Show Search Results Show Browse

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

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Mes(s)inger(e, Mes(s)anger(e, n. Also: mes(s)ing-, mes(s)ynger(e, -eir(e, -eyr, -ear(e, -are, -re, meissing-, measing-, measyng-, massinger; messenger(e, -eir, maisenger; messawngere. [ME. and e.m.E. messanger(e (14th c.), messaunger (1535), messengere (1460), messinger (16th c.), also massanger(e, -enger(e, -inger(e (14–15th c.), var. of Mes(s)ager(e n. with nasalisation, as also in passinger etc.]

1. A messenger, courier or envoy.Also applied to an envoy of the Pope, as a nuncio or legate.Also fig. and in fig. contexts.Corby messinger, see Corby n. 1 b.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxvi. 360.
Quhen Crist the messag herde To the messangeris He ansuert [etc.]
1398 Slater Early Sc. Texts 40.
Bothe the kynges may sende thair messangers
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1862.
[The Pope] Send wyth hym a messawngere [W. messengere] In Scotland to ken off that matere
1549 Compl. 94/12.
The messanger
(b) 1375 Barb. i. 138.
Messingeris till hym thai sent
Ib. iv. 585 (E).
a1400 Leg. S. vii. 355.
Abnen, his messyngere … his lettir for to bere
Ib. xi. 199.
Fra thame of Ind sal cum to thé, Messyngeris & put tham in thi will
Ib. xxi. 137. ?1438 Alex. i. 285.
Gif I went now as messingeir And left ȝow in sik perrall heir
Ib. 723.
Ib. ii. 1963. Ib. 3750. c1400 Troy-bk. i. 65.
The messyngere [: answere]
Ib. 133.
The Kingis messyngere [: manere]
Ib. 169.
As messingere [: affere]
Ib. ii. 1993.
By ane subtell messingeire [: but weire]
1405 Rot. Sc. II. 174/2.
Robertum Mesynger de Orkenay Scotum
1456 Hay II. 162/8.
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 1092.
Thi maister meissinger [: in this maner]
Ib. 2268.
Ane messinger suld nother be hed nor hang
1465 Coldingham Priory 203.
I Willyam Barton messynger … of our said haly fadre by the auctority of the forsaid lettrez
1474 Treas. Acc. I. 69.
To Gray messingere of Inglande
c1475 Wall. ix. 1233.
I grant, quoth he, and cheissit a messynger [: the byschop ther]
Ib. iii. 20. 1487 Acts II. 183/2.
Na legate nor messingere of the court of Rome
1490 Irland Mir. I. 129/22.
It was ressoune … that the gud … angell ware messingere
Ib. 151/1.
The angell & hevinly messinger
a1500 Lanc. 396.
1496–7 Acta Conc. II. 44.
Tane be the sade James as servand and messinger of umquhile Cuthbert Murray
1513 Doug. iv. vii. 33.
The messynger of goddis
1522–3 Douglas Corr. 83.
For baithe be messinger and write I declarit him playnlie [etc.]
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1053. 1549 Compl. 94/16, 18.
The messengeir, messenger
a1578 Pitsc. I. 203/14. 1581-1623 James VI Poems II. 137/35.
I messinger of goddis aboue
1596 Dalr. II. 297/18.
[The governor] sendis messingeris … with the fyre crose
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS. No. 1013.(c) ?1438 Alex. ii. 6129.
Now gangis the page for-outtin mare Furth, in stede of messingare
1442 Aberd. B. Rec. in Mill Mediæv. Plays 116.
The cordonarez sal fynd the messyngeare and Moyses
(d) c1420 Wynt. i. 51 (E).
A messenger suld an angel be
1513 Doug. xii. ii. 57 (Ruddim.).
My messengere
a1578 Pitsc. I. 119/10.
Ib. 128/13.
Donald … Lord of the Yillis send messengeris to his maiestie to be remittit [etc.]
(2) c1450-2 Howlat 231.
fig. The dow, Noyis messinger
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 41/20.
Prayere … the quhilk is the mast swift messingere … that thou may send to God
Id. Mir. I. 115/16.
This messingare was callit Deuot Prayere and Orisoune, send fra the nobile patriarkis
1549 Compl. 38/7.
I persauit the messengeiris of the rede Aurora [etc.]
1560 Rolland Seven S. 10605.
The bird … Quhilk in that cace was Goddis messingeir [: heir]
1565 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 68.
His apostles messingers
1573 Dickson & Edmond Ann. Sc. Printing 260.
Goddis … maist vpricht seruand and feruent messinger of Christis euangell, Johne Knox

b. A messenger of the Scottish crown; a messenger at arms.Also messinger of and at armis.The messengers were officers of the crown who acted as official couriers, conveying royal missives and commands, and, as ‘sheriffs in that part’, executed royal summonses, poindings, hornings, letters of caption and certain other crown writs. From before 1510 (see Crim. Trials I. i. *63), the messengers came under the authority and jurisdiction of Lyon King of Arms, constituting the lowest (and much the most numerous) class of officers of arms, below the heralds, pursuivants and macers: see espec. 1587 Acts III. 449/2.For some further examples see also Macer n. and Officiar n.(1) 1428 Ayr B. Acc. in Sc. Hist. Rev. XXXI. 143.
To the Kyngis hors messynger for sommonyn to the cheker and parlament
1474 Treas. Acc. I. 50.
To Adam Bachillur messinger
Ib. 51. 1489 Ib. 106; etc. 1497–8 Acta Conc. II. 152.
Anent the complaynt made be Jhone Bissat, messinger, quhilk past with our soverane lordis letters
1501 Ib. III. 95.
[Duncane Richardsone] messingre til our soverane lord and his schiref in that part
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 106.
1502 Ib. 133. 1504–5 Ib. III. 127. 1506 Ib. 192. 1507 Ib. IV. 79; etc. 1508 Reg. Privy S. I. 268/1.
A lettre in inglis … direct to … al the heraidis, masaris, stewartis and messengeris, scheriffis in that parte
1510 Crim. Trials I. i. 63.
That oure souerane lordis armys be takin fra Johne Cowpar, sumtyme messinger to our saide soverane lord
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV. 325. 1512 Ib. 350. 1515 Ib. V. 26. Ib. 51; etc. 1522 Fife Sheriff Ct. 174. 1528 Renfrew Arch. Coll. I. 142.
1533–4 Treas. Acc. VI. 219. 1534 Ib. 221. 1535–6 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I. 153. 1537 Renfrew Arch. Coll. I. 172.
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1902 (Ch.).
Heir sall the messinger Diligence returne and cry a hoyzes
1545 Reg. Privy S. III. 207.
Ane lettir maid to Johnne Cob, messinger, makand him ane maser for all the dais of his life
1548 Ib. 464.
Ane lettir … makand him ane of oure soverane ladyis messingerris and officiare of armys
1552–3 Treas. Acc. X. 161. Ib. 199. Ib. 274.
1554–5 Misc. Spald. C. II. 215. 1554–5 Treas. Acc. X. 274.
1558 Ib. 404. 1559–60 Ib. XI. 14. 1561 Reg. Privy S. V. i. 191/1. 1566 Treas. Acc. XI. 524. 1566 St. A. Kirk S. 289 [see Message n. 1 (3)]. 1566–7 Reg. Privy S. V. ii. 255/1. 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 315.
Thomas Crichtoun, measinger
c1575 Balfour Pract. 305. 1583 Sc. Hist. Rev. I. 451. 1587 Acts III. 449/1.
Considering how of late ȝeiris thair is enterit in the office of armes sindry extraordiner maseris and pursevantis and a verie greit nowmer of messingeris
Ib. 450/1.
Seing the commoun armes maid be messingeris in tymes bipast wer sa slender and guid chaip that [etc.]
1587–8 Perth Guildry MS. 440 (6 Feb.).
Johne Andersone messinger and ane of the maris of the said schirefdome
1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 39. 1592 Acts III. 555/1. 1594–5 Crim. Trials I. ii. 346.
The said Agnes … forceit the said messinger to eit … the haill copyis of the saidis letteris
1611 Brechin Test. II. 183.
James Wilkie messenger in Dundie
1617 Acts IV. 547/1.
Onlie a tikkett vnder the messingeris stampe
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II. 175.
The shireff, baith ordinar and messenger or shireiff in that part, should have 12 d. of every lib … in poynding or appryseing
1637 Dumbarton B. Rec. 54. 1647 Acts VI. i. 761/1. 1649 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 471.
Craveing warrand to ane maisser or messinger to have warned [etc.]
1652 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. III. 66.
James Thome, nottar and messenger
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i. xxvi. § 1.
With us the execution of sentences is committed to heraulds, pursevants, messengers, macers, and the execution of sentences of inferiour courts to the respective officers of these courts
Ib. § 3.
Messengers have as the badge of their office a blason bearing the Kings armes, and a wand of peace if they bear not the blason [etc.]
Ib. [see Lio(u)n n. 3]. 1682 Lauder Notices Affairs I. 377.
John Leper, officer of the barony of Evandaill and messenger ther
1685 Acts VIII. 480/2. 1693 Ib. IX. 271/1.(2) c1575 Balfour Pract. 266.
The lordis of counsall hes powar to accuse … ane messenger or officiar of armis
1595 Exch. R. XXIII. 61.
Depursit … to messingeris of armes
1617 Acts IV. 547/1. 1622-6 Bisset I. 216/21. c 1625 Misc. Spald. C. II. lvi.
Johnn Rinn messenger of airmes
1627 Bk. Carlaverock II. 94. 1632 Boyd Fam. P. No. 147 (30 Nov.).
He being tuyse lawfullie summond thairto and last be ane messenger of airmes personallie apprehendit
1661 Acts VII. 32/2.
That it shall be lawfull … to messingers of armes to execute all such summons and letters of treason [sc. formerly restricted to heralds and pursuivants]
(3) 1595–6 Misc. Spald. C. II. 219.
Andro Melveill our maister of houshald and Williame Henrysoun our constable deputt send ane messinger at armes to stay your last court
1595–6 Ib. V. 63.
To ane messinger at armes, for the copeis of his letteris proclamit at the croce
1661 Acts VII. 14/2. 1674 Highland P. I. 262. 1681 Stair Inst. iv. xlvii. 14.
From the impression of the King's arms on this blazon, messengers are called messengers at arms; for they are not military officers but civil
1687 Edinb. B. Rec. XI. 228.
Intimation therof to be made at the mercat croce of Edinburgh by a macer of councell and at all other mercat croces of the head burghs … by messengers at armes
1689 Acts IX. 53/2.

c. Applied to a burgh officer as designating one of his functions. — 1494 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 67.
That the browsteris ȝeild be … delyuerit till Edinburgh the townis messinger and seriand for to be exponit … vpoun the reparatioun of thair commoun wellis

2. spec. a. A messenger who gives advance notice or warning, a fore-runner, precursor, harbinger. Chiefly fig. or in fig. contexts. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 1328.
Of deid dampnable … A synfull lyf is lykest messingeire
1494 Loutfut MS. 27 b.
Herrauldis … suld be messingeris of peice
1513 Doug. xiii. v. 2.
Fame, of dyseys forrydar and messynger [Sm. messyngeyr]
c1552 Lynd. Mon. 5651.
Jhone … The principall and last messyngeir
a1585 Maitl. Q. xxxviii. 46.
The faithfull messinger quhilk is the nicht To luiffaris langorous

b. A person appointed to convey or carry out one's intentions in matters of law; an agent or representative. 1423 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. App. viii. 33.
Be yt kenyt … me … tyl haf mad … my lufyt frendis … my speciall mesangerris, gyfand and grantand my ful and playn pouere to tha ilkis
As my procuraturis and special mesangerris
1535–6 Selkirk B. Ct. 209 b (24 Mar.).
The forsaid inquisitoris … hes chossyne honorabyll men … to be laufull procuratouris, exactouris ouris erand bereris and messingeris in all and syndry causis

3. As the name of a gun. — 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 24.
To be ane hous to Mons Messengeir and Talbart gunnis
Ib. 25. 1513 Ib. IV. 476.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

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



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: