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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
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Constabil(l, Constable, n. Also: -stabile, -yl, -ull, -ule, connstable; connestabil, con(n)e-, connistable. [ME. constable (c 1300), -stabyle, -stabulle, etc., and con(n)estable, connistable, etc., OF. conestable, med. L. conestabulus, late L. comes stabuli ‘officer of the stable’. See also Counstable.]

1. The commander of an army under the king. 1375 Barb. vi. 201.
Ethiocles Bad his constabill vith hym ta Fifty weill armyt
?1438 Alex. i. 29.
That for his hie worship was made Baith constabill and ledere Of all the Kingis oist in were
1456 Hay I. 67/8.
Alssua men seis that in ane host of men of were is maid ay ane constable
Ib. 112/10.
The duk of the bataill that is callit the ledare of the bataill, that men callis now constable
15.. Clar. iii. 50.
Twa thowsand speiris he sent them to support, With his constabill

2. The keeper or warden of a royal castle. 1375 Barb. viii. 507.
In the castell enterit he … The constabill and all the lafe … He tuk
Ib. x. 676.
The constabill and his cumpany Met hym and his richt hardely
Ib. 689, etc. 1456 Acts II. 46/2.
The complaynt … that pure commonys ar gretumly … opprest be the kingis schirefis, constablis, and thair ministeris in tymis of faris
1469 Ib. 95/1.
It is thocht expedient that na capitane nor connstable of the kingis castellis … sall beir office within the said toune
Ib. 95/2. c1475 Wall. i. 205.
The constable a felloun man of wer, That to the Scottis he did full mekill der
1476 Acta Aud. 57/1.
A confirmatione of the constable of Dunde ourlord of the sammyn [landis]
1484 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 42.
William Kempty, constabil of Abirdene, … has made … Alexander of Chavmer … his depute and substitute
1496 Treas. Acc. I. 274.
To Donald Malynny, to pas to Dunde to summond the Connstable to ward
1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 243/1.
A letter of remit … for the ref, oppressioun, or wrang done be thaim … to the constable of Dunde
1573 Misc. Bann. C. II. 78.
The Lard of Peterroe, Conestable of the castell
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Banrentes.
Quhilk office and honour perteinis … to the Constable of Dundie, the Kings Baner man

3. The high officer bearing the title of the Constable of Scotland.Latterly with the adjs. grete or heighe, and subsequently Lord High. ‘The Lord High Constable had anciently the command of the King's armies while in the field, in absence of the King. He was likewise judge of all crimes or offences committed within four miles of the King's person, or within the same distance of the Parliament … The office is hereditary in the noble family of Errol' (Bell).(1) 14.. Acts I. 346/2.
All the trespas done vnder the wand of the kingis merschell and constable … aw to be deliuerit in the kingis court befoir the saidis merschell and constable
1533 Boece xiii. xii. 525.
Alane, lorde of Galloway, constabill to the king
1596 Dalr. I. 127/10.
Quha is … ouir the kingis court to punise offenderis, connistable we cal
(2) 1432 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 285.
Ane hee & a mychty lorde William the Hay, knicht, constabil of Scotland
1441 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 6.
My lord Wilyeam the Hay, Constabil of Scotland, the quhilk God assolyhe
1460 Ayr Chart. 89.
William erle of Erole, connestabil of Scotland
1524 Reg. Privy S. I. 492/2.
Ane lettre maid to David Wod … makand him constable of Scotland quhill the erle of Erolis lauchfull age of xxi ȝeire
1531 Bell. Boece I. p. xxxv.
In Buchquhane is the castell of Slanis, the Constablis hous of Scotland
1535 Stewart 44903.
Allane, the lord that tyme of Galloway, Quhilk of Scotland the constabill wes that day
1541 Reg. Privy S. II. 636/2.
Williame, Erle of Errole, grete constable of our realme
1567 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III. 22.
Becaus that the Maister [of Errol] is Constable and astrickit to serve in our Soueranis parliament
1585 Acts III. 375/2.
Lord Hay, constable of Scotland, declairit … that thair wes of auld ane contentioun betuix the constable and admirall for the prioritie of thair voit and place in parliament
1641 Ib. V. 587/1.
Gilbert, erle of Erroll, heighe constable of Scotland
1689 Breviate St. Scot. 10.
The Second Great heritable Offices in the Kingdom, are The Lord High Constable, … The Heritable Usher [etc.]

b. An officer of similar rank in other countries. c1515 Asl. MS. I. 233/9.
In the samyn tyme and place decessit Ihon Stewart, erll of Buchane and constable of Fraunce
c1500-c1512 Dunb. vii. (heading).
Lord Barnard Stewart, … Conquereur of Naplis and vmquhile constable general of the same
a1578 Pitsc. I. 69/14.
The Earle of Bewment and the constabill of England

4. A military officer serving under the captain of a castle. 1465 Lennox Mun. 78.
Connestablis, portaris, wachemen, … and all vther officiaris nedefull for the keping of the saide castell
1479 Acta Conc. 31/2.
The captanes and constablis [of Blackness] to … keip him in prisoun in a cloisse housse
1512 Reg. Privy S. I. 362/1.
Makand him kepare and capitane of the Castell of Lochmabane … with power to mak … under him constabillis, portaris, garitouris, wachmen, jevelouris, and uther officiaris

5. Constable depute, a deputy constable. 1456 Hay I. 116/15.
For stryking of the provost of the ost, quhilk is callit the provost of the mareschaulis in France, and in Scotland the constable depute
1456 Acts II. 47/1.
Quhare the constabill deputis and his ministeris … takis distressis for constabill feis of all maner of gudis
1480 Ib. 129/1.
The saidis commissaris chargeit the constable deput, William Hakket, to call Alexr, duk Albany [etc.]
Ib. 129/2.
The connestable depute, master Gilbert Haye

6. Attrib. with court. 1567 Acts III. 41/1.
At Edinburgh … thair is … the constable court, the admirale court [etc.]

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"Constabil n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Jan 2023 <>



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