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

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Tolbuth(e, Towbuth(e, n. Also: toll-, tole-, toul-, towl-, tool(e-, toil-, tul-, tou-, toy-, to-, tho-, thow-, thou- and -buith(e, -buyth, -bwth, -bwith(e, -bwyth, -both(e, -bo(i)th, -boyth, -bouth, -bowth, -booth(e, -bouith, -byth, -beith, -bu(i)tht, -buytht, -bu(i)cht, -buycht, -buyht, -botht, -boytht, -boht, -bouytht, -bowytht, -booytht, -bytht, -boucht, -bewcht, -boud(e, -bouit, -bouyt, -bude, -bu(y)t, -bot, -bu. [ME and e.m.E. tolboþe (14th c.), tolboth (1577-87), tollboothe (1587), tolebooth (1633), toolebooth (1611). Cf. Germ. Zollbude, Dan. toldbod.]

1. A public building in a burgh, used for the collecting of tolls and customs, also the seat of burgh administration, both civic and legal, and housing the prison.For further information see Michael Lynch, Michael Spearman and Geoffrey Stell (eds.) The Scottish Medieval Town (1988) 63-4 et passim. 1253–98 Reg. Episc. Morav. 143.
Quam vero terram habui ex dono … patris mei … et ad vendendum obtuli in tolbotha de Suthbervyc ad tria placita capitalia secundum legem et assissam burgi

a. In general. 1629 Lowther's Jrnl. 24.]
[[In Bruntelin they have a pretty] towbeoth
(a) 1445 Aberd. B. Rec. I 14.
It is ordanit … that thai sell na flesche bot vnder the tolbuth
1492 Peebles B. Rec. I 194.
For the makyn of the benkis of the tolboith
1548 Corr. M. Lorraine 249.
All nycht our greit artallȝery lawborit, and has dong the tolbutht
1549 Banff Ann. I 26.
For the braking dovn of the sklattis of the kyrk and glassin vindokis of the samyn be inordinatt playing with hand ball … and wes be the assise forsaid … decernitt be them to gyff viii days labor at the making of the tolbot
1567 Dysart Rec. 24.
Ane tolbuith devysed on the hie gate
c1567 Thomson Hist. Dundee App. xiii.
Furth of the east end of the tenement callit the auld tolbwith … to the said hospitall, fiftie ss.
1581 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 210.
The auld tolbuith now lyand waist is altogidder inproffitabill
1595 Banff Ann. II 403.
Wphalding and sustening of the kirk tolbuyt and calsays
1595 Aberd. B. Rec. II 120.
Houssis belanging to the burght … maist ewous to the tolbuith of the burght
1600 Edinb. B. Rec. V 282.
Ane chairge of the lordis commanding the toune to caus loft the wast kirk and mak the samen in ane tolbuithe as it was of auld
1653 Stirling B. Rec. II 319.
The repairing of the tolbuithe
1650 Lamont Diary 20.
He came to Cowper, where he gatt some desert to his foure-houres; the place where he satte downe to eate was the tolboothe
1668 Lauder Jrnl. 182.
Then came to Lithcow … They are building a tolbuith all of aislaer work
1681 Misc. Maitl. C. III 123.
1683–1722 Ouchterlony in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 30.
Dundie hath … a large mercat place with a very fyne tolbuith & croce
1690 Cramond Kirk S. III 23 Jan.
John Macintosh … and Anna Bane … who lived with Mr. Irvin a changer above the Cannogate tolbuith
(b) 1467 Montrose Baillie Ct. 18b.
Alexander Cant alderman Thom Nudre bailȝe [etc.] … has sett Thom Wat to the makyn of the tolbuth in this maner that is for ilk dwr off te saide toll bude festin … he sall haiff sex s. viii d. … the laiff off the nychtburis has feit the saide Thom to mak fowr rude off wall four fut thyk off the syde wall & [etc.]
(c) 1490 Lanark B. Rec. 7.
x s. gevin be the said George to John Symson for the fluring of the tulbuth and nocht done; and the werk done be Fasternevin, or ellis lay in the som to the rent maister
(d) 1509 Justiciary Rec. II 166.
Our towbytht of Edynbrycht
1529 Edinb. Guild Ct. 29 April.
Betuix his land and George Gudis fornent the toubuith
1557–8 Edinb. B. Rec. III 17.
The new act foirsaid maid for moving … of the said merkat be eist the towbuithe
1569–70 Haddington Treas. Acc.
For help to saw the temer of the towbowth
(e) 1556 Crail B. Ct. 12a.
The thowbuyht of Craill
1556 Crail B. Ct. 15a.
(f) 1559 Edinb. B. Rec. III 57.
To thik the southe side of the towlbuyth with new sklait
(g) 1597 (c1650) Dundee B. Laws 50.
Vpon the hie street and calsay of this brugh betwixt the flesh skembells and the old toolbuith

b. As the centre of the financial administration of the burgh, esp. the organisation of the market place, and concerned with the collection of levies imposed on imported goods, the assessment of prices of goods to be sold, the control over measurements used in the market place and the like. 1436 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 4.
It is ordanit for commoun proffitt of the burgh that, after the cumming in of ony schip enteret in the tolbuith with quheit mele rye malt beir or any vitailes or viuouris, the alderman baillies and the counsale by this vitaile of rationable pryce as thai may and [etc.]
1478 Acts II 119/1.
It is … ordanit that all strangeris & merchandis cumming in the realme with vital & vthir lefull merchandice be honorabilly ressauit fauorabilly tretit fra thai haf enterit thar gudis as vse & custum is in the towbuth that our souverain lord be seruit first & of the best and syne [etc.]
1490 Treas. Acc. I 170.
Takin be the king furth of the thesauraris purs in the Towbuthe
1525 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 78.
That all metlumes … pynt, quert, halff pek, [etc.] … sal be present in the tolbutht … to be mesurit and quhair the metlumes ar fundyne sufficient to be brynt be the balyeis and quhair thai are fundyne unsufficient to be distrowit
1528 Stirling B. Rec. I 33.
1531–2 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 118.
That yong stot vas presentit in tolbutht and apprysit laufully … to the soum of xxii s.
1552 Crail B. Ct. MS 16 Oct.
Jhone [blank] positour for the tyme made the compt of the comone gud to the balȝeis and nychtbowris in the towboucht of Crell
1552–3 Edinb. B. Rec. II 270.
The sowme of xxjli ijs gottin for the proffitt of the guidis of ane Hamburgh schip, bocht be the toun and rowpit in the tolbuyth for proffitt
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 300.
Thair come to Edinburgh … xl laidis of meill, quhilk wes put in the tolbuyth to mak mercat of
1594 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 303.
It is … ordanit that … all boitis … that sall arryue within this poirt enter thame sellffis and the geir quhairwith thai ar ladin in the tounis buikis, and that na boitis nor geir … be bocht or licence grantit to be disburdint bot in oppin tolbuithe
1579–80 Inverness Rec. I 274.
The prowest bailles and cunsall … convenit within the tolbuyth … for stenting of horses to hame bring the commoun stanes, wynnyn for reparatioun of the port on the brig, and deliberatioun adwyissatle of sic vther thingis as concernyng the commoun weill of the said burcht
1586 Glasgow Prot. IX 112.
[An annualrent] auchtand furth of thair tolbuth and merchand bwthis beneth the same
1642 Elgin Rec. I 272.
The counsell are contentit that the Innernes men at this present mercat of Fastinges evin sall have the vse of ane of the laich woltis wnder the tolbuithe for weying of thair woll
1648 Glasgow B. Rec. II 143.
To warne all persones wha desyres to tak the landwart excyse that they come to the tolboothe

Passing into c. The centre for civic and legal administration.(a) 1428 Bk. Carlaverock II 429.
1432 Soc. Ant. II 387.
Comperyt befor the balȝes & the consale of the said burgh sittand in the tolbuth … William Harpar clerk and public notar [etc.]
1434 Ayr B. Ct. 42 (19 July).
He chargit Gib Barcar that he suld nocht pas out of the toll boht quhil he had payit … a some the quhilk was preuit in court to pay the quhilk Gib passit of the tol botht without lefe of bailȝe
1440 Acts II 32/2.
The consale generale haldyn at Strivilyn in the tolbuthe of that ilk
1464 Liber Aberbr. II 141.
We the said aldirman [etc.] … devly gaderit in our tolbuth … ratifiis … the … occupacioune of the said Kingis Mor be the said tennandis
1471 Aberd. B. Rec. I 30.
To charge the comunite to cum to the tolbuthe for the chesing of a belman
1483 Anal. Scot. I 209.
1489 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 6.
The hed court of Pas haldyn in the tolbutht
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 130/60.
Few dar of all this last additioun Cum in tolbuyth without remissioun
1512 Wigtown B. Ct. 5b.
1529 Red Bk. Menteith II 391.
1529 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 396.
Toll bwyth
1533 Soc. Ant. II 397.
1547 Elgin Rec. I 91.
1554 Crim. Trials I i 372.
1562 Charter (Reg. H.) (Suppl.) 11 April.
The said assis being convenit … in the tolbuytht of Striuiling
1563 Dumfries B. Ct. 185a.
1563 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 65.
The fensit court haldyn in the tolbuicht of Kirkcaldy
a1578 Pitsc. I 220/5.
Quhen the tyme come all the haill lordis of Scottland compeirit baith on the ane syde and the wther in presentis of the king and consall in the tollbuth of Edinburgh
a1578 Pitsc. II 186/32.
1592 Chambers Minor Antiq. Edinb. (1833) 140.
In all sheriffdomes of this realme, thair ar tolbuithis appointit and biggit within the heid burghis … quhair courtis may be haldin, justice ministrat and malefactoris and transgressouris may be kepit and wardit quhill justice may be ministrat upone thaim
1593 Reg. Great S. 817/2.
Ad edificandum pretorium, carcerem domumque ponderum et telonium (lie tolbuith, prissoun, weyhous and customehous) … ad publicos usus dicti burgi
1630 Inchaffray Reg. 103.
Ane iudiciall court haldin within the tolbuth of Pearth
(b) 1469 Ayr Friars Pr. Chart. 52.
Becaus the said Alane had na seill propyr of hys awyn he has procurit wyth gret instans in the tow both befor the communyte of Ayr ther present the commun sell of the burgh of Ayr
1493 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 47.
The quhylk [day] … Schir Jhon Lam coyme in the towbwth and set tyll Archybalde Stewart ane akyr of lande
1493 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 318.
He was fwnd nerast and lawchfull air til his fadir Andro Craufurd be ane inquisissione of the towbutht as ws of burghe is
1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 101.
1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 101.
1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 101.
1511–12 Selkirk B. Ct. MS 14b.
That daye [the] balyeis affixit ane cowrt one fourty dayes to be haldyne in the said towbucht
1539 Soc. Ant. II 399.
1540 Elgin Rec. I 49.
The burrow curt of Elgine haldine within the towboyth of the samyn
1544 Soc. Ant. II 389.
The communitie present within the towbuith and universally convenit be sound of the hand bell
1560 Edinb. B. Rec. III 66.
The prowest, baillies [etc.] … haifand considderatioun of the gret inquietatioun that thai haif had in tymes past within the tolbuith … for laik of rowme to minister justice and to do thair other effaris … quhen the sessioun did sit, or quhen other courttis and convocationis war in the samyn, and alssua considdering the skant of prisoun houssis and incommoditie of thair clerkis chalmer, and for inhalding of the yeirlie maill of the samyn and other gret sowmes of money debursit be thame for thair scole, haiffing mair commodius place and sic rowmes within thair kirk as may be ane fair tolbuithe … thairfoir … ordanis James Barroun dene of gilde … to … furnesche big and sett vp all thingis necessar for the said schole, towbuyth, prisoun hous, clerkis chalmer and all vtheris necessaris within the samyn
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 2.
Upone the daye of eleccion … sal conveyn the Provest [etc.] … and membris and regentis of the Universite, in the Towbuth, q[uhen] … the eldaris a[nd] diaconis salbe chosyn
1561 Misc. Maitl. C. II 286.
1602 Colville Paraenese Ep. 26.
Jon Knox him self vas content in the touboyth of Edinburg to disput vith M. Quintin Kennedy
1649 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. LI 57.
Payed to Bessie Maxwell for wyne and aille druken be the judgis when they came from the touboth
1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 9 March.
Burrow Court halden within the tolebuith of Kirkcudbright
1657 Cramond Ch. Rathven 22.
Mr. James Chalmer produced the proces and depositioune of witnesses … holden in the towbooth of Cullen
(c) 1476 Acts II 114/1.
Our souerane lord be the auis and consent of his thre estatis personaly present in the tolbutht of Edinburgh … chesit and namit thir persons … to the quhilkis … ful povar is committit … to commone … and conclud. Apone the materis that our souerane lordis ambassat ar send apone vteutht the cuntre
1522 Acta Conc. MS XXXIII 40b.
To proceid to the seruing of the said brevis in the tobuth of Edinburgh
1525 Wigtown B. Ct. 226b.
(d) 1484 Peebles B. Rec. I 192.
One the xvij day of Maij … be Patrik Dikkisone and Gilbert Uilyamsone … with sufficiant nowmer of nychtbouris … within the toyboyth gaderit, was maid burges Thomas Bychat
(e) 1497 Dunferm. B. Rec. I 78.
1521 Wigtown B. Ct. 111a.
The borrow Wytsunday curt haldin in the thobuith
(f) 1586 Maxwell Mem. II 24.
1599 Maxwell Mem. II 44.
The King and counsayle, who were, at that present, in the toulboothe, at the election of the magistrates
1688 Rec. of Old Tolbooth in Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 107.

d. The prison, the town jail.Appar. commoner in this sense in the 17th c. than in the earlier period. 1458 Peebles B. Rec. I 127.
That ony man mayd tulyhe within the town sal pay x s. onforgeyfyng to the common wark or he com owt of the tolboth
1467 Newburgh B. Ct. 31a.
The balȝe garth the sergandys lay thar wandys on hyme ande chargis hym to ramane in the towbuthe qwyl he schavth a rausnablyl caws qwhy he declynyt hys balȝe
c1475 Wall. vii 202.
A bauk was knyt all full of rapys keyne, Sic a towboth sen syn was neuir seyne
1519–20 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. II 100.
1540 Elgin Rec. I 49.
John Masoun … sall pay ane haff stane of vax to Sancte Gelis lycht and ramine quhill Muninday nixt to cum within the tolbowytht as was giffen for dowm
1540–1 Elgin Rec. I 55.
1550 Elgin Rec. I 106.
1565–6 Reg. Privy C. I 440.
The javelour of the tolbuyth
1569 Events Q. Mary & Jas. VI 29.
1569 Events Q. Mary & Jas. VI 29.
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 31.
The governour … brunt mony lymmeris in the said tolbuis
1573-1600 Burne Disput. in Cath. Tr. 109/12.
Being impresoned first in the Castel of Sanctandrois, and nixt in the tolbuith of Edinburgh
1589 Maxwell Mem. II 165.
1606 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 84.
1608 Kinghorn Kirk S. 10.
They had put Jhone Broun in the tolbuithe till he suld ather enter to the gougs or pay his penaltie
?1614 Melrose P. 153.
John Stewart … hes broght … foure of his prisoners They ar now in the towbuith, in the irnehouse
1627 Glasgow B. Rec. I 358.
Gawan Nathsmythe, mercheant, … to be jevelour and keiper of the haill prissoun houssis of the new biggit tolbuithe
1650 Dumfries Treas. Acc.
When the hair sarkes war put wpon the wyfes [sc. witches] in the touboth
1650 Lamont Diary 17.
1650 Lamont Diary 17.
1657 Musselburgh 113.
The said George hes beine wardet within the towbeith of Musselburgh certane dayes
1672 Dunferm. Coal Acc. 16b.
1673 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 285.
Frances Irvine of Hiltoun, and severall other persons, prisoners for certane debts within the tolbuith of this brughe
1676 Cunningham Diary 75.
For a pint of wine drunk in the tolbooth with the prisoners, 18 s.
1686 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII 16.
1684-9 Glamis Bk. Record 45.
I designe to build a tolebooth both for a prison house and for a roume to hold my courts in
1692 Elgin Rec. I 353.
Who ewer keeps the keys of the iron door of the inner tolboith shall be comptable for any who shall escap furth of the toolboith
1698 Glasgow B. Rec. IV 260.
[£66 8 s.] as expenssis in mantaineing witches and warlocks in the tolbuith

e. As a place of security. 1646 Glasgow B. Rec. II 90.
Thomas Broune and Robert Mack ar appoyntit to have the charge of the magaseine, and that the haill pouldir in toune, ball and vtheris armes … be brought to the tolbuith and put in ther keippeing vpon ther noitts of recaite
1669 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 255.
That the tuo blank housines wpon the south syde of the Tolbooth sould be fillit wp in good ordour, with his Majesties armes in the wppermost and this burghes armes in the nethermost

f. In the above senses with adjectives indicating the particular part of the building being referred to.See Heich adj. 3 b, Inwart adj. 1, Laich adj. 3 c and 5 (3), Lauch adj. (5), Leauch(e adj. (2), Nether adj.1 4 b and Over adj. 5 (4) for further examples. 1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 303.
For redding of the nether tolbuith
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 308.
To viij warkmen to beir up the haill tymmer of the brandraucht of the heich tolbuith to the nether tolbuith
1585–6 Edinb. B. Rec. II 322.
Ane dosoun … of half dallis to the bynkis to the over tolbuith
1563–4 Edinb. Old Acc. I 448.
The compt of the glas and irne to the saidis iij wyndowis in the north end of the tolbuith bayth heiche and leuche
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a, 1b.
And the lordis to sit thairvpone [sc. on all common privileged matters] oulklie vpone the saidis twa dayes, viz., thre of thame in the vtter tolbuyth and the rest of the lordis in the invart tolbuyth
1565 Prot. Bk. James Foulis 72a.
He … past to the west end of the said kirk … quhilk is now the nethir tolbuith
1573 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 2.
The wyndois at the laich tolbuith
a1578 Pitsc. I 224/18.
They counsellit the king to … gang ben to the invart tollbouth
1579 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 117.
Andrew Stevinsoun, thesaurer, to cause wesche the ouer and nether tolbythis … with calk
1622-6 Bisset I 120/21.
Within the inner tolbuith the tyme that the lordis of sessioun sittis for administration of iustice
1622-6 Bisset I 157/3.
The uttir tolbuith

g. Appar. also housing the school. 1555 Peebles B. Rec. I 214.
The haill inquest ordanis the skoill maister to be conducit for ane yere, and … the baillies … to provide him ane chalmer quhair it may be gotting maist conuenient togidder with the tolbuth to teche his barneis in that redis and writting Ynglis
1559 Peebles B. Rec. I 257.
The inqueist admittis the scoilmaister to teiche thair barneis as afore and that he separat the Ynglis redaris to the tolbuth fra the Latinists

2. attrib. a. specif. With dure, stair, wall, window, with reference to the use of these parts of the building as a place of proclamation or for the placing of public notices. See also Stair n. 1 b for further examples. b. With reference to part of the building or something belonging or pertaining to the building.a. 1456 Peebles B. Rec. I 111.
The seriand cryit thrys at the tolbuth dor geyf thar was ony lachful ar to that land
1498 Acta Conc. II 283.
The masaris to call at the tolbuth dur gif ony summondis war and nane couth be apprehendit
1516 Fife Sheriff Ct. 37.
Al actionis … ar … continuit to the xix day of August … as thai now ar but preiudice of party & warning maid publict tharapone at the tolboith stare as the maner is
1532 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 82.
Richert Waluot mayr and officer of the said Regalite of Dunfermlen at the command of the saidis balles deputtis passit to the towbotht [MS towbouth] wyndok and stayr and thair roppit and proclamat the saidis annualis
1540 Ayr Chart. 17.
To make ane edict and putt the samyn upoun the tolbouth dure
1543 Elgin Rec. I 78.
The prouest and baillies … causit ane officiar to pas to the mercat croce and siclik to the tolbouytht duyr and thair be oppin proclamatioun chargit all personis … that [etc.]
1546 Acts II 478/2.
Thai be thame selffis nor nane vtheris in thair names comperand … thai being oftymes callit at the tolbuyth windok
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a, 13b.
Affixis ane vther ticket thairof vpone the tolbuyth wall quhilk resaves proces
1565 Edinb. Univ. MS La.iii.388a, 2a.
The sumondis … to be 2 dayes on the tolbuyth dure befoir the calling thairof
1569 Canongate Ct. Bk. 22.
The said Oliver being thris callit at the tolbuith windo as us is and nocht comperand
1582–3 Perth B. Ct. 11 Feb.
Quhilkis brefis being this day publictlie proclamit at the tolboyth windo
b. 1521 Edinb. B. Rec. I 207.
To the takin doun of the ii heidis … of the tolbuth end
1532 Soc. Ant. II 402.
Matho Huntar to waik on the tolbucht heid nytlie
1537 Ex. Processes (Reg. H.) Culros v. Crawmond.
To the masaris keparis of oure tolbuth dur ij s.
1550 Cupar B. Rec. 3 Dec.
It was … decisit … becaus of the biggeyn of the tolbutht chapell and perfurnesing of certane pleyis concernyng the comone veil of the town that [etc.]
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II 297.
Tymmer … to mak ane barres on the tolbuith stair
1573-1600 Burne Disput. in Cath. Tr. 110/26.
Extreme danger of famine constrainit me to hing ouer ane purse at the tolbuith vindo
1597–8 Misc. Spald. C. V 70.
For mending the quheills and extre of the towbuithe knok
1601–2 Montrose Treas. Acc. 5b.
Four dissoun planscho nailis to mend the hoill in the tolbuyth buskin
1608 Dunferm. B. Rec. II 50.
For bringing doun the daills of the tolbuith loft to the laich hous
1671 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 3 May.
That the ground from the round at the castell yet be calsayed to the foir door of the church and the entrie at the tolbuith gate
1678 Stirling Common Good 120b.
For souping the tolbuith lumbs
1690 Old Ross-shire I 96.
To be brought to the mercat croce … and his left cheek to be brunt with the tolbooth key

c. With buk, ? a book containing official records and housed in the tolbooth. 1556 St. A. Baxter Bks. 7.
It is statut be the breder onder vrytyn and are oblyst to ack thair selfis in the tolbewcht buk … nocht to tak ane prentis for the space of xii ȝeris

3. In senses 1 b and c above applied to a biblical context.(1) a1400 Leg. S. x 8.
In the tolbuth set Lewy, That as a tollare thare wes sate, Vnlessume wynnynge for to get
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. ix 9.
He saw a man Mathou be name sittand in a tolbuthe [L. in telonio]
(2) a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 553.
Thai cry his deth quhill all the tolboith soundis
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matth. xxvii 27.
Than knychtis of the justice tuke Jesu in the tolbuthe [Vulg. in prætorium]
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Acts xxiii 35.
I sal here thee, he said, quhen thin accusaris cummis. And he comandit him to be kepit in the tolbuth [Vulg. in prætorio] of Herode

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