Dumfries and Kirkcudbright, pp.201-204.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

   WAR SCYTHE from Dumfries, used in connection with the 1715 rising. ‘And likewise considering that they had not Arms for all the Inhabitants who were fit for Service, The Magistrates and Council bought up 100 Syths, caus’d freight their Docks, and fix’d them sufficiently on Shafts, delivering them to such of the Inhabitants as had least skill of Fire-Arms and added a certain number of these Sythmen to every Company, to be employed at the Barricades, and especially in the Trenches, which were now carrying on with all Expedition.’ – From Peter Rae’s History of Dumfries, 1718. 

(1057) Lent by the TOWN COUNCIL OF DUMFRIES. 

   SEVEN TRADES JUG OF DUMFRIES, with inscription:- ‘God keep the King and the Craft,’ ‘Seven Incorporations of Dumfries.’ The Trades Jug was part of the Trades property which was sold by auction in the Trades Hall on the 8th April 1854. It had been used at their gatherings, which, judging from the minutes, were rather of a convivial nature, and would require the punch Jug to be replenished many times. 

(1059) Lent by JAMES LENNOX, F.S.A.SCOT. 



   WASSAIL BOWL, presented to the Magistrates and Council of the Burgh of Kirkcudbright in 1707 by their then representative in Parliament, Mr. Hamilton of Bargenny, to be used annually on the birthday of the reigning Sovereign and other festive occasions. 


   LEADEN BADGE OF A KING’S BEDESMAN OR ‘BLUE-GOWN,’ worn by Andrew Gemmells, the prototype of Sir Walter Scott’s Edie Ochiltree of The Antiquary. (See Fig. 146.) 


   PAIR OF SPECTACLES said to be 200 years old, with frame made from a single wire. 




   THE SILLER GUN (in case), presented by King James VI. to the Seven Trades’ Incorporations of Dumfries in 1598. 

   The Trades of Dumfries, incorporated as the Seven Trades, have records which date back to 1612, but it is not known how long they existed before this. The minute-book of the Hammermen (the senior trade) which has been consulted for these notes, commences 8th September 1601, but it refers to older minutes and acts of that trade. The eleven original trades were the Hammermen, the Squaremen (Wrights and Masons), Taylors, Weavers, Shoemakers, Skinners and Glovers, Fleshers and the Armourers. Bonnet-makers, Pewterers and Dyers. The Armourers and Bonnet-makers became extinct whilst the Pewterers joined the Hammermen, and the Dyers combined with the Skinners and Glovers, thus reducing the incorporations to seven. In 1791 the seven trades numbered seven hundred and twenty-six members, adding to this 100 of other trades who were not incorporated, including Tanners, Nailers, Silversmiths, etc. 

   Regarding the Siller Gun, Dr. Bumside’s MS. History of Dumfries, 1791, p. 15, states ‘Having mentioned the trades under this branch of the querys, I may take notice of a jubilee which they occasionally have, called Shooting for the Silver Gun. The Gun is a small silver tube, like the barrel of a pistol, which King James VI. in one of his journeys to England is said to have given to the Trades of Dumfries with his royal licence or injunction, to shoot for it once a year, with a view, as is alleged, of rendering them expert in the use of arms. Till lately, every Deacon-Convener was allowed, if he pleased, to call out the Trades for this purpose once during his administration, which lasts generally two years. As it was found, however, to be attended with a certain expense, a regulation has been made amongst the Trades themselves that it shall not take place but once in five years. When called out, the Freemen of the burgh must appear at the place appointed by the Convener for shooting at a mark. The person who is most successful returns to town with the Silver Gun tied with ribbons to his hat, and he is supposed to be master of it till the next similar occasion. If any individual refuse to appear, he is subjected to a fine of £3, 6s. 8d., and prevented from voting in any of the Trades affairs till the fine is paid. On the same day the Journeymen and Apprentices shoot for some small premium, and, as they also join in it, it makes the procession very numerous.’ The Provost and Town Council, along with the Guildry, accompanied the Trades in their procession to the Kingholm, a low holm at the south end of the town, where the competition took place. The Gun has inscribed on it: ‘Presented by King James VI. of Scotland to the Seven Incorporated Trades of Dumfries, MDXCVIII.’ But as it was actually presented August 1617, the inscription is evidently an after-thought. It was mounted on a wheeled silver carriage, but this was broken in 1808, and there was substituted for this a butt like that of a modern musket. The circumstances of the injury to the Gun are narrated in the minutes of the Hammermen Incorporation, 6th June 1808:- ‘The Deacon represented that, on the 4th June, Alex. Kirkpatrick, Freeman, had in riotous manner gone to the post where the Silver Gun was suspended while the Trades were shooting for it at the Kingholm, and forcibly taken it down and broken it into pieces, and that he had called the present meeting to punish the said A. K. for such improper conduct. He, being present, admitted the fact and declared his sorrow for what had happened, which being considered by the meeting they unanimously fined the said Alexander Kilpatrick in the sum of three pounds six shillings and eightpence sterling, and lay him aside from all the privileges of the trade, and from meeting and associating with them on any occasion whatever for the space of twenty-one years from this date, and thereafter until the foresaid fine is paid.’ 

   The Siller Gun was last shot for on 8th September 1831, when it was won by Deacon Alexander Johnston of the Tailors. The shooting for the Siller Gun has been commemorated by John Mayne in a poem in five cantos, published in 1808: 

‘Ae simmer’s morning wi’ the sun 

The Seven Trades there 

Forgathered for their Siller Gun 

To shoot ance mair.’ 

   The following regulations for shooting for the Gun on the 4th June 1813. are extracted from the minutes of the Hammermen Incorporation:- 

   1st. ‘The drums shall beat the general at 4 o’clock in the morning from the Convener’s door. The second drum shall beat at six o’clock, when each trade shall assemble under arms at their Deacon’s door. 

   ‘2d. Each trade shall repair to the White Sands at seven o’clock in the following order: 

   ‘The Incorporation of Hammermen shall move first, and every trade they pass shall salute them as they pass. The other trades shall march according to seniority. The junior trades shall always salute the senior trade in passing, and the senior trade shall return the compliment. 

   ‘3d. When the whole are arrived at the White Sands the Convener shall cause the Boxmaster- General with six members from each trade to march with the Seven Trades’ colours in the usual form. 

   ‘4th. The whole of the Trades shall be in readiness to march from the Sands to the Kingholm exactly at eight o’clock, and it is positively enacted that no gun shall be loaded till on the Kingholm; and whoever shall do otherways, or fire a gun upon the street, either going to or from the Kingholm, shall be subject to a fine of three shillings and fourpence sterling, and the Freemen shall be liable to pay not only the fines incurred by themselves, but also those incurred by their journeymen and apprentices. 

   ‘5th. No person whatever shall be allowed to shoot for the Gun unless he has joined in the procession, and walked in it from Dumfries to the Kingholm, and no journeyman or apprentice shall have right to shoot unless he has been regularly booked previous to that day. 

   ‘6th. That no journeyman or apprentice shall wear cockades in their hats, or have sashes, or carry pikes, or colours, or any distinguishing garbs on any account whatever. 

   ‘7th. That every Deacon shall bring a list of the members of his trade in the procession, and the Deacons of the journeymen and apprentices shall do the same, so as they may be marked as they have fired, in order to keep peace and prevent disputes. 

   ‘8th. The Convener and Deacons shall have full power to regulate the order of procession, and one of them shall, or some person of their appointment shall, constantly attend at the rest, a firing stance, to keep order, and see that every member is regularly marked out after firing. 

   ‘9th. The Convener and Deacons shall have full power to determine all disputes as to the order of firing or nearness of shots, or any other thing whatever, and their determination shall be final, and the boards shall be destroyed immediately after the firing is over. 

   ‘10th. In case any gun shall miss fire, the member whose gun so missed fire shall have right to a second chance, but no more. 

   ‘11th. The Freemen shall be warned by the officer of their respective trades in presence of two witnesses, personally, or by leaving a notice at his dwelling-house at least forty-eight hours before the time of meeting, and all who do not attend shall be liable in fine of three pounds six shillings and eight pence sterling, and to be laid aside till the fine is paid, and no person shall be exempted unless those above sixty years of age, or who are unable to attend from indisposition certified by a Surgeon. 

(1058) Lent by the TOWN COUNCIL OF DUMFRIES. 

   THE ‘SILLER GUN’ presented by King James VI. to the Incorporated Trades of the Royal Burgh of Kirkcudbright. The year 1587 is engraved on the barrel, as also the letters ‘T. M. C.,’ the initials, and also the coat of arms of Sir Thomas McClellan of Bombie, ancestor of the Lords of Kirkcudbright, the then Provost of the Burgh. (See Fig. 147.) 


   SILVER ARROW, presented in 1838 by William Johnston to the apprentices in Kirkcudbright, to be shot for by them when the tradesmen shot for the ‘Siller Gun.’ 


Leave a Reply