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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
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Law-borowis, -borrowis, Lawbur(r)owis, n. Also: law(e)-, laubor(r)ow(i)s, -ys, -es, -bor(r)ou(i)s, -ys, -es, -bor(r)o(i)s, -bor(r)us, -bowrowis, -ys, -bowrous, -bowrois, -bourrous, (-boroughs), -barrowis, -barrous; -burrow(i)s, -es, -burrous; labor(r)ow(i)s, -es, -bor(r)ous, -burrowes, -burrous; lawboris, -ys, -es, lauborris, lawbourris. [Law n.1; Borowis n. pl.1: plur. of Lawborch n., treated as a sing., orig. in the abstract sense. Some times written as two words, but more freq. as one.]

1. Legal surety or guarantee required from one that he or his dependants will not injure the person, or, later also, the property, of another or the latter's dependants; a kind of surety of the peace.(1) 1429–30 Acts II. 19/2.
[Gif ony of the Kingis liegis haf ony doute of his life … ande he ask souerte of thaim that he doutis the schirref sal tak souerte of the party … sa that the party playntife mak prufe … of the violent presumpcion … be his athe or vthir sufficiande prufe
1449 Ib. 35/2.]
Borowis of pece
1466 Ib. 85/2.
Anentis law borowis it is statute that gif lawborowis be brokin vpon ony bischop, abbot, … erle, lorde of parliament, that is to say, in the hurting of thare awne persons or the persons of thare seruandis, the borgh or borowis … sal pay … ane hundreth pundis. Ande gif lawborowis be brokin apon barowns [etc.]
1567 Ib. III. 41/1.
In lawborrois thair wald alsweill be ane pane to the partie offendit as to the prince
1581 Ib. 222/2.
That all letteris of lawborrowis salbe direct … chargeing the personis … to find sicker souertie and lawborrowis that the complenaris, thair wyffis [etc.] … salbe harmeles and skaithles in thair bodeis, landis, takkis, possessionis, guidis and geir … be the personis complenit vpoun nor na vtheris of thair causing, sending [etc.] … quhome thai may stop or let … vthirwayis nor be the ordoure of law and iustice
1593 Ib. IV. 18/1.
The panis and vnlawes of lawborrous or for non again bringing of lettres to the iustice clerk and his depuittis or for non comperance befoir the iustice efter souertie fund salbe for euery erll or lord twa thowsand pund, for euery greit barroun [etc.]
1597 Ib. 140/2.
The panis of law burroues, … the cautioner may be perseuit or the principall
1597 Skene Acts (1597) 29 b.
The proclamation of generall peace. Of law-burrowes
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 139/4.
Lykeuayes be the lauborrouis in oure lauis men are prohibited under pecuniall paines from anyuayes inuaiding or molesting thaire neichbouris personne or boundis
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 156.
Gif ane man hes fund lawborrowis to ane vther, & ane friend of him quha hes fund the lawborrowis, hurtis or defoulis him to quhom the samin is fund: he sall remaine in warde, vntill he assyth the partie, the King, and the lord haueand entres
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II. 195.
If a man hoch or hurt wther mens' goods under lawborrowes, albeit they be pastureing upon his heretadge, will be a contraventione
1681 Stair Inst. i. xlviii. § 5.
The action founded on the breach of lawburrows is called contravention
Ib. iv. xlviii. § 2.
But lawburrows hath been the term continued, as more extensive, importing caution to be found against any trouble to be done to the complainer otherwise than by the course of law
Ib. § 10.
Albeit the tenor of the letters of lawburrows bear that parties shall be harmless and skaithless not only as to injuries against themselves, but against their wives, bairns, tenants and servants, in their bodies, lands, tacks and possessions, goods and gear, yet [etc.]
Ib. § 14.
The English have two sorts of lawburrows. By the one, parties are bound to the peace. … By the other, parties are bound to the good behaviour
Burnet Hist. II. 136.
A writ which a man who suspects another of ill designs towards him may serve him with; & it was called law boroughs, as most used in boroughs, [etc.]
(2) 1474 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 406.
The quhilk chalance the said William … denyit, sayand that he was nocht under law borrowis anent the said William of Cadiou
1518 Fife Sheriff Ct. 95.
The quhilk day Johnne Wardlaw … become … lauborgh … for Johnne Claphane … and the said Johnne Claphane oblist to releife & freth hyme of the said souerte & lauborrouis viz. ijc merkis
1599 Misc. Spald. C. II. 144.
That day James Crombie … is becum cautioune of lawborrowis for Johnne Robesone … that James Stewin, his wyf, barnes, men, tennentis and seruandis, salbe harmles [etc.]
1611 Irvine Mun. II. 252.
The officer that scharget us for lawborrowis 13s.
c1650 Spalding I. 349.
Seing none wald be cautioner in lawborrowis for him, being a disperat peice
1657 Acts I. p. 129.
An inventory … of those registers which were sent into Scotland, … Lawborrowes, Totall 26
1677 Sc. Hist. Rev. XVII. 18.
[John Hervie] promises to enter in their [three tenants in the town of Grimeston, Orkney] inskift land … and thinkis to bost them with that law borrowis quhilk he hes for veritie to get possessione in that land and grass
1689 Acts IX. 39/1.
That the chargeing of the leidges with lawborrowes, at the Kings instance, … were contrary to law
1701 Ib. X. 326/1.
Letters of suspensioun of lawborrows the toun of Glasgow against the toun of Dumbartoun [1638]
(b) 1500 Acta Conc. II. 417.
Incontrar and aganis the sade lawburowis the sade Wilyeam … has dismembrit the sade Roger and strikin fra him ane fingare
1631 Morison Dict. Decis. 8034.]
[The L. Whittingham … pursues the Lady relict of his said author for contravention, she being charged and bound to him in lawburrows, upon … that … she had tilled a part of the lands wherein he was infeft
1634 Kirkcaldy Presb. 76.
There was no bailie to bind him with lawburrows
1641 Household Bk. M. Stewart 46.
To John Scobie, mess[enge]r, for taking my La. oathe that she dreadit the woodcutters harme, whom he was to charge with lawburrows 12 sh.
1661 Aberd. Council Lett. IV. 178.
We desyr yow to wait upon the signet and advertise us against quhom and quhat persons to raise lawburrowes
1678 Cunningham Diary 106.
For a consultation of lawyers about the public business of lawburrows
1698 Maxwell Mem. II. 347.
After lawburrowes served against them
(c) 1643 Dundee Chart. 89.
The saids pairties doe absolutly discharge others hinc inde of all kind of summonds, action, citation, persuit, laborows whilk his bein at any tyme heretofor usit … betwixt them befor any judge
a1689 Cleland 9.
Commons chas'd from pleughs and harrows, Gentry charged with laborrows
1684 Decis. Lords F. 55.
Mr Henry Oliphant, who had received … a commission for being deput in loosing of arrestments and caution in laborrous during his life
1698 Maxwell Mem. II. 348.

b. In various collocations and formulæ, espec. with certain verbs.(1) 1457 Acts II. 51/1.
And gif ony man be fedyt … the schirref sall furthwithe of bath the parteis tak law borowis and forbid thame … to distruble the Kingis pece
1467 Peebles B. Rec. I. 156.
Anens the tolye that was maid … betuex [etc.] … , the balye … has tan lawboris of bath the partis
1483 Acta Aud. 135*/1.
That lettrez be writtin to the schiref charging him that he tak laubouris of the personis abone writtin that the said James salbe harmeles & scathles of thaim & al that thai may lett in his persoun insafer [sic] as law wil sen he has made faith … that he dredis tha wil do him bodely harme
1513 Selkirk B. Ct. fol. 24 a.
Robert Scot … grantit he tuk lawboros of the parteis as ws was in the burgh
1518–9 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 140.
The lordis … suspendis the lettres purchest be the said erle of Cathnes for souirte and lawborowis to be takin of the erlis of Huntlie, Suthirland, thair kyn, frendis and servandis
1520 Fife Sheriff Ct. 190.
Alexander Kyncayd producit in jugement … our souerane lordis lettres direct to the schiref & his deputis chargeing thame … to tak sikker souertie & lawborrois of certane persons quhilkis he his wyf & seruandis dred bodely harme and wald mak fayth of the sammyn And than the said schiref askit the saidis names of persons
1530 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 137.(2) 1536 Carnwath Baron Ct. (ed.) 185.
The sayd lord askit instrumentis … that he couthe get na lawborowis for the sayd William Andersone, for that caus he wald put hym in fyrmans quhill he gat borows as he aucht upone law because the personis … mayde faithe thai dreid hym of bodelie harme etc.
1587–8 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 27.
To get lawburrowis of thame
(3) 1466 Lindores A. 161.
Thom Rogerson askit at the balȝheis gyf he had lawborows of the lard of Mugdrowm
1513–14 Acta Conc. Public Aff. 9.
And als ordenis dene Alexander Cunyngham … till have souirtie and lawborrois … of the erle of Arane and vthiris his kynnismen and servandis sa mony as he will mak faith he dredis bodely harm of, giffis thar namis in bill, that he … salbe harmles [etc.]
1521 Aberd. B. Rec. I. xxxv.
Our souerane lordis lettres … for lawbourris to be had of the saids Lordis Forbes, his kin and frendis
(4) 1458 Peebles B. Rec. 129.
Thom Robyson askyt at the chawmerlane law bowrous of Thom Doby
1482 Acta Aud. 109/1.
Comperit Andro Kynrose & askit law borowis of Andro Gray & made faith that he dred him & … the saide Andro Gray … fand his hand land & gudis lawborgh [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 142.
Gif ane complanes to the schiref and desires lawborrows of ane other man; and the schiref doe not his office thereanent, he sall pay fourtie poundes
1626 Justiciary Cases I. 40.
Haifing be thair grit aithe tane by my lord Justice thairupone desyret cautioun and lauborrus for thair indemnitie in tyme cuming
1678 Wodrow Hist. (1828) II. 401.
By a most ignominious debating of the … majesty of the King, to make him craue lawborrows of his subjects
1706 Ayr & W. Coll. IV. 217.
Patrick Steavinsone … craved lawbourrous and bond and cautione of Georg Harbersone … that he … may be frie … from future personall and uthir hurtis and skaith threatned and minaced be the said Georg
(b) 1536 Carnwath Baron Ct. (ed.) 184.
William Grahayme … desyrit souerte and lawboris of the sayd William Andersone that thai mycht be harmles and skaithles of hym bot as the law wald [etc.]
1560 Admir. Ct. Bk. (Stair Soc.) 149.
Johnne Dowgall … maid faith … that he dred bodely harme of Alexander Thomsoun … and desyrit lawbores of him
(c) 1652 Peebles B. Rec. II. .
Compeerit Williame Wilson, weaver, … and … gave his oath he dread Thomas Moses, walker, bodilie harme; and thairfore dessyreit lawburrowes
(5) 1458 Peebles B. Rec. 129.
And than the chawmerlane chargyt Thom Doby to fynd law borous, and than thair com law borch for him John Dekyson
1501–2 Acta Conc. III. 149.
That thai remove nocht furth of this toune quhil thai find souirte and lawburowis that [etc.]
1544–5 Treas. Acc. VIII. 349.
The said Maister Davidis being at the horne for non-fynding of lauborros to Richart Multrair
1558 Ib. X. 369. c1575 Balfour Pract. 518.
Ane man beand chargit to find lawborrowis to ony communitie or multitude of pepill of greit nombre [etc.]
1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS. 127 b.
Magnus Cogill … is ordanit to find cautioun of laborous to the said Olaw that he salbe hermeles and skaythtles of him
1622-6 Bisset I. 235/33. 1631 Justiciary Cases I. 173.
For the whilk caus the justice ordanit the said Johnne Littill to find lauborrus for the said Mr Dauid his indempnite under the pane of ane thouseand merkis
1633 Morison Dict. Decis. 8037.]
[After caution of lawburrows found to him, the defender had cut a great ditch … betwixt the pursuer's lands [etc.]
1633 Acts V. (1870) 53/1.
It is creavit that cawtioun and lawborrowes for the inhabitantes of Orknay and Ȝetland be fund within the cuntrie thair and that the letters beir the same
1658 Rothesay B. Rec. 18.
The judges … continews the said Thomas in waird till he find sufficient cautioun of lauborous
1676 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 283. 1689 Acts IX. 53/2.
Craveing that the meeting of the Estates may be pleased to grant … warrand to messengers at armes to charge the saids William Ker [etc.] … at the petitioners instance to find cautione and lawborrowes
(6) 1538 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 157.
The … bailȝies … commandit … Robert Arthur [etc.] … to set sufficient cautioun and lauborrouis … that Dauid Arrot and Henre Collisoun … suld be harmles and skaithles
c1650 Spalding II. 288.
Whill thay set sufficient cautioun and lawborrowis to Tolquhone and his complicis, … that [etc.]
(7) 1497 Acta Conc. II. 76.
To pay to the Kingis hienes the soume of vc li. for the brekin of the lauburowis apone Robert the Burne
1497–8 Ib. 104. 1509 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 72.
[The sureties to compear] to heir and se thame be adiugit … in the sowme of ic merks … and to heir and se the saide brekin of lawborrowis provin on Huchone Andirsone, seruand to the said Ranald, quhilk vas hurt be the said Dauid
c1575 Balfour Pract. 518.
Gif ony man brekis the lawborrowis of peace fund be him to ony of the Kings lieges [etc.]
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 41.
We onderstand that the lawburrowis is brokin be the Laird of Balquhane in respect that his sone and bruder quha ar principallis therof cummis out of Fetterneir … to the doing of the deiddis
1603 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS. 90.
Thomas Blakbeird hes brokin laborous to Arthour in Skeldberrie
1668 Forbes Baron Ct. 274.
It is … ordained that the said … sall tack poyndis, comprys thair cornes … vithout brak of the said laburrous
1671 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 18 Oct.
And als for homsucken and breck of lawborrowes he is also ordained to remaine in prissoun … till Saturday nixt at night
(8) 1604 Morison Dict. Decis. 8027.]
[The Laird of Shaw pursued James Wilkieson for contravention of lawburrows, through casting of feal … upon his proper lands [etc.]
(9) fig. 1636 Rutherford Lett. (1891) 145.
Men would have law-borrows against Christ's cross
1637 Ib. 305.
I pray Christ to take lawburrows of my … sorrow
Ib. 533.
Christ seeketh lawborrows of my unbelieving apprehensions

2. Letteris of lawborrowis, Act of lawborrowis.(1) 1531 Crim. Trials I. i. 156.
All officiaris that ressauis ony letteris of panys or lauborrowis, that incontinent eftir thair executioune thairof deliuer thaim again to the Justice Clerk indorsate
1562 Digest Justiciary Proc. D. 35.
After acceptioun of the lybell [he] desyrit to sie the ayth or lettres of lawborrowes quhairwpoun the lybell is foundit
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Feodum.
Prices set downe to the signet, … For letters of law-borrowes … how mony persones soever be insert vj shilling, viij pen.
1613 Grant Chart. 212.
The saidis pairties dischargis vtheris … of all letteris of lauborrovis execute be ather of thame
1624–5 Peebles Gleanings 81.
For letteres of lawborroues, 48 s.
1659 Lanark B. Rec. 172.
The commissioner to rais letteres of lawborrowes againest strangeres
1675 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 290.
Letters of laborrows to be raisit against the inhabitants of Torie for … incroatching wpon Sanct Thomas inche
1684 Law Memor. 136.
They were to subscrybe to the letters of lawbarrows to keep the peace
1688 Rec. Old Aberd. 144.
That no deacan … presume in any tyme cuming to raise any lres. of lawborrowes … against any tradesman … without the speciall advyce … of the Bischop
1691 Presb. Inquisition 37.
He had raised letters of lawburrows [marg. Which among the Scots signifie such writs as oblige any man to secure the peace under the pain of imprisonment] and offered himself to swear before the Lords of Session, he dreaded me bodily harm
(2) 1606 (1621) Acts IV. 619/1.
Pryces sett doun to the clerk of the billis before the Sessioun, … Actis of lawborrous for everie persoun conteanit in the act vj s. viij d.
1632 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 12.
The thesaurer to haue ane warrand for tuelff pund … deburset be him for the act of lawborrowes of the proueist … and counsall, … and the act put in the schottill of the koffir

3. Said of the person standing as surety: espec., to becum or to cum lawborrowis. = Law-borch n. 1.(a) 1479 Acta Aud. 86/1.
Archibald of Carrutheris … has fundin Symon of Carrutheris his bruder souerte & law borowis for him … that Law of Preston salbe harmles & scathtles of thaim
1491 Dunferm. B. Rec. I. 28.
Souerte for Wilyam Jacsone, Dauid Litstar and Johne Androsone, llaw borowis for Rob Brand, John Baxter and Andro Butlar, the qwhilk the saidis Wilyam and Robyn has haldyn vp thair handis to freitht thair borowis
1497 Ib. 75.
Vyllyame Jakson, law bowrois John Doryth and Jhon of Wostwod
Lawbowrowrys [sic] for Jhon off Lowquhor and his ij sounys
1499 Douglas Chart. 167.
Personis duelland … wythin the boundis abwin expremit … the saide George … becumis lawborois for ilk persone
1503 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I. 68.
The said day Alexander Mortimer … come law borrowis that the alderman [etc.] … of Abirden … sal be skaithles aleway of William Urry … bot as the cours of commoun law will, the said William oblist him to releive the said Alexander of the said souerty be his hand land and guds
1508 Ib. 71.
The said day Thomas Leslie come laweborrowis be his hand uphaldin that Alexander Malvin [etc.] … salbe unskaithtit of Johnne Broys … ande Thomas Strachin … come lawborrouys [etc.] … that the said Johnne Broys salbe unskaithtit of the said Alexander [etc.] … , and ilk ane of the said pairtiis sale fre thar borowis
1581 Crim. Trials I. ii. 94.
The Erle … law-borrous sub pena ter centum mercarum
1603 Reg. Cautions in Lawburrows (Reg. H.) I. ; etc.
In presens of the lordis of counsall compeirit Joseph Miller procuratour for Thomas Lyell … quha in his name become souertie and lauborrows for Johnne Scrymgeour [etc.] … that Johnne Spalding … his men [etc.] … salbe harmeles and skaithles in thair bodeis landis, … guidis and geir be the saidis Johnne Scrymgeour nor na vtheris in thair names of thair … hounding out … quhome thay may stop or latt
1618 Crim. Trials III. 445.
Compeirit Mr Andro Skeane and become souertie and lauborrus for the said Alexander Soure, that [etc.] … vnder the pane of tua hundreth merkis
(b) 1497 Dunferm. B. Rec. I. 75.
Lawborys for Jhon off Lokquhor Johon off Walwod … and Jhon Jonson
1560 Admir. Ct. Bk. 141.
The juge become lawbores and cautioun for the said Inglisman that the saidis Frenchemen suld be harmeles and skaithles of the said Johnne
1618 Crim. Trials III. 445.
Alexander Gourlay … become plege, souertie and lauborris for Alexander Sowre, &c. Mr Andro Skeane relieved
(c) 1549 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 266.
Dauid Kintor is becumin lauburrowis for his brother Gilbert Kintor
1667 Stitchill Baron Ct. 49.
Patrick Giffen eldest lawfull brother to the said Alexander is becum cautioner, surety and law burrows for the said Alexander

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"Law-borowis n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2023 <>



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