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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Minister, n. Also: mynist-, mynyst-, minest-, minst-, menist-, menyst-, menest-, meinist- and -ere, -ir, -yr, -ar, -re; inflected also ministr-, mynistris, -ys, etc. [ME. and e.m.E. ministre (c 1290), mynystr(e, minister (c 1327), menyster (1560–1), OF. ministre, L. minister.]

1. A servant, an attendant. a1400 Leg. S. xxii. 121.
Fadyr, quhare gais thu Bot minsteris?
Ib. xxxvii. 162.
His ministeris that fellon ware Hynt Vincent thane be hou & hare
c1420 Wynt. vii. 1351.
Hys mynysterys that made hym than serwyce Prewaly put in his chalyce Wenenows poysoune
Ib. v. 2376. 1598 Household Bks. Jas. VI 23 Apr.
Hir majesties minister callit Hairy Hauk wes maryit vpoun ane woman of her chalmer callit Litle Anna this day
1599 Ib. 31 Aug.
To the Quenis minister and his wyiff being seik left at Falkland

2. One who acts under another to give effect to his intentions or purposes; an executive, agent, subordinate officer, underling.(1) 14.. Quon. Attach. c. 36.
Ather party aw be the scheray or be his minsters to be somounde
1456 Acts II. 46/2.
That pur commonys ar gretumly … opprest be the Kingis schirefis … and thair ministeris
1456 Hay I. 108/31.
He that is lord and prince of the lawe … be him self or his mynistris
Ib. 145/14.
And tharfore is a king lyknyt to God for he is as depute and mynister to God
1473 Peebles B. Rec. I. 20.
Oure balyeis, currouris, officiaris, and ministeris of oure saide forest of Ettrik
1477 Reg. Episc. Brechin I. 201.
The saide reuerende fathir, his factouris and ministeris
1490 Irland Mir. I. 109/1.
Thi mercy, Lord, js … maist digne ministir and propir to Thi godheid
1495 Reg. Cupar A. I. 246.
Be our successouris and ministeris, spirituale and temporale
1560 Rolland Seven S. 1606.
Vnto the ministeris, Prouestis, sergands, jewillours and officers He maid requeist
1561 Q. Kennedy Compend. Ressonyng (ed.) 182 n.
Be the angelis His ministeres send thairfor
1562-3 Winȝet I. 84/21. Ib. II. 5/12.
Our Saluiour … gaif His sacrament Himself to His disciplis, commanding thame as His lauchful ministers to do the samin
Ib. 66/11, 12.
It is nocht heirfor a grete mater gif his [sc. Satan's] ministeris ar transfigurate as the ministeris of rychtuousnes
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 49.
Bot sic vyle actis ar not wont to be committit be nobill and gude men bot be leud and wickit ministeris
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. MS. 27.
Sathan … hes intysit his ministers … to translate the bible in thair vulgaire toung
(2) 1513 Doug. vi. Prol. 157.
Set thou to Wlcane haue ful gret resembling, And art sum tyme the minister [E. minster] of thundring
1599 Rollock Wks. I. 395.
The Divell is na thing to God but ane burreau, ane minister of his wrath

b. plur. The Kingis, his etc. ministeris, the officers of the Crown, collectively. 1397 Acts I. 208/2.
Al … that suppouel nocht the kingis ministeris
1399 Ib. 212/1. Ib. 12/2. 1502 Acta Conc. III. 183.
Our soverane Lord the King … his schireffis. bailyeis, and utheris ministeris undir his grace
1607 Reg. Privy C. VII. 513.
Suche hes bene the diligent cair of your ministeris heir

c. An executive officer of the law, a magistrate or judge.Esp. minister of (the) law, of our lawis, also minister of court and of justice.(1) 1409 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 74.
Butte ony leve of oni juge or mynistir of the lauche
1424 Acts II. 3/2.
That thar be maide officiaris and ministeris of lawe … that can and may halde the law to the kingis commonis
1574 Ib. III. 89/2. 1588 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 45.
And all utheris oure judges officiaris and ministeris of our lawis quhatsumever
(2) 1525–6 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 238.
To be adjonit with the lordis of the secrete counsale and ministeris of court
(3) 1560 Calderwood II. 3.
That the minister of justice may not putt hands in them
1586 Jurid. Rev. IV. 297.
That in cais ony sheriff baillie or minister of justice failȝie [etc.]
(4) 1461 Newburgh B. Ct. 6 a.
For the vranguis passyng to the lordis curtis leffyng the minstaris of the sayd burht
1497 Dunferm. B. Rec. 79.
The sotis callit and court affensit vitht sufficient minsteris

d. transf. 1556 Lauder Off. Kings 276.
Ȝitt want ȝe, Kyngs, ȝour officiaris, Ciuile and gostlie mynistaris

3. A minister (of haly, also Christis) kirk, a person having a spiritual charge in the Church, an ecclesiastic, a priest.(1) a1400 Leg. S. Prol. 34.
Sene I ma nocht wirk As mynistere of haly kirke
1398 Acts I. 212/1.
That … it [sc. a contribution of money] be raysit be ministeris of halykirk sua that … na seculeris [etc.]
1400 Maxwell Mem. I. 141.
Wythowtyn the lefe of ony mynystyr kyrk or seculer
1424 Acts II. 3/1.
That the halikirk and the ministeris of it jois … thar aulde privilegis
1561 Q. Kennedy Compend. Ressonyng (ed.) 156/23.
To be offerit be the apostlis and all otheris ministeris of Christis kirk
(2) c1420 Wynt. vi. 136.
For thi pryncys suld alway The kyrk honowre devotly, And tret the mynystrys [W. minsteris] reverendly

b. A minister of the sacrament, of God, of Godis word, the evangel, the gospel, etc. 1490 Irland Mir. fol. 236 a.
And gif it be nocht the mannis awne faute in resauand the sacramentis it hurtis him nocht thocht the minister be of euill lif for Jhesus is gud that is the principale gevare & minister of the sacramentis
1551 Hamilton Cat. 69.
Thai dispise all ministaris of the same [ceremonies in church]
1559 Statut. Sc. Ch. 188.
Consecrate preistis, lauchfull ministers of the sacrament of the altare
1561 St. A. Kirk S. 105.
Johane Malwyll, minister of Goddis word in the said kyrk of Crayll
1562-3 Winȝet I. 17/18.
As His trew ministeris of His worde and sacramentis
1558-66 Knox II. 340.
The poore ministeris of Christ Jesus His holie evangell
1558-66 Knox II. 419.
So lang can nocht the mynisteris of God ceise to cry
c1568 Lauder Minor P. v. 27.
For of that band [sc. marriage] God was the minister, Ordand of Him
1572 Acts III. 72/1. 1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. 65/10.
Sen the ministers of this new evangell obteined place to governe the realme
1593 Acts IV. 47/1. c1612 Skene Memor. Scot. ii.
M. Robert Rollok minister of Godis word decessit … 1598
1633 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 389.
Minister of the Evangell in Sommer Ilands
1673 Ellon Par. 131.
He denyed that the minister was a minister of Christ
1693 Cramond Kirk S. III. 28 Mar.
Mr Henry Hamilton present minister of the gospell at Curry

c. The pastor of (also at, in or to) a particular congregation. d. absol. An ordained clergyman, commonly one having pastoral charge of a congregation.Chiefly used in, or of, the Reformed Church, in which it was the regular word for this.c. (1) 1558–9 St. A. Kirk S. I. xxxi.
My lordis, minister and eldares of the Christiane congregatioun of the cietie of Sanct-Androis
1559 Ib. 19.
1560 Bk. Disc. 244.
The ministeris of the paroche churches [etc.]
1562-3 Winȝet II. 22/1.
The ministeris of the kirkis strikin, the preistis dryuin away and banissit
1558-66 Knox II. 423.
Mr. George Hay, then callit the Minister of Court
1565 Peebles B. Rec. I. 299.
Gilbert Brovne, menestar off the Croice Kirk and conwent thairof
1576 Perth Guildry 368 (10 July).
Maister Johne Row, minister of Pertht
1649 Brechin Presb. 8. 1672 Sc. N. & Q. 3 Ser. XII. 135.
Mr. Patrick Copland to be minister of Cushnie
1697 Glasgow B. Rec. IV. 245.(2) 1561 Reg. St. A. 129.
To my lovittis … minister or reader in the parrochie kyrk of Logy
1562-3 Winȝet I. 129/16.
We reid siklyke of the magnifik ordour and multitude of sindry ministeris in the temple of God
1562-92 Wode's Psalter (Tenor) 137.
Maister Gudman … wes the first satlit minister in Sanct Androuse
1604 Lanark B. Rec. 115.
William Birnie, menister in Lanark
1684 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. XXXVI. 161.
Mr John Cant, indulged minister in Kells
(3) 1607 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lxxxvi.
Mr Giibert Prymrois, minister at Burdeauxe
1657 Aberd. B. Rec. IV. 169.
Master James Durhame, minister at Glasgow, and Mr Wm. Rait, minister at Breichin
(4) 1656 Moray Synod 122.
That … no man be … minister to any of these Irish charges [in Aberlour] bot he who hath the language
d. (a) 1490 Irland Mir. fol. 235 b.
And gif the barne be nocht in peral thai suld byd the werray ministerto baptis it
1559 St. A. Kirk S. 26.
Be Johne Knox minister
1559–60 Ayr B. Acc. 30. 1560 St. A. Kirk S. 35.
The minister and elderis decernis [etc.]
1560 Conf. Faith in 14.. Acts II. 533/1; Bk. Disc. 183; etc.
That sacramentis … be ministrat be lauchfull ministeris
1560 Rolland Seven S. 7609. 1561 Q. Kennedy Compend. Ressonyng (ed.) 157/10.
Offerit vp be the minister in the sacrifice of the mes
Ib. /28. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 122/8.
Ȝour lauchfull bischopis and uthiris ministeris
Ib. 129/20.
Think ȝe nocht … that prayaris … suld be soung … dayly seuin tymes be able ministeris elect thairto
Ib. 103/28. 1558-66 Knox II. 298. 1566 Cal. Sc. P. II. 272.
Some papistes have bruted that theis our procedinges have bene at the instigacion of the mynysters of Scotlande
1567 Acts III. 31/1. 1572 Bk. Univ. Kirk I. 252. 1571 Ferg. Serm. iii Malachi Sig. C. i b.
A Kirk for quhais edificatioun He hes ordanit ministeris, pastouris and teicheris
1574 Edinb. Kirk S. 20 May.
The mater … comittit … to the particular assemblie of the ministeris, eldaris and deaconis
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 293.
Thair wes ane minister hangit
c1575 Balfour Pract. 144.
The manse pertenis to the minister
Ib. 370. a1578 Pitsc. II. 173/7.
The rest salbe gewin to the ministaris and the poore
1578–9 Perth Kirk S. MS. 12 Jan.
[He] exponitt to the assembly of the minister and eldaris thatt [etc.]
1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. 51/2.
Considering that mony quha hes bene of your secte, yea ministeris of the first rang … ar deid in the Catholik faith
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. 102.
At the whilk the ministeris inragis
1581 Acts III. 211/1. c1590 Fowler II. 33/8.
Licence … to our ministeris to cum to France
1596 Dalr. II. 291/7.
Jhone Knox the cheif minister of the Caluinistes
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI 131. 1623 Edinb. B. Rec. VI. 246.
The saids thrie ministeris lyttit to be hard
1637 Kirkcaldy Presb. 121. 1643 Baillie II. 52. a1650 Row 69. 1644 Strathbogie Presb. 53. 1649 Ayr Chart. 188. 1652 Acts VI. ii. 748/2.
To send for the Scottish ministers now prisoners in the Tower
1656 Ib. 867/1. 1670 Ib. VIII. 10/2.
That none … offer ther children to be baptized by any but such as are ther oune paroch ministers
1672 Lauder Jrnl. 210.
Mr Andro Ballantyne … is heir minister
c 1680 Bk. Dunvegan I. 192.
Gloves tremed black for a minister
1698 Orkney Rentals App. 70.
The said sessione … were now readie to call another minister
(b) 1584 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 236.
For casting of ane fowsy langis the minesters ȝaird dyk
(c) 1553 Perth Guildry 510 (13 Sept.).
Haueand … regard to the augmentatioun of Goddis seruice … that the samyn rather incres nor dekay be multiplying of minsteris thairto
1571 Reg. Privy C. II. 80.
He is weill myndit to sustene ane minster for minstration of Godis word
(d) 1560–1 Inverness Rec. I. 50.
The consell ordanis Jasper Waus and George Cuthbert to pay the menister fee
1568–9 Edinb. Skinners in Bk. Old Edinb. C. VI. 85.
Geiffyn … xx lb. to the menestre
1570–1 Ib. 89.
Thar wantis of the menestars stent [£4/10/8]
1574 Edinb. D. Guild Acc. 41.
The menester lugingis
(e) 1679 Kirkcudbr. Test. (Reg. H.) 24 Feb.
To the meinister for teind

4. The title of the superior of a house of the Trinitarian order. 1343 Liber Melros II. 424.
Ministro et domui de Faie
1456 Peebles B. Rec. I. 115.
A raqwest fra the menyster of Fayl to the balyeis and the comonyte
c1475 Wall. ii. 289.
Thomas Rimour in to the Faile was than With the mynystir quhilk was a worthi man
1500 Acta Conc. II. 431. 1502 Ib. III. 181.
Frere Thomas Lowis, mynistir of Peblis
1543 Reg. Privy S. III. 38/2.
Freir Robert Cunynghame, minister of Faile and provinciale of the haile Trinite Ordour

b. comb. in minister-general, -principal, -provincial, as the title of the superior or provincial superior of the Friars Minor. 1490 Misc. Spald. C. II. 327.
Frer Jhon Yhar ministyr principal of the Freris Minoris of Scotland
1519 Douglas Corr. 75.
Ane venerable religious fader, Freir Henry Chardworth, minister generall of the Freris Minoris callit Observante
1528 Ib. 346.
Frer Andro Cayrniss, minister provincial of the Freyr Minoris in Scotland
1531 Bell. Boece II. 357.
The provincialis wardanis and ministeris of all beggand freiris
a1538 Abell 118 a.
Owre minister generall callit Francis Angelori

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"Minister n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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