The goldsmiths of Glasgow were incorporated with the hammermen, and under that designation there were also included copper-smiths, pewterers, white-iron men, saddlers, and belt-makers. The hammermen were incorporated by Seal of Cause granted by the Town Council, with concurrence of Gavin Dunbar the Archbishop, dated 14th October 1536.
Long before this date, however, there must have been craftsmen working in gold and silver in Glasgow, for in the reign of Robert III. there was a mint-house there, as was indeed common in most of the burghs of any size, and coins of that reign have been found which were stamped in Glasgow.
Only one of the old minute-books of the Incorporation of Hammermen – dating from 1616 to 1717 – is now in existence. It is obviously incomplete, but the additional names during the period it covers, and later, have been obtained from the Burgess Roll and other sources.
The first name that occurs in the minutes is that of John Kirkwood, who was admitted to the Incorporation in 1616, and as far as can be judged from the records he was the sole representative of the craft at that time in the town. Glasgow, it must be remembered, was then a small burgh and university town, containing about 7500 inhabitants, and the Reformation had shorn it of much of the dignity and state which attached to the Romish See.
During the first half of the seventeenth century, either the demand for the wares of the goldsmith increased, or the number of the goldsmiths decreased, for by an Act of Council in 1660 William Cockburn, from Edinburgh, was allowed ‘to exercise his calling in the burgh.’
The trade thereafter seemed to flourish, for about the year 1687 there were at least five goldsmiths in Glasgow – Robert Brook, James Stirling, Thomas Cuming, George Luke, and James Cuming – all in the active exercise of their craft. These are the names recorded on the back of the draft of a letter of that period, but the records point to a number even larger than this.
No Glasgow plate of the earliest date is known to exist, or at any rate has as yet been discovered. This is not to be wondered at, for frequently there appear in the old burgh records entries of proclamations, of which the following is an example:-
‘15th June 1639. – Proclamatioun anent Silver Plait. The said day it is ordanit that publicatioun be made throw the toun, be sound of drum, that the inhabitantis of this brughe bring thair haill silver plait, to be bestowit in defence of the good comoun cause in hand, conforme to the ordinance of the committee at Edr, and ordaines James Stewart, lait provest, Walter Stirling, deane of gild, John Barnes and Gawaine Nisbit, to attend upon the ressauing of the said silver plait, and to meitt the dayis following, at nyne houris in the morning,’ etc.
The Church might have been expected to conserve some specimens of old plate, but in Glasgow the communion cups of none of the churches are of earlier date than about the commencement of the eighteenth century. The following record is significant of how church plate sometimes disappeared:- ‘7th March 1588. – The commissioners appointed by the King’s Majesty anent repairing the High Kirk, and haill brethren of the Kirk Session of Glasgow, ordain all the pendent silver for repairing the Colledge Kirk.’
The Glasgow goldsmiths could not complain of lack of patronage from the civic authorities. In many burghs it was customary to commission an Edinburgh goldsmith to manufacture any plate of exceptional importance, and occasionally it was by no means uncommon, even in these early times, to obtain it from London.
An examination of different records shows that in Glasgow presentation plate was as a rule given into the hands of local goldsmiths, although there is one exception even in this collection in the kettle presented to James Stirling (page 299). In 1667 there was paid to Thomas Moncur, goldsmith, £887, 2s. for the ‘propyne of silver work given to Ladie Elphingstoune, the Bischop’s daughter, at her mariage.’ In 1716 ‘a sum of £35, 1s. 9d. sterling money was given to James Luke, goldsmith, by the Town, for a silver tankard, etc., to be sent to Colonel William Maxwell of Cardonell, for the good service he had done during the rebellion and confusion.’ In 1731 there was paid to Robert Luke, goldsmith, £385, 16s. for a silver tea-kettle and lamp, given in compliment by the town to Alexander Finlayson, clerk. In 1733 there was paid to the same goldsmith £31, 10s. 3½d. for a silver bowl and tankard, ‘gifted by the Town in compliment to John McGilchrist, deput clerk.’ (See No. 938, p. 304.) In 1756 Mr. Richard Oswald, merchant in London, was voted a piece of plate (for his services in obtaining the Act for erecting a lighthouse on the island of Cumbrae), which was manufactured by Mrs. Margaret Murdoch or Glen, relict of Mr. Glen, goldsmith. In 1776 the sum of £35, 8s. was paid to Milne and Campbell, goldsmiths, for a two-handled silver cup, given by the Town to Mr. Goulborn, engineer, on account of deepening the river Clyde. In 1789 the treasurer was authorised to pay to Robert Gray. silversmith, £38, 17s. for a sword and silver badge to the lieutenant of police, and a gold chain to the superintendent of police. These examples may suffice to show to what an extent the civic authorities patronised the goldsmiths of their own burgh.
The social status of the goldsmiths in Glasgow differed much from those in Edinburgh. In the capital they were the bankers, money-lenders, and speculators of their day, while in Glasgow it was no uncommon thing for some craftsmen to be partners in many strange concerns altogether alien to their ordinary business. Thus we find that the most famous family of Glasgow goldsmiths – the Lukes of Claythorn – were partners in a soaperie, an ironwork, and in many adventures with ships – notably in one in which cherry sacke was first imported into Glasgow. On the other hand, monopoly was the rule of the trade in Edinburgh; and, as is abundantly proved by the records, if any goldsmith ventured beyond the strict limits of his trade he was speedily expelled from the Incorporation and his name deleted from the roll.
It is questionable if up to 1730 any goldsmith had a shop in Glasgow. In 1753 Robert Luke, who was at one time treasurer for the town, was succeeded by Bailie James Glen, and it is noted that at that time he was almost the only one in the trade in the west of Scotland who kept a shop. Again, in 1790 we find that there were only two goldsmiths’ shops of any note in the town – one kept by Adam Graham in King Street, and the other by Robert Gray in the Trongate; and, strange to say, the latter silversmith could, in addition to his more valuable wares, always furnish a customer with a cane or umbrella – the latter at that time a modern luxury, being usually made of yellow or green glazed linen.
The town mark impressed on Glasgow plate is the burgh arms – an oak tree surmounted by a bird, a salmon with a signet-ring in its mouth, and a bell. The arrangement of these differs considerably in many of the punches. In some the bird and fish are looking to the dexter side, in others to the sinister, and the bell is also to be found on different sides. In some the salmon is below the tree, and in others it is placed across the tree above the roots. In not a few marks the letter G is introduced, and in one punch at least – that of William Clerk – the name of the goldsmith is cut on the town mark. One notable feature of all the early marks is their unusually large size. These differences in detail lead to the inference that each goldsmith possessed his own town mark, which appears to have been permissible under the Act of 1485, although some burghs provided themselves with a town mark of their own, which was affixed by an official whom they appointed specially for the purpose.
A date letter was introduced as one of the statutory stamps, and was continued in Glasgow for some time. The first example of it, although it may have been applied previously, is found in 1696-7, when the letter
There is little fear of mistaking the date letters of Glasgow for those of Edinburgh, even although the town mark is obliterated, for the former differ in many details from the latter, and are also of a very large size.
On the plate manufactured by Milne and Campbell, who carried on business in the Trongate from about 1776 to 1790, there is the stamp of the letter O; but as this appears on all the plate they made it cannot be a date letter.
About the year 1753 the letter S in shields of various forms was added to the makers and town stamps. There is no documentary evidence to show by what authority it was added, or what exactly was denoted by it; but by common consent, in later years, it has been regarded as the mark indicating that the silver was of standard quality.
In 1819 Glasgow was made an assay town by the Act of George III. The district comprised Glasgow and forty miles round, and all plate made in that district had to be stamped at the Glasgow office. In that year the Goldsmiths’ Company of Glasgow was also formed. The date letter was again recommenced, and the following marks were appointed:- (1) the lion rampant; (2) the city arms; (3) the makers mark; (4) the date letter; (5) the sovereign’s head.
These marks are still continued, although by the statute of 1836 other marks were prescribed. [A. J. S. B.]
SILVER SALVER, 7 inches in diameter, bearing the arms of Crawfurd of Jordanhill. This salver belonged to Captain Thomas Crawfurd of Jordanhill, who captured Dumbarton Castle on the 2d April 1571, and who was provost of Glasgow in 1577. It is a nearly unique specimen both in its design and in its workmanship, and an examination of it leaves no doubt, although it bears no Hall-mark, that it belongs to the period of Queen Mary. The probability is that it was made in Glasgow. [A. J. S. B.] (See Fig. 207.)
(782) Lent by T. MACKNIGHT CRAWFURD.
SILVER RAT-TAILED TABLE-SPOON. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark and is stamped with the name punch of John Luke1 or Louk of Claythorn,
the first of a famous family of Goldsmiths in Glasgow, whose name is first met with in 1639, and who died in 1702. The date letter on the spoon is that for 1700-1. [A. J. S. B.]
(778) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
PLAIN SILVER TANKARD, 7 ½ inches high. There is engraved on it this inscription: ‘The gift of the Partners of the Woollen Manufactorie, Glasgow, to Thomas Thomson, Manadger.’ On the handle are engraved the weight and date
whose name is entered on the Burgess Roll of Glasgow in 1692. [A. J. S. B.]
(1371) Lent by the HEIRS OF THOMAS MAXWELL.
SMALL SILVER CUP, 3 ⅛ inches high, engraved on the front
(789) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
LARGE SILVER SPOON, 20 ¼ inches long, with fluted ball top and baluster stem. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of John Luke
(787) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SILVER PUNCH-BOWL, 11 ¾ inches in diameter, and 5 ¼ inches high. It is engraved on the one side with the arms of Glasgow, surmounted by the motto, and surrounded by the inscription, ‘The gift of the Magistrates and Town Council of Glasgow, to Mr. John McGilchrist their clerk, for faithful services, 1732.’ It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of Robert Luke
(938) Lent by MRS. HUNTER OF HUNTER.
LARGE SILVER LADLE, 14 ⅞ inches long. There is engraved on the top
(1372) Lent by the HEIRS OF THOMAS MAXWELL.
SILVER DIVIDING-SPOON (17 inches long). It belonged to the Shortridge family. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark and is stamped with the name punch of James Glen
(1558) Lent by GEORGE GRAHAM THOMSON.
PLAIN SILVER TANKARD (no cover), 5 ½ inches high. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of James Glen
(784) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SIX SILVER SPOONS, 8 inches long. They bear the Glasgow Hall-mark, and are stamped with the name punch of the above James Glen
(788) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SILVER DRINKING-CUP used by Prince Charles in 1745. (See Fig. 102, page 139.)
(571) Lent by CLUNY MACPHERSON.
PLAIN SILVER QUAICH, 3 ¼ inches in diameter. It has two handles: on one is engraved J McJ, and on the other F McJ. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of Adam Graham
(785) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
LARGE SILVER SPOON, 18 ½ inches long. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of James Taylor
(786) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SILVER SEAL BOX, made to contain the wax seal appended to the University Diploma of Glasgow: the cover is finely engraved, having in the centre a University Mace and an open Bible above: on each side are represented the objects composing the coat-of-arms of Glasgow surmounted by the motto of the University, VIA . VERITAS . VITA. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark
(777) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SILVER QUAICH, 6 ½ inches in diameter, with two handles: on one is engraved I.I, and on the other M.C. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the maker’s punch of John Fraser,
(1557) Lent by JOHN WILLIAM BURNS.
LARGE SILVER BOWL, 12 inches in diameter, and 5 inches high. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of James McEwan
(779) Lent by the MARCHIONESS OF BREADALBANE.
SILVER TEA-CADDY, 6 ½ inches high, embossed with Chinese figures and designs. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and has the maker’s punch of Milne & Campbell
(1556) Lent by GEORGE GRAHAM THOMSON.
SCALLOPED SILVER LADLE (16 inches long) with fluted bowl. It was the property of Mr. James Johnston, who died in 1781. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of James McEwan
(1555) Lent by GEORGE GRAHAM THOMSON.
SILVER SUGAR CASTER, chased with festoons of roses. This very probably formed one of the large pepper casters of the cruet frames common at the end of last century. It bears the Glasgow Hall-mark, and is stamped with the name punch of James McEwan
(783) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
SMALL SILVER QUAICH, with fluted bowl, 3 inches in diameter, and two handles. The name punch is probably that of James Allan
(1400) Lent by the MARQUIS OF BREADALBANE.
1 Considerable difficulty has been found in identifying the marks of the Lukes with the different members of the family, as so many of them bore the same initials, and carried on business about the same period.