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

tack
a lease; in Scotland it had to be a formal written contract between landlord and tenant laying down the period of the lease and the payments to be made for it.
tailzie
the older name for an entail.
teinds
the Scottish equivalent of the English tithes, they were the tenth part of the annual produce of a united of land, which was payable to the Church, though "vicarage teinds", the lesser teinds due from a parish and paid in kind, were due not by law, but by custom. The Teind Court grew out of the fact that, after the Reformation, a great deal of the property of the medieval church fell into the hands of laymen so that the ministers of the reformed church were rarely adequately provided for; in 1617 a committee of Parliament called the Commissioners of Teinds was appointed to settle suitable stipends for ministers and after 1707 its powers passed to the judges of the Court of Session who formed the Teind Court, with power to decide on such matters as the valuation and sales of teinds, the augmentation of stipends and the building of new churches, which had the advantage that the authority of the Court of Session could be annexed to their decisions.
temporalities
the land and other properties belonging to the Church, except glebes, manses and teinds (which were spiritualities).
tenant
one who holds lands (generally for a fixed term) by a lease or tack.
tenement
in legal terms, a landholding, usually (but not always) a piece of land which is build upon. A more modern, architectural meaning of 'tenement' is a type of domestic building, divided into separate dwellings (flats), each of which is separately rented or owned. This type of building became very common in industrial towns of Scotland in the late nineteenth century.
terce
a widow's legal entitlement to a liferent of one-third of her husband's heritable property, (her entitlement in respect of his moveable property being the jus relictae).   If a special, alternative provision had been made for her in her marriage contract (the jointure), she would, after 1681, have lost her right to a terce, unless it had been specified in the contract that she should have that as well.
terms
when rents and feu-duties fell due to be paid, usually half at Pentecost or Whitsun, and half at Martinmas or "the feast of St Martin in winter" (11 November).
testament
a written deed appointing an executor to adminster a person's moveable property after his death.  That is all it has to do; it needn't contain any bequests or instructions on disposal of the property, and the two possible types depended on how the executor has been appointed.  If this is done by the person making the testament during his life-time, it is called a testament testamentar, if the person died without making a testament the Commissary Court would appoint the executor, and the deed by which this was done was a testament dative.   One of the deceased's creditors could be appointed as his executor, so that he could recover the debt due him, and he was called an "executor creditor" or "qua creditor".  Testaments were not really wills; they had no bearing on the disposal or administration of any heritable property the deceased might have had, and for that reason they were gradually replaced by the trust disposition and settlement.
thirds
or "thirds of benefices".  When the property of the medieval Church was available to acquisitive laymen after the Reformation, the king took over one-third of the revenues of all church benefices to make sure that something would still be left for the ministers of the reformed church ; appropriate parts of these revenues were assigned to the ministers, and any surplus was retained by the Crown.  This was not really sufficient, which is why the Teind Court came into being.
thirlage
really another name for astriction; it was the servitude whereby the proprietors and tenants of lands were bound to take their grain to one particular mill only for grinding, for which they would have to pay multures and sequels; the lands they held which were bound to the mill, were the mill's sucken, and those bound to use the mill were termed its "in-sucken multurers".
tinsel of the feu
the name for forfeiture of landed property caused no just by failure to pay feu-duty or render service to the superior, but by the commission of penal offence.
tocher
the dowry brought by a wife to her husband at the time of their marriage.
trespass
an offence committed by causing illegal damage, e.g by spuilzie or ejection.
trust disposition and settlement
a deed enabling someone to dispose of their whole property, both heritable and moveable, for example, in the event of death; it replace the testament which could effect the disposal of moveables only.
tutor
a person who is legal representative, guardian or adminstrator of the estate of a pupil, a child under 12 if female or 14 if male. (Older children who were still under 21 were minors, and had curators instead of tutors to do these things for them).


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