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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
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Signet, Singnet, Se(i)gnet, n.1 Also: signete, -ett, -it, -at, sygnet, syngnet, segnat, sengnet. [ME and e.m.E. signet (Chaucer), ME also syngnet(te (14th c.), OF seignet, segnet, signet, saingnet (all 14th c. in Godef.), sinet, med. L. signetum, dimin. of OF signe, L. signum a seal. Cf. MDu., MLG signet, Du. dial. singenet.]

1. A small seal, esp. or ? orig. one fixed in a finger-ring, belonging to an individual and used to authenticate documents of either a personal or an official nature; later, also as used by minor public officials. b. specif., the signet of the Commissarie of Edinburgh. Also attrib. with silver, the revenue deriving from payment for use of this seal.Orig. and chiefly in the formulæ (in the witnes of the quhilk thingis) I (etc.) have set (to) (put (to) my (etc.) signet, in the witnesse of the quhilk thingis the signets of (the persons) ar to put, of which some examples may belong in sense 4.(1) 1384 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 5.
In the witnes of the wische thinges … the … Erle of Northumbre & the Lord of Galleway has set thair signetz enterchangeably in absens of thair selles
1465 Wemyss Chart. 86.
I commit to the full power as I war in propir persoune: In the wytnes of the quhilk thing I haue set to myne emys signet Alexander Kennedy, schirref of Fyfe
1472 Lennox Mun. 85.
Me, Schir John Layng … thesourar till oure souerane lord the king till haue ressauit … the soume of [etc.] … In witnes of the quhilk thing to thir my present letteris I haue sett to my signet
1515 Wemyss Chart. 142.
In witnes hereof we haue put to our signet to this wyrt
1539 Maxwell Mem. I 279.
(b) 1398 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 39.
In the witnesse of the qwhilk thingis the sel of Sir William of Borthwik the seignet of Sir John of Remorgny & the sele of the Abbot of Melros … for the partie of Scotlande & the selis of Sir John Bussy … the seignetis of Maister William Fereby [etc.] … for the partie of Inglande to the parties of this indenturis … ar to put
1409 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 71.
In the witnes of the qwhilke thingis the forsaide commissairis … has … set thair segnettis
(2) 1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 110.
Ane bischop or ony uther man may at divers tymes, yea at ane tyme, haif divers small signettis
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Schireffe.
Schireffes [etc.] … sall cause the maires, seriands & officiars haue ane signet conteinand the first letter of their name quhair-with al letters and precepts extant be them and indorsations theirof salbe marked & stamped
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 52.
That all barons and friehalders halding of the king sall haue ane proper seale for the kings service … They sall haue seales, and not signets: as vse hes beine in tyme bygane
1622-6 Bisset I 140/15.
All … officeris … quha executis the king his majesties letteres … or the precepts of shireffis [etc.] … suld have ane signet
(3) a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 1105.
To souer [pr. soner] in thi gentrice but signete or sele
b. 1566 Reg. Privy S. V ii 229/2.
Ane lettir … ordinand Johnne Broun … burges of Edinburgh keipar of the greit seill and small seill callit the signet of the commissarie of Edinburgh
attrib. 1566 Reg. Privy S. V ii 230/1.
The … clerk of the said commissarie … to … mak payment … of … xl lib. … of the reddiest of the cotsilver or signet silver
1567 Reg. Privy S. VI 4/1.
The commissaris alwayis havand the twa pairt of the said seill and signet silver, togidder with the haill sentence silver … for payment of ane part of thair stipend

c. (Gevin, writtyn, to passe) under (the person's) signet, authenticated, to be authenticated by the signet of the person mentioned.(a) 1442 Coldingham Priory 139.
Writtyn undyr oure [sc. Sir William Crichton's] signet in Halis
1449 Acts (1597) i 32.
The summoundes of the Lordes of Regalities to passe vnder their sealles or their signettes
1450 Reg. Episc. Brechin. I 152.
Alexander of Ogiluy schref of Forfar til Thome Merchisoun mair … of Brechine … Gewyn wndir our singnet at Brechine
1489–90 Acta Aud. 140/2.
That Margret Deware … sall [etc.] … for the quhilk the said Margret wes bundin be ane indenture vnder hir signet & subscriuit with hir hande
1492–3 Acta Conc. I 262/2.
Ane instrument vnder the signet & subscriptioune manuale of schir Johne Yrimo public noter … ane vther instrument vnder the signe of schir Thomas Lowresson
1558 Admir. Ct. Bk. (St. S.) 75.
Ane … licence grantit to thame be Monsieur Doysell lieutenant to the … king of France to mak veir upoun his inymeis under his signet … manuale
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 108.
That ye … summond … the saidis Begis Calwart, Robert Calwart [etc.] … to compeyr befoyr me and the ministere of Sanctandrois wythin the parrochie kyrk [etc.] … Gevyn under the superintendentis signet and subscripsion, at Sanctandrois
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a fol. 20a.
The schireff or his deputtis direct thair precept vnder thair signet
1566 St. A. Kirk S. 283.(b) 1549 Buccleuch Mun. II 190.
Forsamekill as … William Scott … hes gewin … to ws his band of manrent … subscryvit with his hand, and wnder his segnat

2. The small seal of the sovereign, orig. used for private purposes; passing into the Scottish seal called ‘the Signet’ ; one of a number of seals so named.Also the gret signet, the litle (small) signettis, the kingis signet.Originally a personal means of authentication chiefly affixed to letters (cf. 4 (1) below), the signet came into official use in the 15th c. as the office of Secretary, in whose hands the signet was, separated from that of Keeper of the Privy Seal. Towards the end of the 15th c. ‘summons in civil matters came more and more to be authenticated under the signet’ R. K. Hannay The Early History of the Scottish Signet p. 23.For further information on the origin and functions of the Signet see R. K. Hannay op. cit. pp. 6ff., J. M. Thomson The Public Records of Scotland (1922) pp. 63-72, Hope Minor Practicks (1726) 84-90, Grant G. Simpson in Soc. Ant. LXXXIX 452-4, M. Livingstone in Reg. Privy S. I vii.For many further examples see Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. Index. 1369 Exch. R. II 344.
[Et in liberacione facta domino nostro regi in cameram suam et quibusdam aliis de mandato suo pro receptis ad vsum suum vt patet per octodecim paria literarum sub secreto sigillo et signeto domini nostri regis
1377 Exch. R. II 565.
Pecunia recepta in deposito onerat se de iiijcxxxiij li. xvij s. x d. receptis per custumarios de Dunde … vt patet per septem paria literarum sub sigillo secreto et signeto
1388 Acts I 191/2.
Volutate regis primo in vna cedula signata signeto anuli sui
1400 Acts I 213/2.]
Et quia sigilla sint et non signeta sicut ante ista tempora fieri consueuit
(a) 1513–14 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 10.
He that kepit the signet
1514 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 27.
The selis … that is to say gret seile, half seile and signet to be usit as of befor
1515 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 51.
My lord of Glesgw askit instrument of the delivering of the greit sele be my lord governour to him in plane parliament in presens of the thre estatis. My lord secretar similiter of delivering of the signet
1524 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 204.
The secretar resignit his office in the kingis handis and promyst inlikwis to deliver to his grace the signetis
1524–5 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 212.
[Delivered] ane greite signete and ane small signet [to Master Patrick Hepburn, Secretary]
1538–9 Misc. Spald. C. II 194.
The leist of oure small signetis is stollin
1538–9 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 480, 481.
Ane new signet … les of quantite nor the gret signet and mair than the litle signettis for our secret and gret effaris tretit with divers princis and to be send furth of our realm with our ambassadouris … Subscrivit with our hand and gevin undir our said signet to the effect that the quantite, circumference and prent tharof may be knawin
1539–40 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 485.
It is necessar thar be thre small signettis for service in our sessioun, justice airis, and for our awn directiouns, our will is herfor … to reforme the uthir thre signettis gret and small
1539–40 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 485.
That ane new litle signet be maid in place of the signet that is stollin, and that the uthir tua litle signettis and the grete signet be all maid new of gold, and that tua of the saidis litle signettis that sall serve the sessioun and justice airis be baith of ane quantite, and the thrid that sall serve the kingis grace directiouns be sum part mair nor the tothir tua, and that the kingis grace armis with ane clos croun be gravit in thaim without ony word, and that siclik be gravit in the greit signet with the clos croun and the kingis grace ordour of the mollettis and thrissillis about the scheld fra the nukis of the croun, and without ony word or uthir thing in ony of the saidis signettis
1542–3 Reg. Privy S. III 7/2.
Maister David Paintare … makand him secretare to the quenis grace … and keipar of all hir signettis
a1578 Pitsc. I 90/28.
This wreittand [sc. a letter of supplication] beand subscryuit and signatit with the kingis signit [was] thaireftir delyuerit to Schir Patrick Gray to wsse the samyn as he thocht caus
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Feodvm headings.
Prices set downe to the signet, for letters and vthers writtes, quhilkis passis throw na vther seale … Prices set downe to the signet, for signatoures passing the privie and great seales
1609 Acts IV 448/2. c1630 Hope Minor Practicks (1726) 84.
There are two kinds of signets, one of the Secret Council, another of the Session; and the keeper of both is the king's secretary and his deputes
(b) 1549 Buccleuch Mun. II 191.

b. (Gevin, writtin, etc.) under the (our, the kingis, the grete, the court, etc.) signet. Authorised or authenticated by being stamped with the signet. See also c below.(1) 1450 Reg. Episc. Brechin. I 128.
Gewine under our singnet at Perth
1450 Exch. R. V 425 n. 1479 Misc. Bann. C. III 431.
Schirefe we charge ȝou … eftir the tennour of this retour ȝe rais … of taxt [etc.] … gevin vndir oure signet
1495 Acta Conc. I 412/1.
Lord Erskin … haid impetrait a lettre vnder our souerane signet
1495 Reg. Paisley 405.
We committe to yow … our full power be thir oure lettrez … Gevin vndere our signet
1498 Acta Conc. II 284.
Ane letter of gift … under the kingis signet … the sade gift … til be of nane availe … because [it] … was under the kingis signet quhare it suld haf bene under his privie sele
1517 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 94.
1529 Red Bk. Menteith II 392.
Margaret … Quene of Scotland till … Walter Dog our mayr of fe … this precept sein ȝe sall pas til all paris kirkis [etc.] … Subscryuit wyth our hand … and wnder our singnet
1540 Reg. Privy S. II 575/1.
We … be oure utheris letteres under oure prive seile and signete exemit … Agnes Cokburne … of all paying of ony taxtis
1547 Misc. Spald. C. II 202.
1586 Cal. Sc. P. VIII 340.
It plesit his majestie to send me ane protection for thretty dayis under his handwrite and singnet
1509 Writs of the Cordiner Craft of Edinburgh No. 6 in Soc. Ant. LXXXIX 454.
Oure will is herefore … that ye nor nane of yow suffir na craftismen … to hald na markat bot in fre burrowis [etc.] … Gevin under our grete signete at Edinburgh
1617 Crim. Trials III 425.
Ane Commissioun of Justiciarie, vnder his Maiesteis Caschet and Court signet
(b) 1433 Aberd. B. Rec. I 390.
Frendis, as touchand the takyng doun of the hous … it is our will that [etc.] … Vrittin under our seignet
(2) 1474 Treas. Acc. I 50.
Passande to Glasgew with lettres vndir the signete for certane clerkis to cum to Edinburgh … lettres vndir the signete for cartis of were
1483 Acta Conc. II cxxxi.
The schireffis of Forfar [etc.] … to summond … the personis … in a portous under the signet, to compere befor our soverane lord [etc.]
1503 Sc. Hist. Rev. XL 97.
Summond [to attend the Court of Exchequer] be letters under the signet
1511 Crim. Trials I i 75.
That he sal plese my lorde secreter and his clerk for thair feis of the selis and writingis undir the signet of all the personis being at the raid of Drumfrese
1518–19 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 138.
[The Secretary … protested that] the auld consuetude suld be kepit that lettres undir the signett suld be direct at the instance of all partiis for the producioun of uthir lettres and nocht to pas be deliverance of the lordis with subscriptiouns of thar handis without rasing of lettres
1523 Treas. Acc. V 217.
iij lettrez under the signete direct to the shereffis of Edinburgh [etc.] … xviij s.
1412 Buccleuch Mun. 22.
The whilkis chartris … be this lettre we conferme and wil … this oure confirmacioune be formabilli … selit with oure grete sele … In witnes of the whilkis this presentis lettres we wrate with our propre hande vnde[r] the signet vsit in selyng of our lettres
1524 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 200.
The secretar to mak ane lettir of estate undir the grete signet … to be deliverit to maistir David Betoune divisit to pas ambassatour to the maist Cristin king

c. In various phrases with Pas v. (see Pas v. 20): To cause (a document) to be authenticated by the signet; (of a document) to be so authenticated. 1546 Reg. Privy C. I 34.
[The] Lordis of Secret Counsel ordanis the remissioun … be past throw the signet … and salbe sufficiently warrant … unto the tyme the Capitane may haif the prive and greit seill
1578–9 Reg. Privy C. III 103.
That ye pas na signet to ony licences for eitting of flesche this present Lenterne
1622-6 Bisset I 124/15, etc.
Clerkis ressavit and admittit be the secretare onlie … suld writ all billis and signatouris that passis the signet
c1630 Hope Minor Practicks (1726) 84.
204. Under the signet of the Secret Council pass all commissions or licences granted by the Secret Council, with all letters, either for citation or horning in causes belonging to the Secret Council
c1630 Hope Minor Practicks (1726) 85.
205. Under the signet of the Session pass all letters and summonses before the Session, and criminal letters before the justicies; and sicklike, all signatures which are appointed to pass thro' the haill seals, must first pass through the signet of the Session

d. Writar to (of) the (our, his majesties, etc.) Signet. e. Clerk of (to) (the) Signet. f. Kepar of the (his majesties) Signet; also, once, clerk kepar of the Signet.See also Kepar n. 3 d, writar for further examples and infomation.d. (1) 1488 Treas. Acc. I 89.
To the writaris of the singnet, at the Kingis commande
1490–4 Writers Signet xvii.
[To the] wrytaris of the signete [for] thare drink siluer
(2) 1512 Treas. Acc. IV 358.
To Maister James Dowglas and Alexander Clerk, writaris to the Signet, for thair labouris for writing of the Kingis lettrez
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a, fol. 6b.
It is devysit be the saidis lordis that the wretaris to the signet mak the billis of double poinding
1570 Canongate Ct. Bk. 259.
Mr. Gilbert Groit writtar to oure soveranis signet
c1646 Craufurd Edinb. Univ. fol. 13.
[Commissioners to choose a Professor of Humanity] whereof 2 for the Lords of Session, 2 for the Touncouncill, 1 for the advocats, and 1 for the writers to the Signet, useing the advice of the principall
1610 Bk. Dunvegan I 39.
James Kynneir wryther to his majesties signit
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 69.
Wreitters to the Signett should not wreitt any signatour or letter … containeing novelty or informality contrair to the accustomed style
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 72.
That ordinar Wrytters to the Signett only shall wrytt signatours
1648–9 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XX 80.
The ruiff put on and theikit conforme to an visite maid thairof be Maister David Hereot, advocat, and Richard Guthrie Wryter to the Signett
1672 Acts VIII 87/1.
As for writers to the signet, it is ordained that the rates of all writts to be formed and written by them be as followeth
1532 Reg. Privy S. II 190/1.
Johnne Bannatyne in Edinburgh, writar to our signet
e. 1495 Acta Conc. I 423/1.
That the clerkis of chancellary & signete sall in tyme tocum convene togiddre ilk day in the hous of the chancellary and quhasa plesis to tak summondis other vnder the quhite or red waxis [etc.]
1516 Treas. Acc. V 97.
To the clerkis of signet be my lord chancellar and lordis of consalis command
1532 Instit. Ct. Sess. in Facs. Nat. MSS III xx.
That all clerkis of the signet be suorne to exerce thair offices lauchfullie
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 89.
I hawe send yow ane clarke off the signet vith syke newis as inccurrit for the present
c1630 Hope Minor Practicks (1734) 286 n.
All these [letters, summons, etc.] being written by direction of a writer to the signet (called clerks to the signet) and signed by him
f. 1517 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 102.
The kepar of the signet to direct lettres to my lord of Sanctandrois and all the burrowis … eftir the forme of this proclamacion
1519 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 148.
That the kepar of the signet ansuer my lord of Arane … of sic lettres as he will desire to command … quhat persouns he pleisis … to pas with him [etc.]
1592 Acts III 569/2.
The kepair of the signet sall write on the bak of the signatur the speciall day that he affixit the signet
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Feodvm.
The keipers of the signet, prievie & greate seales
1622-6 Bisset I 129/9.
That the keipare of the signett answer nocht with the signett, to ony lettere gevin on ony bill, bot gif [etc.]
1638 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. VII 101.
Wee … command … all keepers of the signet, from signeting thairof
1622-6 Bisset I 129/28.
The clerk keipare of the signet sall keip and produce the saidis billis … to the lordis at the first day of the sessioun

3. transf. a. The authority of the Signet. b. The office or department of the Signet.Quot. 1508 may belong in sense 1.a. 1429–30 Acts Jas. I in Ayr B. Ct. 6 March (see Privé Sele n. 4).
b. 1508 Reg. Privy S. I 268/1.
A lettre in Inglis conforme to the said speciale command insert in the signet, direct to al the schireffis within the realme … Per idem signetum
1528–9 Reg. Privy S. I 593/1.
That na lettres of gift of our soverane lordis casualite nor propirte to be ansuerit at the signete
1561 Reg. Privy C. I 186.
The signet to ansuer lettres upoun his deliverance
1575–6 Reg. Privy C. II 481.
The said Alexander wes constranit … to seik the warrand at the Signet
?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

4. specif. The wax impression of a signet.Usu. affixed to (a document), once, hir hienes greit signet appended to (the document).(1) 1476 Acta Aud. 42/1.
The said James fraudefully … denyit his awne hand & his signet of the said obligatioun
1494 Acta Aud. 204/1.
The said summondis wes nocht dewly becaus it wantit the signet in the said indorsatioun
1497 Acta Conc. II 93.
Tweching the execucione of ane summondis … allegiand that thare was nowther sele nor signet on the sammyn
1501 Acta Conc. III 86.
The precept … had nowther propire sele, procurat sele, nor signet
1521–2 Wemyss Chart. 150, 151.
I Alexander Law ane of the schirefis within writtine … somond … William Scot … and this I did befor thir witnes [etc.] … and for the mayr verificatione heirof I haue affixat my signet to this indorsing
1559 Rec. Kinloss Mon. 150.
To thir our literis [sic] of bailȝiaries … our signet is affixed
1569 Q. Mary in Facs. Nat. MSS III lix.
We … Hes causet our Signet to be affixit thairto, quhilk we will to be als sufficient as oure gret seall war affixit to the samin
1569 Rec. Earld. Orkney 129.
Becaus he had na seill nor signat proper off his awin, he purchesit … the signat of ane honorabill man Gilbart Cowpland
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 8.
The principal … sal … examine thayme [sc. new students] and … send thayme to ane regent with hys signet and the regent sal writ thayme in hys rol
c1575 Balfour Pract. 661.
The libellit summoundis, with the signet, not exceiding half a throuch of paper compactlie writtin, as the clerkis of the signet write, ij s.
1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 105.
Siclyk the signet upone the bak of the round seill is adulterat as may be considderit be fyve or sax of the round seillis producit quhilk suld be tryit be the compas
1582 Misc. Stair Soc. I 110.
Albeit thair micht appeir ony diversitie betuix the small signet upon the bak and uther wrettis sygnetit be Bischop James Betoun [etc.]
1600-1610 Melvill 306.
Divers letters and blankes … with thair cachets, signets, &c.
1606 Inverness Rec. II 35.
I William Gray ane of the borru officers … did proclaim this … breffe … this I did befoir thir witnesses [etc.] … and for the mair witnessing heirof I haiff affixit my signet of office, with my subscriptioun manuell, as use is
(2) 1565 Reg. Privy C. I 334.
Quhilk actis … the Quenis Majestie ordanis to be … insert in the bukis of hir Secreit Counsall … and the samyn being registrat ordanis hir Hienes greit signet to be appendit to the samyn

5. The process of having a document authorised or authenticated under the signet. 1552–3 Edinb. B. Rec. II 341.
To Neill Laiying for wryttings and the signet at divers tymes, at the provest, baillies and counsale command
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II 282.
Payit for the signet of the Queenis lettres
1554 Edinb. B. Rec. II 283. 1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 295.
For the writting of lettres and for the signet to thame
a1620 Tailor's Acc. Bk. 19.
For your lettres that was raysit … viij s. iiij d. … to Mr. Johne Layng for signet of thame, vj s. viij d.

6. A ring, specif. one engraved on its upper surface or containing an engraved stone, etc., for use as a seal; a signet-ring.Freq. const. of gold, of silver.Some examples may belong in 1 above.(a) 1488 Treas. Acc. I 85.
A ring with a face … a signet and na thing in it … thre small ringis with rubeis
1489 Acta Aud. 129/2.
The signet of gold clamit in the summondis
1491 Treas. Acc. I 199.
Gevin … to the Duk of Ross to by him a singnet, iij vnicornis
1498 Halyb. 216.
Send my lord … a syngnet of gold … ; for the stan that vas in it 26 s. Som off that syngnet is with the stan 4 li. 18 s. 8 g.
1499–1500 Acta Conc. II 360.
The sade Robert … had ane signet of gold the tyme of his deceise
1510 Rentale Dunkeld. (SHS) 5. 1549 Compl. 147/23.
Thai reft fra hym ane signet of gold that vas on his fingare, vitht in the quhilk vas grauit his fathers hede
1549 Compl. 148/3.
The armys that ȝe bair in ȝour scheildis and in ȝour seylis in ȝour signetis [etc.]
1549 Compl. 152/24. 1559 Prot. Bk. Gilbert Grote 40.
Ane gold ring callit ane signet of gold, witht vtheris twa ringis of gold, all weand ourheid ane vnce of gold
1570 Canongate Ct. Bk. 189.
Ane signet of gold weyand ane half unce ane unicorne and half unicorn wecht of gold … ane pres almorie to xviij s.
1583 Edinb. Test. XII 157b.
Sevin gold ringis tua thairof signettis
1584 Elgin Rec. I 175.
Ane golden signet quhilk the said Margaret deliuerit to the said Jannet in plege
1593 Dickson & Edmond Ann. Sc. Printing 479.
To the said Alesoun, my dochter, … ane signet of gold, and ane ring with tua staneis
(b) 1497 Halyb. 154.
A sengnet of syluer

7. The time signature in music. c1550-c1580 Art of Music 13b.
That the mair circle suld schaw the mud and the less circle the time signet and [etc.]

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