The Incorporation originated along
with the Wrights in the ancient craft of the Masons.
In 1569 the Coopers separated from
the Masons and Wrights and were granted their own charter. As
well as regulating entry to the Craft and making provision for a
weekly levy of 1d payable by each craftsman for the support of
their poor the charter enacted regulations for standards of
craftsmanship. These included a provision that "upon each Saturday
at evening, three or four of the worthiest and most perfect
craftsmen of the said Craft shall pass and search and visit all
men's work to see if it be sufficient and good and able for serving
our sovereign lord's lieges or not, and, where it shall be found in
fault, the same shall be corrected and forbidden in all time
coming, under the pain of escheating thereof". No craftsman
was to take more than one apprentice at any one time and the length
of the apprenticeship was fixed at no less than seven years.
Every applicant for membership had to be of good moral character in
a visible way of supporting himself and a burgess of Glasgow.
While the trade protection aspects
of the Incorporation are now defunct its charitable and educational
functions remain: assistance is given to a number of needy
individuals who have a connection with the trade or the
Incorporation and the Craft awards prizes to apprentice coopers on
completion of their apprenticeship. The Incorporation is
delighted that His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex accepted
Honorary Membership in 2008. He has allowed his name to be
used for the Earl of Wessex awards, which comprise our annual
prizes to apprentices, a scholarship to assist qualified coopers to
further their skills and knowledge and encourage innovation, and
the support we now give to the Glasgow Sea Cadet Unit.
Close connections are maintained
with the Worshipful Company of Coopers of London and we also have
links with other Incorporations of Coopers in Scotland. The
Incorporation participates fully in the broader work of the Trades
House (to which it elects four members).
The History of the Incorporation by
Craig Mair was published in 2004. (Copies can be obtained
from the Clerk.)