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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Probatio(u)n(e, -acio(u)n(e, n. [Late ME and e.m.E. probacioun (Hoccleve), -acion (15th c.), -ation (1559), F. probation (OF -acion, 14th c. in Hatz.-Darm.), L. probātiōn-, n. of action f. probāre to prove, test.]

1. a. The action of proving or showing to be true; demonstration, proof. 1490 Irland Mir. I 16/11.
That he reid this buk with cherite … and tak heid to the verite and conclusoune writtin in it, and als to thar probacioune
Ib. II 42/6.
For thar writ makis probacioun and witnessing of the glorius resurreccioun
Ib. I 16/14. c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxv 9 (M).
The curious probatioun logicall
a1568 Weddirburne Bann. MS 241 b/155.
And for probatione of thair argument Thay first allege ane fryvoll vanitie
1558 Knox IV 373.
In the probation of this proposition I will not … amplifie … the same
1560 Rolland Seven S. 3967.
Quhilk I sall schaw to ȝow be narratioun, And preif the same be gude probatioun

b. That which constitutes proof of something; demonstrative evidence. 1513 Doug. vii xiii 21.
Hys schynand scheld … Quhilk was gret argument and probatioun That he was … a Gregioun
1531 Bell. Boece I 11.
In probation heirof, Orknay wes callit the auld realme of Pichtis
1558-66 Knox I 189.
That ye will lett us hear the probatioun of that which ye have affirmed
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 37.
That thair is na neid of forane probatiounis
1573 Davidson Sat. P. xli 89.
He will not leaue thé comfortles, As alreddy thow hes probatioun
c1590 Fowler II 41/13.
I micht vse in this argument mony autorities of ancient writers for probatioun
Ib. 66/26. 1596 Dalr. II 220/22.

c. An instance of these: a demonstration or a piece of evidence. 1490 Irland Mir. II 51/10.
I … sall schaw be ressoune naturale and sindry vthir probaciouns the verite … of the faith of Ihesu
1549 Compl. 3/26.
Ther can nocht be ane mair ample probatione, nor is the … croniklis of diuers realmes
Ib. 164/10.
The bibil is ane real probatione that Kyng Dauid … vas ane preist
1562-3 Winȝet II 36/3.
That … large werk … in the quhilk, be grete heip of probationis, he confoundit the … fals allegeance of Porphirius
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. Title-page.
Certane orthodox and catholik conclusions vith thair probations
c1590 Fowler II 46/3.
Seing the probations of this propositioun ar sa confuslie patchit together

d. Demonstrating or proving in action. 1561–2 Edinb. Old Acc. I 366.
For dechting of the steipill to the wobsters and walkers to wirk in for thair probatioun of thair laute

2. The action of establishing a submission, or the fact of having done so, by evidence or otherwise, before a court of law; the case for a submission as presented to a court.(1) 1507 Edinb. B. Ct. Bk. 5.
Ane instrument for a part of his probacion anent the tak of the buthe clamit apon Adam Bell
1559 Admir. Ct. Bk. (St. S.) 131.
The said maister Richard procuratour foirsaid for verificatioun of his libell instantlie producit the decrete … libellat execut and indorsat, and renuncit all ferthir probatioun
1561 Reg. Privy C. I 189.
Till thai se on quhame the burding of probatioun salbe laid in deductioun of the proces
1562–3 Linlithgow Sheriff Ct. MS fol. 37 (3 April).
The fift exceptioun to the said Johnne Clerkis probatioun concerning the disposition of ane merkland
1565 Instit. Ct. Sess. 4 b.
In materis requiring probation
1571 Canongate Ct. Bk. 331.
The baillie depute … admittis the said laist point of the said Jonetis eik to hir probatioun
c1575 Balfour Pract. 352.
Gif baith the parties happinis to be absent at the day of probatioun thay sould be unlawit
1591 St. A. Baxter Bks. 47.
John Grig be sufficient probatioun being convict to haife transgressit the act maid annent [etc.]
1622-6 Bisset I 135/30. 1669 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I 321. 1671 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 27 May.
Fynes Johne Edgar boatman be legall probatioun for gros injuries committed be him [etc.]
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. ii xxiv 1 (1678) 511.
Probation is defined to be that whereby the judge is convinced of what is asserted
1681 Stair Inst. (1693) iv iii §22.
At one diet or course of probation
(2) 1501–2 Acta Conc. III 153.
The lordis ordain tha[t] thai wald nocht admict … witnes in this matir … except probacioun takin of before
1515–16 Reg. Privy S. I 413/1. 1562 Reg. Privy C. I 208.
To produce the commissioun direct to the Senescall of Nantis for examinatioun of witnes and deductioun of the probatioun in the mater persewit [etc.]
c1575 Balfour Pract. 359.
Gif the judge refusis to do the samin … ather befoir or efter leiding and deducing probatioun in the cause, the proces … is of nane avail
1594 Paisley B. Rec. 158.
Being oftymes lawfullie warnit to heir probation in the said cais
1607 Reg. Privy C. VII 523.
That then the magistrat thairof sall dilait the same to oure Counsell, and gif sufficient informatioun thairof, and furneis probatioun of the same
1622-6 Bisset I 86/14.
All judges aucht to … considder diligentlie the libell … with the formall deductioun of the procese, wreittis, evidentis or probatioun led thereupoun
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 256.
The partie who had the probatione to leid
1632 Cullen B. Rec. MS 7 Dec.
George Duffus … being callit to see the said probatione wsit and … not comperand
1647 Acts VI i 695/1.
Probatioune to be deducit for proving of the passive titles lybellit
1648 Ib. ii 45/1.
To grant commissioune to any … judge … for receaveing of the probatioun of that defence
1661 Black Sc. Witches 33. 1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i xxxv 9 (1699) 173.
If A. B. were pursued as hounder out of C. D. to commit a murder, probation behoved to be led that C. D. committed the murder … else [etc.]
(3) 1583–4 St. A. Kirk S. 517.
In the terme appointit to William Moir to preif Beatrix Weland to haif hed carnall daill with ane uther man … [he] conperit nocht, and failyeit in probatioun
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 104.
For the persewer failȝeing in probation the defender sould be assoilȝied
1656 Stitchill Baron Ct. 7.
Allisoune Hamiltoune and George Pattersoune … are absolved of that quey … because the pursuers failȝied in their probatioun
(4) 1557 Acts II 502/2.
It is statute … that ony exceptioun being admittit to probatioun, it salbe declairit … how [etc.]
1564 St. A. Kirk S. 208.
[She] desyris hir allegacionis admittit to hyr probacion
1564–5 Reg. Privy C. I 326.
The saidis Lordis referrit the said allegeance to the probatioun of the said maistir Alexander
1571 Canongate Ct. Bk. 331.
The baillie depute … admittis the persewaris clame … to thair probatioun … and admittis the said laist point of the said Jonetis eik to hir probatioun
1574 Reg. Privy C. II 379. c1575 Balfour Pract. 352.
Gif the libel or clame is admittit to the persewar's probatioun and ane term assignit to him [etc.]
1576 St. A. Commissariat Act Bks. II 168 (8 Dec.).
Becaus thair compt … being admittit to thair probatioun thai verifiit the same sufficientlie
1576 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 12. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 50 b.
Ane debt being … admitted to the persewers probation the samine may be proven many wayes, as be [etc.]
Ib. ii 121.
That the judge … decerne quhether that quhilk was admitted to probation is sufficientlie proven or not proven
1622-6 Bisset I 173/1.
The defender … may suffer the summonis to pas to probation aganis him self, for his nocht compeirance
1653 Peebles B. Rec. II 8. 1654 Stirling Ant. II 14. 1661 Aberd. Council Lett. IV 143. 1678 Wodrow Hist. (1828) II 496.(5) 1561 St. A. Kirk S. 79.
And that heir ar present in jugiment on cace cumin twa Scottismen … quhilkis ar wytnessis necessary for probacion of hyr intent
Ib. 113.
And for the probacione of the sammyn promes and consent, the said Elizabeth Leslie producis ane dispensacione
1565–6 Reg. Privy C. I 427.
Thair majesteis … ordanis … for probatioun of the contraventioun, that certane famous witnessis be producit
1568 Crail B. Ct. 27 July.
Comperit the said Thomas Walie and foir probatioun heirof producit Jhone Dauidsoun … quha deponis [etc.]
1568 Hosack Mary Q. of Scots I 545. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 22.
Gif the defender … finds ane borgh to the schiref for his compeirance and probation of his causses
Ib. ii 120.
The forme and proving of exception be witnes is … disconforme to the maner of the probation of the libell
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 82.
Adminicles lybelled for probation of the tenor of ane evident most be produced
Ib. 250. 1635 Wodrow in Hay Geneal. 87.
And partlie for the exceptiones against the verificatione and probatione of my indytement
1644 Acts VI i 194/2.
Divorce shall be given … wpoun probatioune that bairnes … are procreate in adulterie
1669 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I 320.
In the probation of this case
1674 Acts Sederunt ii 115.
But after the probation upon the saids acts is closed they shall not be admitted to adduce any other probation of any points
(6) 1478 Acta Conc. I 5/2.
The lordis decretis … that the probacioun that the said Johne Maxwel allegis to of lefand witnes is nocht sufficiand
1556 Inverness Rec. I 1.
Apon the quhilkis confession and probation of diuerse famows witnessis exemit in jugment
1557 Acts II 502/2.
It salbe declairit … how mekill of it requyris probatioun in writ
c1575 Balfour Pract. 288.
Beand sufficientlie provin be … confessioun … or be a taint or probatioun of twentie five leill men
1584 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 371.
Tryet … be the probatioun of twa or thre honest witnessis
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Attaynt.

b. With reference to the several different recognised modes or methods of legally proving a case. c. A particular instance of leading proof. 1496 Acta Conc. II 27.
That witnes in the possessione of heretage suld nocht be admittit for that probacione was nocht sufficient
1561 Reg. Privy C. I 174.
Quhilk claus is adjectit to mak the mair cleir probatioun presumptive
c1575 Balfour Pract. 358.
Gif ony persoun electis and usis ane kind and maner of probatioun he may not pas fra the samin and use ane uther maner; as gif [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 50 b.
Gif the creditour hes na securitie for his debt … bot onelie faith and promise, that is na lawfull probation in the kings court
1622-6 Bisset I 188/7, 11, 24.
Thrie kyndis of probatioun ar used commonlie in civile causis … Probation be confession … Probation be wreit … the thrid is be witnesis unsuspect and thair depositionis
1646 Acts VI i 502/1.
To be examinat as witnesis … as ane adminicle of the probatioune
1662 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I 41.
When a writt is civilly improven before the session by a clear and liquid probation
1669 Rothesay B. Ct. 173. 1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. ii xxii 6 (1699) 243.
They think that the probation [sc. of the defence], though not full, doth obfuscat and weaken the pursuers probation
1681 Stair Inst. (1693) iv xl § 14.
For still the presumption … doth either exclude the other from any probation or at least lay the burden of the probation upon the other
Ib. xlii § 1.
Which is not a direct but an indirect and presumptive probation
Ib. xlv §12, etc.
Unless the contrary be proven by a more positive probation
1682 Fountainhall Decis. I 198.
The Lords … reduced the bond, and found it satisfied, on this inartificial and conjectural probation
1697 Renfrewshire Witches 153.

3. That which makes good a claim or statement or establishes a fact, by witness, evidence or otherwise, in or as in a court of law; verification, confirmation.(1) 1541–2 Renfrew Arch. Coll. I 199.
And ordanis the said lord to haif lettrez to summond sic witnes and probatioun and to produce sic writtis … as he … will vse for preving of the punctis
1547 Perth Guildry MS 253 (14 Oct.).
And tuke to preif the schipping of the samn … be the clerkis buke and vthir probatioun
1549 Compl. 117/24.
The senaturs … hed nocht sufficient probatione to condamp hym
1558–9 Admir. Ct. Bk. (St. S.) 84. 1560 St. A. Kirk S. 45.
I haif bott twa witnes in this realme; and gif ony of them sall inlaik I am not of puissance to procure probatioun furth of far cuntreyes
1567 Sat. P. v 58.
Proclaime that all quha ocht dois knaw, To mak probatioun euident, With diligence thay cum and shaw [etc.]
1568 Anderson Collect. Mary II 162.
That … rebellious subjectis be hard to giff in ony pretendit probatione for pruiffing of thair said invented additione
1572–3 Reg. Privy C. II 186. 1587 Acts (1597) ii 99 b.
The accuseres … hauing libertie … to produce to them [the assize] sik writtes and witnesses and vther probation as they pleased to verifie the crime outwith the presence of the parties accused
1602 Shetland Sheriff Ct. (ed.) 29.
Quhairin the essys takand tryall and finding nather liklines nor probatioun thairinto obsolvis the said Lourence
Ib. 48.
For the sclandering of Adame Boynd of the alledgit stowth … without ony liklines or probatioun led
Ib. 29. 1609 Skene Reg. Maj. i 17. a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 209.
In the reductione of a retour for error ther should be no moir probation admitted then wes showen to the assyse
1642 Argyll Synod I 41.
No probation being fund
1644 Acts VI i 98/1.
And declares the depositiones sua to be tane shall be vsit as probatione eftir the discussing of the relevancie
1650 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 615. 1657 Rothesay B. Rec. 17.
The perseuar without farder probatioun referrit the tennour of the cleame to the defendars oathe
1684 Erskine Diary 100.
The King's advocate craved they might be admitted as probation against the pannell, but they were only sustained as an adminicle
1688 Tryal Philip Standsfield 28.
You must not expect two witnesses … but only such probation as can before God convince you
(2) 1535 Stewart 55589.
The quhilk wedding wes lauchfull probatioun Of his barnis legitimatioun
c1575 Balfour Pract. 273.
The keyis of court ar … 10. Lauchful probatioun of attachiamentis and summoundis, be twa sufficient and unsuspect witnessis at the leist
Ib. 366.
Ane instrument of sasine … is not sufficient probatioun that his wife was saisit in the samin landis, gif [etc.]
1670 Kingarth Par. Rec. 59.
Tho ther be no evident probatioun of ther carnal dealing togither
1694 Fountainhall Decis. I 603.
The Lords found it no sufficient probation of majority, that … he was laureat

b. An instance of this: a proof; a piece of evidence. 1491–2 Acta Conc. I 221/1.
The saidis partiis beand personaly present ther evidentis and probaciouns sene and vnderstandin
1496–7 Ib. II 62.
The lordis … ordanis baith the saidis partiis to bring with thame sic probacions and richtis as thai wil use
1501 Ib. III 26. 1515 Fife Sheriff Ct. 18.
He wald nocht … scheu na probatioune nore document tharupone
1533 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 401.
Thai man knaw upoun ane conspiratioun or tresoun solum and quhat probatioun or preparativys previt the conspiratioun
1561 Reg. Privy C. I 174.
It behuffit to adject in ane new clame … and thaireftir probationis led preving intromissioun
1573 Riddell Tracts 191.
The law … hes statute and ordaint ane certain probation quhilk necessarlie may convict ony persone of knawlege incaise thai wald pretend ignorance
1584 Sempill Sat. P. xlv 191.
Had he nocht had a sure probatione
1606 Misc. Spald. C. II 152.
Efter his accusar had deduced all argumentis and probatiounes he could devise
1631 Justiciary Cases I 166.
The chirurganeis testimoniall … can nocht be respectit as ane probatioun of the dittay

4. ? An investigation, examination, trial.But perh. merely a contextual use of 2 above. 1541 Treas. Acc. VII 472.
Gevin to ane man that brocht v Striveling penneis fund in ane huird to ane probatioun, v s.

5. The testing or trial of a person, in respect of conduct or character. a. by God. b. by another person.a. 1490 Irland Mir. I 52/11.
Temptacioune is probacioune and experiens of the persoune and of his wertu
1562-3 Winȝet II 36/23.
The prouidence of God sufferis that thing to be for our probatioun
a1568 Scott xxxvi 51.
And with Thy spreit of cheif probatioun
1570 Misc. Bann. C. I 41.
Leuing more to the observatioun of publict lawis then to the commone probatioune of eternall God
b. 1560 Rolland Seven S. 9668.
I did all that (said he) for probatioun, And als of lufe ane greit confirmatioun … I thocht I wald ȝow prufe

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



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