We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Cities in History: Archives and Traces, 1100 –1700

Ordinances of the Newcastle coopers

Tyne and Wear Archives, GU.CO/2/2'GU.CO/2/2')

The coopers of Newcastle were not, like the skinners and glovers, one of the twelve crafts named in 1342 (Mayor and Aldermen vs Burgesses of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) as having a role in the election of the town’s officials, but by the seventeenth century, when they had amalgamated with the craft of pulley-makers, they were, indeed, ‘an Antient Company and Societie’ within the town. These guild ordinances include a copy of a civic ordinance from 1662, which sets out a definition of citizenship. To be a burgess of Newcastle was to enjoy certain rights, especially the economic privilege of exercising a trade in the town. But it was also to uphold duties that were incumbent on the good citizen: specifically, the obligation to be in ‘Scott and Lott’, that is, the requirement to pay taxes and the liability to hold offices. The complaint in 1662 was that there were many people who were secretly and fraudulently engaged in trade and who were free from the responsibilities that came with the privileged status of a citizen. Citizens thus suffered twice over.