Bonnetmakers

The Bonnetmaker Craft meets regularly, takes part in all the Nine Trades business and has produced many Deacon Conveners of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee. Presently the largest of the Crafts, it has survived by changing to fit the times.

The Bonnetmaker Craft had proved to be the natural home for Dundee citizens working in the fields of Medicine, Law and Accountancy among many others in the business community.

The Craft can only survive by being relevant in the world of today and the energy and enthusiasm shown by the members with regard to its educational and charitable work is as important to the City today as it has been for over 500 years. There may be no operative Bonnetmakers left, but the spirit of the Craft will last as long as the Members find that they can be of service to the City of Dundee.

Members of the Bonnetmakers at a dinner

History of the Bonnetmakers

Dundee was the first Scottish Burgh to have a Bonnetmaker Craft. This is probably because the first bonnets were derived from those worn by clergymen coming from Europe. Dundee was the second burgh of Scotland and its trading and educational links with Europe made it very important and wealthy. 

Bonnetmakers plied their Trade from outside their houses. Sadly no Dundee bonnet exists today and there are no accurate descriptions. However we do know something about these bonnets. Dundee bonnets were black, usually worn by the middle classes, or blue, for the working classes. A few bonnets were made in russet colour. Whatever else we do know, it is certain that the “toorie” in black, blue or red was developed in Dundee. 

A likely reason why there are no Dundee bonnets left is because they were not worn by the Nobles, but only by the working classes. They were handed down from father to son until they literally fell to pieces.

The Bonnetmaker Craft was one of the few Crafts that allowed women into their ranks. These women were not allowed to become Masters in their own right or have any say in the running of the Craft, but as far as can be ascertained were wives or widows of masters. Several times an apprentice would be entered as serving the Master and his wife or whichever of them outlived the other.

The Bonnetmakers the first “open” Craft and undoubtedly saved them as a Craft today, albeit as a social and charitable organisation with no Craft members.Today the membership is strongly representative of the professions, as well as the business community. The legal, medical and accountancy professions are very much at home as Bonnetmakers, and the craft now has a large membership.

More about the history of the Bonnetmakers

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    Supported by The Bonnetmakers

    Each trade supports a number of charities and good causes. The good causes that the Bonnetmakers fund are:

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      Office Holders

      • Deacon

        Alan Matthew

        Alan is a Consultant based at Miller Hendry Solicitors and Estate Agents, Dundee. His areas of specialisation are Employment Law, Intellectual Property and Licensing. After graduating from the University of Dundee in 1978, Alan worked in a number of legal firms in Tayside and Fife before joining Miller Hendry in 1998.

      • Boxmaster

        Bruce Donaldson

        Bruce is the Business Advisor and External Relations officer with Dundee and Angus College. He is Chair of Y.E.S Area Board, a Cub Leader and general life enthusiast.

      • Clerk

        Alan Matthew

        Alan is a Consultant based at Miller Hendry Solicitors and Estate Agents, Dundee. His areas of specialisation are Employment Law, Intellectual Property and Licensing. After graduating from the University of Dundee in 1978, Alan worked in a number of legal firms in Tayside and Fife before joining Miller Hendry in 1998.