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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).

Procurato(u)r fiscal(l, n. Also: -oure and fiscale, fysc-, fisk-, fis(c)h-, fysch-, phisc-, physc-, phischal(l, fischeall, -ell. Plur. and possess. procuratour fiscals, etc., plur. also procuratouris fiscallis etc. [Procurato(u)r n.1, Fiscale adj. and n., e.m.E. fiscal(l adj., pertaining to treasury or revenue, f. as Fisk n., Phiscal(l n.]

1. A (?esp. financial) manager or steward of the ‘choir’ or chapter of a large church. = Procurato(u)r n.1 2 b. 1539 Glasgow Prot. IV 119.
I wyll the said vicar … wair yeirlie apone the uphald of the howssis … ten schillingis be sycht and avice of the procuratouris fyschallis of the queir of Glasgw
1577 McCrie Melville II (1824) 339.
Robert Pont … procurator phiscall of the said priorie [Sanct Androis]

2. The law-agent and collector of a commissary court, who brought actions on behalf of the court and might serve as executor-dative to testaments.‘It was the duty of the bishop's procurator-fiscal to see that all testaments were confirmed, and all inventories brought in so that the quot could be ascertained. He made a circuit twice a year through his commissariot in order to obtain information of the deaths which had occurred during the preceding period, and charged all whom he knew or suspected to be acquainted with the defuncts' estates to appear before the commissaries.’ (P. J. Hamilton-Grierson in Bisset III 178-9). ? 1563 Balfour Pract. 663.
And that the procuratour-fiscal of Edinburgh persew in the saidis lordis namis for the gudis of the deid
That everie inferiour commissar have ane procuratour-fiscal quha sall be ane honest … man and persew all commoun actiounis and sall be decernit executour dative to all testamentis within the jurisdictioun quhair he servis
1564–5 Reg. Privy S. V i 545/2.
For assisting hir grace procuratour fiscale that the saidis gudis and geir contenit in the saidis testamentis be gevin up to the just avale
Ib. 546/1.
The saidis commissaris, procuratour fiscale and cotemaisteris
1575 in Bisset II 80/17.
Procuratoure fyschall
Ib. 79/9. 1598 Melville Chart. 146.
Efter … lauchfull varning … of the executouris … and that nane compeirit we decernit the procuratour fischall of our said commissarie in executour datiue to hir and thairefter, at the supplicatioun … of the saidis Margaret [etc.] … Melwillis, we haue reponit and put thame in the said fischallis place
1604 Misc. Bann. C. II 233. 1606 Reg. Privy C. VII 173.
Pryces set down to the procurator fischall to be tane heirafter for forming of testaments
1610 Balfour Pract. 664.
For the commissar clerkis procuratour-fiscals and uther memberis of court of the haill ecclesiastical judgmentis
Ib. 667. 1664 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct.) 19 April.
Johne and William Cavens ther sones … ar surrogatt in place of the procurator phiscall in executoris datives to ther said umquhill mother
1666 Acts Sederunt ii 99. 1667 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 282.
The commissar of Aberdene and his procurator fiscall

3. a. An elected or appointed law-agent of a burgh who represented the burgh in the burgh court and in litigation elsewhere, instituted civil and, latterly, criminal proceedings in the burgh court, and collected penalties and fines on the burgh's behalf. = Procurato(u)r n.1 4. 1564 Perth B. Ct. 75 (5 May).
The actioun and caus persewit be William Gall officiar William Ramsay procuratour fiscall contrar and agains Blais Colt
1577 Crail B. Ct. MS 1 Oct.
The foirsaid baillies … makis … Ihone Ramsay messinger thair procuratour fyscall in all actiones concernyng the commone effaris of the said burgh
1579–80 Inverness Rec. I 273.
Comperit in jugement George Ros and William Cuthbert, procuratouris fiscallis of this burcht, quha exhibeit … ane burrow precept … berand that … Johne Reid … refusit alluterlie to stent lott or contribute [etc.]
1584 Acts III 361/1.
Mr. Michaell Chisholme [and others] … for … the haill body and commwnitie of the toun … makis and constitutis Maisteris Johnne Schairp [and others] assessouris and Maister Johnne Skene procuratour fiscall or ony twa of thame thair procuratouris to compeir befoir the lordis of sessioun and counsell [etc.]
1587–8 Perth Guildry MS 440 (6 Feb.). 1587–8 Ayr Common Good Acc. MS.
To the pr fischeall for plakis waring in the tolbuyth
1593 Prestwick B. Ct. 82.
Johnne Dunlop … is decernit … to content & pay to George Cathcart procuratour fischall for the said burghe … fyve li. money for … interteneing of Wm Stewart
1596 Paisley B. Rec. 170.
Procurator Fischell
1614 Ayr B. Acc. 57.
The procuratour fischeallis fe, fyve merkis
1627 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 343.
The proveist [etc.] … hes electit … William McIlraith thesaurer procurator fiscall of the said burgh quhill Michaelmes nixt
1642 Ib. 670, 680. 1644 Ib. 708.
The quhilk day compeirit … Robert Kirk … and renuncit all richt [etc.] … in and to [etc.] … in favouris of the touneship of Kirkcudbricht … Quhervpone George Callender procurator fiscall for the toun requyrit instrumentis
1650 Elgin Rec. I 186.
The said day Allexr Man … being accused be Mr. James Annand pror fishall of the said burgh for not entering his persone in ward [etc.]
1665 Irvine Mun. II 166. 1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 28 Sept.
Electis Samwell Cairmount procuratour phiscall
1680 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS 15 April.
Procr physcall
1687 Old Ross-shire I 95. 1693 Peebles B. Rec. II 141.
Katherein Scott … being accused for saying that [etc.] … , denyed the samen, and the procurator-fiscall hes undertaken to prove the samen

b. A crown officer in a sheriff court or an officer in another lower court with functions similar to those of a burgh procurator fiscal (a prec.).The procurator fiscal acted in the interest generally of the crown or the judge, instituted proceedings and collected fines, forfeitures and penalties. 1584 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I xliii.
The said day Maister George Barclay procuratour fischall for our souerane lord protestit solempnetlie that quhat beis done in the forsaid actioun … be nocht preiudiciall to our souerane lord … donatours
In the actioun … of bastardrie movit … be my lord shreff be vertew of his office … compeirit Mr. George Barclay procuratour fischall and producit the said summonds [etc.]
Ib. xliv. 1584 Reg. Soltre 151.
The provest prebendaris maister hospitale [of Trinity College] … constitutis Maister Johnne Leirmonth procuratour fischall to our souerane lord baillie principall of the landis [etc.] … pertening to the college
1595 Misc. Spald. C. II 131.
Anent the summondis reasit at the instance of Alexander Annand procuratour fischale to my lord of Spyne summonding all and sindrie persones … to compeir this day to gif in dittay contrare Arthure McGeleis
1595 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 369. 1597–8 Misc. Spald. C. II 138.
And Lauchlane Grant haiffing set cautioune to persew the said William hes informit William Gibsone, procuratour fiscale, to persew
1612 Orkney & Shetl. Ct. Bk. (ed.) 19. 1616 Aberd. Council Lett. I 135.
Williame Settoun admirall depute and Robert Mersser his procurator phiscall ar summonet to compeir befoir the lords
1624 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 135.
To ansuer at the instance of Robert Chalmer of Ryssay procuratour fischall of the schireffdome [sc. of Orkney and Shetland] for certane pointis of witchcraft
Ib. 140, etc. 1629 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. II 342.
Siclyk the shref forsaid constitut and creat Mr. Wa Barclay aduocat procuratour fiscall of the said shrefdome in civill actiones and penall allanerlie and Maister Alexr Gardyne procuratour fiscall siclyke of the said shrefdome in criminall & capitall actiones allanerlie
1633 Orkney Sheriff Ct. in Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. V 555.
Compeirit the procurator phiscall and producit the dittayis and desyrit the pa[nnell] to … be put to the tryell of ane assyse
1641 Misc. Spald. C. II 236.
And now latlie we have receaveit ane chairge from the Erle of Erroll [sc. as Constable] and … his tutour … to exhibit the said Mr. Thomas vpon the persut of thair procurator fiscall to tholl the law within our said tolbuith of Edinburgh
1649 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III 48.
Mr. Alexr. Davidsoun his grace pror. phiscall v. Alexr. Straquhane
[On 22 June they failed to appear and were ordained each to pay £100 to] his grace pror. phiscall to the shreffis behowe
1663 Stitchill Baron Ct. 29. 1669 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. II 680.
[For paying 500 merks to James Dunlop … sheriff-depute] … for the outreik of himselfe, his procurator phischall and officer
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. ii xii §4 (1678) 414.
The way of procedure before the sheriff is by an assize and the procurator-fiskal is pursuer in place of his majesties advocat
Ib. xix §2 (1678) 448.
For of late before the sheriff or at inferiour courts malefactors may be pursued either by a libelled summonds … or at the instance of the procurator-fiskal, by way of indictment
1692 Urie Baron Ct. 101. 1698 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II 95.
Their haill moveable goods … escheat and to be inbrought be … James Wysman writer in Elgin procurator phiscall and collector of court for the use of the saids commissioners [sc. of justiciary]
1701 Acts X 273/2.
And his majesties advocat or procurator fiscal shall insist in the lybell

4. An officer of a bishop's court.The court was established by the Bishop of Aberdeen for the trial of heretics; the ‘procurator-fiscal’s' duties are not specified, but were perh. similar to those of the officers defined in 2 and 3. 1558–9 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I lxiii.
To constitute Maister Nicoll Hay scribe in this besynes, and Mr. Thomas Freser and Alexander Paip, procurators fiscals in this and in all other causis and evrie ane of the three to haif ten merks … And in lykmaner Mr. Robert Lumsdale principal procurator pensionar bayth to my lord and cheptour to be requirit to procur in the samyn

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"Procurator Fiscal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jul 2022 <>



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