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Guildry Funds

A  lthough it was agreed that the Guildry's charitable funds be administered by the Town Council solely for the benefit of impoverished Guild brethren, their widows, orphans and unmarried daughters, control of these funds has lain with successive local authorities.

Ager Abredonensis

On a number of occasions in the mid-19th Century members of the Guildry found their claim to ownership of Guildry funds angrily rebuffed by the Town Council, all of whose members were, of course, members of the Guild. Possession being said to be nine-tenths of the law, and the Guildry being an unincorporated body, the Council were able to persuade the Court of Session of their rights to the funds labelled as Guildry funds.

There had been earlier conflicts between Guild and Council. In 1782 and again in 1817 Burgesses were involved in local agitation for political change, but it was only after the reform of Parliament in 1832 that the Royal Burghs Reform Act of 1833 began the slow democratisation of local government.

Aberdeen, still within its ancient boundaries, was made up of three wards and councillors were elected by the votes of all qualified electors within each ward, men who were owners or tenants of property with an annual rental of at least £10.

This was, of course, a long way short of the democratic process we have come to know, especially when we bear in mind that until 1871 votes were not secret but recorded by the Town Clerk’s staff in voting registers still preserved in city archives.

With introduction of the Police Act of 1871 the role of Burgesses was changed completely. No longer could they be looked upon as guardians of the burgh, and with removal of trading privileges their position no longer held the relevance of earlier days.

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