The Society of Cadies was established in Edinburgh in 1714. It has be re-established in 2020. We work with Better than Zero to organise low-paid and precarious workers in Scotland.
It is impossible at Edinburgh to be concealed or unknown: for though you enter into the City a mere traveller, and unacquainted, you cannot be there many hours before you are watched, and your name, and place of abode, found out by the Cadies. These are a Society of men who constantly attend the Cross in the High-street, and whose office it is to do any thing that any body can want, and discharge any kind of business. On this account it is necessary for them to make themselves acquainted with the residence and negotiation of all the inhabitants; and they are of great utility, as without them it would be very difficult to find any body, on account of the great height of the houses, and the number of families in every building. This Society is under particular regulations, and it requires some interest to become a member of it. It is numerous, and contains persons for every use and employment, who faithfully execute all commands at a very reasonable price.
To tell you what these people do is impossible; for there is nothing almost which they do not do. A certain number of them stand all day long, and most of the night, at the top of the High-street, waiting for employment. Whoever has occasion for them, has only to pronounce the word “Cadie”, and they fly from all parts to attend the summons. Whatever person you may want, they know immediately where he is to be found.
I had then no knowledge of the Cadies, a very useful blackguard, who attend the coffee-houses and public places to go of errands; and though they are wretches, that in rags lie upon the stairs, and in the streets at night, yet are they often considerably trusted, and, as I have been told, have seldom or never proved unfaithful. They have for the most part an uncommen acuteness, are very ready at proper answers, and execute suddenly and well whatever employment is assigned them.