Paisley Hammermen Society

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Hammerman Society of Paisley ornamented memorial stone, High Churchyard, Paisley
Hammerman Society of Paisley ornamented memorial stone, High Churchyard, Paisley

In 1658, Paisley Town Council first granted a charter making it possible for the trades people of Paisley to form societies. The purpose of these societies was to protect their trade and exclude strangers from carrying on the trade within the town’s boundaries.

The Paisley Hammermen Society was established in 1761. Its membership was open to various tradesmen employed in a wide range of trades including ironmongers, saddlers, engravers, shoemakers and watchmakers. Membership also appears to have extended to trades not normally associated with using a hammer, including innkeepers and tailors. Acting as a charitable organisation, their Charter indicates the aim of the society was to raise funds to care for the poor of the hammermen crafts and to train their children for a trade in the craft. Their motto is –

“With hammer and hand

All arts doth stand”

The society was controlled by 7 elected representatives, masters of their crafts, two acting as key-keepers who could open the common chest when both present. One would act as Box-master, responsible for the safety of the chest and acting as treasurer. The other would act as Collector, responsible for collecting the dues from members. Dues consisted of fees paid on joining the society and annual membership fees. The amount of dues would vary for apprentices, journeyman or freemen.

The picture is of the ornamented memorial stone, for the internment ground owned by the society, in High Churchyard, Paisley. The church is now known as Oakshaw Trinity Church. It reads -

The property of Hammermen Society of Paisley, 1796

“To help the poor is our design

In this our late erection;

This shall a testimony be

Of this our good intention”

The society continues its charitable work today.

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