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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.

Licence, n. Also: lis(c)ence, liecence, lycence, lysence; licens(e, -ins, lyc-, lysens(e; licience, -iance, -eance, -iens. [ME. lic-, lycence (1362), -ens, F. licence, L. licentia. Cf. Lecence and Lischence.]

1. Permission or leave of another (to do something). With licence, = by your leave.(1) 1442–3 Coldingham Priory 148.
Pretending nothir lycens na mandament of ȝw
1536 Reg. Episc. Brechin II. 318.
To haf na tyme of licence of dennar nor none schankis becaus of the schortnes of the dais
a1568 Scott i. 77.
Licence for luchrie fra thair lord belangit To gif indulgence
1564 Inverness Rec. I. 115.
That … he makis him nocht payment … and that for licience to wse the passage of the locht
Ib. 116.(2) c1515 Asl. MS. I. 19/19.
Outher anys in the ȝere to mak confessioun to him or ellis be his licence to ane nother
1527–8 Selkirk B. Ct. fol. 130 b.
The said Philp Scot sal put to ane plevacht to the steid of the Bowhill be the lyssence of maister Michell Scot
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5252.
Father, said I, with your licence … Yit ane thing … wald I speir
a1585 Maitl. Q. xxxix. 100.
With licence then my luif I tak my leif
(3) 1493 Lindores A. 179.
Anentis the making of out men burges but licens of the said abbot
1518 Boyd Fam. P. No. 2 (7 July).
The landis of Mylvane … pertening to the said Jonet … and occupyt without tak or licens of hir be the said umquhile Jhoun
(b) 1496 Acta Conc. II. 8.
The landis of Fynnart, … pertenyng to the sade Walter … and occupyit withowt licence of him
1622-6 Bisset I. 52/7.
This castell … wes sa straitlie keiped … that na man gatt ische, and entrees, but speciall licence of the king
(c) 1562 Prestwick B. Rec. 66.
For the wrangus taken away of his teind ry wythout licience of thame
1593 Maxwell Mem. I. 321.
But my liciance askit and obteanit thairto
(4) c 1456 Edinb. B. Rec. MS. (Reg. H.) 2.
Thomas Camerone has … gevin his ful licence til … George Bischoip of Dunkeln to bruke … ane Wyndow
1531 Bell. Boece I. 173.
To aggrege his tyranny, he gave licence to theiffis and revaris to take the gudis of thair nichtbouris
1540 Lynd. Sat. Procl. 153.
My fair maistres … Gif me licence to luge in to ȝour chalmer
c1552 Id. Mon. 88.
God … Till strange pepill, thoucht he hes given licence To be our scurge
1564 Reg. Privy C. I. 304.
Quha sensyne gaif his kyndnes, licence and guid will to the said David to tak the samyn in few
(5) 1473 Reg. Cupar A. I. 190.
Gif he thynkis he ma do better to stabil hym in othir placis, he sal haue our fre lycens
a1500 Henr. II. 319/13.
The tothir mous … licence had to gang quhar evir scho list Amang the cheis [etc.]
1550 Reg. Cupar A. II. 99.
Castin … of petis in ony vther mos … maist ewus quhair we may obtene licence for the tyme
1570 Cal. Sc. P. III. 529.
Albeit the Q. haid commandit me till depart toward the Q. my mistres, ȝit he had obtined liciens to me to remane
1610 Glasg. Univ. Mun. I. 205.
Haiving alwayis licens to transport the kaill planteis
(6) 1564 Inverness Rec. I. 116.
He optenit and gat licience of William Fraysser to wse his necessaris in the locht
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 116.
The Frenche ambassatour … culd get na licience of the lordis to speak with the quenis majestie
1615 Highland P. III. 222.
I pray your lo. gett me lisence to send ane … boy with my letters to your lo.
(7) 1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 33.
At thir foursum asking leif and licence

b. Leave to depart, as to tak licence. a1500 Henr. Orph. 375 (A).
He wald ask … licence with his wyf away to pas Till his countre
1537 Lynd. Depl. Magd. 17.
[Death] wald nocht giue hir respite … To remane with hir … paramour, That scho at laiser mycht haue tane licence
c1550 Id. Meldrum 595.
Efter the weir he tuke licence, Syne did returne with diligence From Pycardie to Normandie
1560 Rolland Seven S. 9036.
For but ȝour leif or I suld licence take I had rather baith croun and realme forsake

2. Permission or authorization from a constituted authority to do something.(1) 1462 Cal. Chart. Suppl. (Reg. H.) 9 Nov.
Unless than it be nottorly knawyn that sic gudis passit throw thar port of fors and nocht of thar licence
1497 Acta Conc. II. 88.
He has … past to the court of Rome without our soverane lordis licence
1515 Selkirk B. Ct. fol. 44.
Without lysens of the balȝeis
1529 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 16.
Dauid Scot wes bennest twys off befor … and come within the toune without licens
1540 Lynd. Sat. 3833.
With licence of the kirk[i]s halines That iustice may be done continuallie
c1650 Spalding II. 33.
His corps by licens wes careit to Yorkschire
1654 Conv. Burghs III. 379.
That na comissioner … sall tak wpon hand to desert the said meiting … without the speciall licence and consent of the haill remanent burrowis
(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 202.
That the kingis hienes has grantit licence til the sade maister Jhone til impetrat ane grace expectative within the realme
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 205.
The prouest, [etc.] … grantis licence to Johnne Gaittis, Inglisman, to brew saip within … this burgh
1554–5 Ib. 211.
[The council] grantis ane day licence ilk moneth to ony persoun that will procur almus throw the toun to the said wiff and barnis
1597 Douglas Corr. 40.
We haue gevin … licence to … Williame, Erll of Angus, to transport the said Williame … his sone … north to his moder … for his bettir handilling
(b) 1562 Prestwick B. Rec. 66.
The inquest geyfis licience to Sir Robert Legat to cast ane dawork of pettis in our he mos
1608 Douglas Corr. 194.
The suit quhilk … I crawe … is, … to depert this cuntrie, conform to your hienes licience allradie grantit
1647 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 78.
The said buriall siluer to be payit … befoir … licience be grantit to … opin the eard
(c) 1582 Conv. Burghs I. 136.
Gif ony license of away passing beis granted
(3) c1552 Lynd. Mon. 2326.
We, be counsall of clargye, Hes lycence to mak imagerye
1555 Acts II. 493/2.
That na persoun … without dispensatioun or requyring of licence of thair ordinar … eit flesche … in the … dayis … forbiddin
1560 Admir. Ct. Bk. 141.
Johnne Quhitheid is … na subiect of this realme nor ȝit havand licence to cum within the samyn except be conduct allanerly
1562-3 Winȝet I. 2/6.
For obtening of licence to propone in wryt … certane artyculis tweching doctrine [etc.]
Ib. 4/13.
Quhill thy gracious licence be had thairto
a1578 Pitsc. II. 173/23.
Ane ambassadour … desyrit liecence to the King of Swadin … to come to this realme
1612 Acts IV. 515/1.
Sir George Hay … haueand his licence, tollerance and permissioun … to mak yrne and glass within the said kingdome
(b) 1488 Prot. Bk. J. Young (S.R.S.) I. 21.
[He] gat … liciens at the Lord Wellis to bring granis out of Ingland
1589 Reg. Morton I. 164.
Ȝour lo. son Archibald hes tain occasioun … to purches licience of his hienes … to travell athort the wardle for a ȝeir or twa
1695 Conv. Burghs IV. 205.
What is proper to be done for geting libertie and licience from the … privie councill for importatione of Irish maill
(4) 1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 49.
The saidis walkaris [etc.] … to be with thame in bretherheid and bruke the said place of licence and tollerance … of the saidis brethir
1565 Edinb. Old Acc. I. 53.
Ane thousand pound grantit be the guid towne for licience to abyde at hame fra the army
1657 Balfour Ann. III. 48.
A petition … by the eldest sonnes of noblemen … anent licience to them to sitt in the housse and heire

b. The formal statement of such authorization or c. a document (? also a token) embodying this.Also letter(s) of licence.b (1) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 289.
He acceptit the sade chantory of Glasgw … and had nocht our soverane lordis licence hereapone
1504 Justiciary Rec. (Reg. H.) I. 346.
That nane of ȝou tak apoune hand til do or attempe ony thing incontrare or breking of this our speciale licence
1520 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 203.
The Kingis mortificatioun and liceance being had, togidder with the Bischope of Sanctandrois liceance obtenit
1551 Acts II. 488/1.
And thairefter ane licence [to be] had … fra our souerane lady … for imprenting of sic bukis
1583 Sempill Sat. P. xlv. 882.
Vnto this bichope sone he socht To get a licence … For fortie last of Inglis beir
1647 Acts VI. i. 794/2.
The foresaid formar warrand, licence or libertie granted … concerning the foresaid manufactorie
(b) 1569 Peebles B. Rec. I. 307.
Quha confescit he had nane commiscioun prorogat nor had purchasit na power nor lycens of the lordis of cessioun
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 124.
Ane vther proclamatioun dischargeing all liecensis for transporting of victuall furth of this realme
1641-8 Skipper's Acc. (Smettone) 23.
For casting vt the balest & licins 22 li.
1682 Craven Ch. in Orkney 113.
[He held a] license to preach from the … lord bischope of Murray
(c) 1623 Stirling Kirk S. in Misc. Maitl. C. I. 465.
That the licience to be granted of the saidis buriall plaicis sall not infer to the procureris [etc.]
(d) 1522 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 104.
For ane liscence to be had to byd at hayme fra this oist
(2) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 202.
And as the lordis understandis thai wordis presuponis utheris letters of licence gevin of before
1508–9 Reg. Privy S. I. 280/2.
A lettre of licence maid to Johne Lord Maxwell … to analy … his landis
1526 Dunferm. B. Rec. 281.
Dene Johne Blacot … schew ane letter of licens of his lord … berand in to effek that he gaif hym fre licens … to [etc.]
1572 Grey Friars II. 93.
In and to ane letter of licens and tollerans
1688 Craven Ch. in Orkney 129.
His majesty having, by his letters of license and dispensation under his highness' privat signet … given power … to the Dean and Chapter … to … present [etc.]
c. 1515 Reg. Privy S. I. 409/2.
Commanding the auditouris of the kingis chekker … that this said licence schawin to thaim thai … enter the samyn in the chekker rollis
1574 Acts III. 87/2.
All countirfaittaris of licencis to beg
1579 Ib. 140/1. 1592 Ib. 556/1.
That all exemptionis and licensis fra raidis & assisis … salbe subscryuit be the thesaurair
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 66. 1638 Nat. Covenant in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xcvii.
And that notuithstanding of the Kings Majesties licences on the contrarie
1690 Craven Ch. in Orkney 126.
[Mr Young, then assistant to the archdeacon, produced] a licence from the bischope of Moray

d. The University degree of this name, above the bachelorship, and normally followed by inception as master or doctor.After med.L. licentia (docendi), licence to teach. 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 13.
To the banquettis of actis of bachelar and licence the rich sal nocht pay abuve xl s.

3. Freedom of action. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xxxvi. 48.
Alace! these golden houris ar gone, Quhen nane did vs debar, That nou sik licience haif we none

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"Licence n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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