Museum exhibition marks Elgin’s opposition to the Slave Trade

Elgin Museum - major new summer exhibition is under way.
Elgin Museum – major new summer exhibition is under way.

A CELEBRATION OF TRADES that have wielded a heavy influence in Elgin through the years is the subject of a new exhibition currently on display at the Elgin Library.

The exhibition features banners, seals, minute books, aprons and photographs donated by the Trades which operated in Elgin – as well as items such as the Deacon Convener’s Chair, donated by the last Deacon Convenor of the Incorporated Trades of Elgin when it was disbanded just two years ago.

From Weavers to Tailors, Glovers to Hammermen, the trades had an extreme influence on Elgin from their first being established in 1268 through to the late 20th Century. Central to the exhibition is a 19th century copy of the Royal Charter signed by Alexander III in 1268, granting merchants of the Royal Burgh of Elgin the right to establish Guilds and the Trades to form Corporations.

This was a privilege accorded to only six burghs in Scotland at the time, the others being Perth, Aberdeen, Stirling, Berwick and Dundee.
The Minute Books also provide an interesting insight into the history of the time, including recording the opposition to the slave trade in 1791 – sixteen years before it was abolished in Britain.

They also record the projects undertaken by the Trades such as a new fishing boat for Lossiemouth in 1787, a public well in Elgin in 1816, the new St Giles Church in 1829 the town Gaol six years later, and a new harbour for Lossiemouth in 1837.

Museum volunteers Sara Marsh, Rober Pendergast and Stuart Mackenzie have spent months researching the archives and pulling together the new exhibition.  Sara said: “We are so grateful to have these wonderful exhibits which record the huge influence of the Trades in Elgin which date back from 1268.

“These craftsmen were central to life in Elgin and the surrounding areas and realised early on how working in partnership could benefit all – whether improving their trading route with an upgrade to Lossiemouth harbour or funding the Church and Gaol.”

The exhibition will run throughout the summer.