The breaking of the Hammermen’s buist


In 1575 a dispute erupted within the Hammermen craft after someone broke the buist, or strongbox, and removed the money contained within it. A group of craftsmen (below) were chosen as arbiters by the others to decide what ought to be done, and ‘with one voice’ they stated that the box should be mended and the money returned to it. The buist would then be given to the deacon for safekeeping, and the keys given to the most honest men of the craft. If it so happened that any craftsman broke the buist in the future, he would be deprived of his office, and forbidden from holding any office again.The outcome was also copied into the book of Master John Bonkle, Steward of the regality of St Andrews and clerk of the city, and witnessed by members of the craft.

This kind of decision-making process was very common in the crafts. They chose respected men of good judgement to speak on behalf of the others, and settled disputes and arguments amongst themselves. This was part of the freedom which burgesses and guild members enjoyed from other jurisdictions – for example that of the regality – and was a privilege of craft membership. It meant that a burgess who committed a crime had the right to be tried in the burgh court, by his peers, instead of the sheriff court, where he might receive less favourable treatment.


At santandrois the last day off Aprile the yeir off God 1575 yeiris the quhilk day anent the variance betwix the hammer men off the cite of santandrois anent the complent gevin in for brekking up of thir commoun buist and taking out oft certaine money out of the sam The decisioun off the said mater and taking away and doun-putting of the variance forsaid with the heall consentis professit the heall mater to James Sowrdye, Alexander Millar, Andro Craffaris, Andro Muffat, James Broun in Ergaill, Johne Buge and William Giffard all in ane voic findis ordanis and decernis the buist to be mendit againe and the money takin furth thairof to be ressavit and put thairin againe and the buist to be usit with the auld kayis thairoff and failyeing thairoff to be usit with new kayis to be maid thairto.

The bearing of the Baxters’ banner


This excerpt from the Baxters book is dated 28 October 1558, less than two years before the Scottish Reformation. The Reformation had a great impact on the crafts, as it dramatically changed their religious activities. Before 1560 each craft sponsored its own altar in the church – the Baxters had an altar to St Tobert – and engaged in religious pageantry.

This entry records that John Myllar was admitted as apprentice to Thomas Steyne, baxter and citiner [citizen] of St Andrews, and that Myllar gave the traditional offering of a pound of wax for the altar. This was done in the presence of the craftsmen, who met in the gallow lake, an area at the north end of what is now the Scores.

The chaplain of the altar, Peter Lawson, acted as scribe during this period, and in this entry he saw fit to record that the craftsmen were gathered ‘for the bearing of the banner’, giving a rare glimpse into this aspect of guild life. This suggests that the craft were preparing to process through the town with their regalia after the meeting, and that it was expedient to admit John Myllar as apprentice while they were all together.

Following the Reformation, and a four-year gap in the records, Peter Lawson no longer styled himself as ‘chaplain’, instead using simply ‘master’.


The quhilk day Jone Myller is admyttit lawful prentis to Thomas Steyne, baxter, citiner of this cite santandros, hes pait his pund of wax to the alter of Sanct Tobert, resavit be David Mylis positor, and 6s 8d to Jone Wilson at command of James Browne elder, decane, in presens of the craft in gallowlayk congregat, and that for the baring of the banar, the quhilk Jone Miller is wrytyne in this buke be me, maister Peter Lawson, chaplane of the alter forsayd.