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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Instance, n. Also: instans, instanch, instaunce, instawns; hinstance. [ME. instaunce (c 1340), L. instāntia.]

1. Urgency or persistence of entreaty or request; earnest pleading or appeal.Chiefly in various phrases, as with instance, with (or throw) al, gret instance, etc. a1400 Leg. S. vii. 149.
We pray thé, … Vith al the instance that we may, That thu wald now [etc.]
1418 Liber Melros 502.
The forsaid Nychole throw gret instance and request in hys myster has borwyt … fowrty pundis
c1420 Wynt. vii. 2860.
For thi the Kyng than wald noucht here Thare instawns off this, na thare prayere
1456 Hay I. 208/3.
Men suld first pas with lettres of instaunce, askand first justice at thair lord and soverane
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 661.
Than the king for his lufe and instance Bad bring the man
1513 Doug. I. Prol. 87.
My … lord Sanct Clair Quhilk with gret instance … Prayt me translait Virgill or Homeir
15.. Clar. ii. 1921.
He most neidis resave it with instance Of Sir Clariodus
1610 Misc. Spald. C. II. 154.
They … with all instance requested that … I wold be content to [etc.]

b. To make instance (great instance), to urge, entreat, appeal, plead. c1420 Wynt. v. 1587.
The Kyng off Brettane … made hym instans specyally In till Brettane to send … Off hys clerkis
1443 (1450) Reg. Great S. 86/2.
The foresaide Wat … maide instance to ger that actione be delayit … to the next hede courte
1456 Hay I. 63/28.
His wyf maid him instaunce nocht to pas thider
Ib. 106/25.
Quharfore I mak hertly instance to Almychty God to send [etc.]
c1475 Wall. viii. 1134.
On to the King thai maid instans in playn, That scho mycht pas
1533 Boece vi. x. 205 b.
Angusiane … maid instance to the King of Pichtis he suld nocht fostir civill weris betuix Scottis and … Pichtis
15.. Clar. iv. 1963.
Scho maid sike instance, The Queine garte take of them [horses] delyverance
c1610 Melville Mem. (1735) 264.
Nor did that queen make any further instance for his liberty

c. With (gret) instance. In the formula recording the procuring of a seal. 1400 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 48.
For the mare sykernes … the seel of the sayd Maister Water wyth instans is procurit throw the forsayd Schyr Jon the son [etc.]
1446 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 107.
Becaus I had na seil of my awne I haf procurit with instance the seil of ane discreit man
1471 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 54.
He has pro curyt wyth gret instance in the toll butht the communite beand present the common seil
1526 Red Bk. Grandtully I. 64.
I haue purchest with instance the seile of ane honorabill man
1564–5 Rec. Earld. Orkney 275.
We haue with instance procurit the … subscriptioun of Maister William Peirsone … notar publict, togydder with the seill of ane discreit man

2. a. At (be, throw) the instance of, = at the instigation, request, petition or suit of.A usual phrase for designating the initiator of legal proceedings.(1) 1379 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 2.
Wete yhe me … at the instance of a noble … lorde … [to] haue … remittyt [etc.]
1409 Exch. R. IV. ccx.
He sal cum at the instance of the tothir within fourty dayis til cunnabil place
c1420 Wynt. i. 55.
This tretys … I made at the instans of a larde
Ib. viii. 4051.
Be bathe thare instans and consent … For to trete a trew fermly
c1450-2 Howlat 864.
Thai wald Natur beseike … To discend … At thar allaris instance
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 225/13.
The priuilege of the vniuersite … come to Glasqw throw the instance of King James the secund
15.. Clar. iv. 308.
Do me this plesance This pectrell to resave at my instance
(2) 1456 Hay I. 258/20.
And he war summond at instaunce of party before the King
1476 Acta Aud. 53/1.
Johne Lummisdain … summond at the instance of Andro Ramsay … anent the wrangwis withaldin … of certain euidentis
1519 Selkirk B. Ct. MS. 76.
Arrestit at instanch of James Reid
1535–6 Reg. Privy S. II. 296/2.
That ȝe lous the arrestment maid at oure instance
1537 Antiq. Aberd. & B. II. 366.
Ane breve of perambulacioun rasit at the instans of Patrick Cheyne [etc.]
1565 Perth B. Ct. 327 (11 May).
1573 Reg. Soltre 224.
To ansuer at the instance of the beidman gif ony hes plaint to propone aganis him
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 278.
He wes at the horne at the quein's instance for not peyment of certaine thirds
1661 Decis. Lords G. 9.
The lords found no process at the instance of the countess
c 1695 Burnett Fam. P.
I as factor forsaid obtained ane decreet at my instance … againest Sir Thomas Burnet

b. Til or to (one's) instance, to the suit or citation of (a pursuer at law). = sense 2 a (2) above. 1467 Acta Aud. 7/1.
Robert … gert summound him til his instans and comperit nocht thar be him self … to folow him
1480 Acta Conc. I. 62/2.
Alexander … gert summond him to his instance
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 129.
To pas in the Lewis with summondis on Torquhile Makloyd to the Kingis instance

3. A pleading in the course of a legal action.The first instance, the first pleading, that before an ordinary court. The secund instance, the second pleading, that before a court of appeal. c1575 Balfour Pract. 268.
The Lordis of counsal, anent the reductioun and retreiting of decreitis gevin be thame at the instance of ony partie ... representis the place of a competent judge of appellatioun in the secund instance
1620 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 182.
Be that meanes our nichtbours micht be michtelie preiudgit and thair goods … rested from thame … and then they put to the secund instance to seik redres … from deboshed officiers
1681 Stair Form of Process 3.
Processes are brought in before the lords … some in the first instance, some in the second
1684 Mackenzie Inst. iv. iii.
If there has been a debate in the first instance (for so we call the action before the decreet)
1681 Stair Inst. iv. iii. § 22.
An instance is that which may be insisted in at one dyet or course of probation

4. Argument or objection (= med. L. instantia). 1490 Irland Mir. I. 63/23.
Gif thou makis instaunce that the woman … was desauit in the speking of the serpent, I ansuere [etc.]
Gif thou makis instaunce or argument that [etc.]

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"Instance n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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