Glossary

This glossary defines archaic words and phrases, mostly Scots law terminology, commonly found in our documents and records. For a larger resource go to the online Dictionary of the Scots Language, which contains Scots words and phrases, including legal terms.

It also includes definitions of archival terminology, although not all these terms have been used in this catalogue

With thanks to the Scottish Archive Network

baillie, bailie, baile, baille, bailze, bailzie
a magistrate; but 'baillies in that pairt' (part) are representatives appointed to carry out a specific function, usually the giving of sasine. People appointed thus by the Crown are 'sheriffs in that pairt'. The term can also be used to indicate a farm servant, for example a 'cow bailie' was a stockman in charge of cattle.
baron
strictly speaking, someone who holds his lands ('barony') direct from the Crown, which used to be accompanied by certain privileges, particularly as regards the administration of justice.
base right
the right of someone holdings lands from a former vassal who had granted (usually sold) the lands to him, and not from the superior of the lands.  It can also be called "base ( or base) fee.  What would normally happen in such a case, would be that the seller would undertake in the grant to get the buyer infeft by the superior of the land also, so that he would have two titles to it.
bear, beir, bere
barley.
benefice
a church living.
bill of lading
document detailing the quantity and type of goods loaded aboard a ship.
blench ferme
or 'blench holding'.  One of the four conditions in Scots law on which lands could be granted; in this case, the lands were held for nominal payment, usually a 'penny money' or a peppercorn, which was only to be paid if it was asked for (si tamen petatur in Latin).  This type of holdings was most common when lands had been bought by someone; the seller would be (in theory) the granter of the lands, but in practice would have not further rights in them. (If the buyer held the lands from the seller alone, and not from the superior also, he would have a base right).
boat
cask; butt; barrel; tub.
boll
dry measure of weight or capacity which varied according to the commodity and locality (eg a boll of meal weighed 140lbs, approximately 63.5kg; valuation of land according to the quantity of bolls it produced; payment in food to a farm labourer.
bond
in general, a written obligation to pay or perform something; a bond of corroboration is an additional confirmation by a debtor of his original debt (for example to the ancestor of the obligor); a bond of caution is an obligation by  one person to act as security or surety for another; a bond of relief is an undertaking to relieve such a cautioner from his obligation; a bond of disposition in security was the commonest form of heritable security in the 19th century, combining a personal bond by the borrower with a disposition of the lands on which the sum was secured.  Most unusual was the bond of manrent, an obligation by a free person to become the follower of someone who could protect him, who would in turn, undertake to support and maintain him.
bountie
gratuity or gift stipulated in a contract of employment in addition to wages.
burgage holding
or just 'burgage', the conditions of holding property in royal burghs.
burgess
a citizen or freeman of a burgh.


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