Silversmiths of Banff

The Silversmiths of Banff

While gold and silversmithing had been carried out in the principal Scottish burghs during the mediæval period, many of the smaller coastal burghs in Scotland had active gold and silversmiths from the 17th century onwards. While silversmithing was an infrequent trade at some burghs (such as Peterhead), Banff had a consistent “succession” of silversmiths from the end of the 17th century to the mid-19th century.

The Incorporation of Hammermen was one of the six Incorporated Trades of Banff (the other five were: Wrights, Coopers, Shoemakers, Tailors, and Weavers). The trades included in the Hammermen Incorporation were: smiths, masons, gunsmiths, bakers, glovers, apothecary chirurgeons, fleshers, sadlers, watchmakers, and gold and silversmiths. The Incorporation of Hammermen was wound up in 1843.

The marks used by Banff silversmiths usually consisted of their initials and an abbreviation for Banff. Other marks specific to individual silversmiths included a crowned heart for Patrick Scott, a fish for John Keith, and a covered urn for George Elder. Several silversmiths also used a thistle mark.

Listed below are the gold and silversmiths of Banff (some of these were connected also with Aberdeen, Elgin or Inverness). A star (*) indicates those of whose work we have an example on display.

Banff Silversmiths - Date Active

William Scott (I)      1688 – 1702
Patrick Scott (I)      1688 – 1695
William Scott (II)*      1700 – 1748
Patrick Scott (II)*      1700 – 1729
George Leith*      1700 – 1702
Patrick Gordon      1723 – 1741
Thomas Forbes      1747 – 1750
Alexander Shirreff*      1755 – 1761
Gilbert Bannerman      1764
Alexander McKay      1771 – 1776
John Argo*      1771 – 1795
William Byres*      1775 – 1792
Peter Gill      1778 – 1783
James Paterson      1785 – 1788
David Izat*      1794 – 1799
John Keith     1794 – 1824
John McQueen     1816 – 1839
George Duncan      1816 – 1846
David Elder      1819
George Elder*      1819 – 1843
William Simpson (I)*      1825 – 1855
John Watson      1837
William Simpson (II)      1852 – 1875
William & John Simpson      1867 – 1880

Dr David M. Bertie


CRAMOND, W. (1893) The Annals of Banff, Vol. II. Aberdeen (New Spalding Club), 498pp.

CRAMOND, W. (1903) The Hammermen of Banff. Transactions of the Banffshire Field Club, 6, 3-16. Visit Banffshire Field Club website here

PICKFORD, I. (ed.) (1989) Jackson’s Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland & Ireland. Woodbridge, Suffolk (Antique Collectors’ Club), 766pp