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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Quarter-maister, -master, n. Also: quharter-, quartar(e)- and -maester, -mester. [Late ME and e.m.E. quarter-maister, -master, in sense 4 b (1442), 5 a (1600), 3 (north., 1646): cf. Du. kwartier-meester (15th c.) in senses 1, 4 b, 5 a, MLG quartêrmêster, Germ. quartier-meister, MF (after e.m.Du.) quartier-maistre in sense 5 a (1577 Reg. Privy C. II 642).]

1. a. Orig., A person appointed to have charge of a ‘quarter’ (Quarter n. 5 c) or other territorial subdivision of a burgh. b. One of a group of (? often four) minor burgh officials, appointed for some particular administrative function. 1465–6 Peebles B. Rec. I 154.
The town has consentyt that it sal be quarterit in fowr quarteris, and thir sal be quarter masteris [etc.]
1468 Ib. 158. 1494 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 68.
To … cum to the provest baillies or quartermaisteris quhen ony sic suddane tulyeis or bargannis happinis
1512 Ib. 138.
The quarter maisteris of euery close and vinell that ar chosin for till eschew this contagious seiknes of pestilence
1514 Ib. 149.
For eschewing of this contagious seiknes of pestilence … that the towne sall be diuidit in four quarteris to be assignit to four baillis with thair quarter maisteris as after followes
1536–7 Ayr B. Acc. 22. 1557 Peebles B. Rec. I 237, 239. 1564 Ib. 294.
Quharter masteris
1572 Crail B. Ct. MS 25 June.
To be quartermasteris and oursearis off the byggyng off the peir
1581–2 Ib. 8 Jan.
Gyf the quartar maisteris nominate to this effecte beis lauchfullie varnit to attend vpoun the wyrking of the rest of the warkmen at the said peir and comperis nocht
1582 St. A. Kirk S. 489.
To caus the quarter maisteris of the town to tak triall of faltouris within this citee
1584 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 94. 1585 Perth B. Ct. 20 Aug.
The bailȝie of the quarter and quartermaisteris stoppit him thairfra
1593 Edinb. B. Rec. V 106. 1595 Lanark B. Rec. 111.
That in tyme cuming fouir quartermasteris be chosing in brught, that the toun be devydit in fouir, and ilk quartermaster to haif derectioun within his quarter to caus [etc.]
1601 Glasgow B. Rec. I 218.
The towne to be devydit in four seuerall quarteris and hes appoyntit four seuerall commanders to that effect, viz. the provest first, and ilk baille ane quarter, for tranyng wp and lerning of the inhabitantis to the weyris, and the four quarter maisteris to be delt in tua quarteris at … wapinschawing
1601 Stirling B. Rec. I 100. 1604 Coll. Rebus Alban. 129.
That the town [Dumbarton] be devydit in aught pairts and ilk aucht pairt to watch ane nycht; the waches to be … placit nychtly be the quartare maisteris chosen be the baillies
1606 Inverurie B. Ct. 24 Oct.
That quhatsumeuir tenent within this bruche restand awand ony teind maill to thair quartermaisteris that thai pey the same
1621 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 94.
Lykas the bailleis ar desyrit to chuis quartermaisteris to assist and concur with thame in this bussienes
1639 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. 160.
And on ilk quarter twa quartermaisters or corporales quho sall adverteise thair quarters to be in armes for dreilling at sik tymes as the said drill maisters sall appoynt
1648 Peebles B. Rec. I 383.
Ordanes the quarter maisteris of the fyftie schillingis to ingather the samyn, vnder the pane of quartering vpone thame for thair negligence
1650 Lanark B. Rec. 146. 1665 Peebles B. Rec. II 70. 1665 Rothesay B. Rec. 100. 1681 Kirkintilloch B. Ct. 121.
David Dalrymple and Johne Dollore burgesses to be quartermaisters for Kirkintilloch to this tyme twell moneth
1684 Rothesay B. Rec. 402.
The persones following to be quartermasters of the Key … to witt … Patrick Mertine for the quarter up the toune, Ninian Stewart for the quarter over the way [etc.]
1692 Peebles B. Rec. II 139.

c. A civilian official of a burgh appointed to arrange the billeting and supplying of troops quartered on the burgh. (Cf. sense 5 a). 1648 Peebles B. Rec. I 383.
The counsell hes appointit the quarter-maisteris efternemit to cuncur with the magistrattis in the quarteringis of fute and horssis
1651–2 Ib. II 193.
For peper to the quarter master, that they mycht bring in corne and strae out of the contrey, … £0.0.10
1692 Glasgow B. Rec. IV 49.
Be pluralitie of votts, John Rankine, merchand, is nominat and appointed to be the tounes quartermaster, and to quarter the souldiouris that is or shall happine to lye in the toune
Ib. 52.

2. In Ayr: Quartermaister of the watter, One of four officials appointed to regulate the entry of goods to the burgh through its harbour.Also Quarteris-. 1462 Ayr B. Ct. 26 April.
Quo die the inquest has ordanit thir men quartarmaisteris of the watter & to skar the gudis … and that na gudis be bocht cumand in the hauing bot all anerly be thir quartaris maisteris

3. In Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumbarton and Kilwinning: One of several officers appointed to assist the deacon in administering the affairs of an incorporated craft. 1556 Edinb. Skinners in Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI 66.
The brether of the craft … chesset witht the haill woyt of the craft four quarter maisteris
1573 Ib. 60.
That na maister ressaue ane prenteis vntill he present the indentour to the dekyn for the tyme and to the foure quarter maisteris
1599 Statutes of Masons in Montgomery Mem. II 243.
That he be not admittit without ane sufficient essay … be the warden deacon and quarter maisteris of the luge [of Kilwynning]
1600 Glasgow Wrights 43.
Quarter maisteris
1613 Glasgow Weavers 15.
1615 Glasgow Maltmen 36.
During the will of the visitor and quarter maisters
1622 Ib. 70. c1628 E. S. Lawrie Lodge Glasgow St. John No. 3 bis (1927) 29.
The Ludge of Glasgow. … George Liddell, deacan of quarimen and nov quarter master
1630 Edinb. B. Rec. VII 83. 1641 Acts V 503/1.
Full … libertie … to the said hatmakers [of Edinburgh] of ane oversear and quartermaister yeerlie off ther owne calling to be elected … be the proveist [etc.] … of Edinburghe
1648 Glasgow B. Rec. II 154.
Anent the cordoners deacone to be elected, it is appoynted that none of these thrie quartermasters wha joynit in the electioune of Johne Wilsoune to be deacone sall … have power … in the leitting of the new deacone nor yet be on leite themselfis
1650 Glasgow Wrights Acts 7.
That the deacone new ellectit and sworne sall ellect thrie quartermaisteris and the croft wther thrie
Ib. 8.
The deacone and quartermesters … sall heave power to mack actis and statutis for the weill of the toune and croft
Ib. 13. 1656 Glasgow Barbers 19. 1656 Dumbarton B. Rec. 73.
Which deacon sae chossen sall have power to choiss tua quarter-maisters or more … to be his assisters for the year to come
1665 Glasgow Maltmen 42.
The above Robert did frielie submitt himself to the visitor, quarter-maisters and brethrein of the calling
1670 Glasgow Weavers 79. 1672 Edinb. Surgeons II 98.
Anent the four quartermasters

4. a. An officer of a garrison, below the rank of captain.Quarter n. 4 a and Quarter n. 8, rather than early instances of 5 a below. 1516 Exch. R. XIV 163.
Capitaneo dicti castri [sc. of Falkland]. … Et tribus inferioribus capitaneis vocatis lez quarter maisteris
1544 Treas. Acc. VIII 290.
To William Forestar, ane of the quarter maisterris withtin the castell of Edinburght

b. A subordinate officer of a ship, below the skipper and mate.Perh. orig. as having charge of the party assigned to a particular station (Quarter n. 4 c), or as having charge of a ‘quarter’ into which the personnel of the ship was divided for watch-keeping. 1546 Reg. Privy C. I 30.
The capitane of the Lyoun and quartermaister of the samyn
1549 Compl. 41/26.
Euery quartar master til his auen quartar
1558 Admir. Ct. Bk. 63. 1561 Ib. 207. c1575 Balfour Pract. 630.
The said admiral … sall injoin to masteris and patronis to obey to thair heidis, and the quarter-masteris to the said masteris and patronis
a1578 Pitsc. I 252/13.
Schir Androw Wode … was quarter maister of hir [the Great Michael], and Robene of Bartane … was maister skiper of hir
1622-6 Bisset II 226/28.
The maisteris, countermaisteris, and quartermaisteris sall ansueir to the admirall … for the faultouris to be brocht to the iustice
Ib. 224/25. 1650–1 Misc. Spald. C. V 177.

5. a. A regimental military officer, in charge of the quartering of the soldiers. 1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 1 Oct.
Quartermester … sergent major … captan
1648 Glasgow Burgesses 125.
For his maney courtaseis and kyndness bestowit on this citie the tyme he was quarter master to the generall arteilȝareis regiment
c1650 Spalding II 460.
He cumis to Fettercarne … quarteris his foot army, and sendis out quarter maisteris to quarter sum trovperis in the countrie
1684 Lauder Notices Affairs II 542.
Nasmith of Possa is quarter-master to a regiment, and made the King's Falconer

b. Generall quarter-maister, quartermaster generall, the staff officer who supervises all matters relating to the quartering, encamping and equipping of troops. 1641 Acts V 430/2.
To the Generall of the Artilliarie Generall Major Baillie [etc.] … and the Generall Quarter maister
1644–5 Misc. Spald. C. V 163.
Alexr Grahame of Cairney, generall quarter maister to Montroiss armie
1647 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 72.
That they suld furnishe such things as the quarter-maister generall wold desyre according to the inclosed not subscryveit be the said major generall [Middleton] his hand
1647 Acts VI i 709/1.
To the quarter master generall to have a rootmasteris pay
1648 Ib. ii 74/1.

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"Quarter-maister n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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