| Splendid Banquet will be prepared under the auspices of
Brother Murray of the Morning and Evening Star, both of which
are expected to be present.
WE commend such of the Brethren as have Friends not likely
to bring any discredit on the fraternity, and who can
produce undoubted TESTIMONIALS of GOOD MORAL Character and
correct Behaviour, to present them before Us for approval
at OUR Ancient Cross.
|Given at our Palace Salt Preston, this
1st day of July 1851.
My Lord's State Carriage for Salt Preston will leave the N.B.R.
Terminus at 20 minutes before n o'clock A.M.
The foregoing is a form of circular which was wont to be sent
out annually from the city of Edinburgh by the members of
the Chapmen's Association. That there was fun at the foundation
of it, may readily be seen. There was no fun however in the
figure 4 at the foot of the circular. This denoted that the
Chapmen always liked to have fourpence in the is. when selling
" The Chapmen of the three Lothians formed themselves
into an association in 1530 ; and they received a Charter
from James IV. for having supplied him with certain ' merks
Scots ' for the purpose of helping him to equip his army for
Flodden, 1513." This is from an old gazetteer, and another
old gazetteer says : " These Chapmen by some means acquired
a right to the Cross at Preston in 1636, and the title of
descendants to claim it, and a quarter of an acre of ground
around it, has never been disputed."
Whether the Chapmen really acquired these rights would be
difficult, without "deeds," to determine; but no
"deeds" are required to show that the grounds adjacent
to the Cross must have been free of access at all times to
everyone. Not only were markets held there twice a week during
the early centuries, but the Fair of St Jerome was held there
annually, on the 2nd Thursday of October. This fair is mentioned
as early as 1617, " but," says an old minister of
the parish (Rev. J. Trotter), " its saintly designation
clearly points to its having existed long before that date.
" Perhaps Jerome would be chaplain to the original Chapmen.
He would probably hail from Newbattle, and might have been
the originator of Preston Fair.
Whatever the origin of the fair, or however early its date,
there seems to be no doubt that the Chapmen began to attend
it, and held their meetings at the Market Cross in 1636; but
it was not for amusement they met in those days.
The annual " fair" day has again arrived. Behold
these ancient merchantmen in solemn conclave gathered at the
ancient Cross, and listen to their utterings as they rise
and fall upon the breeze. There is no grin upon their countenances,
no acrimony in their words; because they have not come together
with the intention of undermining each other; they have met
to arrange their prices, and to settle what profits they will
take on the various goods at their disposal, not only at St
Jerome's Fair, but throughout the ensuing season.
These were not common " Packmen. " The Packman of
our day is a dealer in oddments, who invariably suits his
prices and his profits, according to the 'cuteness or the
incredulity of his customer.
Upwards of two centuries ago the adjoining villages of Cockenzie,
Seton, Pension, Ormiston, Elphinstone, and Tranent had their
annual fairs too; not for the benefit of such as now frequent
these annual fetes; but the tailors, the shoemakers, and the
weavers of the Lothians, were the venders who turned out in
those days to dispose of their productions. In these tailors,
weavers, etc., we seem to have those who were wont to assemble
at St Jerome's Fair, and formed the early Chapmen's Society.
In 1796 the number of Packmen who kept horses for going about
the country, in order to dispose of their goods, had dwindled,
in East Lothian, down to six. The two market days a week had,
many years previous to this, been reduced to one, and soon
afterwards the markets ceased altogether to be held there.
The fair of St Jerome continued at Preston till 1732. It was
then transferred to Salt Preston, where, in 1752, it came
to an end; and with the fair of St Jerome died out the original
" Incorporation of Chapmen. "
The Incorporation had scarcely breathed its last when a similar
institution took its place. This had its headquarters in Edinburgh,
and was formed for the most part of clothiers. This new association
aspired to be the genuine successor of