Edinburgh Bowers and Golf Club Makers 1564 - 1700

Half of all the bowers (and probable golf-club makers) of the 17th century in Edinburgh can be traced back to William Mayne, the royal bower of King James VI/I.

Between 1564 and 1700, there are over 70 bowers and apprentice bowers recorded in the burgess registers in Edinburgh. Over 90% of these can be connected directly, or indirectly, to known clubmakers. More than half can be traced back to William Mayne, who was his Majesty's bower and clubmaker, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, John Mayne, who was noted supplier to King James IV, one hundred years earlier.

There are now 7 confirmed golf-club makers in the 17th century detailed in Two New Golf Club Makers in 17th Century. Four of these, William Mayne, George Gibson, Donald Bayne and Patrick Fyfe appear in the Roll of Burgesses and Guild-Brethren of Edinburgh 1486-1700.

The table below shows the 72 recorded bowers and apprentice bowers in Edinburgh 1564 to 1700 and their relationships to known club makers and relatives. There will be others who were not burgesses, but they would have traded outside the city.

Known club makers are shown in bold. They are 6% of all bowers in this period.

Bowers who have direct training links to known club makers are shown in red. They are 65% of all bowers in this period. Most of these can be traced back to William Mayne.

Bowers with indirect family training links are shown in italics. They are 20% of all bowers in this period. There is also evidence of connections between bower families, such as when Gilbert Home, son of Robert Home, who had been trained by William Mayne, was apprenticed to Gilbert Duncan, trained by Thomas and Alexander Gibson. This mirrors the close connections between golf  industry families in the following century, such as between the McEwan and Gourlay families at Bruntsfield and the Park and Dunn families at Musselburgh.

Bowers with no noted relationship to known club makers are less than 10% of all bowers or their apprentices in Edinburgh in the 17th century.

Name Trained by Indenture date Burgess date
William Menteith 1564
John Gibson (Younger) 1564
George Gibson (?) John Gibson (Younger) father 1579
James Ferguson 1583
John Brown 1584
William Mayne (?) George Mayne father 1588
Thomas Gibson 1601
George White William Mayne NK 1601
Alexander Gibson (?) Thomas Gibson father 1601
Henry Murray George Gibson 1587
Robert Hill William Mayne 1588 1601
Robert Home William Mayne 1590
Robert Brown George Gibson 1592 1599
Alexander Newlands George Gibson 1594
John Fairlie James Fergusson 1594
Donald Duncanson William Mayne 1595 1616?
Gilbert Duncan

Thomas Gibson &

Alexander Gibson (son)

1595 1610
George Ramsay George Gibson 1597
John Mayne William Mayne 1598
Thomas Kneland William Mayne 1601
John Craik William Mayne 1605 1619
John Home George Gibson 1606
David Sharp Alexander Gibson 1606 1614
Donald Bayne William Mayne 1595? 1616
John Forrest William Mayne 1608 1620
William Cockburn George Gibson 1608
William Moncrieff George Whyte 1608 1615
William Arnot Alexander Gibson 1614
Hew Ross William Moncrieff 1616 1624
William Douglas Donald Bayne 1617
Thomas Trustie Alexander Gibson 1618 1629
Robert Neilson David Sharp 1620
Patrick Dickson Donald Bayne 1621
George Jameson John Craik 1621
Alexander Walker John Forrest 1622
Robert Mayne (?) William Moncrieff stepfather 1630
Alexander Dunbar Donald Bayne 1627 1635
Gilbert Home Gilbert Duncan 1627
John Hendry (Henry) John Forrest 1630 1640
John Kerr Robert Mayne 1631 Cancelled
Richard Schaune Donald Bayne 1631
Alexander Hay Robert Mayne 1633 1640
John Scougall Donald Bayne 1636
George Hantoun Robert Mayne 1640
Adam Watson Thomas Trustrie 1641
John Tullock Donald Bayne 1642
John Rollock Alexander Hay 1643
Thomas Paterson Robert Mayne 1644
Archibald Manderston John Henry 1644
Hugh Munro Alexander Hay 1647 1656
Nicoll Wallace John Henrie (Henry) 1648
Andrew Forrester Alexander Hay 1652 1661
Robert Dunbar Alexander Hay 1656 1665
William Corsneip John Laury 1656
William Wilkieson Hew (Hugh) Munro 1658
Alexander McLey Alexander Hay 1661
John Nimmo 1671
Andrew McKenyie Alexander Hay 1668
John Munro Hew (Hugh) Munro 1669
James Hay Alexander Hay 1673
George Murray Hew (Hugh) Munro 1673
James Waddell 1684
George Fairlie Andrew Forrester 1673 1688
Patrick Douchell Andrew Forrester 1675
John Esplin Robert Dunbar 1678
John Merstoun Andrew Forrester 1679
Patrick Fyfe 1689
Robert Munro Son of late Hugh Munro 1692
Henry Eizack Robert Munro 1694

Bow-makers to the Stuart Kings and the Royal Company of Archers

William Mayne was appointed official bow-maker to King James VI/I in 1603. William died in 1612 and it is not clear who, if anyone, was appointed in his stead. Based on the number of apprentices that he took on, it could have been Donald Bayne. During the English Civil War and the Commonwealth, it is likely that there was no official royal bow-maker, but afterwards, at some point following the Restoration of King Charles II, Alexander Hay was appointed 'his Majesty's bower'. When Alexander died in 1677, Andrew Forrester acquired the title, though when or for how long has not been established.

In 1677, the Royal Company of Archers, formed in 1676, felt that there were no suitable bow-makers and paid for Robert Munro to go to London to be trained as a bower. Quite why they did this is not certain. Robert was probably already a club-maker, as he later trained George Neilson who became not only the Royal Company's official bower in 1720, but also a golf-club maker and started the club-making industry at Bruntsfield Links, which lasted for over 200 years as outlined in Right Royal Company - the archers and the golfers.

Not all the bower trainees above would have gone on to trade in their own right, but at least 30 bowers were recorded as burgesses or took on apprentices in Edinburgh over the 17th century. The number implies that there were on average at least half a dozen potential golf-club makers in Edinburgh at any given time during this period. While St Andrews and Leith were known for making golf balls, they only had occasional golf-club makers until the beginning of the 19th century. Edinburgh was a much more important centre for golf-club making than generally recognised.