Dundee's other Trades & Orgs

The Fraternity of Masters & Seamen

Being a Port, with business and transport revolving around this as a centre, it is not surprising that Dundee’s history is intertwined with the success of the Port and its activities.
As the premier form of transport for getting goods sold or bought, and then brought into the country for selling on, or using in manufacture, shipping and the port dominated Dundee’s earliest existence. Indeed it was the reason for its very existence.
The Port also provided a very clear and useful point of taxing and raising money, for the City, and for those who ran the Port Authority, for its upkeep, and wellbeing.
The City’s prosperity and the Port’s prosperity went hand in hand, and the Captains and Master and owners of vessels commanded great power, respect and wealth.

By the late eighteenth century, Dundee was one of the finest, safest, and most convenient ports in the UK, with huge trade with Europe since before 1500 contributing to the growth of the City around flax and jute- with sails for ships providing much continuing trade for many years to come for a Global Jute industry to flourish around.
Whaling and Shipbuilding both became well established at the Port too, with the latter lasting in the City until the 1980’s when cheaper overseas markets started to dominate the world market.

The history and importance of the Fraternity of Masters and Seamen of Dundee is therefore a vital part of the City’s heritage, and their growth and wealth followed that of the Port. Founded in the mid sixteenth century, to look after the interest and businesses of its members, it received a royal charter in the second half of the eighteenth century.

The Fraternity still exists today, but mostly for charitable purposes, as much of its power, as that of the other City Trades, disappeared with Local Governmental reforms which saw acts of parliament withdraw much of their power, and money raising abilities during the nineteenth century.