The History of the Craft
The Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow traces its origins “generations prior to” the seal of cause granted by the Magistrates and Town Council of Glasgow with the concurrence of Gavin the Archbishop of Glasgow under seal of the Town Council and round seal of the Archbishop on 11 October 1536. This reflected other Craftsmen associated with metal working coming together as part of the Guild and Livery system in other towns and cities and the Incorporation of Hammermen in Glasgow sought to regulate the trade in metal working within the Burgh of Glasgow, ensure proper standards of training and workmanship of the membership, supporting members, their widows and dependants who fell on hard times. Unlike the specialisms which developed in London, the Hammermen embraced blacksmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, lorimers, cutlers, armourers, sword makers, clockmakers, locksmiths, pewterers, tinsmiths and others. The Hammermen fought in various battles under our own Battle Colours including Langside 1568 & Falkirk 1746 and we still have these proud Banners
In 1605, the fourteen Glasgow Incorporations associated themselves together in the Trades House of Glasgow (motto “Union is Strength”) and between 1791 and 1794 constructed a meeting place for the incorporated Trades at this, the Trades Hall, Glassford Street, a building designed by Robert Adam, indeed one of his last. This building is now, after the Cathedral, the oldest building in Glasgow still in use for its original purpose. It is in this venue that the Annual Dinner (the Deacon’s Choosing Dinner) of the Incorporation is held.
In the course of litigation in the Eighteenth Century the fourteen Crafts established their order of precedence, and in 1777 the Court of Session awarded the premier position to the Incorporation of Hammermen. The Hammermen are, and we say it ourselves, justifiably proud of our premier position amongst the Crafts and believe that we have been and still remain at the forefront of maintaining the continuing relevance in the development of Craft activities.
During the Nineteenth Century, the traditional origins of the Hammermen led to its being associated with the Engineering and Shipbuilding Industries of the West of Scotland and almost all of the families associated with those industries (Colville, Connell, Lithgow, Scott, Stephen and Yarrow and many others) are associated through generations with the Craft. The Incorporation’s Crest is a hammer surmounted by a crown and its motto is “By Hammer in Hand, All Arts do Stand”. The reforms to Civic Government and the freeing of commerce in the Nineteenth Century reduced the importance of the Craft Associations in Glasgow as elsewhere, but the Incorporations have continued to exist as charitable and public bodies.
The Incorporation is governed by a Master Court led by the Deacon and the Collector, each of whom is elected in September for one year. The Collector’s job was to look after the alms of the Incorporation and today is nominally responsible for the Craft’s accounts and to persuade others to join the Craft. Holding the office of Collector is generally a prerequisite to elevation to Deacon. Some other items of historical interest from our records and artefacts include our guard duty in the middle ages, two banners from the Battle of Langside in 1568 also flown at Falkirk 1746, a Pint Stoup initialled RB from a Tarbolton Inn which victualed Robert Burns, a Bell, Port Teapot, the Gill Stoup all on display. Our minutes record involvement in forming the City of Glasgow Police in 1800, one of the first in the world, contributions to various war funds, Kings, Princes, Prime Ministers and a Princess amongst our members and, in 1921, our Clerk having a nervous breakdown!