A pernicious and wicked custom: corporate responses to lock picking in the Scottish town, 1488 -1788
lock picking, locks, tools
medieval, early modern
While the use of lock picking for criminal purposes was not confined to towns, there were several specifically urban, unique responses to it from the craft guilds of Scotland’s burghs. In an urban context, the prevention of lock picking can be seen to have depended largely on a framework of corporatism. This article examines how security was provided, the role of locks in the urban environment, the deficiencies of lock technology, and the exploits of the infamous Deacon Brodie. While it was impossible to make a pick-proof, warded lock, the incorporations did what they could to contain this ‘pernicious and wicked custom’.