The Burgesses were the Original Defenders of Aberdeen

Before there were councils or local authorities, the Burgesses ran the show in the Granite City.

The Burgesses of Guild might stretch back over eight centuries, but they were out in force at the weekend when I attended a special event to see the Lord Provost presenting the group with a new coat of arms. It was a terrific occasion and I was delighted to be part of it.


27/02/16 Presentation of the Aberdeen Burgesses’ letters patent by Lord Lyon King of Arms Dr. Joe Moro (right) to Lord Dean, Colin Taylor.

It’s these traditions which make the city, the special place that it is, and it’s vital that we continue to celebrate their role in society.

It was only last year that the group marked its 800th anniversary. It was 1214 when King Alexander II granted trading rights to the city, giving legitimacy to the Burgesses, who were local merchants and traders.

Ever since, the Burgesses have played a key role in the development of the city.

The earliest existing records refer to the rights the Burgesses had during the reign of David I from 1124 to 1153.

The Alexander II Royal Charter conferred further privileges on the Burgesses.

From the granting of the charter onwards, the Burgesses of Guild remained an integral part of the council in Aberdeen, upholding the town’s laws and customs.

They were even called upon to defend the Royal Burgh.

In 1411, the Burgesses played a major role in the army, raised by Provost Davidson, which halted the invading forces of the Lord of the Isles, at the Battle of Harlaw.

Only peace was breaking out at the Town House last Saturday, however when, along with Lord Dean of Guild Colin Taylor, Lord Provost George Adam and The Lord Lyon, I witnessed another significant milestone in the long, great history of the original city defenders.