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

particate
a measure of land of about one quarter of an acre, sometimes called a "parcel".
 
pairts and pertinents
the parts and pertinents are what a piece of land was always granted with; they implied everything connected with the land granted whether names or not, and could be considerable.
 
pendicle
a small piece of ground, usually attached to a building or separated from the rest of a property in some way.
Pentecost
more often used than the alternative name, Whitsun - the seventh Sunday after Easter; it was one of the two terms of the year on which rents fell due.
 
permutation
the equivalent of excambion in heritable property; this is the exchange of one piece of moveable property for another (therefore a posh word for barter).
 
plenishings
in general, furniture and other household moveable goods; "outsight plenishings" were those kept out of doors.
 
ploughgate
a  measure of land which contained 8 oxgangs each of 12-13 acres, but the size varied from place to place.
 
poinding
a diligence (enforced by letter under the signet called "letters of poinding") whereby ownership of a debtor's moveable property is transferred to his creditor.   "Real poinding" or "poinding of the ground" is the poinding of goods lying on lands which are a security for the debt; "personal poinding" is the poinding of moveables which are then sold at auction (or "made penny of" in the usual phrase) the proceeds of which are used to pay the debt.  If there is more than one creditor, there may be an action of multiple poinding raised by the debtor.
 
portioner
a proprietor who held only a small piece of land; heirs portioners were women who succeeded jointly to property.
 
post nuptial
after marriage.
 
poundland
a piece of land which would have been originally valued at one pound in the extent; generally taken as 4 oxgangs or half a ploughgate.
 
praecogitat
premeditated.
precept
simply a written order, usually by a court, to a representative to do something.
precept furth of chancery
a deed similar in effect to a precept of clare constat, used where the crown was the superior.
 
precept of sasine
an order by a superior to his baillie representing him, to give heritable possession of lands to a vassal, which could only be done by the ceremony of sasine.  Originally these precepts were documents in their own right, but after 1672 they were incorporated in charters.  The precept of clare constat would be used if sasine was to be given to an heir of a deceased vassal.
 
premonition
the start of the process whereby lands which had been pledged as security for the repayment of a debt could be redeemed by their original owner; it was the notice given to the person then holding the lands to turn up at a stated time and place to receive repayment of his money and to restore the lands to his former debtor (who was called the reverser).
 
prescription
a means whereby a right might be lost or acquired due to lapse of time; for example, long uninterrupted and unchallenged possession of property (usucaption) would confer a right to it, whereas if someone possessing a particular right did not exercise it for long enough, he might lose it.
   
Privy Seal
One of the four royal seals; the privy or secret seal was originally used for royal orders or brieves, but later came to be used for such things as grants of moveable property and grants of minor offices.
 
pro bono servicio
"for [his] good service" is the reason for a grant of lands usually given in the narrative clause of a charter when the lands are to be held in wardholding, that is, for a return of military service.
pro indiviso
"undivided".
process
all the documents (usually bundled together) which related to a particular court case, whether civil or criminal in nature.
 
procuratory of resignation
the authority granted by a vassal to his representative (who is in this case called his procurator) to restore the lands held by the vassal to his superior, either to remain in the superior's hands, or to be granted out again for example, by a charter of novodamus; this resignation was necessary if the vassal sold his lands to someone else, who would then have to have the lands re-granted by ths superior to him to complete his title.
Production
The term used to describe the retrieval of archives from storage for research use. Archives may not be fit for production if they are damaged or fragile. Individual files, volumes, boxes or documents may be treated as 'producible units' by a repository.
progress of title
all the documents relating to rights in a piece of land and their transference from person to person; it is typically a bundle containing charters, precepts and instruments of sasine, tacks, wadsets, reversions and the like.
propriis manibus
"with his (or her) own hand".
protocol
a book which a notary was obliged to keep, in which he was supposed to keep copies of all the instruments he had executed, or summaries of their essential points.
 
pupil
a child younger than 12 if female or 14 if male; one older than that (but still not 21) was a minor.  Pupils might have their affairs administered by a tutor.
 


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