that there would be no more apprentices in the Trade for ten years. Bearing in mind that a Master could only have one apprentice at a time and could not employ another until the first one had completed his seven years plus one year “for meat and fee”, meaning part accommodation and part wages, this would soon have reduced the number of Masters to a more profitable level.
AS far back as the 1200s the king, through his Chamberlain Court, controlled the quality and price of the bread. It was not unknown for a handful of sawdust to find its way into the mix, and of course the quality of the wheat as well as the weight of the loaf was carefully examined. This duty was firmly in the control of the Burgh council, and they used their authority vigorously. Bread was indeed the staple diet. Loaves were bought by the dozen and it is because of the severe penalties handed down if a loaf was not up to the proper weight that we find the beginnings of the ‘baker’s dozen’. This became such a problem that the Craft eventually passed a Statute in 1725, that no one should give more than thirteen to the dozen other than to a fellow Baker or his wife. The punishment was six pounds Scots for the first fault, ten pounds for the second and twenty pounds on the third occasion.
The price of a loaf was supposed to vary year by year, depending on the harvest and the price of wheat. This was a constant cause of controversy between the Council and the Bakers. The Council felt that it was their duty to keep the price of bread as low as possible, regardless of whether the Bakers made a living or not. Indeed on two occasions the Bakers threatened to stop baking until the price was adjusted.
On the first occasion in 1561, the magistrates had been very oppressive in their dealings with the Craft. Matters got so bad that the Bakers could not support themselves and their families. They eventually took the matter to the Secret (Privy) Council and Mary, Queen of Scots delivered a judgement in their favour. This Charter has a seal at the bottom, but sadly it is now broken. This may have worked the first time, but when they tried the same thing some years later, the council threatened to ‘ward’ them (put them in jail) and they quickly capitulated and apologised. Bread was too important to be used as a weapon.
One result of this was that the Craft determined not to let this happen to their Masters in future. Although Acts of Parliament and the Crown had always demanded that Trades and Guilds care for their “decayed and poor brethren”, the Bakers, in 1573, were the first to formally open a fund for that purpose. Prior to that, certainly from 1486 onwards, the Craft had endowed an altar in St. Mary’s Kirk and had their own Chaplain to say the offices daily. They paid for his keep as well as furnishing the altar in a lavish manner. For example they gifted “a fine messe buke written and bundin (embossed with gold leaf and bound), a silver chalice, silk and bukkasay (a kind of fine buckram) vestments, and chandeliers”. The craftsmen paid for this weekly, as described below, and the payment was described as Sanct Cowbart’s Pennies. After the Reformation, this money was directed to the poor and the fund known as “St. Cuthbert’s Pennies” was formally opened. It ordained that every baking day worked, a Baker would pay three pence to the fund and if he did not bake in any week he would still pay one penny. The penalty for refusing to pay was two shillings, and if the Collector was late in handing over the money, he too was fined two shillings. The full details of this fund are available and detailed. The Statute was signed by the Deacon and 56 Masters. The reason for not baking every day may have had something to do with the fact that several bakers would share one bakehouse. They would therefore only have the use of the ovens on certain days of the week. However, even as long ago as 1558, the Craft was prepared to be flexible regarding entry under special circumstances. They received James Duncan into the Craft, who although not qualified, was “ane maister of ye Craftis oldist sone and air, and, albeit he hes not seruit dewtie in all poyntis as become him of ye Craft”.
Again in 1619, they gave an apprentice permission to marry although this was not normally allowed. He pleaded his case eloquently and “the Craft, after due consideration, with ane consent and assent of guid will and affectione carried be them towards him, granted his suit, and he gave the deacone, in name of the Craft, the soume of fourtie marckis, togidder with the wyn and pertinenttis to the deacone and cunsell”. The habit of providing food and drink, to all the Craft when privileges were granted or upon being entered as a Master, was a condition in all the Trades.
FINES were levied for misdemeanours, as with all the Crafts. However the Bakers had better reasoning than most. In 1578 Servants were forbidden to wear a “quhinger” (small sword or long dagger), in the bakehouse. They would be punished ten shillings for the first fault and twenty for the second. Half this money went to the maintenance of the Cross Kirk and the other half to the Craft. If it happened three times the offender would be banished from the bakehouse. However if they actually drew their quhinger out of malice, they were sent to the Magistrates for punishment. Punishments for any kind of insulting behaviour shows that it was frequent enough to be put in the Statutes of the Craft. Any form of disobedience towards the Deacon or Counsel of the Craft, or “mispersone or blaspheme and wther or speiks irreueredtly in presence of the said decone and maisteris sall pay for the first fault twenty schilling and for the second fourty schilling”. Every excuse was made to extract money. By this means the Craft was able to fulfill one of its main objectives, to care for the poor and needy Masters and their families. In common with the other Crafts, this was always a priority. Remember that starvation was the only alternative to work. The poor funds of the Kirk was only given to those who had been regular attenders at Kirk, who had no blemish on their character and was very much at the discretion of the minister. Ministers were by no means the most Christian of people. The “Cross Kirk” referred to above had been created from the transept of the old St. Mary’s in the Field when that great medieval church founded by David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of King David I, was divided into three churches after the reformation. Outbreaks of plague were regular in the Burgh and it is recorded in 1585 that the election of Deacon David Tendell could not be recorded because the Masters could not meet due to the plague.
The oath taken on entering the craft included fearing, serving and obeying God and taking the sacrament, obeying the King, the Provost and Baillies as well as the Deacon and Counsel of the Craft. Then followed the standard clauses regarding honest working and dealing, the care of the poor and needy, defending the rights of the Craft and, of course, maintaining concord and peace in the Craft. The oath was modified several times over the years to take into account the changes taking place in society. For example in 1725 it particularly mentions “the Protestant and Presbyterian Religion as presently professed in the Church of Scotland”. Many of the other Trades simply state religion “as it is presently professed”, but the Bakers were more precise.
This oath or obligation was written out in full and signed by the new Master “written on stampt paper” (stamp 6d Sterling), official, legal and binding. BREAD was sold in loaves of four pennies and two pennies each, the weight of them being laid down by the council from time to time according to the price of the wheat. In 1561 the Baxters “were ordained to mak their bread guid sufficient and dry, the twa pennie laif to weight 16 unce and the other bread conform”.
Bakers sold their bread from “buiths” in the market, which were open fronted. However the Bakers got into the habit of not displaying their goods, but keeping them out of sight, which caused apparent scarcity and enabled them to evade the laws regarding weight. The council prohibited this and declared that all Baxters having bread to sell “sall furth hing their cavies (open shelves) before their doors in sign and packin that bread is there to be had and wha sall be fund having bread to sell and his cavie unhung furth with bread…until his bread be done… sall pay for the first fault forty shillings and for the second and third fault sall be punishet as them that diminishes the pais (peace)”.
MANY famous people were Masters of the Baker Trade over the years. As early as 1557 Thomas Ramsay “mayster of ye Schole and Maister Patrick Galloway, minister of Forgeune and Fowllis sones of Maysters of ye Craft”, were admitted. Patrick Galloway, a Master of the Craft was Chaplain to James VI, and his son attained the title Lord Dunkeld. Another was William Drummond, in whose house the last Earl of Gowrie was captured. Perhaps the most famous of the Honorary Masters was Winston Churchill when he was MP for Dundee in 1909. Partly due to shortage of his time the Bakers were the only Craft to grant him this honour and on 18th October 1909 he was admitted and duly signed the Lockit Book. Churchill was offered Honorary membership of all the Trades and arranged to receive the honour from each Trade on the same night. Due to constraints of his time he only became an Honorary Baker. This may have been due to the fact that the clerk to the Baker Trade, Mr Husband, was also Churchill’s Election agent. Other Honorary members included the Earls of Strathmore (1740, 1750, 1874, 1905), The Duke of Athol (1778), Graham of Fintry (1628,1732,1790), The Earl of Airlie and the Earl of Dundee (1955), Baron Lyell of Kinnordy (1873), George Dempster of Dunnichen, MP for Dundee, (1761), Provosts Alex. Riddoch and Patrick Maxwell (1789), Viscount Duncan of Camperdown (1798, 1820), Sir David Baxter (1860) and L. E. Luscombe, Bishop of Brechin (1984).
There are a number of memorials in the “Howff”, the old Town grave-yard in Meadowside, which was granted to the town by Mary Queen of Scots. The Howff had been the orchard of the Greyfriars Monastery in Dundee where Robert the Bruce had first been proclaimed King.
Members of the Tindal family were buried there in 1591,1600 and 1694. They were the principal bakers in Dundee for upwards of 200 years and Tindalls Wynd takes its name from their premises there. David Tindal was the Deacon when the St. Cuthbert’s Pennies Fund was begun.
John Baxter and Helen Seyton, his wife, 1609, have the arms of Baxter and Seyton on their gravestone, with the inscription “Ve live to die, and deiss to live forever”. There is the covering stone of a sarcophagus erected to John Lawson, Junior, and Christian Mitchell, his wife dated 1636. On it are effigies of Justice, Life, Faith and Hope. The arms of the Lawsons and Mitchells marshalled at one end and Bakers utensils at the other.
Gilbert Auchinleck, Deacon of the Bakers who died in 1641 had the marshalled arms of Auchinleck, a family who had Masters in many of the Trades. DUNDEE Bakers were at the forefront of the Reformation. One of them, Paul Methven, about three years before the Reformation is officially recognised, was so filled with zeal that he welded his followers into a congregation “with the face of a Reformed Church in which the word was preached openly and the Sacraments truely ministered”. This was indeed a dangerous business, but he had the tacit blessing of the Burgh Council. He came to the attention of the Court and Provost Halyburton was required by the Queen Regent to arrest him. However the provost secretly warned Methven to avoid the town for some time.
In 1544, at a time when one of the many plagues was ravishing the town and George Wishart was preaching from the East Port, “The Council he grantit and given to George Spalding, son and heir of the umquhile William Spalding, three burgessis for certain meal distribut be umquhile William to the puir folks in the year of ‘45 in time of grite pest”. David Hume was born at Errol in 1813. He worked with Mr McEwan in Perth, went to London and came to Dundee where he opened a shop in the Wellgate, later in Nethergate and Castle Street. He devoted himself entirely to making ships´ biscuits. During the Crimea War he made biscuits for both the British and French navies, and for efficiency erected a building in Exchange Street. His production eventually was in the order of 30-40 tons per week.
In more recent times William Harris was a Baker in the Scouringburn and Harris’s Close in the Nethergate. The whole Harris family were involved in the Trade. When William Harris senior died, his son, also William, left Grammar School to train as a baker with his uncle Roderick. William junior worked in London for some years. On returning to Dundee he became a successful Miller and Corn Merchant. He served on the Town Council for many years and when the School Board tried to take over the High School, he donated £10,000 to them to build Harris Academy and £20,000 to the High School in order to keep it independent. He died in 1883 aged 77, and shortly afterwards his sister gave £16,000 to the High School to build the present Girls School.
David Paterson entered the craft in 1790 at the age of 23 and is described as “lately from London?, presumably where he developed his Craft. The Patersons were Bakers in Fish Street, now demolished to make way for Whitehall Street. David’s daughter Elizabeth married Andrew Goodfellow and a dynasty was born. Over the years the family have had premises at 97 High Street, Lochee, 147 High Street, Lochee, several premises in Broughty Ferry, Union Street, Monifieth and Carnoustie. The business has traded as Goodfellow & Steven since 1897. Andrew G. Kidd, from Brechin, initially worked with Baillie Perrie in Lochee. He entered the Craft in 1860. Over the years the family developed the business, opening a Bakery in Lytton Street and their first Reform Street shop in 1897. By the 1920’s they had 19 branches and employed around 300 people. Kidd’s Rooms was one of Dundee’s best known function suites of the 20th century. Other important bakers are J. R. Ingram, who took over Lamb’s Restaurant, Lindsay & Low, John Durkie, John Burnett, David Quinn, David Neave, the Wallaces, of which there were several Johns, James, Andrew, William, Edmund, Harry, Alfred, Neil and David. Peter Anderson, George Butchart, John Beattie, David Smart, Frederick Brown and many others. The Wallace family are mentioned in the Head Burgh court in 1521.
James Pullar, an ex-Deacon of the Craft, left a large legacy on his death in 1811. It was eventually amalgamated into the funds of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee. Another legacy, this time by William Forwell, a Baker in Rosebank Street, was left to the Craft in 1943 for the promotion of technical education among young bakers in Dundee. The income from this legacy still provides prizes for young bakery students. Even more recently ex-Deacon W. A. Findlay left a legacy of £500 to the Craft, to be used as the Craft thought fit. Despite the fact that multi-national organisations have taken over much of the trade, Dundee is still in a strong position with a number of independent Bakers serving the City as they have done for over 800 years.
Along with the other trades, the Bakers had their own banner which was used in the many processions of earlier times. This banner was becoming extremely fragile and a new silk one was commissioned from Duncanstone College of Art in 1984. It hangs behind the Deacon´s chair at Craft Meetings and Dinners. The old banner is in the keeping of St. Andrew’s Church along with those of the other trades.
The Baker Craft has played its full share in the running of the Nine Trades over the centuries having provided some 40 Conveners and numerous other holders of high office.
There is also a tradition in the Trades going back to its earliest years when the Deacons were allocated their annual share of the Nine Trades´ funds for distribution to their poor. After the Meeting of the Convener’s Court, when the size of the pension was decided, the Meeting would adjourn for ‘Division’ to a local hostelry. ‘Division’ was the handing over of the money by the Boxmaster of the Nine Trades to the individual Deacons and afterwards the Deacons, Boxmasters and Clerks enjoyed suitable refreshment, a tradition carried on to this day. At the November Meeting the Pension for the poor is agreed and the Court adjourns until the following Friday where a “Bridie Supper” is held in a local hotel. Small bridies are served as a starter and on leaving each guest is provided with two full sized bridies. The meat for these is supplied by a member of the Flesher Craft and the Bridies are Baked by one of the Baker Craft. As one would expect the Toast List includes a toast to “The Donors of the Delicacies”.
Membership is mainly restricted to people having some connection with the Trade, either directly or through marriage or ancestors, although exceptions are made from time to time.
It is a lively and hard working group of people, still devoted to the original aims of the Craft. It cares for its sick and poor, is deeply interested in the advancement of the Training of apprentices, and gives grants and financial assistance to this end.
The Baker Trade will evolve and develop, as will the other Trades in Dundee, taking their place in the business of the City long into the future, keeping the strength of character which it has shown in the past.