12th Century Perth ~ Brief Notes

1100 onwards saw an increase in manufacturing and trade and the development of the burghs.

Charters making grants to religious establishments show that burghs existed at Berwick and Roxburgh before 1124 and probably at Perth soon after that. David I created many burghs. Perth became a royal burgh and was granted, by successive monarchs, certain privileges enabling it to grow and prosper. Perth had a strategic position.

In the 12th century kings often stayed at Scone or at the castle of Perth. There were collected the rents and produce from the king’s lands.

In 1126, David I gave the burgh church to the monks of Dunfermline Abbey. He used the money from the town’s revenues to establish further religious houses. In Perth, revenue came from burgh rents and ship customs. Town – Watergate, Skinnergate, High Street and South Street (east) with Church and castle (mentioned in documents c1220 onwards).

Baldwin the Lorimer, a Fleming, settled in Perth. He had “a toft in Perth with a booth on North Street at the Castle”. He had “to keep watch” and “close off the end of his toft with a palisade”.

William the Lion in a charter granting land to Cambuskenneth Abbey writes of “my new burgh of Perth”. In 1174, William was taken prisoner by the English and had to buy his release by acknowledging England as his overlord and by surrendering the castles of Berwick, Roxburgh, and Edinburgh. More use was then made of Perth, Stirling, and Forfar.

1210 – Flood destroyed the castle of Perth (and bridge and chapel) and William and his court moved to Stirling. Produce-rents were now collected in Kinclaven.

Charter of 1210 to burgh of Perth from William the Lion. It states that the burgesses are to have “their gild merchant” … “except for fullers and weavers”. These were business men, capitalists and employers investing money in the cloth trade. They did not labour with feet (fullers) or hands (weavers). Also no foreign merchant could cut cloth in Perth (or buy and sell in the district) except from May to August. This cut out foreign competition. Scottish wool could only be exported to the Flemish looms by buying from the middlemen in Perth. Fuel – wood – could be bought freely in the town. Wine, too, had to be sold in bulk in Perth.

Names of some of the inhabitants can be found in charters and grants – James the Smith, William of Lynn, John Cokyn, James Fitz Untred, Henry Baid, goldsmith, four dyers, tanner, lorimer, helmet maker, smith – but none of the “lower” trades – waulkers, websters, baxters, fleshers, and brewers. William of Lynn was probably a grain factor from Norfolk living in Perth and importing grain.

1189/99 – William the Lion granted a charter of land to Henry Baid – “that land which is in front of the street which leads from the church of St. John the Baptist to the Castle of Perth on the east side opposite to the house of Andrew, son of Simon”. payment to the King’s Chamberlain was one pound of pepper yearly. Henry Baid later gifted his land to the church at Scone. The King’s “rent” passed to the abbots there.