The Aberdeen Association of Royal Warrant Holders came into being in 1871, some twenty three years after Queen Victoria first came to Aberdeenshire.
Her affection for the area, and Deeside in particular, is well documented and it is not surprising that she should have seen fit to grant warrants to those local suppliers and tradesmen who saw to it that the Royal Household at Balmoral had all it required. As is the case today, the warrant was seen as a mark of excellence, as recorded by the Secretary of the Association in 1898 –
“The Association while not lacking in its social aspect has, as a matter of course, been also strongly marked by a tendency towards the conservation of its special privileges, and the Royal Arms and Badge of Membership are guarded with jealous care”
Today, the area served by the Aberdeen Association, which has approximately fifty members, has extended to include Speyside, Angus and North Perthshire.
The principal annual events organised by the Association are its Annual Dinner held, appropriately, in Trinity Hall, Aberdeen, the headquarters of the seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen, and the Braemar Gathering where hospitality, refreshments and the inevitable dram are supplied to guests and members throughout the day. The National President and presidents of the Regional Associations are invited to both events.
In addition, an annual golf match takes place and, in recent years, there has been a move towards promoting greater liaison among members both in the social arena and with a view to mutual commercial benefit.
The Association continues to maintain and value the close links which it has with the Royal Household at Balmoral and with the Resident Factor on the Balmoral Estates.
The current president of the Aberdeen Association of Royal Warrant Holders is Christopher Leigh of John Ross Jr (Aberdeen) Ltd.
The following Past Presidents are honorary members of the Aberdeen Association of Royal Warrant Holders:
Graeme Wilson MBE
Ian W Logan
Colonel C M Jefferies MBE
T M Gillespie
M R P Fleming
Ian D Cowie
Colin R Sutherland
Brian S Pack OBE
Past Presidents of the Association are as follows:
2016 / 2017 – Stuart Cordiner
2015 / 2016 – Douglas Considine
2014 / 2015 – Andrew Laing
2013 / 2014 – Roy Cowie
2012 / 2013 – Barry Florence
2011 / 2012 – Edward Smith
2010 / 2011 – David Kirk
2009 / 2010 – Richard Yule
2008 / 2009 – Ian Duguid
2007 / 2008 – Michael Wilson
2006 / 2007 – Douglas Davidson MBE
2005 / 2006 – Ronald Chalmers MBE
2004 / 2005 – Brian Pack
2003 / 2004 – George Strachan
2002 / 2003 – Ian Logan
2001 / 2002 – Colin Campbell
2000 / 2001 – Colin Sutherland
1999 / 2000 – Jim Moir
1998 / 1999 – Derek Ironside
1997 / 1998 – J McB Murray
1996 / 1997 – Michael W Archibald
1995 / 1996 – Col C M Jeffries MBE
1994 / 1995 – T M Gillespie
1993 / 1994 – Michael Sheridan
1992 / 1993 – Mark Fleming
1991 / 1992 – Ken Watmough
1990 / 1991 – Ian D Cowie
1989 / 1990 – Mrs Anne Cocker
1988 / 1989 – Robert Davidson
1987 / 1988 – Gordon Baxter
1986 / 1987 – J Fraser
1995 / 1986 – C R A Archibald
1984 / 1985 – Derek C Fraser
1983 / 1984 – A J Stevenson
1982 / 1983 – Henry D Cowie
1981 / 1982 – Graeme J Wilson MBE
1980 / 1981 – George L Strachan
1979 / 1980 – David Cargill
1978- 1979 – Gordon Baxter
1977 / 1978 – B Archibald
1976 / 1977 – James Leith
1975 / 1976 – J Stevenson
1974 / 1975 – A Begg
1973 / 1974 – J J Baker
1972 / 1973 – Isabel Rose
1971 / 1972 – Robert Archibald
1970 / 1971 – Graeme J Wilson MBE
1969 / 1970 – D W Cargill
1968 / 1969 – W A Williamson
1967 / 1968 – John R Buchanan
1966 / 1967 – Alexander Stevenson
1965 / 1966 – James McVey
1964 / 1965 – James McVey
1963 / 1964 – W B Williamson
1962 / 1963 – John K Hall
1961 / 1962 – Charles B Archibald
1960 / 1961 – Alexander J Stevenson
1959 / 1960 – Isabel M Cannon
1958 / 1959 – Robert Mann
1957 / 1958 – Joseph J Baker
1956 / 1957 – Andrew J Lewis
1955 / 1956 – John M McDonald
1954 / 1955 – John M McDonald
1953 / 1954 – William l T Melville
1952 / 1953 – William Mitchell
Royal Warrants have existed in one form or another since the middle ages; in the 12th century, Royal patronage was obtained by tradesmen and craftsmen in a collective manner by way of Royal Charters – the first being granted to the Weavers Company in 1155 by Henry II.
As trade expanded during the Elizabethan period, so did these grants and individual tradesmen were appointed to the court by Letters Patent. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the names of tradesmen supplying the Royal Household were recorded in the Royal Kalendar, a yearly almanac.
A record of the official grant to use the Royal coat of arms first appeared during the reign of William IV, but it was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the practice of granting Royal Warrants was established in the form that continues today.
Royal Warrants of Appointment are only granted by Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.
In order to qualify for a Royal Warrant of Appointment, a firm must have supplied goods or provided a service to a department of the Royal Household for a period of not less than five years. Only one Warrant may be awarded to a business by each Grantor, even if it supplies several different goods or services, but a business may hold Warrants from more than one Grantor. Today there are more than 800 firms, large and small, traditional and contemporary, holding one or more Royal Warrant.
Throughout the ages, the favour of the Sovereign has been regarded as the ultimate honour and it remains a much sought after accolade. The Royal Warrant of Appointment has always been a symbol of excellence and quality, treasured by those to whom it is granted.
The Royal Warrant Holders Association
By the early 19th century, a group of Royal tradesmen had established the custom of holding an annual dinner to celebrate the Monarch’s birthday. In due course, they formed themselves into an association and in 1907 the Royal Warrant Holders Association was incorporated by Royal Charter to promote and safeguard the interests of its members.
With each new Monarch would often come a distinct shift in the type of Warrant Holder being appointed. For example, Queen Victorias list was surprising in its exuberance. However, it is not just the changing tastes of the Monarchy that are reflected in the list of Warrant Holders – fashion, technology and modern living have changed the requirements of the Royal Household almost beyond recognition compared with a century ago.