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

Egyptians
gypsies.
eik
an addition or supplement to a deed.
 
ejection and intrusion
taking violent possession of lands or houses, expelling their lawful possessor, and illegally detaining them; the "heritable equivalent" of spuilzie.
ell, elln
a measure of length; traditionally the distance between the elbow and the fingertips.
 
elnwand
measuring rod one ell long.
emphyteusis
another term for holding land in return for a yearly payment of rent.
engrosser or regrater
someone who buys goods in a fair or market and then sells them again in the same or an adjoining market with the purpose of bumping up the price.
entail
or tailzie.  A deed by which the legal course of succession to lands can be altered and another one substituted, or by which the descent of the lands can be secured to a specified succession of heirs and substitutes.
entry of an heir
acceptance of an heir to landed property by the feudal superior of the property.
error, summons of
a legal action to get someone's service as heir to a property annulled, on the quite reasonable grounds that an inquest had identified the wrong person as heir because a nearer heir existed.
escheat
the confiscation of property (of whatever type) by the Crown, generally as the consequence of a crime.
 
esow
resolve; avoid.
estover
"common of estover" (really an English term) is the technical name for the right of tenants, for example, to use dead wood for fuel.
evidents
a Scottish name for any deeds or other written evidence.
excambion
a contract whereby one piece of land was exchanged for another.
exception
Not really a defence, but rather a claim or excuse in the nature of a defence, which was made with the intention of stopping a case in its tracks.  The "exception of non-numerate money" (exceptio non numeratae pecuniae) was a claim that the money due to be repaid by a debtor had never been paid, or never properly paid in the first place.  The exceptio rei judicatae "the exception of the thing judged" was a claim that the case under consideration had already been tried by a different court.
execution
a certificate by a law officer that he had served a summons, letter of diligence or some other writ as he had been ordered to do.  It was important to get this right, for if the execution wasn't carried out in exactly the right way, the person summoned, etc. could plead an exception.
executor
the legal administrator of the moveable property of a dead person, either nominated in the deceased's testament or by the Commissary Court.
 
executrix
female executor.
expiry of the legal
the end of the period during which lands which had been adjudicated for debt might be recovered by the debtor's repaying of the debt.
Extent
Information in a catalogue about the quantity, bulk or size of all or some of the archives described in that catalogue.
extract
the authenticated copy of a deed, taken from one of the public registers.


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