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About Us

Coat of ArmsThe Burgesses of Guild of the City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen is one of the oldest civic institutions in Scotland.   We are first mentioned in historical documents in the year 1124 when, as a growing centre of trade and commerce, Aberdeen became a Royal Burgh and gained special distinction with the other principal burghs in Scotland.

Much of the history of the city stems from the actions of its early Burgesses, those responsible citizens who, appointed as Freemen, were charged with guarding the Burgh’s laws and customs as well as the Burgh itself. Their loyalty to King and community brought its own rewards by way of trading privileges as well as the general esteem in which they were held. 

It was on 27th February 1214 that the Burgesses were granted a Royal Charter by King Alexander II of Scotland who reigned from 1214 to 1249, thus Merchant Burgesses were given the sole right to form a Guild and this body exercised considerable power in the composition of the local Council – and consequently the affairs of the city. The Burgesses of the Guild were an integral part of the Council for more than 700 years and played a considerable role in the growth and development of Aberdeen, but the role of the Burgesses of Guild today is very different from that of their predecessors.

Over 800 years after formation the Burgesses of Aberdeen number some 1,100 and in the 21st Century the men and women who are admitted as Burgesses of the City of Aberdeen will regard this as an honour particularly so because they will have been proposed and seconded discreetly by current Burgesses with their nomination considered by the Lord Dean of Guild and their Committee of Assessors. The qualification for admittance is relatively simple, a Nominee will be someone who:

  • is a resident of or has a business address in the City of Aberdeen;
  • is a person of good fame and character;
  • is at least 25 years of age;
  • has some years experience in industry, commerce or the professions;
  • holds or has held a position of responsibility in his/her business or organisation, and
  • has shown involvement in activities outwith his or her occupation which are of benefit to the community or city.

The last point is significant because in their consideration of a nomination the Lord Dean and Assessors will fully expect to be well satisfied with this.

This can be summarised in the motto of The Burgesses, which is:


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