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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
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Wattir balȝe, Wat(t)er baillie, n. Also: watter bailȝe, -bailyea, - beilye, water balȝe, -bailȝie, - bail(y)ie, walter baillie, valter bailȝie. [ME and e.m.E. waterbaille (1395), waterbaily (1434), waterbailly (1518).]

1. An official responsible for overseeing and enforcing the law with regard to fishing. Cf. Bailȝe n.1 1. 1467 Reg. Dunferm. 359.
This inquisicioun made at Berwik vpon Twede … in presens of the balȝeis of the samyn … betwix the fischingis … pertening to the Abott … of Durham … and the fisching … pertening to oure souerane lord the kyng [they] sall … set owre thare nettis … quhare thai lykis … ay quhill the kingis water balȝe mak revlis in the watire

2. The magistrate responsible for the regulation of shipping and maritime affairs. Cf. Bailȝe n. 2.(a) 1514 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 19.
[The chancellor … ordains David Mailvile, president, & James Levingtoun, water bailie, with Carrick pursuivant, to … inspect the goods] … and caus the samyn be … howsit in Leitht … [and if any goods] ar in punct of tynsale, that the samyn be sauld be avis of the saidis presedent, wattirbalȝe and Carrik
1519 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 193.
The … counsall ordanis the watter baillie till wayt vpoun the entering of all schippis
1571 Crail B. Ct. 24 Oct.
Johne Reid and Johne Lessellis to be watter bailȝeis to tak ordour concernyng the weill of the hewin of this brught in all faltis committit within the samin
1573–4 Glasgow B. Rec. I 5.
For … disobeying of the watter baillie, in … taking of killyng furth of the boytis
1511 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 133.
The watter baillie wes yeirlie chosen at Mychaelmas with the vther baillies
1587 Reg. Great S. 450/2.
Ballivus marinus (watter baillie) Edinburgi aut Lethe
1606 Conv. Burghs II 227.
He sall nocht suffer the watter bailȝe of Myddilbrugh … to poynd nor to tak the saills fra the rayis
1635 Glasgow B. Rec. II 38.
Watter bailyea
a1603 Tract. Leg. Naval. 63.
The watter baillie … takes 12 d. for everie bark that layes hir syde to the key
(b) c1575 Balfour Pract. 52.
The water baillie of Edinburgh may hald his courtis upon the schoir of Leyth
1598–9 Edinb. B. Rec. V 243.
Androw Sclater, water baillie officer and javellour of Leyth
1601 Edinb. B. Rec. V 290.
That na schippis bellast thair schippis bot be directione of the water bailyie
?1622 Melrose P. 457.
Your maiesties letter commanding Dunkerkers being in the herbrie [etc.] … Commandement was then giuen to the prouest and bailies … that they and their water bailie in Leith sould sie your maiesties will accomplished
1636 Glasgow Chart. I ii 382.
Eligendi vnum ballivum qui aque presit lie ane water baillie infra dictum fluvium de Clyde vbi mare fluit et refluit et infra integras bondas eiusdem subtus Pontem de Glasgow ad lie Clochstane et corrigendi omnes iniurias et enormitates super dicto fluvio commissas infra bondas eiusdem
1676 Lauder Notices Affairs I 109.
John Scot … having been fyned by William Carmichael, baron and water bailȝie of Leith … for brewing upon the Sunday … Scot … complaining of the exorbitancy of the bailȝie's sentence far beyond the power and jurisdiction of a pædaneous judge … and far contrare to the … duety of a magistrat … that the lords of session had oft found that the fyne of a baron bailȝie ought not to exceed 50 lb. Scots
1690 Glasgow B. Rec. III 440.
The water baillie to be present … when the water serjants are tryed
(c) 1584 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 192.
James Tailȝefeir is chosin valter bailȝie for ane yeir
1588 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 231.
Walter baillie
attrib. 1605–6 Montrose Treas. Acc. 3.
For tua oulkis watter beilye fie iiij markis

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"Wattir Balȝe n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Feb 2023 <>



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