The Incorporation, which was chartered in 1530, exists today for benevolent and social purposes, to support the good traditions of the past and to foster those skills falling within the widest ambit of Bonnetmaking and Dyeing, including all the Arts.

The Incorporation of Bonnetmakers and Dyers of Edinburgh welcomes to its membership any person interested in its declared purposes, namely, to maintain and promote the wellbeing of the City of Edinburgh, her citizens and the entire country in the widest possible way, relieving poverty and distress, fostering education and good citizenship and the preservation of the good and agreeable traditions of the community, all within the law of charity.

The Incorporation arranges visits for members and their guests to exhibitions and businesses of interest to its members and holds its Annual General Meeting at the end of March.   It presents an annual Award to a student involved with Textiles at Edinburgh College of Art and a similar Award to a student at Heriot Watt University School of Textiles and Design, Edinburgh College (the former Telford College) and as from 2021, Queen Margaret University (two awards).

Admission to membership is at the discretion of the Court of the Incorporation and on payment of the entry dues. 



The bonnetmakers had originally been part of the Incorporation of Waulkers.  After almost ten years, the bonnetmakers, wishing to have their own incorporation, petitioned the Town Council of Edinburgh.  Their petition was granted and they received a Seal of Cause on 31st March 1530 and so they became the Incorporation of Bonnetmakers.  In 1684 the litsters (dyers) of Edinburgh joined the Incorporation of Bonnetmakers and so it became the Incorporation of Bonnetmakers and Dyers of Edinburgh. This is an example of one of the few successful break-aways from existing incorporations. It occurred when the trades were still in flux, some waxing and some waning. At a later date new incorporations ceased to be made and new crafts were incorporated within existing bodies.

The privileges granted to a trade incorporation were generally only recognised within the town which had granted the seal of cause. According to some writers, some trade incorporations tried to get extra charters from Parliament to ensure their privileges would be recognised outside their own burgh.

Like all the city corporations, the Bonnetmakers had a form of prayer, which was recorded in 1637, for use at its meetings.  This prayer is still read today by the Deacon at the opening of all Court meetings and other meetings of the Incorporation.

Prayer: 1637

"Oh most Gracious God and Heavenly Father, who of Thine infinite goodness has ordained these meetings for the preservation of love, concord and humane society:  Grant Oh Lord that no particularity nor partiality overrule the hearts of any here present, but that there may be for only the object weal and prosperity of every brother wished and craved.  And to that effect rectify our wills, memories and understandings to Thy heavenly will, and be Thou with us through Thy comfortable presence for Jesus Christ's sake.  To whom with Thee and Thy holy spirit be all praise, honour and glory. So be it."