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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
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Ses(s)io(u)n(e, n. Also: ses(e)oun, sessen, seation, Cessioun(e. [ME and e.m.E. sessioun (Chaucer), session (Lydgate), cession (1477), F. session (c1120 in Larousse), L. sessiōn- a sitting.]

1. The supreme civil court in Scotland; the parliamentary commission sitting at Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen in turn (post-1425), or its successor the Court of Session or College of Justice in Edinburgh, (post-1532). Also pl.Also with possess. pronoun or phrase and without article, in various constructions and collocations. = Cessioun(e n. and Sete n. 2 b.For the development of the Parliamentary commission of the 15th c. into the Court of Session of 1532 and beyond, see the notes to Lord n. 14. 'This court was called the session because in place of being, like the council, itinerant, and without any fixed terms of sitting, it was ordained to have a determinate number of sessions annually at such stated places as the king should appoint.' John Erskine of Carnock An Institute of the Law of Scotland in the order of Sir G. Mackenzie's Institutions of that Law (1773) 39.(1) 1457 Acts II 47/1.
As to the artikill of the sessione it is seyne speidfull to the king ande the thre estatis that it be contynuit to the nixt parliament
1498 Acta Conc. II 154.
Throw all the partys of this realme als lang as the justicearers and sessions passis togidder
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 20/134.
At counsall, sessioun, and at parliament
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 199/7.
I come of Edinburch fra the sessioun
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 720.
I heir men saye, ȝe bene one ypocrite, Exemptit frome the senȝe and the sessioun
1530–1 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 349.
We have ordanit … the lordis spirituale and temporale and uthir persouns of cuning … quhais names eftir followis to have voit in the sessioun
1540 Treas. Acc. VII 338.
To Robert Nicholsoun for his laubouris in the sessoun and signett
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 429/16.
That thair is on the session Sum nocht sa cuning nor off sa guid discretion
1587 Acts III 457/2.
At the first doun sitting of the sessioun
1606 (1621) Acts IV 619/1.
Pryces sett doun to the clerk of the billis before the sessioun
1681 Stair Inst. iv i § 8 (1981) 781.
This Court was called the Session, because it was to sit at such places as the king appointed, but was not to follow his court
pl. 1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 157.
The Erle Bothwell cumming to the Sessiounis at Edinburgh
1596 Dalr. I 230/14.
This king was he quha first appointed thrie judgement saites to be seperate ane frome another in solemne places, quhilkes this day our cuntrey men vses to cal sessionis
(2) 1582 Reg. Privy C. III 530.
To caus him to be admittit to the first place in his hienes sessioun quhilk sal happin to vaik
16.. Maidment Balfour Ballads 4.
Our Session is not sitting, no justice is had
(3) 1533 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 411.
His grace had chosin maister William Prestoun, persoun of Beltoun, to be ane of his sett of session
1540 Lynd. Sat. 1967 (B).
Bot I cowld nevir find law at sessioun or senȝie
1590 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 48.
Gif I haid nocht ane actione heir in sessione with his majestie I suld nocht sparit my awin traveill in that caus
1619 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 318.
In ȝiour actions in session with the vassals and fewars in Anandell
1619 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 318.
Ȝie haue als greate fauour off all our breether in session as onye honest man can wish
1648 Ayr Chart. 182.
I … consents thir presents be … registrat in the buikis of counsell and sessioune
1669 Acts VII 552/1.
The nobilitie met in the innerhouse of session and made choise … for the clergie
1688 Cullen B. Rec. 42b (10 March).
Consenting to the regration in the books of session or any judge books competent within this kingdome

b. Lordis of (the) (council and) sessioun, judges of the Court of Session, or members of the parliamentary commission which it superseded. Also advocatis (president) of (the) sessioun.For many more examples, see Lord n. 14.(1) 1457 Acts II 47/2.
The causis that the lordis of the sessione sall knaw apone
1532 Acts Sederunt i 6.
We grantt to our saidis Lordis of Sessioun, that giff ony persoun dishonouris, or lichtlyis thame [etc.]
1546 Reg. Privy C. I 29.
The summondis raisit be the said lord againis the said James befor the Lordis of Sessioun
1549 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 587.
My lord governour with avise of the lordis of the college of justice … hes adionit to the lords of sessioun ony four of the lordis of privey consell that [etc.]
1566–7 Reg. Privy S. V ii 246/1.
With expres mandiment to the lordis of sessioun to gif lettiris of the foure formes [etc.]
1579 Acts III 153/1.
Our souerane lord … ordanis the saidis lordis of counsale & sessioun to proceid in all the saidis ciuile causis intentit and depending befoir thame
1609 Acts IV 437/2.
Act in fauouris of the Lordis of Sessioun of ten thowsand poundis to be gevin to them yearlie
1622-6 Bisset I 220/9.
The lordis of session, suld be aucht ordiner lordis witht the chancellare, or witht the president, at the geving or pronunciation, of any sentence interloquutour, or definitive
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II 17.
That the lords of session may cognosce upon matters of exemption fra the criminall judge, albeit they cannot be judges in criminall causes
1648 Ayr Chart. 172.
To have compeirit befoir the saids lordis of counsell and sessioun
(2) 1582 Reg. Privy C. III 530.
Maister Johnne Scharp, dene of the advocattis of sessioun
(3) a1586 Maitland Ho. Seytoun 64.
Alexander Seton … was … made lord of the session, [and] president of the session
1662 Lamont Diary 144.
Sr Johne [Gilmowre] President of the Sessiowne

c. attrib.Sessioun-hous, the Court of Session.(1) 1631 Laing MSS 189.
The lardner martes are Session actions in which I am altogether uselesse
(2) 1642 Acts Sederunt ii 51.
Anent keeping of peices, and ordering the Session-house
1662 Burnett Fam. P. MS.
Ane Court of appryseing holden within the new sessione house of Edinburgh
1672 Acts VIII 81/1.
[The] bookes of enrolment shall allwayes remain in the session house, and be patent to the leidges
1685 Sinclair Satan's Inv. World Postscript 242.
There was one T. C., by profession an agent about the session-house
(3) 1655 Logie Par. Hist. 105.
The presbyterie earnestlie recommendit to … halwe ane civill sessioune-magistrat for inflicting of penalties vpoun scandulous persounes
1700 Cramond Kirk S. IV 24 May.
They had Cammo justice of peace, & a member of this session in place of a session magistrat
(4) 1672 Acts VIII 81/1.
The persone appointed … by the Lords of Session … shall attend at the session house each Saturday in sessioun time … and shall take vp a note of all processis showne to him

2. A particular diet of the Court of Session. Also pl. Also (once) with possess. pronoun.See also Quarter-session(e)s.(1) 1456 Acts II 47/1.
In the tyme of the sessione and generale consale and parliament
1495 Treas. Acc. I 242.
Gevin to the freris of Edinburgh at the kingis commande xviij s. at the sessyon
1498 Acta Conc. II 233.
He has promittit til abyd quhill the end of the sessione
1503 Acts II 249/1.
Thair has bene greit confusioun of summondis at ilk sessioun
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 148/62.
I grant ȝow hes beine lord a sessioun In distributioun
1513 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 7.
Thar salbe a sessioun … to begin the viii day of Januar nixt tocum with continuacioun of dayis
1522 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 152-3.
Alsua it is ordanit be the lordis that all continuatioun fra sessioun to sessioun be tablit, and that all continuatioun within the tyme of the sett of the sessioun be callit at the day thai ar continewit to without tabling
1567 Acts III 39/2.
Ane sessioun tobe sett done in Abirdene to the nombre of sex lordis with ane president
a1568 Bann. MS I p. 45/21.
The rankest theif of this regioun Dar pertly peir vnto the sessioun
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 34/60.
That all trew folk may … Without discord had parliament and sessioun
c1612 Skene Memorabilia 13.
The sessioun wes interrupit and stayit be the tumult of the induelleris in Edinburcht … 1596
1650 Acts Sederunt ii 69.
Act dischargeing advocats lessons the last month of the session
1676 Lauder Jrnl. 212.
In August died William Douglas of Kirknes, who the session before had given in his trialls in order to his admission to be a advocat
1676 Lauder Jrnl. 220.
On the 24 July 1672, in the Parliament, Sir Colin Campbell was reproved for disorderly tabling of the summer session
1676 Cunningham Diary 83.
For our chamber maill, coall, & candle in Wm Wood's the first 3 nights we were in town that session, 2 s.
pl. 1425 Acts II Table 4/1.
Of the sessionis to be haldin
1438–9 Acts II 32/2.
That thar suld be twa sessionis ȝerly in the quhilkis the lorde lieutenent ande the kyngis chosyn consal sall sit
1468 Edinb. Chart. 127.
That ther salbe be bot ij sessounis ane in Edinburgh and ane in Pert
1508 Reg. Privy S. I 250/2.
Fre and exempt fra all compering to sessionis, parliamentis, chekkeris, [etc.]
1617 Acts IV 535/2.
Yow [the J.P.] sall everie quarter keip the Sessiounes or oftner as yow salbe requyred not haveing anye just impediment to the contrarie
(2) 1483 Acta Conc. I 81/1.
This day forsaid the lordis rase & made end of ther cession

3. A court; a particular diet of a court or of parliament, a council, etc. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 167 (Harl.).
In consistory court, or ciuile sessioun [Arund., Asl. cessioun]
1501–2 Acta Conc. III 137.
The Bischop of Abirdene of the secret consale and of the sessioun daily
1541 Prestwick B. Rec. 58.
The jugis condampnis Allexander Symsoun in xij s. … for vj syndre sessenis
1622-6 Bisset I 118/18.
Ane certane of persones … to be upoun his graces dalie sessioun
1641 3rd Rep. Hist. MSS App. 409/2.
Thair be twa sessiounes ilk day, ane fra 9 houres to 12 and ane uther fra 3 houris to 6 houris
1663 Payment to Scottish MPs in Sc. Ant. III 23.
At ilk sessioune of the farsaid thrie sessiounes of parliament
1678 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS 30 Sept.
This forenoon is appointit for electing the counsell, quha … with first seation … continued Mathew Anderson, elder
1690 Conv. Burghs IV 105.
The royall borrowes … will be fullie … represented at the insewing session of parliament

4. = Kirk-sessioun n., and Sete n. 2 c.Also sessioun of (the) kirk (or of a particular church or district); ecclesiastical sessioun (sessioun ecclesiastical) and church-sessioun.(1) a1651 Calderwood II 72.
If he declare himself inobedient to the sessioun, then … the nixt Sunday ought … the persoun … be admonished to satisfie in publick
1558-66 Knox II 152.
In the kirk of Edinburgh … the auld sessioun befor thair departure nominat twenty-four … for elders of quhom twelve ar to be chosen
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 39/59.
Thai cummar bayth the kirk and sessioun
1572 St. A. Kirk S. 371.
The sessioun hes … ordinat the towne to be quartered, … that trial may be takin of the confession of thair faitht
1600-1610 Melvill 9.
For the quhilk I meined my self againe to my sessioun
1605 Ayr Kirk S. in Edgar Old Ch. Life 246.
Ane verie vitious woman … quha in face of session threatened her guidman
1612 Reg. Privy C. IX 726.
Johne Greg, ane of sesoun; James Broun, of seseoun; William Broun, off sessioun [of Inverkeithing Church]
1629 S. Leith Rec. 16.
None to be suffered to bege throwe the toun without a marke givine be the sessioun
1632 Dundonald Par. Rec. 345.
Scho said, Deavill be in the Sessioune that scho came into
1629 Kirkcaldy Presb. 53.
1641 S. Leith Rec. 36.
The sessione … did formallie and iuditiallie elect James Johnstoune to be rewelling elder
1648 S. Leith Rec. 84.
Thomas Steward, drumer, petitioned the sessione … to give him als much mony as wold buy ane new drum for the … use of this south congregatione … it man be called the sessions drum and not his
1691 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 80.
After prayer session mett
(2) 1570 Bk. Univ. Kirk I 180 (C).
The husband … compleaneth again to the sessione of the kirke
1570 St. A. Kirk S. 343.
In presence of the superintendent minister and sessioun-ecclesiastical of the said citie, … [she] declarit … that [etc.]
1587 Aberd. Council Lett. I 18.
Be the ordinance of the balȝeis consall and ecclesiasticall sessioune for serching seiking of the said Jonet
1594 Edinb. B. Rec. V 123.
The sessioun of the kirk … admitt [Henry Bryntoun] … to teache ane lecter schole
1597 Edinb. Test. XXXI 254.
Scho leuis the sowme of xx li. to the puir to be distributit to thame be the sessioun of the kirk
1615 Misc. Maitl. C. II 180.
The actis of the kirk maid … be the ministerie and thair sessioun of kirk
1639 Acts V 596/1.
[A fine] to be payed to the church sessione quhair they dwell
1639 Kirkcaldy Presb. 137.
The Presbytrie … allowes the act of the Session of Dysert dischargeing thair kirk buriall
1675 Cullen Kirk S. 5 Nov.
[The] minester and elders of the Sessione of Cullen
1690 Account Present Persecution Church Scotland 53.
A church-treasurer is chosen yearly by the church sessions

b. A meeting of a kirk-session.Also, to keep session, to attend (as a member) a meeting or diet of a kirk-session. 1562 St. A. Kirk S. 168.
In the sessione of the superintendent of Fyff and ministerie of Sanctandrois, haldyn … the xix day of August
1599 St. A. Kirk S. 913.
To play at the goufe … the tyme of sessioun
1622 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 136b (31 July).
The sessioun of Fraserburche hauldin Julij the last 1622
1624 Misc. Abbotsf. C. 147.
Ȝe being … straitlie flighterd with ane tedder the tyme of the sessioun, quhen the sessioun raise, ȝe was standing at the end of the kirk louse
1650 Kingarth Par. Rec. 23.
[The] magistrate … cannot … be so frequently present at Sessionis as neid were
a1651 Calderwood VII 364.
‘My joy, Johne, hold your toung,’ said Alexander Clerk. So endit that session
1651 Strathbogie Presb. 209.
That the sessioune was not well keepped by some of them
1659 Sc. Law Times 20 July, 1935, p. 169.
Jenet Miller was brought in to the session to see if she wold confes the sine of witchcrat
1691 Cramond Kirk S. III 17 Sept.
The minister, … could not keep session untill the most pairt of the harvest was over

c. attrib.(1) 1698 Penninghame Par. Rec. I 18.
Michael M'Taggart is appointed to go to Anthony Stewart in the Larg and inquire for the Session Bible and report
1676 S. Leith Rec. 135.
Robert Craig … to be depryved of any benefits out of the session box heirafter
1605 Dundonald Par. Rec. 70.
The Sessioun ordeined ane mark to be geifin to Robert Forgushill for his wageis for the vryting the Sessioun Buike
1615 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 138.
The price of ane pint of aile given to the belman everie Sunday … whilk is written and set doune in the sessioune buiks
1645 Ritchie Ch. S. Baldred 269.
This act … to be insert and registrat in the sessioune-buik
1682 Dunkeld Presb. II 428.
[The Presbytery, on December 6, severely rebuked him] for the many defects and enormities of his session booke
1689 Cramond Kirk S. III 6 Dec.
As will be best knowen by the session booke that carried the register of collections and disbursements for the poore
1599 Glasgow Prot. XI 52.
Quha past to the Blakfreir Kirk of Glasgow, and thair, at the sessioun boorde thairin, nomerit and tauld … nyne hundreth pundis
1640 Mouswald Kirk S. MS 1 July.
That they shall not be resaved to the pillare before they pey thair penaltie at the sessione boord
1573 Ayr Chart. 109.
To him that kepis the sessioun dur and haldis the kirk clene
1630 S. Leith Rec. 19.
Ane elder & deacon to collect at the kirk dore & … the deacone to stand at the sessioune dore on the sessioune day & call the fawlters
1605–6 Misc. Spald. C. V 78.
To the warkmen for kareing the mekill kist furtht of the sessione housse to the counsall houss
1608 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 64.
The ministris and sessioun convening in the sessioun hous
1631 Kinghorn Kirk S. 34.
According to the accustomat maner I … went into the Session hows and range the bell
1638 S. Leith Rec. 28.
The session hes dischairged all the craftes ther ordenare meitings & trystes to be in the sessione hous heirafter
1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 33.
Mr. James Reid … hade raised the lair stane of vmquhill Provest Reid, … in the new kirk, befoir the sessioun hous doore
a1651 Calderwood VI 674.
The sessioun-hous, which was within the kirk
1660 Lanark B. Rec. 182.
Richard Gillone, deane of gild, to build up the sessioun house with ane stair aff the streitt … he lofting the samine and keiping the laich hous for the sessioun and presbitrie
1602 Dundonald Par. Rec. 22.
Robert Dickie deponit that he was in the sessioun laft and saw nothing of the begining of the tumvlt
16… Abercrummie in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 18.
On the Eastend of the Isle there is the Session Loft … , for the accomodation of the people who are wont to be catechised in this apartment
1651 Burnett Fam. P. MS.
The said minister to … keep the samen in his Session Register
1642 S. Leith Rec. 40.
He ressaved that money … at the sessione table
1675 S. Leith Rec. 131.
That every member of the session that is absent from the session table the whole Sabbath day shall pay 4 s. Scots
(2) 1597 Elgin Rec. II 60.
The ident and continuall trauellis maid and done be … thair sessioun clark in … wretting of thair actis [etc.]
1638 S. Leith Rec. 28.
That no man sall collect the poores moneys at the church dore untill or sessione clark appoynt the offiser to warn the most fiting men
1656 Rothesay B. Rec. 13.
The said James hes undertaken the charge of the said schole and sessioune clerk during the space of ane yeir
1689 Cramond Kirk S. III 6 Dec. marg.
[The] sessioun clerk to rule lists of baptisms, marriages [etc.]
1651 Burnett Fam. P. MS.
Robert Skeen … & Robert Burnett … two session elders
1670 Rothesay B. Rec. 196.
He went to poind Allexander Jamisoune sessioune officer upone ane decreit obteinit be hir aganes him
(3) 1615 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 46b (14 Feb).
The sessioune ordaines the minister to inquyre the nixt sessioune day quhat he haid done concerning Techmurie
1643 S. Leith Rec. 43.
The sessione … maid ane act that if any of them be absent out of the sessione upon a sessione day without ane lawfull excuse sall pay 4 s.
1653 Stirling Ant. II 13.
Thomas Littlejohne to be cited against the next session day
1690 Cramond Kirk S. III 16 Jan.
One of the keyes [of the poor's box] … was delivered to William Ramsay … (who is to be added to the session the first session day that shall be judged convenient)

5. Appar. a meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. (Cf. General adj. 2 b.) 1574 Edinb. Kirk S. 22 April.
The haill Kirk of Scotland being convenit within this burgh in thair sessioun

6. Town-sessioun, appar., the town council. 1693 Brechin Test. VIII 74.
The sowme of fifty merkis Scots mony which I leave … to the town sessione of Brechine for the use & behoove of the poor tharof

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"Sesion n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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