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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Sele of cause, n. Also: seill, seal(e, seall. [Med. L. (Eng., c1240) sigillum ad causas ‘seal used for lawsuits’ (Latham); Sele n.2 and Caus(e n.]

1. a. A burgh seal (in senses 1 or 2 of Sele n.2) affixed to an act of incorporation as in 2 below. b. This seal, as applied to various other types of document. Also (once) sele of caussis.In Edinburgh the burgh seal was freq. referred to as the common sele of cause.For a discussion of the origins of the sele of cause see Aberd. B. Rec. (SHS) lxxxviii-lxxxix n., and cvi n. 1. Cf. also Murray Early B. Organ. I 353-6.a. 1474 Edinb. B. Rec. 30.
And for the mare witnessing hereof [sc. the letter of deaconry to the skinners] the commoun sele of cause of our said burgh is to hungin togidder witht the subscripcione manuale of oure common clerc William Farnely
1475 Edinb. B. Rec. 32.
In witnes of the quhilk thing [sc. the letter of deaconry to the wrights & masons] to thir present lettres we haf to affixt our commoun sele of caus
1509–10 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 129. 1522–3 Edinb. B. Rec. I 214.
[The baxters] … makand mentione that the facultie and power they had of before upon the guid guyding and reule of thair said craft was destroyit, and our seal of cause tane thairfra be negligent in time of troubill
1647 Douglas Bequest 25 Sept.
Considering that the masoun and wrightis craftis … had thair gift and letteris patentis thairof vnder our seill of cause
b. 1493 Acta Conc. 276/1.
That Johne of Colane the alderman of Aberdene … quhilk gef the sele of cause to the seling of a dome in the said mater … be chargeit to compere personaly [etc.]
1533 Reg. Great S. 287/1.
In witnes of the quhilk thing [sc. permission granted to the cordiners allowing them to exact dues on market day for the upkeep of their altar] we [supra prowest, ballies, counsale, communite and dekynnis of craftis [sc. of Edinburgh]] have to thir present lettres hungin oure commoun seill of cause
1563 Conv. Burghs I 528.
The hale commissaris off burrois … having with thame ampill and sufficient commissiounis vnder the seillis of caus of thair townis
1564 Reg. Privy C. I 309.
Barnard Byre brocht … diverse lettres fra … Antwerpe, and last of all the patent lettres of the same toun undir the seill of caussis thairof
1570 Canongate Ct. Bk. 259.
The baillies … decernit the seill of caus of this burgh to be appendit to everie instrument to be transumit
1596 Edinb. B. Rec. 170.
This act of counsall to be … insert … in thair counsall buik and the extract thairof to be gevin furth under thair seill of caus with the subscriptioun of the said provest and baillies

2. A letter of deaconry (Dekinrie n. 2, Dekinheid n.), under the seal of a burgh as in 1 a above, granting the status of an incorporation to an association of the members of a particular craft in the burgh.Also (once) sing. for pl.(1) 1554 Perth Hammermen 83.
The dekyn and haill craft … hes statute and ordenit conforme to the sele of caws that na maister of craft sall use, hant, [etc.] … ony maner of geir or wark bot allennerlie the craft and geir that he was enterit to prenteis
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 296.
In ressonyng of Walter Cantt's mater, and als aganis the dekin of tailȝeors and thair seill of caus, for instruments [8 d.]
1564 Edinb. B. Rec. III 186.
The dekynnis foresaidis desyrit William Andersoun, dekin of the candilmakaris, mycht haue voit with thame in electing of officiaris, in respect of thair seil of cause
1575 Reg. Privy C. II 472.
Albeit thair wes nevir ane dekin of ony ane of the saidis craftis in tyme bigane, nayther ar thay authorizit or privelegeit be the seill of caus as fremen within the said burgh
1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 111.
In cace that ony craftman vse the fredome of ane freman befoir his admissioun … thai ar content to tyne thair seill of caus, privilegis, and fredomis thairof
1590–1 Edinb. Surgeons 13.
He hes maid his aith of fidelite to obserue keip and fulfill the haill poyntis of thair seill of cause
1598 Edinb. B. Rec. V 228.
In thair seill of caus it is expresly provydet … that na simpill barbouris suld haif gritter privilege bot onely to coll, schaif and watche and mak aquavite and na forder
1639 Acts V 614/2.
The seale of caus for the shoemakeris and ratificatione thereof vnder the privie seill; … the seale of caus of the skinneris ratified vnder the greate seale [etc.]
1641 Acts V 562/2.
The seale of cause … conteaneing the priviledges … whilkis evir perteened of befoir to the saidis craftes
1646 Irvine Mun. II 66.
Quhilk seall of caus foirsaid hes relatioun that the expeiding thairof hes bein delayit this whyll bygain
1659 Peebles B. Rec. II 47. 1681 Lauder Notices Affairs I 293.
It was thought the trades of Edinburgh by ther erections unto corporations, and ther sealls of causes, ware stated in the priviledge of hindering any unfreemen from working any part of ther calling within the bounds of the brugh royall
(2) 1656 Conv. Burghs III 418.
They had repairit to the said burgh of Coupar … but could get no inspectione of ather of thair rightis, nather of towns chartour not the treadsmens seall of caws

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"Sele Of Cause n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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