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

davach, davoch, daugh
a measurement of land, amounting to about four ploughgates.
dead's part, deid's part
the part of someone's moveable estate which they are entitled to dispose of by testament after death; see bairn's part and jus relictae, which are the other parts.
 
dean of guild
a magistrate of a royal burgh who is also head of its merchant company.
debitum fundi
a "debt of the land", arising directly out of it, e.g arrears of feu-duty.
declarator
a form of action to have some right or interest declared by law.
decree or decreet
the final judgement or sentence of a court.
decreet arbitral
the award of arbitrators on a point or points at issue jointly submitted to them by the parties in the dispute.
deed
in the most usual Scottish sense, a formal written document in a set form which gives the terms of an agreement, contract or obligation; for practical purposes, any document which isn't a sasine or concerned with the transfer of heritable property.
de facto
"in fact", or it can be applied to something which has been actually done.
defender
the Scottish term for the party who is defending in a court action.
deforcement
hindering or resisting officers of the law in the course of their duty.
defunct
the deceased person.
demurrage
allowance due to a shipmaster or shipowner for the time a ship is held up longer than usual to be loaded or unloaded.
deposition
the testimony of a witness put down in writing.
Description
Information about the type and content of a document.
destination
nomination of successors to a property in a specific order; see entail.
diligence
a legal action to compel a defaulting party to an obligation to pay or perform what he had undertaken in the obligation; it comes in various forms, depending on whether action is taken against the defaulter's moveable or heritable property.  Horning and poinding are the usual ones applied to moveables, inhibition to heritable subjects.
diocese
the extent of a bishop's jurisdiction.  They continued important for long after the Reformation, because the area of jurisdiction of each commissary was determined by the bounds of the earlier diocese.
discharge
a written deed which cancels or extinguishes an obligation, usually one to repay a debt.
disclamation
a disavowal or rejection by a vassal of a particular person as his superior, for which he would be liable to forfeiture.
disposition
a deed whereby a right to property (either heritable or moveable) is alienated by one person and conveyed to another.
disposition in implement
A disposition granted in implement of a previous, imperfect conveyance.
dispositive clause
the clause in a deed which transfers property of any sort.
dittay
the substance of the charge against a person accused of a crime.
dominium directum
"the direct lordship"; the interest which a feudal superior had in property, like the right to feu duties, casualties and other rights.
dominium utile
"the lordship by usage"; the interest which a vassal had in landed property, that is, the right to direct usage and enjoyment of the income from the land relating or corresponding to.


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