Irvine's Shoemakers And Leatherworkers
THE WORD CORDINER IS DERIVED FROM THE FRENCH CORDONNIER (SHOEMAKER). IN THE 15TH CENTURY JAMES 1 INTRODUCED FRENCH AND FLEMISH CRAFTSMEN IN LEATHER INTO SCOTLAND AND THE WORD CORDINER OR CORDWAINER TOOK ITS PLACE BESIDE THE SCOTS SUTER FOR SHOEMAKER.
Apart from shoes, early leatherworkers produced shields, bottles, helmets, breastplates and tankards among other items.
The CORDINERS worked in close collaboration with the SKINNERS who processed all the skins produced both for use in the burgh and for export abroad.
Produce was sold at the local market. By the charter of 1601 Irvine was allowed to hold two weekly markets on Monday and Friday and three annual fairs. The markets handled locally produced goods while the fairs involved trade with other parts of Scotland.
In 1791 there were 56 shoemakers in Irvine but with mass production their numbers dropped rapidly and many were shoe menders.