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

mail, maills and duties
mail is the Scots word for rent; maills and duties were the yearly rents of an estate due in money or grain.
manrent
a fairly unusual form of bond, by which a free person became the servant, follower or bondsman of another, in return for patronage or protection.
mark or merk
a silver coin worth 13 shillings 4 pence (or two-thirds of a pound) Scots, and therefore just over shilling sterling at the time of the Union; common also as a unit of valuation of land, as in "the two merklands of ault extent of Glaur".
marriage
a feudal casualty which entitled the superior of a property to demand a payment from the heir to that property when the heir married or became marriageable; see non-entry, relief, wardship.
marriage contract
a contract made between the husband or promised husband of a woman who was about to marry or just had, and her male relatives, settling the provision to be made for the wife or future wife.  The idea was to improve on the legal rights of the wife or future wife and any children of the marriage, usually by the husband agreeing to grant them a liferent, or to grant the wife an annuity (the jointure), which would safeguard against any risk of the husband becoming insolvent.   The contract could be made before marriage, when it was termed an "ante-nuptial contract", or it could be "post-nuptial" if made after; the ante-nuptial version gave the wife and children much stronger rights over the husband's estate should  get into debt, because they would then be entitled to be considered as his creditors.
marts
cattle paid as part of a rent at Martinmas (11 November).
 
mear, mere
mare, femail horse; wooden frame on which wrongdoers had to 'ride' as a public punishment; wooden frame used on a trestle to support scaffolding; bricklayer's hod.
 
mell(with)
have dealings with (used in a testament, it applies to the executor's disposal of the deceased's property).
messengers at arms
the officer who executed all legal summonses and letters of diligence.
messuage
the main residence of dwelling-house of a baron, and therefore the "head place" of his barony (roughly the same as the English "manor-house").
minor
someone who is older than 12 if female or 14 if male, but still under the age of 21; however "minority" can be used to refer to the whole period of a person's life from birth until they reach 21.  Minors may have curators who are appointed to look after their affairs; see also pupil.
misprision of treason
having knowledge of a treasonable act or intent but failing to inform on it.
modification
a decree of the Teind Court, awarding a suitable stipend to a minister.
molestation
interfering with someone's peaceful possession of their lands.
moneyer
a coiner or minter.
 
mortification
a grant to something which is "deathless" like a university; see free alms.
moveable property
the other kind of property in Scots law as opposed to heritable; in general, it is every type of property which isn't land or something connected with land.
multiple poinding
happens when someone has property which is being claimed by several others, for instance a debtor owing money to several creditors; he can then raise an action of multiple poinding with the aim of having it discerned that he is only liable to make one single payment.
 
multures
like sequels, these were rights which arose out of occupiers of lands being bound or astricted to use a particular mill only.  Multures were a quantity of grain due to be paid to the owner or tenant of the mill in return for having corn ground, but they were payable by everybody making use of the mill whether they were astricted or not; people who used  the mill voluntarily (e.g  because it was nearest) were its "out-sucken multurers", those bound to use that mill were its "in-sucken multurers".  The sequels which they also had to pay were comparatively small dues payable to the miller and his servants who actually did the work; see also sequels, sucken, thirlage.
 


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