Children's Employment Commission 1842

Extract from report by Joseph Fletcher Esq.

No. 50. Articles and Laws of the Leadhills' Reading Society, Instituted November 23, 1741.

We, subscribers, having agreed to form ourselves into a Society, in order to purchase a collection of books for our mutual improvement, did, upon the twenty-third day of November, one thousand seven hundred and forty-one, condescend upon certain articles and laws, to be observed by us, for the establishment and regulation of this our Society, which articles and laws having been then subscribed by James Wells, preses, and William Wright, clerk,* have hitherto been in force, and are still to continue, but with the following alteration and amendments, now found 30 necessary, and approved by the unanimous consent of our Society as now increased.


I. It is hereby ordained, that every person becoming a member of this Society shall, at his admission, pay seven shillings and sixpence sterling, and two shillings and sixpence annually.

II. That the good we hereby intend may not be subverted by the fraudulent design or combination of one or more members of the Society, it is hereby agreed and ordained, that whatever money or effects are once appropriated to the use of the Society, shall never afterwards be analysed or applied to any other use ; and, therefore, it is hereby provided and declared, that neither the Society in general, nor any individual member thereof, shall ever have a right, during his or their being a member or members, to embezzle any of the Society's effects, or to apply them to their own private use; and that every person who shall afterwards leave the Society shall not, at the time of his departure, or ever after, have a right to claim, as his property, any money, books, or any other effects whatever belonging to the Society.

III. Whatever acts and regulations the Society, since their commencement, have made, or shall hereafter make, consistent with these subscribed articles, shall be registered in our Journal book, according to the order of time in which they have been, or shall be, transacted, and subscribed by our preses and clerk, after which they shall be binding on all the members of the Society; nor shall such acts or regulations be ever altered or abrogated, except by a majority of the house at two general meetings, and that only when there are at least forty members present.

IV. Once every year, in the month of December, five members being chosen by the general meeting immediately preceding, shall inquire into the state of the Society's accounts, and make an estimate of their stock, annexing the present value of every article, which shall be balanced with their debt, and their neat stock made appear, which being approved by the next general meeting, and subscribed by the five estimators, shall be inserted in the Society's Journals; nor shall fewer than five be capable of making such an estimate.

V. To prevent all extravagant debts and unnecessary charges upon this Society, it is hereby specially constituted and ordained, that neither the Society in general, nor any member thereof, shall contract for books, or any effects whatever the annual payments of the then current year.

VI. The members of the Society for the time being shall be obliged to expose to every entrant the whole series of their transactions at his demand, and be accountable for damages, if such, through their default, be found - just allowance being always made for common wear of books.

VII. If the Society shall at any time be reduced to seven members, or fewer, they shall be further obliged to give public intimation in this town, or any other mining town, within the distance of six computed miles hereof, inviting members to enter (even though no entry money should be obtained), upon paying the then usual annual payments; and if this should not bring a sufficient sum for the support of the library, these remaining members may have, and are hereby allowed to have, a power of inviting any person whatever, within the said distance, upon the same terms, or of lending the Society's books to any proper persons living within that distance, for such sums of money, and such spaces of time, as they shall judge most for the support and security of the Society; and for the more effectual binding the members of the Society, when so reduced, to observe the above regulations, it is hereby further enacted (with consent of the Right Honourable John, present Earl of Hopetoun), that the Earl of of Hopetoun, or his successors, proprietors of Leadhills, for the time being, shall be empowered, as he and his aforesaids are hereby empowered, to examine the proceedings of the Society, when so reduced, to call the remanent members to account upon oath, as to their management of the library, and all the effects belonging to the Society, and their observation of the laws and regulations then in force, and to make them accountable for all intromissions and neglects. But it is hereby declared, that no right is hereby given, nor shall at any time after be given, to the said Earl, or his aforesaids, or to any person or persons whatever, of disposing of any books, or other effects whatever, belonging to the Society, nor of taking any concern with the Society's affairs, not specially provided for by this article - excepting only, that if at any time Leadhills being gone to decay, and by that means the members of the Society extinct, it may then be in the power of the said Earl, or his aforesaids, to transport the whole stock of the Society to any place within the barony of Hopeton, or within the distance of six computed miles of Leadhills, where it shall appear to the said Earl, or his aforesaids, that the books of the Society may be of most public benefit (provided always, the preference be given to mining towns), there to remain, and to be directed by the established laws thereof, until either Leadhills itself may revive, or some other mining town be elected within the said barony, to which they are again to return, agreeably to the original intention of the Society, and to the express meaning of this, and of all the other laws thereof.

And, for confirmation of the above articles, we are contented, and consent, that these presents be insert and registrate in the books of Council and Session, or other judges' court-books competent, within this kingdom, that letters of horning, on six days' warning, and other excutorials needful, may pass thereon; and thereto constitute our procurators. In witness whereof, we have subscribed these presents, written on vellum by James Wells, member of the Society, at Leadhills, this fifteenth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and forty-three years.


I. The Society shall have four general meetings in the year: viz., on the second Tuesday of January (which shall be their anniversary meeting), and on the first Tuesdays of April, July, and October, at each of which all the members shall attend, under penalty of sixpence sterling; and no excuses for absence to be sustained, unless signified in writing by the absent member, either to that meeting at which he is absent, or to the preses within a fortnight after said meeting. At these quarterly meetings, the Society may adjourn to any time they see convenient.

II. At every anniversary meeting, the Society shall by ballot elect a preses, a clerk, a treasurer, and three librarians, also an assistant librarian.

III. The preses shall preside at all meetings of the Society; keep regularity and decency; sum up all debates, and put all questions; call for all reports from committees, and accounts from the treasurer and others; summon all extraordinary meetings on any emergency; and take care that all the laws of the Society be strictly put in execution. In cases of his absence at any meeting of the Society, the members then present shall, by a majority of votes, elect one of their number to preside for that time, with the same powers. But the preses shall not sit as a member of any committee.

IV. The clerk shall, by himself or sufficient deputy, attend all general and extraordinary meetings and committees of the Society ; take down all minutes; read all letters and papers; and enter all proceedings of the Society at general meetings or committees into their Journal books, which he shall keep in his custody. He shall also deliver to the officer written advertisements of all extraordinary meetings of the Society ; copy and forward all letters written in their name ; and keep an exact list of the names, times of admission, fines, forfeitures, and arrears of all the members; their deaths, or dismission from the Society, which he shall likewise enter into the Journal. Upon receipt of any parcel of books, or other effects, for the use of the Society, he shall deliver them to the librarians, taking their receipt for the same. He shall keep an exact account of the books, to whom delivered, and when returned, which he shall produce to the Society at general meetings, or to committees, when called for. As an acknowledgment for his trouble, he shall receive the sum of ten shillings sterling, yearly, and the use of the Society's books, free of the ordinary payment, while he continues in office.

V. The treasurer, immediately upon his election, shall take into his hands all the ready money, bills, or other securities, belonging to the Society, for which he shall give receipt, with sufficient security; as also, for what money, bills, &c., may come into his hands during his continuing in office. He shall (but not without a written order from the preses, or a special appointment of the Society) disburse all money payable by the Society, and keep regular accounts, and produce receipts for the same. He shall, by himself or deputy, attend every general meeting of the Society; and when summoned by the committee, shall lay before them all his accounts and vouchers to be examined.

VI. The librarians shall take into their custody all the books, and other effects belonging to the Society, for which they shall give receipt, with sufficient security for the value fixed on these books, &c., at the estimation immediately preceding; as also for what books or effects may come into their hands during their continuing in office. If they shall fail to give punctual attendance in the library, by themselves or deputies, every night appointed for exchanging books, shall incur a fine of sixpence for each offence. They may also have the liberty of exchanging a book for any member, betwixt ordinary meetings for that purpose. They shall keep an exact catalogue of every book, &c. belonging to the Society; and are to use their utmost endeavours that the library, presses, books, &c., be kept clean and in good order. As an acknowledgement for their trouble, they likewise shall have the free use of the Society's books, while they continue in office. The assistant-librarian's duty is to read the number of the books to the clerk when given out, and when returned.

VII. All the above office-bearers shall be chosen out of the standing committee mentioned below. Any member duly elected into any of the above offices, and refusing to act, shall forfeit the sum of one shilling sterling, and another shall be immediately chosen in his room; but no member shall be obliged to serve in any office more than two years together.

VIII. Six inspectors shall be chosen immediately after the office-bearers : three of the inspectors, at least, shall attend in the library, under penalty of sixpence, every meeting, for exchanging books, and are to adjudge and estimate the damage done to books by the members; and the better to detect and prevent the lending or spoiling the Society's books while in the hands of the members, these inspectors, or any two of them, may, at any reasonable hour, on any lawful day, go to any member's house, who shall be obliged to show all his books to them, in order to their inspection. If any member shall refuse to show his books, or to satisfy the inspectors, he shall incur a fine of five shillings sterling; and they shall be obliged to report to general meetings and committees of their having thus gone to members' houses, and inspected the books in their hands, in several instances, every month; and, for the particular discharge of their office, they shall be furnished with written instructions from the preses at the time of their election, in which the fines for their neglects shall be ascertained.

IX. An officer shall be chosen every quarter: he shall attend all general meetings and committees of the Society, and execute all summonses and other orders given by the preses or committees, for which purpose he shall be furnished with lists of the members, or advertisements, to be fixed on the public places in this town, when necessary. If he shall be absent from the meeting of the Society at which his office shall expire, he shall be obliged to serve another quarter.

X. If the preses die, or leave the place, the Society shall, at their next general meeting, elect another for the remainder of the year; but in case of the death, resignation, or recess of the clerk, treasurer, or librarians, betwixt general meetings, the preses or committee shall immediately cause summon all the members in Leadhills to meet in three days after such summons, when they shall elect another officer in his room, for the remainder of the year.

XI. This Society shall always have a committee of eighteen members: nine new members of committee shall be named by the preses after the office-bearers are chosen, and the old members of committee shall go out by rotation. This committee shall meet on the first Wednesday of every month, or oftener, if the business of the Society shall require. They are to see that all orders given by the Society be put in execution. To them shall be referred all matters left undetermined at any of the Society's meetings, to consider and report on. the same at next general meeting. They shall prepare all matters to be laid before these meetings, and are to collect and examine all lists of books, &c., proposed by any of the members, and cause commission such of them as they shall judge most for the benefit of the Society. At their meeting immediately preceding the Society's quarterly meeting, they are to inspect the treasurer's accounts, and report on the same; and at proper times they are to examine and correct the minutes of the Society before they are entered into the Journal. They may also, upon any urgent occasion, cause summon a meeting of the Society in absence of the preses. They may adjourn to any time they see proper; and any eight of them shall have power to do business. Any member may attend their meetings, though not named thereto, and assist with his opinion, but is to have no vote on putting the question.

XII. Any member chosen into the committee, and refusing or neglecting to attend their meetings, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding sixpence for each transgression, to be adjudged of by a majority of said committee.

XIII. Any person desirous of becoming a member of this Society shall signify the same by a letter directed to the preses, at least six weeks before the general meeting at which, he desires to be admitted, which shall be communicated to all the members; and they, at their next General meeting, shall receive or reject such candidate as they see cause, which shall be done by the ballot; but no admission except at general meetings.

XIV. Every person admitted a member of this Society shall, immediately upon his admission, subscribe the articles of the Society, and pay into the Society's treasurer seven shillings and sixpence sterling, without being liable to any farther payment for the quarter in which he is admitted.

XV. Every person who now is, or hereafter shall become, a member of this Society, shall have a certificate of his admission, under the hand of the preses for the time beings, and the seal of the Society, and counter-signed by the clerk, in the following form:-

"No Leadhills,
"These are to certify, that was admitted a member of the Society for purchasing books, at Leadhills, the day of , A.D. , and is entitled to all the rights' and privileges of the same.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the Society day and year above written."
Signed Clerk and Preses.

Every member shall likewise be obliged to take a printed copy of the Society's Laws, at such a price as the .Society shall determine, that there may be no excuse for ignorance of said laws.

XVI. Every member of this Society shall pay into the hands of the treasurer the sum of two shillings and sixpence yearly, and that in equal divisions, at the beginning of every quarter. But if a rigorous insisting on paying quarterly be found inconvenient for any member, the Society may grant what indulgence they shall see necessary; but, it is specially provided, that all arrears be paid before or at every anniversary meeting; and that if any member fail herein, he shall be deprived of the use of the Society's books till payment be made ; with certification, that if he doth not pay up said arrears before or at the next general meeting in April, he shall be debarred from the Society, and from any privilege, right, or title to the same.

XVII. The Society may elect, as honorary members, such gentlemen as are concerned in and frequent this place; or others, though at a distance, who, by any good offices done the Society' or otherwise, may be thought deserving that honour: to whom it shall be allowed to read the Society's books, while in Leadhills, without payment, but not to have any vote in any of the Society's affairs, unless they enter as other members. When elected, shall be presented a copy of the Society's Laws, a Catalogue of their books, and a certificate of his election in the following form:-

"No Leadhills,
"These are to certify, that was elected an honorary member of the Society for purchasing books, at Leadhills, the day of , A.D. , and is entitled to free use of the Society's books while residing in Leadhills.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the Society day and year above written."
Signed Clerk and Preses.

XVIII. If any member absent himself from the Society's meetings for three months together, without previous notice given, the officer shall be ordered to summon him to the next general meeting, at which, if he do not appear, nor any satisfactory reason be given for his absence, he shall be excluded from the Society, and never afterwards be received but as a new entrant.

XIX. The second lawful day of every month, at six in the evening, is appointed for exchanging books, which shall be done in the manner following:-

1st. The books which have been in the hands of the members during the preceding month, shall be delivered into the hands of the assistant-librarian; and being marked as received by the clerk, .and inspected by the inspectors, shall be committed to their places.

2nd. The members being all seated, shall then receive books for the ensuing month - the privilege of the first choice, as also every succeeding choice, devolving upon every member in his turn, according as he stands in the clerk's list, so that he who chooses first this night shall choose last the next. New members shall always be allowed the first choice at the exchange after admission. If more new members than one, they shall choose according to the order of their admission - their admission being always according to the order of their intimation to the Society,

3rd. Any member who cannot attend in person may be allowed to employ a proxy, to whom he must give a written list of the books he wants, signed with his own hand.

4th. No member shall receive at one time more than six volumes, and not more than one of them a new book; a book to be accounted new till it has been one whole year in the library, till all the members are first supplied; then it may be allowed him to have as many as he may choose, taking care that they be always marked by the clerk, and inspected as the other books which he may take out. And it may also be allowed any of the members to exchange books among themselves during the course of the month, providing always that the member receiving them in the library shall be accountable for any damage they may sustain.

5th. Members reading a book of more volumes than one shall not be deprived of the next succeeding volume by members choosing before him. Any member choosing a second or succeeding volume, not having had out the preceding one, before all the members are first supplied, shall be liable to a fine of sixpence ; and any member detected taking from the preses, without permission, any book, or carrying it out of the library without being marked by the clerk, shall incur a fine of five shillings sterling for the first offence, and shall be deprived of the privileges of the Society for the second offence.

XX. No member shall be allowed to keep any book more than one month; and every member neglecting to bring in his books at the time appointed for that purpose, shall pay a fine of one penny sterling, and no excuse for negligence to be admitted. He shall likewise be obliged to deliver all, or any of the books thus neglected to be brought, into any member choosing them, which delivery shall be in presence of any two members, who may judge of the condition of said Books when thus delivered, if the parties concerned think it necessary.

XXI. If any member lose any of the Society's books, he shall pay double the value affixed thereon, at the estimation immediately preceding; or furnish another book of the same kind to the Society, in such condition, and in such a space of time, as they shall determine.

XXII. No member shall lend any of the Society's books to any person not a member of the same, under the penalty of one shilling sterling for every volume so lent; and if he be convicted a second time of such a practice, he shall be liable to such additional punishment as the Society think fit. To the same law also shall be liable every member who shall be convicted of making a practice of allowing his neighbours or lodgers to read the Society's books, though it should be in the member's own house.

XXIII. Every member, not residing in Leadhills, shall be provided with a bag sufficient to keep out rain (without which no books will be given), in which he shall receive his books, sealed by the librarian, and return them sealed by himself, under penalty of one shilling sterling for each neglect. But as the Society's books have been greatly abused by members residing at a distance, it is hereby enacted, that no person whatever, in all time coming, so long as the Society consists of seven or more members, who doth not live in this town, or Wanlockhead, shall be capable of being admitted a member of this Society; excepting only, that in case of any mines being discovered within six computed miles of Leadhills; the miners there employed shall have a liberty of being received members.

XXIV. Any member of this Society dying, his heir, legatee, or assignee, shall have a right to his place and privileges in the same, without entry-money, upon paying the arrears due by the deceased member, if he owed any, and the usual quarterly payments for the time being, when he chooses to claim said right, if he be found agreeable to the Society ; but if the heir of the said deceased member shall be in such circumstances as to prevent him from taking up his right, he may, by a letter to the Society, empower a brother or a son to enjoy his privilege.

XXV. Any member of this Society removing to any distance from Leadhills, not exceeding six computed miles, may have the use of the Society's books as a country member. But if any member whatever shall find it inconvenient to attend the Society's meetings, and peruse their books for any certain time, the Society shall dispense with his attendance and quarterly payments, while he chooses to be absent, provided he inform the Society of his design at the general meeting at which he intends to demit. But any member going beyond the distance of six computed miles, may make a final deposition of his right to a son or a brother, if any of the said persons shall be found agreeable to the Society.

XXVI. No person, who either is at present, or may hereafter become a member of this Society, by a temporary translation of right as above, shall ever have a power to vote or intermeddle, in any way, with the business or determinations of the Society, because of the uncertainty of his continuing therein, and the indifference about the interest of the Society, which is the natural and known consequence of such uncertainty. But such members shall have all equity, and every privilege with any other member, in choosing and reading the Society's books, upon their signing an obligation to submit to all the regulations enacted, concerning the choosing and using said books, and to pay the quarterly payments for the time being.

XXVII. At every general meeting of the Society, the preses, having taken the chair, shall order the members to be called by name, and the absents marked ; and the whole present being seated and composed, the articles and laws of the Society, and the minutes of the meeting being read, the reports of committees shall first be called for and considered, and then the Society shall proceed to ballot for any candidates regularly proposed, and afterwards debate upon all matters which may be offered by any members present. Every member shall deliver what he hath to say on any subject standing, and directed to the preses ; none shall interrupt the speaking member, unless the preses see cause so to do; and if two or more members attempt to speak at a time, the preses shall determine who shall speak first. When votes are collected, if the Society be equally divided on any question, the preses shall have the casting-vote, besides his former vote as a member.

XXVIII. Members guilty of any indecency, or unruly, obstinate behaviour, at any of the Society's meetings, or who shall, on any occasion, offer any indignity to the Society, shall be punished by fine, suspension, or exclusion, as the Society shall judge the nature of the transgression to require.

XXIX. If at any time the Society shall have money in their hands for which they have not immediate use, the same may be let out at interest, but not without consent and advice of the preses and committee.

XXX. Upon each volume belonging to this Society shall be pasted one of the copperplate devices, already engraved for that purpose, annexing the number of said volume as it stands in the Catalogue.

XXXI. All benefactors to the Society shall be honourably mentioned in our Journal, and proper letters of thanks drawn up by the committee for any donations received.

XXXII. None of the foregoing rules shall be repealed, nor any new ones made, until the same have been proposed and agreed to twice, and that at two general meetings of the Society; and if, at any time, any doubt shall arise concerning the meaning of any of them, the same shall be adjusted by a majority of the members present at any general meeting.

Leadhills, 13th April, 1821.

The above articles and laws having been agreed to, the 3rd day of November, 1742, and amended, this 13th day of April, 1821, are appointed and enacted to be observed, in place of all other laws made by this Society, from and after this date, and are now ordered to be printed for the information of all concerned.

Adam M'Kendrick, Preses.
John M'Kendrick, Clerk.

* James Wells, village surgeon, and William Wright, schoolmaster, at that period, both men of distinguished ability, and principally instrumental in drawing up the code of laws. About twenty years ago some slight alterations were made in the laws.