Gilbert Masterton (fl 1573-99)

Gilbert Masterton (fl 1573-93)

Tailor, Burgess of Edinburgh

Gilbert Masterton appears in a number of references in 16th Century records. He appears to have some colourful associations, with involvement in abetting a forger or distributor of forged banknotes, and later appears in the records of confidential English State Papers relating to Scotland in what appears to be a very innocuous message from David Foulis to Lord Burghley, Queen Elizabeth's principal adviser. The possibility that the message is in code and actually refers to more weighty matters than "peas and beans" cannot, in my view, be discounted.


Rather early for making confident connections, but Gilbert has been added to the list of Early Mastertons. Stodart speculates that Gilbert is one of the Mastertons of Bad and Parkmill, but with no real supporting evidence. The records of property transactions in Edinburgh allow a number of Gilbert's descendants to be identified, and this tree is labelled Edinburgh (2). Further details of these can be found by exploring from this link.

Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses


Masterton, Gilbert, Burgess, tailor, as prentice to Malcome Macklellane, Freeman. 31 July 1573

Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses and Guild-brethren,
Charles B Boog Watson
Scottish Record Society
J Skinner & Company Ltd
Edinburgh, 1929 and 1930

Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland

Volume VII. AD1575-1580

1015. Apud Halirudehous, 30 April 1577.

Precept for a remission to Gilbert Maistertoun, burgess of Edinburgh, for treasonably receiving from John Suthirland in the city of London certain false and base money of the realm of Scotland to be handed over to David Sutherland, brother of the said John, for inbringing the said money to the realm in June 1574 and for the concealment thereof for two years or thereby, contrary to acts of Parliament, until return to the realm of the said John Suthirland, to whom he restored the money, wherefor the said John was convicted before the Justiciar and his deputies in a justice court held in the tolbooth of the burgh of Edinburgh on 8 January 1576/7.
xliv, 55n

The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland
Gordon Donaldson
Volume VII. AD1575-1580
p. 147
Edinburgh, 1966

Exchequer Rolls of Scotland

Volume XXI. 1580-1588

Appendix: Minutes of Proceedings, 24th JULY 1584:
[Caution by Gilbert Masterton, burgess of Edinburgh, for John Hutchison of the Garbreid, john Hutchison of the Kenmur, William Duncan of the Garroche, and John Neilson there, for payment to George Elphinstone, factor to .....Erskines, sons of Alexander Erskine of Gogar, captain of Edinburgh castle, and to David Wylie, scribe of the presbytery of Glasgow, or either of them, of 1 chalder malt of the teinds of their mailings and steadings for cropped year 1583, in dispute of a suspension now before the lords auditors; horning upon six days charge; obligation of relief by the said principal debtors.]

The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland
George Powell McNeill(ed)
Volume XXI. 1580-1588
HM General Register House
Edinburgh, 1901

A List of Books Printed in Scotland before 1700

Harry Gidney Aldis

Masterton, Gilbert, bookseller.

Edinburgh. Apparently a bookseller; David Laing's copy of 'The CL Psalms,' Lond., Vautrollier, 1587, had at the foot of the title, in manuscript imitation of Roman type, 'to be sauld at Gilbert Mastertonis in Edinburgh.' On 15 April 1587 he acquired from Mr. George Young, Archdeacon of St. Andrews, the printing privilege which the latter had received in 1585; and Masterton in turn transferred this gift to John Gibson. [Lee 48; App. xv. DE. 384, 481.]

A List of Books Printed in Scotland before 1700
Harry Gidney Aldis
p. 117
National Library of Scotland
Edinburgh, 1970

Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Scotland

Volume II. AD1589-1603

69. 27 April 1596.

David Foulis to Lord Burghley. Thanks him for his good will in furthering his request for the transportation of peas and beans, and begs that the licence may be left blank, as he is informed that Gilbert Masterton is not presently in England.

Calendar of State Papers Relating to Scotland
Markham John Thorpe (ed)
Volume II. AD1589-1603
p. 710
London, 1858

Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland

Volume II. Part I 1596-1600

"Oker" - Taking usurious Interest.

Dec. 4 1599 - WILLIAME WILLIAMSOUNE, merchand-burges of Edinburgh. Dilatit of contravening of the Actis of Parliament, in taking of ffyftene markis for the lane1 of ilk hunder of foure hundreth markis, lent be him to Gylbert Maistertoun and Johne Mosman, merchandis burgessis of Edinburgh; committit at the feistis of Whitsounday and Martimes 1598, and Whitsounday 1589 yeiris; and for taking of fyftene markis for the lane of ilk hundreth markis of fourtene hundreth markis, lent be him to Williame Scott of Balwerie; (thairby) committand oker.2 - Continued to Feb. 8.

1 Loan, usage or interest
2 Usury, extorting usurious or unlawful interest for the use of money lent.

Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland
Robert Pitcairn (ed)
Volume II. Part I 1596-1600
p. 101
Bannatyne Club
Edinburgh, 1833