Burgesses and Freemen

Guide to burgesses and freemen in Glasgow and Rutherglen from the 16th to the 20th century.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:

  • name of the person
  • when they lived


What records can I find in The Mitchell: Glasgow City Archives?

The City Archives holds the records of those admitted as burgesses and freemen for Glasgow, 1573-1969 (incomplete), and for Rutherglen, 1620-1975 (incomplete).

The main series are:

Burgesses of the City Of Glasgow:

  • Council minutes, 1573-1609 (Ref no: C1/1)
  • Dean of Guild Act Book, 1609- 1776 (Ref No: B4/1)
  • Roll books, 1613-1956 (Ref No: C5/1)
  • Roll books of Honorary Burgesses of Glasgow, 1800-1969 (Ref No: T-TH1/96/2)

Burgesses of Rutherglen:

  • Burgess registers, 1620-1975 (Ref No: RU3/5)


There are several distinct classes of burgesses, including burgesses, burgess freemen, burgess and guild brethern and honorary burgesses. Although all were nominally admitted to the freedom of the burgh, they had different privileges.


For the large number of burgesses who entered by hereditary right, the burgess rolls often give the name of the applicant’s father, or if the applicant was becoming a burgess through marriage, his wife’s and father-in-law’s name will be given.


Between February 1900 and June 1904, Glasgow Corporation agreed to admit Glasgow-based Boer War volunteers as burgesses and guild brethren of the city.


What records can I see online?

There is a list of the Boer War Burgesses for the City of Glasgow.


Many records of the Trades House of Glasgow have been digitised or transcribed, and are available via the Trades House Digital Library​.


What records can I see elsewhere?

The list of the Burgesses and Guild Brethern for Glasgow, 1573- 1846 have been printed:
J. R Anderson, editor, Burgesses and Guild Brethren of Glasgow 1543-1846 (Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh)



Glasgow City Archives


0141 287 2910

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