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Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from Edinburgh’s archives.


Jan 31, 2013

27 January 1563.

Government intervention to fix alcohol prices is not a new phenomenon. 450 years ago, the records of the Burgh of Edinburgh reveal the receipt of an ordinance in the name of Mary Queen of Scots. This required the City’s leaders to implement a Royal Proclamation on the price of wine or face severe penalties. The intervention was, however, to set maximum prices rather than minimum!

‘The Quenis Majestie ordains the provest and baillies of the burgh to put the lait act and statut of  counsel maid anent the selling of wynis within this realm to dew execution in all poyntiss within the boundis and fredome of the said burgh . . . under the pane of forfalting and tynsale (loss) of thair fredome.’

The provost, bailies and council took heed and ordered that Bordeaux should not exceed 8 pence a pint.  Rochell and other wines should not be dearer than 6 pence a pint.

The proclamation also directed the Council to ensure that cordiners (shoe and boot makers) received sufficient leather to provide the Queen’s subjects with footwear at a fair price. The provost, bailies and council were directed to:

‘serch and seik diligently within the fredome of thair said burgh, that every cordiner and man exerceand that craft have sufficient ledder (leather) and uther stuff to wirk and laubour for furnessing of the Quenis Maiesties lieges upoun the prices statut by the provost and bailies within the said burgh.
Sic subscibitur MARIE R.’

It appears that the young queen was anxious to win favour with her citizens and to demonstrate, through practical benefits to her subjects, that the ‘regiment of women’ was far from ‘monstrous’.

The Council therefore set a range of maximum prices for different types of footwear. The cheapest were a pair of single soled shoes at three shillings and eight pence. The most expensive were a pair of finest double soled boots at twenty four shillings.



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