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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Counsail, -sale, -sall, n. Also: counsaile, -saill(e, -sayle; cownsale, -sall(e, -sal. [ME. counsail(e, -sayl(e, -sale, -sall, etc., variants of counseil, -seyl, etc., AF. counseil, OF. conseil Consail n. Cf. also Cunsail n.]

1. Counsel, advice.(a) c1420 Wynt. iv. 754.
I gyve yowe for counsaille, That yhe remowe owt off the fycht
1456 Hay II. 147/32.
Cast all thair counsailis ilkane till othir in thy mynde
1519 Bk. Carlaverock II. 458.
I … sall all his counsaill schawyn to me kep secret
a1568 Scott xxvi. 21.
To bid men keip thair secreit counsailis
a1578 Pitsc. I. 67/3.
Ane marvalus exampill to all mortall men to withdraw thame selffis frome all wicked counsaill
1650 Blairs P. 27.
He … said I should find that he uold follou my counsails
(b) c1420 Wynt. vi. 2206.
Thare thai bad, and tuk cownsale
Ib. 2489; etc.
Off cownsale wyth hys systrys twa A schype he gat
1456 Hay I. 232/33.
Quhen a man helpis … outhir with his persone, … or his counsale
Ib. 284/28.
Gif he had gude wis counsale of … men of lawe
a1500 Henr. Fab. 2794.
Do my counsale and I sall find the way … To bring thé ouer saiflie
1501 Stirling B. Rec. I. 57.
[They] ar fully compromittit till abide and vnderly the counsale … of thir persouns vnderwrittin
1513 Doug. i. v. 21.
Quhat wikkit counsale, fader, has turnyt thi thocht?
1551 Hamilton Cat. (title).
The catechisme … set furth … with the advise & counsale of the bischoippis and uther prelatis
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xv. 32.
God gif our lordis temporale Grace to gif ane trew counsale
1585 James VI Ess. 55.
I … will apply to my selfe the counsale quhilk Apelles gaue to the shoomaker
1622-6 Bisset II. 155/22.
Grimus … beand ane vicious king wald use na guid counsale
(c) c1420 Wynt. i. 63.
At hys cownsalle Off det I spendyt my trawalle
Ib. iv. 2576; etc.
The senatowrys … Gawe hym for counsall [etc.]
c1450-2 Howlat 262.
Thir fowlis he franyt Of thar counsall in this cais
Ib. 877. 1490 Irland Mir. I. 47/14.
The best counsall agane syn js almes and mercy
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 153/4.
Be counsall of the senatouris and ald men of Rome
1535 Stewart 25374.
Richt mony … Apprevit weill that that counsall wes gude
c1550 Rolland C. Venus ii. 58.
He implorit … They wald him gif thair counsal in best wyse
1558-66 Knox II. 379.
The Quene asked counsall of the Bischope of Ross
1575 Conv. Burghs I. 38.
We pray ȝow be with us, nocht onlie for ȝour awin commoditie, bot for ȝour counsall
1596 Highland P. I. 158.
To be put to the tryell … for being airt and pairt and upon the counsall of the said murthure
1623 Aberd. B. Rec. II. 388.
They sall giwe wnto thame thair trew and upricht counsall whan the same salbe askit
c1650 Spalding I. 20.
All [of them being] suspectit personis to be either airt and pairt, or on the counsall of this fyre
attrib. 1558 Melrose R. Rec. III. 164.
That he suld be airt and pairt or counsall gyffer to the said Patrik

2. A meeting or body of advisers or deliberators; a council.(a, b) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1475.
Eneas gert call thare To counsale all that lyvand ware
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1752.
Off Scotland byschapys war ma absent, Than at that counsale wes present
Ib. 1877.
Swa wes gret cownsalys sere Haldyn offt off this matere
1456 Hay I. 63/27.
The senatouris send for him to be at the secrete counsale of the toune that day in the Capitoile
1551 Hamilton Cat. (title).
Set furth be … Johne Archbischop of sanct Androus … in his provincial counsale haldin at Edinburgh
1558 Q. Kennedy Tractive 160.
Thay aggre … to cry out with oppin chaftis on the halie Counsalis
1626 Garden Worthies 122.
One of the counsaill of war of the Wneited Provinces
(b) c1450-2 Howlat 121.
I sall call my cardinallis and my counsall
1490 Irland Mir. I. 122/36.
Quhen the questioune was maid in the hevinly counsall
1538 Treas. Acc. VII. 17.
Gevin to ane ambassiatour of the Papis halines that come to intime the generall counsal to the Kingis grace in Paris
a1578 Pitsc. I. 17/32.
The governoure callit all his freindis and assistaris to ane counsall
1602 Colville Parænese 140.
The fyue celebre counsalls of that age
1621 Crim. Trials III. 503.
Capitane Harie, being callit befoir the said counsall of weir
Making thame subiect vnto the said counsall of wear

b. A council of the realm; esp. in general counsal(e, a convention of the Estates, taking the place of a parliament.Mentioned in Latin as consilium generale from 1369 onwards, and in the earlier Sc. form consail or consal(e general(e from 1397. 1417 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 38.
At Perth in the general counsal
1440 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 193.
Thir arre the names of thaim … depute be the hale generale counsaile apon this and othiris diuers materies
14.. Acts I. 57.
The kyng has ordanit thru the counsal of his kynrik that the twa hed mutis of the Justice salbe haldin yerly at Edinburgh or Peblis
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 218/6.
Thare was ane counsall generale haldin at Striuling the ferd day of Nouembere
1513 Acts II. 281/1.
In the generale counsale haldin at Perth the xxvj day of Nouember
1558-66 Knox II. 183.
To the great counsall of Scotland now admitted to regiment … by the commoun consent of the Estaittis thairof
a1578 Pitsc. II. 217/14.
The nobilitie … convenit in Sanct Johnstoun and thair held ane counsall … , and at this counsall [etc.]

c. The body of advisers to a king or other ruler; spec. those acting as advisers to the Scottish king, queen, or regent.See also prevy and secrete counsale, and Lordis of counsale. The Latin equivalent appears in 1292, ‘coram ipso rege et eius consilio’ (Acts I. 89/1).(a, b) c1420 Wynt. v. 3159.
Hys counsale … thowcht that he Suld ger that douchtyr maryd be [etc.]
1440 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 192.
It is accordit … betuex oure souereyne lord the King and his counsaile vnderwritten … and ane noble lord [etc.]
Ib. 193.
Thir arre the names of thaim beand in the forsaid counsaile
1466 Reg. Great S. 214/2.
Made the day of this present write be us and our counsale
1503 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 662.
We charge … Robert Lauder, … knycht, to compere before ws & our counsale
1536 Lynd. Answ. Flyting 44.
I giue ȝour counsale to the feynd of hell, That wald nocht of ane Princis ȝow prouide
1555 Peebles B. Rec. 223.
The importabill taxationes raisit vpone thame be our Souerane Lady counsale
1615 Highland P. III. 245.
The whole officears of the estate [= State], and such others of the counsale as ar … daylie attendantes
(c) c1420 Wynt. vii. 3063.
Bundyn to the Kyng wes he And till hys cownsalle, to fulfill [etc.]
c1500 Fyve Bestis 374.
Thinkand to put this counsall fra that king, And his allya to the court inbring
1567 Sat. P. iv. 183.
I leif … My bab and childe vnder the Counsallis cuire
1570 Leslie 283.
The Lorde Graye … desyred sum abstinence to be takin … to the effect he mycht send to hir twe of his counsall
1573 Reg. Privy C. MS. XLII. 3 b.
That the samin suld be … registrat in the buikis of oure souerane lordis counsall and sessioun
a1578 Pitsc. II. 218/12.
Thair was ane conventioun of certane lordis of the regentis counsall with him sellff in Stirviling
1615 Highland P. III. 244.
This day … there was a meeteing of the counsalle

d. A town council.(a, b) 1455 Edinb. Chart. 79.
The prouost, baillieis, counsale and communite of the Burgh of Edynburgh
1476 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 33.
The provest, baillies, and counsale of the burgh of Edinburgh
1505 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 75.
The alderman, balȝeis, counsaile and diuerse of the communite
1538 Soc. Ant. II. 391.
The haill body of the town, baillies, cownsale and comunitie delyveris that [etc.]
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 202.
The counsale sittand in jugement anent the complaynt maid be the haill baillies
1564 Peebles B. Rec. 296.
James Robesoun allegit that he wais on the counsaill be the spaice of viij yeris … and thairfor reffusit to be on the counsaill in tymes cumin
1586 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 464.
[The] provest, the bailyeis, and ane pairt of the counsale being convenit
(c) 1545 Soc. Ant. II. 395.
The Provost and counsall … hes creat Thomas Dykson bailȝie for this ȝeir
c1575 Balfour Pract. 42.
The Provest and Balleis sould be chosin … be the commoun counsall of the burgh
1590 Conv. Burghs I. 332.
[The] commissioneris for the said toun of Abirdene … in name of the baillies, counsall, … and gryt pairt of the commonaltye thairof
1622-6 Bisset II. 269/28.
Within burrowes … the auld counsall suld chuise the new counsall ȝeirlie
1645 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 56.
Dureing the will and plesour of the magistrattes and counsall of this burghe allenerlie
1656 Peebles B. Rec. II. 197.
The denner the minister gat quhen he examined the scolleres, warrandit be the cownsall

3. Attrib. with bell, bowell (= bole), box, buke, day, dure, sait, table, time. 1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 109.
Ilk counsalour to … entir to the keiping of the counsale dour befoir the counsale bell sceis reinging
1581 Ib. 221. 1632 Stirling B. Rec. I. 168.
The copye of the toun of Edinburghis great infeftment … to be putt in the counsall bowell
1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 109.
That the dene of gild be present with the counsale box, and tak of ewerieman … half ane merk
1590 Ib. V. 26.
Gaif to the watter wemen xl s. owt of the counsall boxe
1578 Acts III. 97/2.
The abbreuiatur … salbe insert in the counsall buik
1580 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 549.
Thair haill counsall buikis and dyett buikis pertening to the gude tovne
1579 Ib. 109.
Ilk counsalour to keip thair counsale dayis appointit
1583 Ib. 278.
Vpoun the counsall dayes, Wedinsday and Fryday
c1420 Wynt. viii. 6939.
His counsalle dur mycht oppyn stand
1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 109 (see counsale bell above). 1635 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 31.
To sweip and keip clein the … pillar heidis aboue the counsall sait
1624 Melrose P. 646*.
This petitioun, … being hard and throughlie considderit at the Counsaill table
1583 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 278.
That … at counsale tyme, ilk baillie sall … gif in the names of sic persouns as he hes vnlawet

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"Counsail n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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