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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).

Liberte(e, -tie, -ty(e, n. Also: lyberté, -tie; libbertie; lebarté, -erté, -(t)tie, leiberti. [ME. and e.m.E. liberte(e (Chaucer), lyberte, -arte (15th c.), -ty (1538), F. liberté, L. lībertas f. līber free.]Largely coinciding in sense with the older native synonym Fredom(e.

1. Personal liberty; freedom or release from confinement or bondage. c1400 Troy-bk. II. 2783.
He bad all Troyens that tone ware In Grece, suld haue fre liberte, And frome all thrillege be maid fre
1568 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 366.
The scolars of the gramair scuill … compellit … to conveine at sick tymes as thai war in wse and preuelege of libertie and skaling obefoir
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 25.
Pretending hir authoritie and stopping hir libertie
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xiv. 13.
I rather far be frie nor fast. But libertie, what micht me meis?
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 94.
In … any … court, ane man may … giue over his libertie, bot … sall never recover the samine
c1610 Melville Mem. (1735) 264.
Nor did that queen make any further instance for his liberty
1689 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII. 521.
To grant him his inlargment and libertie

b. Commonly to go and to deliver, set, at liberty, to let, put, set, etc. to (one's) liberty.(1) a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 172.
Justice for schrewis gois large at liberte
a1500 Colk. Sow i. 479.
He haith grace to ryd or go At liberty and fredome
a1578 Pitsc. I. 182/7.
To mak the ȝeittis oppin and deliuer the kingis grace at libertie to pase quhair he pleissit
1662 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 655.
To sett Sir John … at liberty, bot, … to require him … to enact himselfe to returne
1671 Justiciary Rec. II. 57.(2) 1493 Acta Aud. 184/2.
To put him to liberte and fredome sa that he may commoune with his moder and frendis
1533 Boece iv. xvi. 152.
We that ar douchty men … sall to liberte deliuer oure self at the first ionyng
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1653.
Gang put ȝon ladyis to thair libertie Incontinent, and break doun all the stocks
1574 Acts III. 87/1.
That all … vagaboundis … be committit in ward … thair to be kepit vnlettin to libertie … quhill thay [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 23 b.
Gif ane man, quha was ane bond-man, … is put to libertie
1619 Garden Elphinston 1286.
The guiltie man … To libertie inlairg'd
c1650 Spalding I. 217.
Robert Keith … is set to libertie
1658 Bk. Old Edinb. C. IV. 120.
To put … to libertie forthe of thair jeall

2. Freedom from alien or from arbitrary rule. Also plur., the rights of a free people.(1) 1513 Doug. vi. xiv. 35.
To kepe frensches and souerane liberte
1533 Bell. Livy I. 133/11.
The commoun liberte, sa recentlie recouerit, was nere loist be falset and tressoun
1533 Boece iv. xi. 142.
Quhat suld move Romanis … to … iniustlie reif fra Albianis thare innative liberte
Ib. xv. iv. 582.
Quhat may libertie availl … gif to this tressoun we consent
1543 Reg. Cupar A. II. 25.
The said Jonet … sall defend the common wele and liberte of the realme, the Cristin faytht and liberte of haly kyrk, and specealy the common wele of our said abbay
c 1560 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXI. 143.
That my lord … assist … the furth settin of the evangell of Cryst and meynteinyng the congregatioune in thair leberte and to the doune putting of al ydolatrie [etc.]
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xvi. 57.
O michtie prince … Set furth our lawis, mantein our libertie
1590-1 Bruce Serm. 273.
Let it not come to pass … that the glory of God and libertie of this city be impaired
1638 Dumbarton B. Rec. 55.
Business so nerlie concerning the religioun and libertie of this kingdome
1692 Cramond Kirk S. III. 23 Aug.
When ever there should be liberty granted in the Church of Scotland
(2) plur. 1531 Bell. Boece I. 81.
Thay ar nocht movit … to lose thair landis and liberteis but extreme jeopardie of battall
Ib. II. 375.
The Paip … decernit the Scottis to have just action of battal, in defence of thair liberteis, aganis King Edward
c1650 Spalding I. 214.
Thair desires wes onlie to inioy thair religioun and liberteis

3. Liberty of action or thought, freedom from restraint or coercion.Also const. in (the sphere of action concerned).(1) 1490 Irland Mir. fol. 200 b.
He … wyrkis eftir his awne knawlage & liberte, and nocht be na coaccioun
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 3211.
Hir sonne … Consyddrand his subiectioun His lybertie he did desyre That he mychte gouerne his impyre, … Sum sayis, to be at lybertie
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxx. 9.
Remors for syne is thocht bot fulische feir And fleschlie loving iugeit libertie
1558-66 Knox II. 344.
He … was content, that in his dictament should men use the libertie that best pleased thame
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxxvi. 43.
Bot grant me als grit libertie As first vhen we tua mett, My jo
1615 Crim. Trials III. 24.
If ȝour lo. sall kythe cairles … in this great chairge, ȝe will increas the libertie of ȝour ewilwillaris
(2) 1562-3 Winȝet I. 29/16.
Sall the haill peple of God heirfor of al aiges, in the libertie of the Euangel, haif les libertie in the lyke materis than had the Jowis vnder the ȝok of the Mosaical law?
1561 Knox II. 152.
That na man … being ane of the kirk suld complayne that he was spoyled of his liberty in electioun
1650 Aberd. Council Lett. III. 178.
A merchant … ocht to have deue leiberti heirin

b. Liberty of conscience. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 140.
Our ministeris … will not pray for thair lauchfull heretrix, wha hes permitted thame sic libertie of conscience
1580 Hay Cath. Tr. 61.
Quhy in the beginning of your new Euangell preached ye libertie of conscience, and now constraines all men to subscryve your new doctrine?
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 339.
The libbertie of his and thair consciences

c. Excessive freedom of conduct or speech, licence.Also to take or use the or a liberty. 1558 Knox IV. 369.
John the Baptist, whom Herode before had beheaded for the libertie of his tongue
1565 Aberd. B. Rec. in Mill Mediæv. Plays 154.
Witht tyme to aspure [sic] vnto farther licentious libertie gif thair temerarius attemptatis be nocht quiklie repressit
1596 Dalr. II. 466/7.
The opiniounis … ful of hæretical licentiousnes and libertie … happit al, and coloured with fair wourdes
c1616 Hume Orthog. 23.
In abating from the word following, we, in the north, use a mervelouse libertie
1599 Acts IV. 187/1.
The withgait and libertie quhilk sindry … persones hes tane to exact … intolerable proffite … for the leane of thair money
1600 Hamilton Cath. Tr. (S.T.S.) 225/26.
To brydil this proud libertie of sik laik and temporal persounes as presumis to reid … the scriptures

d. At (full, one's) liberty, freely, without restraint, as one pleases, at will. a1500 Henr. III. 171/43.
All ledis lyvis lawles at libertee, Noucht reulit be reson
1513 Doug. i. Prol. 301.
To follow a fixt sentens … Is … far strater … Than forto write all ways at liberte
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 252.
Go, all, to the hie boirdall: Thare may we lope at lybertie, Withouttin ony grauitie
1555 Lanark B. Rec. 30.
To hald thar commone landis at fredome and lebarte
1568 Lyndesay Pref. 9.
He did gif ouir into thair handis … the possessionis … to be disponit at thair libertie and plesour
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 45.
[He was an impediment] to leif at libertie of hir plessure
c1650 Spalding I. 219.
None of his Majesteis good subiectis … dar haserd home to thair awin houssis at full libertie, be ressone of the covenanteris fury

e. personified. c1500-c1512 Dunb. G. Targe 175.
Will, Wantonnes, Renoun, and Libertee

4. Freedom of action, opportunity, to do something. 1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 251.
I gat no tyme, layser nor lybertie To saye In manus tuas Domine
1555–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 231.
The act … for presentyng of all fisches to the mercat and thair remanyng ane certane houris or merchandis haif liberte to by the samyn to pak and peill
1581 Acts III. 223/2.
Quhether he be subiect … to interdictioun or inhibitioun or be at his awin fredome and liberte to contract
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 99.
All officiares … sall … abyde … in publick … places … that all men may haue frie libertie to make their complaint against them
1685 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XI. 30.
Allows the supplicant to have the libertie … to … convers with his frinds & lauers

5. Allowance, sanction, authorization, authority, to do something, also const. noun clause, and absol.(1) 15.. Acts I. 61/2.
That the merchandis … sall haif thair merchand gilde and sall ioice … the samyn with libertie to by and sell … withyn the boundis of the liberties of burghis
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 913.
The quhilk hes geuin ws lybertie Tyll eait of euery fruct [etc.]
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 81.
Wyth liberte to the said Elizabeth to marye ony lawfull howsband
1576 Edinb. Skinners in Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI. 69.
[He] sall newer haif leberttie to rasave ane prenteis frome this furth
1593 Ayr Charters 119.
The saidis … sall have na libertie be the claus irritant … to quarrell the said infeftment
1597 Acts IV. 155/2.
Our said souerane lord … giffis and grantis full powar and libertie to his hienes derest cousing … to sett in fewferme [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i. 23 b.
He quha was borne bond, after the seaven ȝeares sall be frie, and sal haue libertie to passe … quhere he pleases frielie
1630 Soc. Ant. LVI. 50.
[Each] askit libertie of the devill to do hearme to sic persones agains quhom thay buir ony malice
1654 Johnston Diary (1919) II. 272.
I would not gett libertye to dwell their
1665 Peebles B. Rec. II. 63.
Adam Russell … came doune to the deane of gild and desyred libertie to buy tarr and topp the same again, who ansuered he wald give him libertie, … provyding [etc.]
1676 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 575.
Lord Murray … granted ane tollerance and libertie to build … the landsteall of ane dame
1693 Cramond Kirk S. III. 11 Apr.
Since they are willing to allow Barntoun still a liberty to enter that way to the communion table
(2) 1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 43.
Wald God I had that liberty, That I micht pairt … Withowt the constry law
1676 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 4 Feb.
Ane ox … intrometted with be Thomas … pertaining to the said defunct without his libertie

6. Authorization, authority, privilege, of (also for) doing something; also, privilege of use or occupation of.(1) c1575 Balfour Pract. 39.
Baronis havand libertie of infang thift may dome … all theivis [etc.] … and … all baronis havand the power of outfang thift [etc.]
1664 Rothesay B. Rec. 88.
They have condiscendit … that the said Mr John be infeft heretablie in the libertie of coalls of all lands quherin his father or he stands infeft
1665 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 222.
Desyring the counsell … to grant to him … the libertie of the samen [piece of land] for making vp ane duelling house for ane tenement
1676 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 574.
[It was] impossible for him to draw any damhead therto without a liberty from the Marquis of laying a dame in the said water
1683 Martine Reliq. Divi Andreae 65.
My lord archbishop of St. Andrews … has libertie and priviledge of chaple and chancellarie, by directing of brieves and serving them before his owne baillies
(2) 1660 Conv. Burghs III. 502.
He sall concurr with any gentlmen that endevouris the erecting of ane mint house or libertie for Sir John Falconer for a jornall which is the value of fyve thousand pund sterling, of copper money
1695 Ib. IV. 205.
What is proper to be done for geting libertie and licience from the … privie councill … for importatione of Irish maill

7. A right or privilege attached to or pertaining to lands, corporate bodies, jurisdictions, offices etc. Freq. plur.(1) 15.. Newbattle Chart. MS. (Reg. H.).
Ane pec of land … to be haldyne and had be the said Abbot … in the samyn lyberte that thai hald the laif of thair almes landis
1558-66 Knox II. 456.
That our voitting prejudge nocht the lybertie of the Generall Assembly
1578 Inverness Rec. I. 263.
Adhering to the libertie and priwilege of hir hous of barroun burgessrie
a1578 Pitsc. I. 395/1.
All thingis done be him in amplefieing of the libertie of his croune
1586 Jurid. Rev. IV. 119.
To repledge … the said Wm. Scot to the liberty and privilege of the said regal[ity]
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 170.
The libbertie and power of the thrie Estaits
1638 Nat. Covenant in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xcvii.
The true Church of God, the libertie and freedome thereof in her … presbyteries, sessions, politie, discipline
1641 Acts V. 562/2.
The seale of cause … conteaneing the priviledges … of taking in wnder ther libertie … all otheres airtes … whilkis evir perteened of befoir to the saidis craftes
(2) plur. 1537 Liber Dryburgh 283.
Our landes … with … amerciamentis hereȝeldis … and with all … vtheris liberties, commodities, profeittis [etc.]
1586 Jurid. Rev. IV. 295.
They would not … prejudge the liberties of the saids regalities
1597 Acts IV. 154/2.
Oure said souerane lord … annexis to the same citye of auld Abirdene for the better vphald therof the foirsaidis liberteis and seattis of the … college
1612 Stirling B. Rec. I. 131.
The maltmen … may … posses thair wounted liberteis, privilages and immuniteis
1633 Maxwell Mem. II. 234.
He resingit his auld liberties, … kariage of the croun and vanegaird in battell
1641 Acts V. 500/2.
[The] shereffes gloves tolles [etc.] … and all other fies dewties priviledges and liberties quhilkis … perteene to the saidis faires
1654–8 Consult. Ministers Edinb. I. 80.
The liberties of the Kirk of Scotland in the judicatories thereof

b. The territory over which a judge's jurisdiction extends. c1575 Balfour Pract. 39.
Sum baronis … hes power to … give dome … upon all theives tane … within thair baronie, boundis or libertie
1579 Acts III. 146/1.
And that all … jugeis ordinar quhatsumeuir put the saidis actis to executioun … euery ane within the boundis of thair awin liberties and jurisdictioun

8. The body of immunities or privileges enjoyed by a free burgh; also, the condition of enjoying such privileges, privileged status of a burgh. sing. and plur.sing. 1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 207.
Diuers grete actionis concernyng the commone weill of this burgh and liberte thairof betuix thame and the towne of Leyth and Cannogait
1564 Peebles B. Rec. I. 294.
To the affeck that the liberte of the toune maie be obserwit
1585 Conv. Burghs I. 203.
Ane charter … quhairby they war infeft in all the boundis libertie and iurisdictioun within the boundis frome Dovane to Levinsmouth
1588 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 61.
Ane … induellar of this burght, fauorar and furthtsettar of the libertie thairof
1605 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 234.
All manir of wnlawis competent to him as proveist … be wertew of the libertie of this burgh
plur. 1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 23.
And sua thairby the saids compleneris … ar … maist heavelie … interruptit in thair privileges and liberties
1590 Conv. Burghs I. 340.
That all the burrowes … concur … in defens of thair iust and honest caussis, thair landis and liberties
1596 Ib. 483.
The preiudice done to fre burrowis in erecting priuatlie of brughis of baroneis, … with als grit liberteis as the fre burrowis hes
1641 Peebles B. Rec. I. 101.
Of all … infeftmentis, liberties, seasinges and possessiounes maid … to … the said burgh
1656 Conv. Burghs III. 428.

b. The area over which the privileges of a burgh extend; the trade precinct of a burgh. Also said of the privileged trade precinct of a burghal craft incorporation. Also plur. 1555 Peebles B. Rec. I. 223.
Euery landwart tovn vtouth the liberte of the said burgh within the sherefdome of Peblis
1572 Ib. 344.
All vagabundis that hantis … inwith the liberte of burgh
1589 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I. 243.
That na vnfreman or voman tak vpoun hand to by or sell ony manner of thing within the libertie of the said burgh bot sic as will serue to thair avin vse
1613 Cranna Fraserburgh 25.
To pak and peill … vithin the bounds off the said brughe, libertie and regaletie off the same
1614 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II. 149.
Ane bark of corne … brocht out of Irland within the tounis libertie
1645 Murray Early B. Organ. II. 172.
Lands within the libertie and territorie of Newtoun
1689 Dumfries Fleshers MS. 7 Aug.
In any place within the liberty of the flesher traid of Drumfries
plur. 1578 (1659) Dumfries Fleshers MS. 30 Sept.
Vnles he duell within the liberteis of this burgh
1604 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 98.
Chesing of commone metstairis … for metting of all sort of clayth coft and sauld within thair liberteis
1690 Musselburgh 119.
The Counsell appoynts a proclamatione to goe through the burgh and liberties anent seamen

9. a. The right of trading within the burgh precincts and other privileges pertaining to a duly admitted burgess of a burgh. Also, the document conferring these rights.(1) 15.. Acts I. 61/2.
With libertie to by and sell … withyn the boundis of the liberties of burghis sua that ilke ane be content with his awne libertie and that nane … usurpe the libertie of another
1555 Conv. Burghs I. .
Fre men … culloring vnfremenis geir, vnder the pretence of thair libertie
1557 Crim. Trials I. 399.
Nicholl Rynd, tailȝeoure … to haue tynt and foirfaltit … his libertie and fredome of this burch
1607 Acts IV. 375/2.
[That] vnfrie traffiquerris … vses the liberteis and privileges of frie burgessis
1654 Rothesay B. Rec. 2.
To be burges and frieman of this brughe with all liberties belonging thairto
(2) 1600 Conv. Burghs II. 81.
That na liberty nor ewident be seillit … bot in presens of the counsale

b. Full membership of a craft or guild. 1593 Stirling Merch. Guild 4.
The penultie to be payit be all intrants heirefter to their [the Merchant Guild's] libertie
1613 St. A. Baxter Bks. 79.
Forsamekill as … my immediat ȝounger brother is to entir freiman to the libertye of the baxter craft in St. Androis
1671 Murray Lyon Hist. Lodge Edinb. 31.
That … every master shall pay for the entrie of his prenteis, if he be for the libertie [£10], … and for his prenteis that is not for the liberty [£12]

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



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