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Title: The locksmith craft in early modern Edinburgh
Author: Allen, A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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The Edinburgh locksmith craft was a branch of a hierarchical incorporation of metal workers known as the Incorporation of Hammermen. This thesis aims to gain a better understanding of the organisation, influence and practicalities of a specific occupation found in most urban areas of early modern Europe. The thesis looks at three broad areas, set out in six chapters relating to the locksmith craft. The first area is the structure, government, and influence of the locksmiths in the social hierarchy in which the craft existed. How influential were the locksmiths? How wealthy were they? What patterns of growth and decline are visible in the surviving records for the hammermen? What does this tell us about Edinburgh’s early modern metalwares market? The second area deals with the relation of the locksmiths to society. The locksmiths had unofficial associates with other craftsmen both within their own incorporation and outside it, who worked with similar materials or techniques. The role of the craft in providing security is also scrutinized, both in general burgess duties, and the locksmith’s unique contribution in providing security technology. The third area deals with the practical side of their trade. Their workplace, products and services are looked at in order to understand just what they contributed to early modern society, and how they applied their skills. This thesis is multi-disciplinary, in that it relies heavily on both historical documents, such as the Incorporation of Hammermen’s minute books and burgh records, and also on surviving material culture, through the extensive collection of locks and keys housed in the National Museums of Scotland. Thy physical objects used by a society are as important a record as the written documents. By studying the surviving artefacts, some interesting hypotheses can be drawn on the role of the locksmith in early modern urban society, as well as giving a better understanding of the skill levels required to work in the particular craft. The period covered is from 1483, when the metalworkers were first given permission to incorporate into an organized craft guild, to 1750, which is an arbitrarily chosen point, before which Edinburgh was an increasingly demanding consumer society, but which predates the new technology prompted by the Industrial Revolution. The technology and social structure of the locksmiths did not change drastically over this period, though both were remarkably different from the medieval or modern periods. It was a time when guild influence was still strong, and technology was relatively weak. This study represents a single craft in a unique time period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available