Only recently have the economic and social structures of early-modern Scottish towns been considered in any detail. 1 There has been an implicit assumption that the late survival of royal burgh monopolies fossilised not only trading patterns but also urban society. Glasgow, where society was considered to have been more flexible and fluid, was seen as an exception but elsewhere burgh institutions and society were thought to have been little altered through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This view favours a watershed in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the larger towns there was a relaxation of controls on entry to burgess-ship and the merchant guilds. The most successful towns, typified by Glasgow, were considered to have been those which shook off the old restrictive frameworks fastest. But was Glasgow really so different from other Scottish towns? Many aspects of Glasgow business practices which were once considered to have been late seventeenth-century innovations can be traced back to the early seventeenth or even the late sixteenth century, and also existed in other towns. The old structures of monopoly and privilege could be manipulated and circumvented when it was advantageous to do so.