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

a written deed which transferred land to another a security for, or in satisfaction of, a debt due to him by the granter of the deed, with a reserved power to the granter (called the reverser) to redeem his lands from the lender of the money (called the wadsetter) when his debt was repaid or his obligation fulfilled.  It was the usual dodge adopted by those who needed to borrow money at the time when the Church was very much against the idea of lending money at interest, and it cam in two types.  The "proper wadset" allowed the wadsetter (lender) to enjoy the whle yearly profits of the land as his interest until his money was repaid and the lands redeemed, and if these were lower than the accepted rate of interest, it was just too bad; on the other hand, he might end up in profit.  The "improper wadset" cut out this element of risk to the lender; if the profits of the land for the year were less than the interest due, he could recover the deficit from the debtor, but if they came to more than the interest he was bound to account for this surplus to the debtor and make it good, usually by reducing what the debtor would have to repay by that amount.  See also redeemable rights, reversion.
given or expended; the usual phrase is when someone agreed to "wair [a certain sum of money] upon land".
wakening, summons of
the means of reviving a legal action which had lain dormant for a year and a day.
ward, wardship
a feudal casualty due to a superior on the death of a vassal.  This one was payable when the vassal's heir was a minor, and was due from the time of the vassal's death until his heir reached 21, when he could legally succeed to the property. (Such a minor heir would then have to pay his relief when he was entered by his superior and also the casualty of marriage when he got married).
was the fourth, and the original condition on which lands could be granted by charter; in this case, the return which had to be made to the superior for the grant was the performance of military service.
an undertaking, usually in the form of a "clause of warrandice "in a grant, whereby the person making the grant promised to maintain and support the grantee in the property or right granted him, against all challenges made to his right or impediments concerning it which might arise after the grant was made.  "Real warrandice" was an undertaking that if the grantee were to lose his right to what had been granted, then the granter would grant him something else of equal value.
watch and ward
the return made to their superior by those holding property in burghs.
weregild or cro
the assythement due to be paid to the friends or family of someone who had been killed, by the killer.
(to the signet) were originally clerks who prepared letters under the king's signet seal.  However, when the signet came into widespread use as the means of sealing all summonses to the king's court and all diligences issued by it, they increased in number and, as writers to the signet, not only prepared all summonses and diligences, but acted as agents or attorneys in presenting cases in the Court of Session.

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