At each annual Convener Court Election Dinner, there is a toast to the memory of Dr. William Guild, the first Patron of the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen. This is no mere tradition, but is heartfelt – an essential part of the Election Dinner; and the Toast is always proposed by the current Patron. It is my privilege to hold this office and therefore to propose the Toast tonight.
Dr. Guild is held in high esteem to this day because of the legacy and the heritage he bequeathed to the Incorporated Trades. Not only did he gift the Incorporation its first meeting place and hospital, but also he gave unstintingly of his time and wisdom as its first Patron.
Dr. Guild is remembered also at the University of Aberdeen where he was Principal for some ten years and where a modern building is named after him, as is also Guild Street down near the station and near the site of that first meeting place and hospital.
That Dr. Guild is held in such high regard by the present day members of the Seven Incorporated Trades is shown not only by this annual Toast to his memory, but also and very importantly by the work recently undertaken by the Incorporated Trades to restore the gravestone of Dr. Guild and his wife Catherine to its original condition.
The gravestone is situated in the St. Nicholas Churchyard, accessed from Back Wynd and just to the left of the gateway there. The gravestone, dating back to 1657, was showing signs of deterioration due to its age and the vicissitudes of the weather.
Great care was taken in the restoration which involved consultation with various bodies including Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland and the Lord Lyons Court.
I would encourage you to visit the gravestone and see for yourself the restoration. This undertaking clearly shows the high regard in which Dr. Guild is held by members of the Trades today.
He gave the Seven Incorporated Trades of this great city the strong foundation which has endured through the years and indeed the centuries. We continue to value Dr. Guild’s outstanding contribution to the Trades and to honour his memory.
I ask you now to rise as we toast the memory of our first Patron, Dr. William Guild.