1668

1668 is a significant year for the Faculty, as it is in this year that records of the Faculty's business begin. Although the Faculty had been in existence prior to 1668, there are no surviving official records dating from before the 12th of November 1668, the date of the first entry in the first Minute Book of the Faculty. The Minute Books of the Royal Faculty of Procurators provide invaluable information about the business conducted by the Faculty throughout its history, the priorities of the organisation and the concerns of its members.

 

"The objects of the Faculty as disclosed in the Minutes were to provide for the poor of the Courts, to determine the necessary qualifications of procurators, to supervise the professional conduct of members and to confer with the Commissaries regarding Court procedure and fees." - John Spencer Muirhead

Minute Book

The first entry of the Minute Book records Poor Fund donations, records sentence money (fees paid to the sheriff), and lists fines for misbehaviour. The entry begins:

 

"The Tuell of November, 1668

Ane Roll of the names and soumes to be contributed be the memberis of the Commissariot courtis of Glasgow and Hammiltoune everie sessioune in tyme cuming ffor the helpe and supplie of the poor decayed breithrein and servandis of the saidis courtis thair wyves and children yeirlie as followes."

 

The section in the entry titled 'For Regulating the Hous' lists the fines which procurators would be obliged to pay for disruptive behaviour in the court. Procurators would be fined two shillings for "clattering within the barr", six shillings if they should "sweir or bane [curse] within the court", and six shillings if they "speike in any manes caus except he be imployed". This demonstrates the authority which the Faculty had over its members, as well as giving an interesting insight into the environment of the early courts, and the types of misbehaviour which lawyers commonly exhibited.

Mortification boards

The Poor Fund money has been collected by the Faculty for the length of the Faculty's recorded history. The Poor Fund was used to support members of the Faculty who needed financial assistance, the families of members who had died, and other necessitous people. Although the law was a respected profession, there were many Glasgow lawyers over the years who found themselves in need of assistance.

 

"Probably in none of the learned professions as carried on in Glasgow is there a greater struggle on the part of the majority of its members to maintain that show of prosperity which is necessary in a business where shabbiness carries with it a suggestion of the disreputable." -D. MacLeod Malloch

 

In the small library, there is a display of several mortification boards, which commemorate particularly generous donations made by members of the Faculty to the Poor Fund. Some of the donations are in merks - this was a silver coin in use in Scotland around the 17th century. Its original value was equivalent to 13 shillings and fourpence, which was two-thirds of one pound Scots, or one English shilling. By 1603, one pound sterling was worth 12 pounds Scots. In today's money, the donation by John McUre of 200 merks would be worth around £28,000 sterling.

Email: library@rfpg.org

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