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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Privé, Privy, Prevé Sele, n. Also: privey, privie, priwé, prevey, prevay(e, preva, prewé, preway, previe, prevy, preavie, prievie, and seil(e, seill, seal(e, seall, seel(e, sell(e, seyl(e, sel, cele. [Late ME prive sel, pryve seal, prive(y) seal, seel, e.m.E. privy, prevy seal(e etc., the English Privy Seal (1425), a document having the English Privy Seal affixed (1419), the keeper of the English Privy Seal (c 1420), the office of the English Privy Seal (c 1412, Hoccleve), AF prive seal (1295), privie seal (1347–8), med. L. (Eng.) privatum sigillum (1204 in Latham); Privé adj., Sele n.In the earliest known Sc. usage the Privy Seal is designated L. sigillum secretum, corresponding to the regular F. usage. The designation privé sele, appar. first recorded in the reign of Robert III and the regency of Albany, and privatum sigillum, appar. first in the early years of James I's personal reign, are perh. after AF prive seal and med. L. (Eng.) privatum sigillum.](1) 1377 Exch. R. II 553.
Vt patet per diuersas literas sub sigillo secreto
Ib. 565. 1384 Ib. III 129.
Testante magistro Duncano Petyt, custodi secreti sigilli sui
1392 Litera regis in Antiq. Aberd. & B. III 134.
In cuius rei testimonium presentes literas sigilli nostri secreti munimine fecimus roborari
1395 Exch. R. III 352.
Ut patet per quinque paria literarum regis sub secreto sigillo suo
1535–6 Treas. Acc. VI 269.
David de Aberbrothok, secreti sigilli custode
(2) 1426 Exch. R. IV 406.
Testante magistro Johanne Cameron, custode privati sigilli domini nostri regis
Ib. 430.

I. The Privy Seal of Scotland.After 1424 the Privy Seal was used ‘for authentication of various classes of crown letters or grants’ and it was also required on a precept as a step in the process of obtaining the Great Seal (M. Livingstone in Reg. Privy S. I vii; and see also Pas v. 20). For further information see Hope Minor Pract. (1726) 84–90, J.M. Thomson The Public Records of Scotland (1922) 62–72 and R.K. Hannay The Early History of the Scottish Signet 11–16.

1. The stamp or matrix of the Privy Seal. c1515 Asl. MS I 232/13.
The said quene … tuke master James Lyndesay for principale counsalour and gart him kepe the preve sele
1524 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 204.
The Abbot of Halirudhous … promist to deliver the prive seile to his hienes
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 11.
And als was tane fra the said Archibald the privie seill, and was givin to the bischope of Dunkell
1650 Acts VI ii 614/1.
The kingis majestie and estaitis of parliament ordanes a new privie seall to be maid … whiche seall shall bear … thir wordis, Carolus secundus dei gratia Scotiæ Angliæ Franciæ et Hiberniæ Rex

b. Kepar (once underkepar) of the (our, etc.) Privé Sele. (Cf. 4 c below.) c. Writar to the Privy Sele.b. (1) 1431 Liber Melros II 523.
Maister Williame Foulis kepar of the prive seile
1528–9 Reg. Privy S. I 583/1.
To … David, Abbot of Abirbrothok, makand him kepar of our soverane lordis prive sele for all the dais of his liffe
1532–3 Ib. II 202/2. 1546 Reg. Privy C. I 35. 1565 Reg. Privy S. V i 656 n.
Keipar of oure prive seile and youre deputis ye sall pas lettiris under oure said prive seile … keipand this oure precept for youre warrand
1578 Acts III 97/2.
Commanding the keiparis of the signet previe and greit seillis that thai [etc.]
1592 Ib. 569/2.
And the wreittar kepair of the privie seill sall write [etc.]
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Feodvm.(2) 1524 Reg. Privy S. I 502/1.
With command to the keparis of the prive sele and directour of the chancellary to … obey to all presentatiounis to be maid be the said postulat … siclik as thai war maid be the king
(3) 1592 Acts III 569/2 (see 3 b (2) below).
The wreittar kepair of the privie seill
(4) 1698 Acts X 121/1.
And the keeper of the Great Seal and underkeeper of the Privy Seal allowed to be present in the meetings of Parliament
c. 1599 Crim. Trials II 102.
The Directour and Writtaris to the Chancellarie and Preuey Seall
1606 Reg. Privy S. VII 164.
Pryces set down to the Wryter to the Privy Seale to be tane heirafter of all sic letters and writes as pass that office
c1630 Hope Minor Pract. (1726) 89.
And the precept is commonly written on parchment whereas the first [precept, sc. that under the signet] was only on paper, and subscribed by the writer to the Privy Seal, and has the Privy Seal appended thereto by a tagg in white wax only
1688 Edinb. B. Rec. XI 280.

2. The wax impression of the privy seal, affixed to a document. 1440 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 193.
The king has gert affix his priue seel
1511 Reg. Privy S. I 346/1.
A command for the appensioun of the prive sele to ane instrument
1562 Bk. Islay 69.
Subscrivit with oure hand our Previe Sele is hungin
1567 Bann. Memor. xxiii. a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 17.
Quhilk letter, albeit it wes … sealled with the privie seall … the lords wold not obey it as impetrat against the statuts of Sessione
Id. Minor Pract. (1726) 89 (see 1 c).

3. In various formulæ. a. Of a royal warrant, grant, etc.: (Given) under the (our etc.) Privé Sele, = having had the Privy Seal affixed, authorized or authenticated by the Privy Seal.(1) 1417 Acts I 227/2.
Gevyn vnder oure priue seil at Perth in general conseil
1442 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 307.
Gevyn vnder our prive sele at Striveling the sext day off September & of our regne the sext yhere
1445 Reg. Episc. Morav. 219.
Preve sell
1446 Raine N. Durham App. 22.
Prewe seyle
1447 Edinb. Chart. 68.
Geuyn vndre oure priue seele, at Edynbvrgh [etc.]
1471–2 Liber Melros II 591.
Prive sel
1480 Exch. R. IX 121 n.
[A lease of crown land] gevin undir oure priue cele at Edinburgh
1483 Reg. Episc. Brechin. I 206.
Gewin wnder our priwe seele … the ȝer … of our gouvernall the elewend
1504 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) I 346.
Gevin under our prevay sele at Drumfreis
1507 Edinb. Chart. 192. 1548 Red Bk. Menteith II 333.
Prevay sele
1625 Justiciary Cases I 34.
Previe seall
(2) 1398 Acts I 211/1.
And that the schanceller sall ansuer til al his lettres as to the kyngis letteres wnder his priue seel
1429 Acts Jas. I in Ayr B. Ct. 85 b.
That … lettris direkkit tyll offyceris vnder kyngis priue seile or hys sygnet the quylk as a gayne the cowrs of comone law … be nocht admittyt
1482–3 Acta Conc. II ci.
Efter the forme of our soverane lordis [letters] of assedacioun made to him [Johne Inglis] thairuppon under his preve sele schewin and producit
c1515 Asl. MS I 240/4.
King Iames send … a speciale assouerans … wnder his preve sele and subscriuit with his awne hand
1499–1500 Acta Conc. II 357. 1526–7 Reg. Privy S. I 546/2. 1567 Grey Friars II 53.
Be hir lettres under hir prive seill
1581 Lennox Mun. 321.
Prievie seill
1625 Justiciary Cases I 32.(3) 1473 Acta Aud. 28/2.
That the said lettres vnder the priue seele be cassit and adnullit
1473 Treas. Acc. I 46, 47. 1473–4 Ib. 3. 1483 Acta Conc. II cxxxii.
The Lordis … ordanis letters to be direct under the prive sele for [etc.]
1501 Treas. Acc. I 208. 1516–17 Strathblane Par. 319.
My lord gouernour in the kingis name ordinis ane letter to be maid vnder the priue sele in dew forme
1519 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 144, 145. 1525 Misc. Spald. C. II lxxxi.
The gift … of the office of Scherefschip of Fiffe maid be the kingis grace … vnder the priue sele
1529 Reg. Privy S. II 766.
The sele feis of the letteres under the prive sele
1538 Treas. Acc. VI 444. 1560–1 Admir. Ct. Bk. 185.
Privey Seill
1576 Reg. Privy C. II 563.
Alexander Urquhart being presentit be letters under the Prevy Seill to the benefice of the Denerie of Ross

b. In various phrases with Pas v.: To cause (a writ) to be authenticated by the Privy Seal; (of the writ) to be so authenticated: see Pas v. 20, 35.(1) 1528–9 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 306.
And thareftir … speid all sic remissiouns undir the signet that the samin may pas throw the prive sele and grett sele as accordis
1546 Reg. Privy C. I 35.
And the said lord [sc. Keeper of the Privy Seal] protestit that he suld nocht be haldin to answer for ony thingis past be the privie sele bot for the thingis that passis throw the samin fra this day furth
1559 Reg. Privy S. V i 147/1.
As … is contenit in the said gift past under the prive sele of before
1567 Acts II 560/2.
For … putting of the samyne [infeftment] throw hir gret seill … as the samin had past throw hir signet and privie seillis of befoir
c1575 Balfour Pract. 655.
The greitest erldome … past at the privie seill for iij lib.
c1630 Hope Minor Pract. (1726) 85.
All gifts of casualities … pass under the Privy Seal immediately, and go no further to any other seal
(2) 1592 Acts III 569/2.
And the wreittar kepair of the privie seill sall write lykwayis vpoun the bak of the lettre the day that he wreittis and passis the same the privie seill
1644 Ib. VI i 66/1.
That … presentationes passe his maiesties cashett and privie seale
1672 Ib. VIII 88/2.
For all signatures which are to pas the privie seall, … halfe a crowne
1677 Lauder Notices Affairs I 168.

4. transf. a. The authority of the Privy Seal. b. The office or department of the Privy Seal. 1398 Acts I 211/1.
Owtakand remission the qwhilke he sal write to the kyng for & the kyngis priue seel to the chanceler, and at all otheris officeris … sall ansuer [etc.]
1429 Acts Jas. I in Ayr B. Ct. 85 b.
For na the priue seile na sygnet awaylȝe nocht in the contrar of the gret seile
1530 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 325.
George Erle of Huntlie … producit ane signatour to the prive sele in forme of obligatioune maid be the king to him
1532 Ib. 381. 1558 Waus Corr. 12.
The preve sell is speid upoun my gyf[t] [etc.]
1595 Glasgow Burgesses 21.
For purchessing of the gift of the privie seale concernying the penalteis of the Kirk

c. A writ under the Privy Seal. 1516 Treas. Acc. V 82.
Efter the tenour of the kingis prevaye seill and command of the lordis gevin thairon
1531 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 361.
[To deliver] the saidis prive seilis and als the buke of register of divers prive seilis maid be … Johnne Quhite
1533 Treas. Acc. VI 98.
To Marioune Hvme, … in part payment of ane mair soume promittit to hir be the kingis grace for the dischargeing of ane priue seill, and ourgeving of [etc.]

d. The Keeper of the Privy Seal: cf. 1 b above.Lord Privé Sele, see Lord n. 28 (a), (b), and (17). 1429 Ayr B. Acc. in Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXI 145.
Efter Qwyssonday, ij s. off wyn to the preway selle and ij galonys off ale
1445 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 311.
Maister William Turnbul, larde of Provand and Priuie Seele
1454 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 260.
Master James Lyndsay provest of Glenclowdane et priwe seil til our souerane lorde the kyng
1460 Ayr Chart. 89. 1488 Exch. R. X 629.
Oure prive sele, Robert Lord Lile
1488–9 Acta Conc. I 109/2.
That nouther secretare priue sele nor grete sele ansuer to na sic signaturis … quhill our souerane lordis perfit age
1489 Treas. Acc. I 116.
To the king be the Prevaseil … vij vnicornis
1489 Acts II 220/2.
To be of the kingis secrett consale twa bischopis [etc.] … with my lordis chancellare, … chaumerlane of chaumer, priue sele, secretare [etc.]
1493 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 211.
Prewe seyl
1524 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 204.
The Abbot of Halirudhous, prive seile, resignit the said office in our soverane lordis hand and promist to deliver the prive seile to his hienes
1524–5 Ib. 212. 1525 Ib. 220. 1546 Acts II 598/2. 1622 Scot Course of Conformity 90.
The seven officers of state, Chancellour, [etc.], Privie-seale, Justice Clearke … are adjoyned

5. Attrib. with -buke, -writing office. c1575 Balfour Pract. 655.
For it can be schewin be the privie seill book in auld times [that] the greitest erldome [etc.]
1687 Haigs of Bemersyde 332.
When the precept in Latine came to the Signet, 09.06.00. When it came to the Privie Seall Writing office, 07.06.00

II. 6. = Secrete Sele n. 1593 Aberd. B. Rec. II 86.
That the commoun seall of this burgh … as also the previe seall, callit the seall of caus, quhairwith the testimoniallis and boirbrevis that passis to uther pairtis beyond sey ar seallit, hes gevin na proffit

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"Privé Sele n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Aug 2022 <>



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