The Old Boys' Club
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Mr. Masoun, as the Town Clerk for the bustling Burgh of Ayr, you kept a fairly detailed record of the Burgh financial accounts for three decades near the beginning of the seventeenth century in the old pounds / shillings / pence ( / s / d) currency system. You must have a pretty clear understanding of where the money went. We find it curious that close to nine per cent of the Town's revenue was spent on hospitality and on the entertainment and satisfaction of the friends of the local elite. Do the following payments ring a bell?

3 1s: Breakfasts for the auditors of the common compts and the stenters, at the making of the stent-roll

12: To Thomas Murray, the King's Master Farrier, "to haif his gude report"

13s 4d: For ale, wheat-bread and "bakin meit" given to the goodman of Machremeir

24 17s 6d: For wine given to Lord Loudoun and others, "gudewillaris of this toun"

38 14s 8d: For French wine (L1 per quart), candy wine, "comfeittis", bread, beer (5s per quart), "aquavitae" (L1 per pint) and meat given at sundry times to honorable men to whom "the juges and toun ar addettit in favour for thair gude will manifestit to the toun" -- Lords Abercorn and Loudoun, the lairds of Kerss and MacNachtane, Lefnoreis, the burgh magistrates (at their election), the town's agent, the minister, Mr. Setoun, the King's carpenter (at his admission as burgess) and the Italian who came "anent the candy wyne".

23 8s 6d: For wine given at sundry times throughout the year to the town's "gude freindis" (Hamilton, Cassilis, Garlies, Caprintoun and the ministers)

4 16s: For wine given to sundry noblemen at the Horse Race.

And, of course you remember your old guild pals who must have had a run of bad luck toward the end of their careers:

12: To James Kennedy, "ane auld failyeit gild brother"

6 13s 4d: To George Tod, "ane auld failyeit burges and honest levar"

2: To John Keyth, "ane pure auld failyeit masoun" (1)

And we're not forgeting that a fairly decent male servant's annual wage for this time period in the early seventeenth century was between 30 and 40 -- just about the right amount to keep your "gude freindis" in "gude" spirits for a year!

Now, we acknowledge that the Burgh brass did spend some money on support of the poor -- but really now Mr. Masoun, one or two per cent of the Revenue was merely a token amount. Eight pence to a poor boy, 1s 4d for meat and drink to a poor man and 4d for a loaf to a poor woman are pretty paltry payments compared with your pattern of patronage plums to your pals.

Your old boys' club...

(1) Scottish History Society, Ayr Burgh Accounts, 1534-1624

From The Scarboro Heights Record V9 #7