The History of Leith

January 28, 2011

The Craft Guilds

When these craft guilds were first formed we do not know; but it is in the reign of James III. that they first come into prominence in Leith, and play an imperial it part in the building up of industry and trade. The
formation and constitution of these guilds were much influenced by our close social and. commercial intercourse with Flanders. Many Flemings, both before and after the marriage of James II. and Mary of Gueldres,
migrated to Scotland and became members of the Edinburgh guilds. It was owing to such causes that the Guild of the Masons and Wrights, whose Chapel of St. John is today one of the finest in St. Giles’, was to have its place in the religious processions on the great Church
festival days ” lyk as thai haf in the toune of Bruges or siclyk gud tounes.” The part the various craft guilds had in these religious processions points to the fact that, like many other institutions of the Middle Ages, they had a very close connection with the Church. Indeed, a religious purpose would seem to have been a main cause and origin of their formation, and just as every church was dedicated to some saint, so each guild had its patron saint with its own altar in the parish Church. Over this altar stood an image of the saint, and a curious thing about the patron saints of the various guilds was that, wherever you went throughout Christendom, the patron saint of each particular trade guild, unless for special reasons, was the same.

source-The Story of Leith

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