Our Charities

The relief of the poor, provision for education and support for the elderly have been, and are still, major priorities of The Merchant Company. Members are actively encouraged to support the fundraising work of the Charities Committee and the work of the Company’s Almoner.

The Royal Charter made provision for specific charitable work and, in 1693, David Aitkenhead was the first Member to leave a substantial gift to help an elderly merchant in need. Many Members followed his example and the responsibilities of the Merchant Company increased as the Trusts grew.

In 1797, when James Gillespie bequeathed his Colinton estate, the Merchant Company’s role of public benevolence became even more important. A number of charitable trusts have been established during the 300-year history of the Merchant Company and these continue to be administered to suit the needs of society today.

The Endowments Trust

Scottish Charity No: SC002002

The purpose of the Trust is to provide assistance to “decent, indigent men and women” aged at least 55 on 1st July in the year of their election, unless they are certified on medical grounds as being unable to earn their living.

Beneficiaries must be persons who have lived or worked in the City of Edinburgh or in Midlothian. Assistance may be by way of cash grant, a bi-annual pension, gift or appliances, provision and care support. The Company’s Almoner will visit applicants to assess their entitlements.

The beneficiaries also enjoy a Christmas tea party, where they are entertained by pupils from the Merchant Company Schools.

For more information on the Endowments Trust, contact the Secretary & Chamberlain.

The Merchant Company Charitable Trust

Scottish Charity No: SC022283

This Trust was established to enable the Company to encourage and support a wide range of projects which will benefit children and young people up to the age of 30.

The Trustees direct the income towards supporting the further education of students who, without that support, would be unlikely to take up a place. Applications will be considered from students who are attending, or have attended, secondary schools within the Edinburgh area, and who wish to further or continue their education at one of Edinburgh’s degree-awarding establishments.

The current degree-awarding establishments are:

  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh College
  • Edinburgh College of Art
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • Queen Margaret University

Availability of funding is limited and grants will be made at the discretion of the Trustees. Application forms are available from the Secretary & Chamberlain of the Company or from the relevant University administration department.

The Alexander Darling Silk Mercer's Fund

Scottish Charity No: SC036724

Women qualified to receive a pension are 55 years of age and over, of good character, preferably unmarried or widows, born in the city of Edinburgh (or who have been resident in the city for the greater part of their life) or women who have been employed at any time in the city in the manufacture or sale of ladies and childrens’ clothing. Preference will be given to women bearing the surname Darling, Millar, Scott and Small and to women born in the town of Lanark.

The James Scott Law Charitable Fund

Scottish Charity No: SC008878

The late James Scott Law bequeathed the residue of his estate to form a charitable fund to be applied in making payments for whichever of the charitable purposes of and connected with the Merchant Company and the Merchant Company Educational Endowments Scheme the Trustees may select.

The Dr Thomas Lyon Bequest

Scottish Charity No: SC010284

The late Dr Thomas Lyon left a legacy to be held in trust and to be administered by the Trustees in their sole discretion, for the educational benefit of children of single parents or orphans.

The Miss Mary Duncan Bequest

Scottish Charity No: SC012960

The late Miss Mary Duncan bequeathed the residue of real and personal property to be applied in payment of gifts, annual or otherwise, to Members of the Merchant Company who may be in indigent circumstances.

The Elizabeth C.B. Ross Bequest

Scottish Charity No: SC024382

The Master’s Court, ex officio as Trustees, were left a legacy by Elizabeth Catherine Baird Ross to set up a fund to supplement the income of ladies, with preference given to former female members of the Schools run by the Trustees of the Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh, to enable them to reside at a nursing home or residential care home in the City of Edinburgh.

The Bank of Scotland Travel Scholarship

Scottish Charity No: SC022088

The purpose of the Trust is to promote and advance education and learning by the provision of an annual scholarship, to be known as “The Bank of Scotland Tercentenary Travel Study Scholarship”, payable out of the income of the Trust Fund, to a pupil or former pupil of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh (“the school”) who is in either years S5 or S6, or their equivalents in the year in which the award is made, and who, in the opinion of the School’s Principal, has shown distinction in his or her academic studies.

The individual will use that award either to assist with the financing of a period of study outwith the United Kingdom but within Europe, with that study being connected with the economic structure, commerce or finance of the country or countries in which it is carried out, and lasting for a minimum period of two months and a maximum period of six months or to assist with the financing of the obtaining and carrying out of work experience or management instruction in any part of Europe other than the United Kingdom, for a period not exceeding three months

The Sanson Awards

Scottish Charity No: SC036726

John Myrtle Sanson handed the sum of £20,000 in January 1966 to the Masters’ Court of the Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh. The income for the fund is to be used for awards at George Watson’s College Edinburgh, to pupils in the fourth, fifth and sixth forms, and pupils who have just left school who are undertaking what are generally described as adventure or service projects, including support to organisations sponsoring projects in which such pupils are taking part, and secondly pupils, whether previously at George Watson’s College or not, who require assistance in order to complete the last three years of their education at that school, and in particular those who have to live at one of the school boarding houses.

Merchant Company Prize for Initiative

This is awarded annually to a young person (or a group of young people) from Edinburgh and the Lothians aged from 13 to 18 years (inclusive) who, in the opinion of the judging panel, have demonstrated exceptional initiative. Candidates for the prize may apply individually or in small groups.

The prize of £500 with two second place awards of £250 will be awarded to the person or group who demonstrate any or all of the following:

  • Initiative and Enterprise
  • Community and/or Charitable involvement
  • Business/commercial acumen

Please click here for more information

For more details or information on how to apply

Please contact the Secretary & Chamberlain.

0131 220 9284

gregor.murray@mcoe.org.uk