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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Letter, -ir, n. Also: leter, -ir, let(t)yr, let(t)re, later, lit(t)er. [ME. (a 1225) and e.m.E. let(t)re, let(t)ere, letter, F. lettre, (L. littera a letter of the alphabet, pl. litteræ an epistle, written documents, letters).]The forms lettre, lettres, -ez are chiefly (but not invariably: see e.g. 1412 Facs. Nat. MSS. II. lxii.) editorial expansions of the scribal abbreviations l, lre, l etc.: cf. also Reg. Privy S. III. xxvi.

1. A letter of the alphabet, an alphabetical character. a1400 Leg. S. xliii. 111.
A buke … Vith goldine lettris wrytine brad
c1420 Wynt. ii. 156.
To wryt lettyrys off Hebrewe
Ib. iv. 2343.
C, that lettyre capytalle
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 425.
My bright buke … With mony lusty letter ellummynit with gold
Id. lxxxvi. 6.
Mary … Of ladyis chois as is of letteris A
1513 Doug. xi. xi. 24.
This … infant … eftir … Casmylla [he] Camylla hes clepit, a lettir tane awa
1531 Bell. Boece I. 48.
Na inventioun of letteris was in thay dayis
1585 James VI Ess. 63.
Be literall I meane, that the maist pairt of ȝour lyne sall rynne vpon a letter
1591 Aberd. B. Rec. I. ix.
Euil to be red, be resoun of the antiquite of the wreit, and forme of the letter or charecter
1596 Dalr. I. 132/10.
In hieroglyphical or mistical lettiris
c1616 Hume Orthog. 7; etc.
The written letter, quhilk representes to the eie the sound that the mouth sould utter
1622-6 Bisset I. 71. m.
Schir John Faustus of Guttemburg … maid the first carrectaris of letteris on leid and trie
1628 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 372.
The letteris and crownallis of the palleice to be new giltit

2. concr. a. An instrument for engraving the lettered dies used in coining. b. plur. Printers’ types. c. sing. A particular fount of type.a. 1451 Acts II. 40/2.
That … traist sworne men pas furth & resaif al the yrnis of the Kingis strikaris bath of gold & siluer to gidder with the letteris of graving fra the grauouris and befor the King … thai be distroyit
b. 1563 Edinb. B. Rec. III. 170.
That … Jhonn Scott, prenter, … had na vtheris guddis saifing his prenting irnis and letteris
1642 Misc. Bann. C. II. 261.
The defunctis twa printing presses, caisses, and letteris, estimat all to vjc l.
c. 1576 Dickson & Edmond Ann. Sc. Printing 283.
That nane … cause [the Bible] be imprentit in ony carecture or lettir translatioun or volume quhatsumevir
1606 Misc. Bann. C. II. 224.
Fyve hundreth lvij doubill catechismes, greit lettir
Picall letter, … Romane letter

3. a. The wording of a statement etc. In letter, in spelling. a1500 Colk. Sow Proh. 52.
Sen the sentence to feill is fantastike, Let the lettir and langage be such like
a1568 Bann. MS. 83 a/3.
Say weill frome do weill defferis in lettir, Say weill is gud bot do weill is bettir

b. The literal or merely superficial signification (of Scripture). 1456 Hay I. 12/35.
The haly scripture has four maneris of understanding. The first is efter the letter, and the tothir is entermellit, [etc.]
c1490 Irland Asl. MS. I. 4/6.
Some personis appruf nocht the translacoun of haly writ in Ynglis toung … ffor the werray letter beand translatit without the … hevinlie mynd that it contenis … quhilis soundis evill
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Rom. ii. 29. m.
Quhat sa euir God wirkis in man … is callit spreit; and quhat sa euir man dois of is awin nature without the spreit of Gode, it is callit letter, Roma vii
Id. 2 Cor. iii. 6. m.
To preache the letter is to teache the baire law and the werkis tharoff, without the knawlege of the grace of God

4. Anything written: a writing, document or literary composition. Also plur. in sing. sense (cf. L. litteræ).sing. 1375 Barb. x. 353.
The gud erll Thomas Assegit, as the lettir sais, Edinburgh
1456 Hay I. 244/20.
The quhilk puttis lyf land and honour in were for a lettre of paper with a lytill wax
1513 Doug. vi. Prol. 107.
Al thocht he was neuer catholyk wight, He hes writtin ful mony attentik lettir
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1280.
Gaudefer, as sayis the letter, At Gadderis Ferrie faucht no better
1567 (16..) Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 101.
Not willing to impeasche ȝou with farder lettre
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 784 (H).
Sone bleitand, & greetand, fast eitand thy laidlie letter
c1590 Fowler II. 13/12.
We haue in his calumnious letter sum things, as being maist false, suppressit
c1616 Hume Orthog. i.
If a man wald indyte one letter to tuentie of our best wryteres, nae tuae … wald agree
plur. 1375 Barb. xx. 44 (E).
Monymentis and lettrys ser … In-till that tretys wp thai gaff
a1400 Leg. S. xviii. 1033.
Scho alleygit haly wryt & psalmis, ore lettres wthyre
c1420 Wynt. v. 3836.
For lauch I will now thow ger dyte And wyth hast in lettrys wryte The sentens [etc.]
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 28.
My laureat lettres at thé and I lowis
1571 Bann. Trans. 216.
Mattheu erle of Lennox … hes laitlie caused publis sindrie letteris at dyvers borrowis … full of calumneis … against me
1579 Moysie 24.
Thair wes ten or tuelff inuectiue and dispytfull letters fund in proes
a1599 Rollock Wks. I. 405.
For the letters (sayis he) ar sair and strong, bot his bodilie presence is waik, and his speich is of na value

5. A written communication sent from one person to another; a missive or epistle.Also missive letter, letter missive, q.v. under the adj.sing., quasi-plur. in sing. sense and also pair of lettres, and plur.sing. 1375 Barb. viii. 491.
Thai fand in-till his awmener A letter that him send ane lady
a1400 Leg. S. xi. 17.
King Agabarus Send a letyre … Til Criste
1400 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 44.
I schew it to yhour lordschip be this my lettre that [etc.]
1456 Hay I. 63/30.
And ȝit with that, come a secrete letter till him
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 124.
To ane man to pas to Strivelin with ane lettir of the Kingis to Andro Aytoun
a1578 Pitsc. I. 90/24.
The King … wreit ane sueit lettir of suplicatioun to the Erle of Douglas
1587 Conv. Burghs I. 272.
Ane lettre of recommendatioun … to be maid and sent with Henrie Nesbet
? 1596 Lett. & St. P. Jas. VI 13.
That thair is som lettir interseptit, wrettin be Scotts Jessowitts
1603 Ib. 56.
I am past all dew bounds in langsumness off my lettir
1615 Highland P. III. 239.
That the contentis of the letter was a letter of courtesie and thankis for his good intertenyment
1652 Wemyss Corr. 114.
That ther may be no visit nor leter till the end of the nixt munth
1678 Sc. Ant. IX. 107.
For a leter which cam from Glascowe
1375 Barb. xvii. 31.
quasi-plur. (1) Letteris till him he send in hy
Ib. 39.
Quhen the marschall the letteris saw He vmbethoucht him
1405 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 59.
I with al gudly hast sende yhour lettres til him of the quhilkis at the makynge of thir letteris I hade nane answer
a1500 Seven S. 145.
He … gart direct his letteris sone To the sagis
c1510 James IV Facs. Nat. MSS. III. ix.
We haue ressauit your lovyng lettiris wirtyn with yowr hand
1568 Argyll Fam. Lett. 7.
I ressauit my soueranis letteris … commandand me nocht till invaid nane of hir aduersar partie
a1578 Pitsc. I. 257/1.
Be thir lettaris [supra ane lufe letter] to the Kingis maiestie, he knew weill [etc.]
a1597-1617 Hist Jas. VI 274.
Becaus, by the lettres, he was not intitulat King, the counsall … wald nather suffer the lettres to be openit, nor the giftis to be ressauit
1651 Carnegie Lett. & Chart. 445.
There was ane petticione drawne up … to the comishoners for letters of recommendation for your inlardgment
c1650 Spalding I. 244.
The Kingis letteris brokin wp, declairing he wes now content to heir thair supplicationis
(2) 1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 57.
I resauit twa pair of lettres of you sens my latter wryting to you
plur. c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 1851.
Agamenone gart purwey Two fals lettres
c1420 Wynt. v. 642.
Seneca … That till Saynt Paule wrat letteris sere
a1500 Bk. Chess 2000.
Currouris that beris letteris to & fro
1519 Reg. Episc. Aberd. II. 176.
Ane litil aikkin kist for letteris
1572 Buch. Detect (1727) 115.
The wrytingis and letteris found in the said casket
1596 Highland P. I. 172.
The deponer … greapit the said letters in his boasome and fand ane great letter amang the rest
1666 Misc. Maitl. C. II. 540.
For a packet of lettres to Scotland 18s.

b. Generall letter, one addressed to several persons collectively or to people at large (e.g. a papal encyclical). Cf. 7 d. c1420 Wynt. v. 1496.
Ignius … in a generalle lettyre he Off God and mannys unyown, … , He wrate to be haldyn ay
1580 Moysie 27.
Mr Bowis wes sent ambassadour from Ingland, with ane general letter to the King and counsell, and with credit to him selff

c. Buriall letters, funeral notices. 1699 Misc. Maitl. C. II. 233.
Act in favors of James Donaldson, gazetteer. to print buriall letters
Ib. 234 etc.

d. See also Newis-letter n.

6. Applied to those missives from the sovereign by which he intervened by prerogative in the processes of the courts or crown offices or issued peremptory commands to his officers. c1460 Regim. Princ. 271.
Within schort tym thou changis thine entent, Sendand a contrar lettir in continent
1473 Acta Aud. 26/2.
The inquisicioune that was ordanit … was stoppit … be the Kingis lettres & the lordis knawis nocht the caus therof
1489 Acta Conc. I. 123/2.
With certficacione to the said James that and he do in the contrare oure souerne lord will writt his effectuise lettrez to oure haly faider the Paipe thar vopone
1493 Acta Aud. 180/1.
The lordis, … cosalis the Kingis hienes to writte his effectuis lettrez to the juge ordiner
1498 Reg. Priv S. I. 26/1.
Licence … to endur for the Kingis will and quhill he … revok the sammyn … be his awn mowth or be his autentik lettrez
1531–2 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 53.
Our soveran lordis lettres … chargand the baillies … to ces proces
1580 Reg. Privy C. III. 284.
Sumtymes the signaturis past [= pass] the sealis at the desire of his majesteis letters privilie purchest
1592 Acts III. 562/2.
His Maiestie ordanis his effectuus lettrez to be writtin
1607 Fact. Nat MSS. III. lxxx vii.
Mr Gilbert Prymrois, Minister at Burdeauxe authorizit with your Maiesties particular lettre to him

7. A legal or official writing styled as a letter; a writ in missive form.Applied both to non-notarial deeds and contracts of various kinds and to a great variety of royal or authoritative gifts, mandates, warrants, etc., addressed (see also Direct p.p. 2) normally either to ‘all and sundry’ or to the appropriate executive officer or officers.To impetrat, purches or rais, and to execute, indors letteris, a letter, see the verbs or p.p.s.sing., quasi-plur. (in singular sense), and plur.(1) sing. (a) 1379 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 2.
In case gif I … in the contrare of this lettre … before ony juge sall attempt [etc.]
1389 Liber Melros 449.
To yow ioyntly & seuerailly be the tenour of this lettre fermely we bid [etc.]
1424 Grey Friars II. 167.
The lettyre … that thai cal Kynge Williem charter
1425 Acts II. 11/1.
Bot gif that man hafe a letter or certanetie of the lorde of that lande quhare he schippit
c1475 Wall. viii. 891.
Lettir nor band, ye se, may nocht awaill Ws
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 242/5.
Thar was put … on the parliament hous dure ane letter wnder Sir James of Douglas sele … declynand fra the King
1493 Reg. Privy S. I. 4; etc.
A letter maid to Alexander Lord Hume … of the gift of all malis [etc.]
1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 123.
To ane man to pas to the lard of Balgony with ane lettir to tak ane man callit Mure
1550 Reg. Cupar A. II. 103.
That this last claus hawe strynth … as it war incert in the body of the letter
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i. 809.
Scho in hand ane letter had quhairon Hir charge scho red
1554–5 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 297.
For wrytting of ane bill and ane lettre upon it
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 205.
Alexander McCullo pursevant past to the mercat croce … to haue proclamit ane letter
1585 Acts III. 377/2.
That euerie writtair subscriue … on the bak of the signatour or lettre
1623 Elgin Rec. II. 179.
That ane letter be directed to Findrisie to repair the northe yll
a1633 Hope Major Pract. II. 119.
The meithes … of the landis quhilk should be perambulat aucht to be named in the letter
1689 Soc. Ant. XXX. 62.
Their majesties ordain a letter to be passed under their great seal … giving … to the said Sir Archibald Murray the foresaid office of sole master of work
1379 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 2.
quasi-plur. Till all that thir lettres herys or seis … gretyng in God euer lestand
1394 Argyll Cart. MS.
I haf set my sel to thir present letteris
1415 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 36.
Nocht agan standand ony letteris send to ȝou be ws
1420 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV. 182.
The governour sall giff his lettres, bande, and seille till his cusin
1471 Acta Aud. 18/1.
The lordis … ordanis that lettres be writin to distreinȝe him his lands and gudis herefore
1507 Charter (Reg. H.) No. 706.
Be it kend tyle ale men be thir present litteres
1540 Ex. Processes (Reg. H.) Earl of Mortoun v. Douglas.
Quhilkis lettres ar wranguislie purchest and inordorlie proceidit
1626 Justiciary Cases I. 55.
The crymes contenit in the lettres
1668 Rothesay B. Rec. 158.
And that all letters neidfull pas heirupon as effeirs
1696 Cunningham Diary xxxvii.
In this expectation I resolve to let my letters ly till the first of December
plur. 1478 Acta Conc. I. 10/2.
To be at the samyn day with ther lettres of ther feis
1489 Treas. Acc. I. 127.
To pas with letteris … to al the schirreffis … for the alde taxt and new
1499 Glasgow Dioc. Reg. II. 18.
That the saidis euidentis, instrumentis and letres be nowder of strength, fors nor effect in tyme to come
1507–8 Reg. Privy S. I. 238/1.
He dredis that the stelaris [of his seal] … hes … maid fals lettrez and endentouris on his behalff
1517 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 89.
[The men of the Isles] settis bot lytyll by thar lettirris and thar aythtis
1535 Stewart 18439.
Thus wer thai bund with letteris seillit braid
c1575 Balfour Pract. 651.
Of all thir letteris na register is maid, bot the warrandis are kept
1580 Reg. Privy C. III. 284.
That nane … present unto his majestie ony maner of signaturis, letters, or missives, to be subscrivit
a1578 Pitsc. I. 177/1.
All letteris and commandementis and procliematiounis was gevin … in his name
1621 Acts IV. 616/2.
The lordis … haue sett doun the pryces off all lettres actis infeftmentis and wreatis proper vnto quhatsoeuir clerkschip within this realme
1672 Ib. VIII. 87/1.
All letters that pas the signet
(2) sing. c1420 Wynt. vii. 2056.
Of all thir poyntis … Rychard undyr hys gret sele As a qwyt-cleme fre and pure Be lettyre he gave in fayre tenwre
Ib. 1724 (W).
Condicionis that wes Spokin to be haldin … With aith and letter and seill
1456 Hay I. 219/32.
Kingis … gevand power be lettre to tak mark
1466 (1471) Reg. Great S. 214/1.
David Erle of Crawfurde … was bundin baith for him and airis baith be lettir and sele for to renew … the auld merchis
c1575 Balfour Pract. 275.
Ane suitar … sould be … maid suitar be him for quhom he compeiris, and be his letter and seill
plur. 1400 Maxwell Mem. I. 138.
At the forsayd Schyr Jon the sone sal gyf vp, quyte cleme and be thir present letteris quyteclemys and gyffys vp [etc.]
1456 Hay I. 223/15.
Suppos the King had … nocht maid speciale inhibicioun be lettres or cry publyk that [etc.]
1471 Acta Aud. 16/1.
[The action not to be effective] on to the tyme that the matter cum to the King be lettres lachfully be lettres of capcion
1525 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc.V. 30.
Herfor I command and charge ȝow generalie and ilkane of ȝow be ȝourselff anys twyis thryis peremptorly be the vertew of thir letteris and onder the pane of gret cursyn and tynsal of ȝour awin saull [etc.]
1551 Reg. Cupar A. II. 68.
Be the tenour of thir our present letres [we] settis [etc.]
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus I. 878.
This Nemesis schiref … chargit … This Desperance to compeir … Be the tennour of letteris present thair
c1575 Balfour Pract. 408.
Gif ony inferiour judge be chargit be letteris direct be deliverance of the Lordis … to procede na farder in the cause
1622-6 Bisset I. 298/22.(3) 1501 Treas. Acc. II. 115.
To David Tempilman, messingeir, passand with ane lettir on Lord Erskin, schiref principale of Selkyrk, for his rest in the roll
1559–60 Soc. Ant. XI. 520.
Your lordships will direct lettres simpliciter on hir to that effect or at the lest lettres to poind hir landis and gudis
1598–9 Misc. Spald. C. V. 70.
For rasing of lettres on the barronis to set cautioun [etc.]
(4) 1587 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 32.
Rais the saids letters aganes the persones committaris of the saids attempis
1588 Ib. 46.
I haif taken tent to the day of his letters aganes Balquhane
1611 Montgomery Mem. 255.
To rais letteris and sute execution aganis him … at my instance

b. Specifically, of the crown or other high authority: as our soverane lordis or ladyis, the Kingis, his majesteis, our, his etc. letter or letteris.(1) sing. c 1400 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 51.
This is the answar that we … makis tyll our soverayne lorde the Kyngis letter the quhylke chargyt us to compeyr [etc.]
14.. Acts I. 108/2.
Nane … sal be essonȝeit … bot allanerly he be in the Kyngis service & thar apon he sal present the Kyngis lettyr for his warand
1496 Acta Conc. II. 20.
It was allegyit … that the sade gudis war be the Kingis letter takin and that thai war bot witnes to the schiref in the executione of the letters
plur. 14.. Acts I. 113/2.
[No one] to send gudis … utouth the kynrik wythoutin special lef of the Kyng and that be the Kyngis lettyris
1454 Rep. Southesk MSS. 8.
This is the copy of the Kyngis lettrez, worde and word transsumit be me
1456 Acts II. 45/2.
That all … be redy horsit … at the commandment of the Kingis lettres be balys or ovt hornys
1482–3 Acta Conc. II. ci.
Be reson of tak of our soverane lord be his letters under his prive sele
1485 Misc. Spald. C. V. 29.
Efter the presentatioun, perlectioun, and insinuatioun of our soueran lordis lettres, under the signet of the lyon, direct to thame for xiii lastis of salmond
1498 Acta Conc. II. 260.
The lordis … decretis … that our soverane lordis letters impetrat be the sade schir Jhone … for ocht thai haf yit sene ar contrar justice, and … to be of nane availe
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 118.
To Alexander Focart, maser, to pas with the Kingis lettrez on the lard of Bernbowgale
1518 Glenartney Doc. MS.
That quhare he has the forestary … by our lettres in authentik forme
1535 Selkirk B. Ct. 20 July.
That thai ar artles and partles of the vay putting of our soueran lordis the Kyngis lettres anent the fredome of our burgh
1553–4 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 282.
Payit for the signet of the Queenis lettres, … discharging paking of hirring in the Brinteland
1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xlviii.
That all oure letres to be direct efter oure said mareage … be in the names of … our future husband and ws
1587 Aberdeen Council Lett. I. 10.
We charge you straitlie … that incontinent thir our letters sene ye pas [etc.]
1588 Ib. 25.
Be vertew of our saidis utheris letteris purchest and to be purchest upone thair saids feibill … complaintis
(2) 1499 Dunferm. B. Rec. 101.
Tomas Bowchane … preusende ane later of the arsbescepis of Sanct Androus and made his protextacione ande said that the actione dubeitabil … auct not tobe desidit into the temporal cowrt
1525 St. A. Formulare I. 268.
Gude folkis heir ar my lorde archibischop of Glasgews letteris gevin undere his rounde sele direkit to me or ony uther chaplane, makand mentioun [etc.]
1535–6 Selkirk B. Ct. 19 Jan.
Ve ordand batht the partes to be varnit be terror of the kyrkis lettres

c. With defining adjectives and phrases.As: (1) letters citatory, compulsatour, compulsorial, executoriall, inhibitory, obligatory, obligatour, patent, repressall, supplicatour, testificatory, testimonial, and criminall, missive, ordinare letters: see also these adjectives.and (2) a letter or letteris of acquittance, adjudication, appoyntment, apprising, approbatioun, arrestment, assedatioun, assignation, assigné, assythment, asseurance, attournay, bailȝery (bailliery), band, captioun, chalmerlanery, change, charge, collatioun, command, commandement, commissioun, conduct, confirmatioun, connand, consail, conspiratioun, continuatioun, contramarq, contumax, cossing, credit, curatory, cursing, custumary, dekinheid, discharge, dispensatioun, dispositioun, divisioun, ejectioun, enteres, eschete, exemptioun, factorie, fire and sword, forgeving, gift, gildry, grace, horning, iconomie, indenture, indulgence, inhibitioun, instance, intercom(m)o(u)ning, interdictioun, justiciary, law-borowis, legitimatioun, leve (= permission), licence, mariage, mark, mercy, new infeftment, office, open doors, pa(i)n(i)s, pardoune, partitioun, pasport, (the Kingis) pece, permit, poynding, portioun, possessioun, power, premunitioun, presentatioun, previlegis, proclamatioun, procuratorie, promit, protectioun, publicatioun, purprusioun, quittance, ratificatioun, reaggravation, recept, reception, reconciliatioun, recognitioun, regres, rehabilitatioun, relaxation, remissioun, remit, renunciatioun, repossessioun, repreysales, resignatioun, respite, ressate (recept), retenew, reversioun, safe-, sauf-conduct, saising (sesing), saufgard, sett, slainis, summondis, supersedere, supplement, suspensioun, tak, testimonial, title, tollerance, treason, tutorie, ward, warding, warning, and others, see also these words.(1) 1465 Coldingham Priory 203.
I Willyam Barton messynger … of our said haly fadre by th'auctority of the forsaid lettrez citatory and inhibitory sufficiently deputed
1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 26/1.
With lettrez clos and patent
1536–7 Bk. Carlaverock II. 23.
Pasport … to pas throuch ȝour realme with … lettres clois and patent and all uthiris gudis lefull
a1538 Abell 74 a.
He send him to the imprice with closit letteris of his awne deid
c1575 Balfour Pract. 367.
He may rais letteris compulsatour aganis him for productioun and delivering of the said writ
Ib. 652.
Letter compulsorial
1579 Acts (1597) ii. 37.
Persones that … be the Kingis aduocates vpoun their information raisis criminall letteris
1606 Reg. Privy C. VII. 171.
For letters of lawborrows and criminall letters
1626 Justiciary Cases I. 42.
Quhairas criminall lettres ar direct at the instance of the kin and freindis [etc.]
1670 Irvine Mun. II. 100.
Whither Robertlan maye rease criminall letters to compeir befor the justis generall or no
(2) 1611 Scrymgeour Invent. (S.R.S.) 1.
Ane letter of appoyntment … anent the richt of the landis of Benvie
1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 23/1.
Ane letter of ratificatioun approbatioun and confirmatioun
1586–7 Waus Corr. 382.
Ane vther lettre of arrestment to stay the schips
1606 Reg. Privy C. VII. 171.
Letters of inhibition and arrestment
1402 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 55.
A lettre of assigne & attournay til thaim
1456 Hay I. 244/18.
All the lettres of asseurance and sauf conditis of the warld is nathing [etc.]
1559 Rec. Kinloss Mon. 150.
To thir our literis [sic] of bailȝiaries … our signet is affixed
1498–9 Reg. Privy S. I. 42/2.
A letter mad of band be John Erle of Craufurd
1508 Treas. Acc. IV. 27.
For carying of the lettrez of change for the said ducatis
1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 27/1.
A letter of charge and command
1610 Yester Writs 296.
Act of curatory … giving to John Lord Hay … following upon letters of charge raised by him against John Hay of Smithfeild
1489 Acta Conc. I. 122/1.
The vicare generalis lettrez of his presentacion & collacion gevin therapoun
1672 Sc. N & Q. 3 Ser. XII. 135.
He had given institution to Mr. Patrick Copland to be minister of Cushnie conforme to his letter of collatione to the said kirk
1673 Aberd. Council Lett. V. 292.
[To] present Master Patrick Sibbald … to be parsone of St. Nicolas kirk … and … to grant him … our letter of collation
1685 Dunkeld Presb. I. 228.
Mr. Alexander Mackenzie … received letters of collation from my Lord St. Andrews his Grace
1501–2 Reg. Privy S. I. 116/2.
A letter of commissioune
1505 Ib. 163/1.
A lettre of conduct
a1538 Abell 98 a.
Robert gat thare letteris of conspiratioun quietlie and callit a parliament & conwikkit thame
1522 Fife Sheriff Ct. 269.
[He] producit ane lettre of continuacione
1498 Acta Conc. II. 179.
The contractis and letters of cossing with ane decret … arbitrale … betuex the sadis partiis
1650 Acts VI. ii. 560/1.
Ane lettir of credit givin to the commissiouneris
1498 Reg. Privy S. I. 29/2.
A letter of custumary of the burgh of Dunde … to James Rollok
1574 Reg. Privy C. II. 374.
Bringand with him the saidis letters of custumary purchest be him
1688 Craven Ch. in Orkney 129.
His majesty having, by his letters of license and dispensation … given power … to present … a person greatly learned
1613 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 98.
Conforme to ane lettre of ratificatioun and dispositioun
1533–4 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 107.
Lettres of premunitione and eiectione tuecheing the saidis landis
c 1639 Scots Lore I. 162.
Raiseing of lettres of ejectioun contra Mathie Watsone
1500 Acta Conc. II. 454.
With his letter of enteres of the said Archibald
1520–1 Reg. Privy S. I. 484/1.
Ane lettre of eschete
1515 Fife Sheriff Ct. 9.
Ane lettir of exempcioune … was … fundin of nane awaile … because it wes impetrat … for inamite
1681 Stair Inst. iv. xlvii. 41.
Charges … to enter their persons in such prisons … should be first used, before letters of fire and sword, which are the last legal executions, warranting all manner of force of arms that is competent in war
1493 Reg. Privy S. I. 4/2; etc.
A letter of gift of the ward and mariage of … Wilȝam Trumbull
1536 Prot. Bk. T. Johnsoun 20.
Ane letter of gyft of the said half landis of Nethir Twede
1490 Irland Mir. I. 123/34.
This charter and lettir of grace and of mercy sal be subscriuit be the consent of the haly spreit
1622-6 Bisset II. 37/5.
Be his maiesties letteres of grace, gevin under the testymoniall of his greit seill
1563–4 Reg. Privy S. V. i. 420/2.
Thir present lettiris of yconomie factourie and chalmerlanrie
1501 Ib. I. 99/1.
A letter of indenture maid betuix our soverane lord the King … and … Henry lord Sinclare
1482–3 Acta Conc. II. cxix.
Our said soverane lordis letters of interdictioun made apone the said … Lord Fleming

d. Generall letters, against several persons collectively. Cf. 5 b. 1681 Stair Inst. iv. iii. 25.
These hornings are called general letters because the particular persons which may be charged are not particularly expressed nominatim but under a general designation
1595 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 63.
The saids provest and baillies ar chargatt be vertew of utheris generall letters decreit furth att the instance of Androw Moresone, chalmerlane to his maiestie
a1633 Hope Major Pract. vi. xxxiv. § 1.
Albeit denunciations upon generall letters ar prohibit, yet any beneficed persone may seek generall letters conforme to his provisione
1696 Cunningham Diary xxxvi.
I need not spare to tell you that I have raised my letters of horning, not bare generall letters but containing the speciall compt heir inclosed

e. Letters conformand, conformit, conform(e, ‘letters issued by the supreme court in aid of the decrees of inferior judicatures, and authorizing execution in terms of those decrees’ (Bell). Also const. to (the original decree). 1494 Acta Conc. I. 337/2.
And attour that lettrez be writtin conformand to the ordinaris to charge the said lord Forbes … to decist … fra all vexacion … of the said maister Dauid
1497 Ib. II. 83.
And als the … procuratour … protestit that he micht haf letters of our soverane lordis conformyt to the decretis gevin for the sade master James Forstare in this mater of before
1498 Ib. 260.
And the sade maister James chapellane til haf our soverane lordis letters … conformand to the ordenare letters past in this mater of before
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
c1575 Balfour Pract. 272.
All commoun privilegit actiounis, sic as … warningis, letteris conform to rolmentis, … takkis
a1633 Hope Major Pract. vi. xxxiv. § 3.
Nota the difference betuix lettres conforme and letters of horneing upon decreits

f. Letters in the first, secund, thrid, ferd form, in the four formes, of four formes, warrants issued by the Council for giving up to four successive charges to the party decreed against to obey the Council's decree on eventual pain of rebellion. 1622-6 Bisset I. 240/15 f.
Or last of all, letteres of foure formes, of foure sindrie and diverse chargis ordinerlie used aganist the pairtie contrare quhome the decreit is gevin, and execute aganist him foure sindrie tymes upoun the warning of twentie foure houris or of fourtie aucht houris or thrie dayis. Off the quhilkis charges, the first wes used to be execute under all hieast pane and charge etc. The secund under the pane of warding of the pairties person etc. The thrid Or ellis to entir his person in waird within sum certan castell or waird designed be the letteres etc. The fourtt charge, Gif he entir nocht to denunce him rebell and put him to oure soverane lordis horne and escheit and inbring all his movabill gudis to his maiesties use for his contemptioun etc. And gif he dissobeyis all the charges and is lauchfullie denunced and registrate at the horne … than letteres of caption ar direct [etc.] … Thir letteres of foure formes … ar … discharged … be the formare statute abonewrittin, 23 Novembris 1613
(1) 1496 Acta Conc. II. 12.
The unordourely passing of our soverane lordis letters in the first secund and thrid forme
1498 Ib. 181.
Anent the accione … persewit be Thomas Tulloch quhilk optenit our soverane lordis letteris be the deliverance of the lordis of Consale … in the first, secund, thrid, and ferd forme chargeing Maister David Gardin to have deliverit Jonet Tulloch … and al thare last under the pane of rebellion and als til heire himself be oure letters … til be put til our soverane lordis horne or ellis [etc.]
1501 Ib. III. 41.]
[Letters to the Stewart of Annanderdaile … to distrain Symon of Caruthris … , which were directed to the said Stewart in the first second and third form
1501 Treas. Acc. II. 126.
To Ormund pursewant to pas to summond the lard of Fivee and his folkis with lettrez in the secund forme
1517 Fife Sheriff Ct. 67.
[The] schiref … grantit in jugement that he had resauit the Kingis lettres in the secund forme chargeing hyme to put the first lettres direct to hyme … to dew execucioune
1520 Ib. 198.
[They] producit our souerane lordis lettres in the fyrst and secund formes … to tak cougnicione [etc.]
1525 Acts II. 297/1.
Geif the saidis persouns lyis vnder cursing … for nocht doing … of ony act … ther creditouris sall haif lettrez in the first secund thrid & ferd formes according to the ordinaris lettrez of cursing
1529 Bk. Carlaverock II. 2.
Scho hes optenit our lettres on ȝou in the ferd forme
1533–4 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 411.
That ye in continent thareftir direct our uthiris lettres in the first, secund, thrid and ferd formes all togidder, chargeing the said personis … to desist and ces fra sick trubling and to restore the spulȝe, and ilk forme to be execute eftir uthir within thre dais
(2) 1542 Reg. Privy S. II. 753/2.
The saidis personis denuncit oure soverane lordis rebelles and at his horne, put thairto be his uthir lettres in the four formes, past upoun ane decrete of the lordis of his counsaill, for non-desisting … fra the violent occupying [etc.]
1569 Reg. Privy C. II. 68.
Upon the quhilk the saidis complenaris rasit letters in the four formes, and be vertew of the samyn the said James Somervell wes lauchfullie put to the horne
1590 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 51.
In the hour of caus with continewatioun of dayis to heir and sie oure utheris letteris decernit to be direct in all the four formes and ilk executione to be efter utheris within thre dayis
(3) 1546–47 Balfour Pract. 304.
Letteris of four formis may be execute be divers officiaris, swa that ane officiar may give ane charge, and ane uther another
1611 Scrymgeour Invent. (S.R.S.) 36.
Letteres of four formes obtenit at the constabillis instance aganis Cristiane Scrymgeour
1622-6 Bisset I. 238/32.
The lordis of counsall … hes … ordaned, that upoun all decreittis and sentences gevin be theme, quhereupoun letteres of foure formes have bene accustumate to be directed, that letteres of horning upoun ane singill [v.r. simpill] charge sal heireftir be directed

8. plur. Letters, literature or acquaintance with it; learning, scholarship, schooling; literacy.Also devine letteris, Devine a. 1 (3).(1) a1500 Bk. Chess 632.
A king but letteris lykynnit is … Vnto a crovnit as
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Acts xxvi. 24.
Mony lettres turnis thee to wodnes
1531 Bell. Boece II. 138.
Young childrin weill institute in letteris
1554 Misc. Bann. C. III. 83.
We ar insularis duelland in ilis seuerit aluterlie fra science of lettres
1555–6 Reg. Privy S. IV. 555/2.
Florischeing of lettiris, knawlege and science
1562-3 Winȝet II. 48/11.
To quhois knawlege, quhen the Greikis gaue place, the Hebrew literis [sic] also war exornat be him
1567 Acts III. 25/1.
The pouerte of mony is in sic sort, that thay may not hauld thair children at letteris
a1570-86 Arbuthnot Maitl. F. xxix. 180.
Letteris ar lichtlyt in our natioun For lernyng now is nother lyf nor rent
1583 Edinb. Univ. Chart., 88.
Ane college for lettres in the Kirk of Feild
1588 Old Ross-shire 26.
For upbringing of the youth in edification of verteu and gude letteris
c1616 Hume Orthog. 3.
Manie kinges … have advanced letteres be erecting schooles
1619 Edinb. Test. L. 211.
I leve … to the colledge of Edinburgh for help … of bursaris and studentis in letteris thair ane thowsand merkis
(2) c1520-c1535 Nisbet John vii. 15.
How can this man lettris sen he has nocht leirit?
1555–6 Reg. Privy S. IV. 555/2.
Thir mony yeiris bigane … thair hes bene few that … gaif thair studie to obtene lettiris
a1578 Pitsc. I. 153/13.
To learne lettres at the scoill
1596 Dalr. I. 266. m. Ib. II. 399/26.
Quha heir [sc. in monasteries] ar inclosit suld haue lettiris, or as we speik be lettiret

9. Attrib. a. Letter-office, letter-post-office (sense 5). b. Letter(is)-silver, -server (sense 7).a. 1661 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 115; etc.
Robert Mein, keiper of the letter office of Edinburgh
1672 Aberd. Council Lett. V. 167.
It is ther lordships most earnest desyre that ye would preferr Alexander Farquhar … to be keeper of the Leter Post Office
1680 Fountainhall Decis. I. 113.
Robert Mien, keeper of the letter post office is imprisoned … for publishing the news letter before it was revised by a [sc. privy] counsellor or their clerk
b. 1540 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 171.
xvj d. of letter syluer
1670 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 5 March.
Fynes Robert McChesnie in thrie punds Scots and ordaines him to pay the samyn for letteris silver and messengers charges
1674 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I. 367.
[They have been taken prisoners by John Gass, messenger, by virtue of letters of caption … and they also promise to pay £10 8s. as] letters server [with 40s. of penalty]

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"Letter n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Dec 2022 <>



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