Records of the Fraternity of Dyers, Linlithgow

Scope and Content

  • Minutes, 1713-1997;
  • Financial records, 1824-1997;
  • Correspondence, 1848-2011;
  • Legal documents, 1667-1950;
  • Rules and regulations, 1869-1997;
  • Material related to Riding of the Marches events, c20th century-2003;
  • Lists of members, 1802-2010;
  • Records of the Heritors of the Parish of Linlithgow, 1818-1835;
  • Records of the Fraternity of Dyers, 1828-1847.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fraternity of Dyers was established in the late 17th Century, with early records dating from 1667. The Fraternity was established to provide support during periods of illness and hardship for dyers and their families in the Burgh of Linlithgow, and by 1670 the Fraternity had accumulated sufficient funds to offer loans when required.

The Fraternity collected annual dues from their members, which were entrusted to the Deacon of the Fraternity during his time in office. This money could then be used to aid members who were sick, or to provide help with funeral expenses. Requests for support were made and granted on an informal basis, with members writing to the Fraternity for funds to be released. By 1708, membership had expanded to those from other trades, however preferential treatment was given to Dyers and their sons and sons-in-law, who were able to join the society for a lower rate.

In 1803, the Fraternity of Dyers voted to become a Friendly Society and registered its rules and regulations according to the requirements of the Friendly Societies Act of 1793, known as ‘Rose’s Act’. Aliment payments were now regulated and applied in a uniform way, instead of on a case-by-case basis. As before, members paid annual dues, which were awarded to members during periods of illness and to pay for their funeral. Later the Fraternity also provided support for widows, children between six and sixteen, and old age pension payments. Eligibility was granted to men between 21 and 35 years old, who could certify in writing that they were healthy and were “capable of gaining bread by their own industry”. Those seeking membership had to apply in writing to the Deacon, where after their application would be voted on by ballot, needing at least two-thirds of the vote to be accepted. If accepted, the new member would have to swear an oath, and make an initial payment, followed by annual payments thereafter.

As a Friendly Society, the Fraternity met quarterly – in January, April, June, and October. At the October meeting the membership would elect the Committee of Management, made up of the Deacon (who also acted as Treasurer), the four Masters, two Key-Keepers, and a Clerk. The Committee were responsible for managing the property of the Fraternity, providing or refusing aliment payments, and determining the use of surplus funds.

From the start of the 20th Century, the purpose of Friendly Societies was forced to change – as governments brought in welfare reforms (such as the 1908 Old Age Pensions Act, and the National Insurance Act of 1911) to support their citizens, the need for such societies diminished. After the introduction of the NHS, the role of the fraternity in providing insurance was greatly diminished, and the Fraternity was forced to reinvent itself as a financial services provider, providing life assurance and investment opportunities.

The Fraternity of Dyers exists today as a social and charitable organisation. The Fraternity play a central role in the annual civic event known as ‘The Riding of the Marches of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow’. This tradition dates back to the 16th Century, and acts as a symbolic annual patrol of the burgh’s boundaries. The day proceeds with a series of events including hosted breakfasts, a parade originating at the Burgh Hall toward Linlithgow Bridge where a formal toast is made to the Fraternity of Dyers, the last remaining trade fraternity in Linlithgow, whose Deacon makes a formal reply. The procession moves on to Blackness, where more toasts are made. To conclude the procession reconvenes to circle the ancient Cross Well three times, the Provost declares “Safe out, Safe In,” and the Deacon of Dyers closes the proceedings by declaring “Long Live the Marches” from the steps of the Burgh Hall.


Arranged chronologically within record series

Access Information

May be subject to the UK Data Protection Act 2018. See Duty Archivist for access.

Acquisition Information

  • Deposit : Andrew Corr : 28/09/2016 : ACCN 4045
  • Deposit : Fraternity of Dyers in Linlithgow : 03/2017 : ACCN 4111

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