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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BURGH, BOROUGH, Burrow(e), Burrough, Borrow(e), Boro', n.1 A town possessing special privileges conferred by royal charter and having a municipal corporation. Also, a town which sends representatives to parliament. See also Broch, n.1, 2. “Burrough became the prevalent spelling in E.M.E. but was subsequently displaced by borough in Eng. and Ir., while the form established in Scotland was burgh” (N.E.D. s.v. borough). The burgh which formed the basis of Scottish local administration in towns since the 12th c. disappeared under the Local Government (Scotland) Act on May 16, 1975, and its functions, and in most cases also its property, which had been gradually encroached on since 1929, are finally transferred to regional and district councils. See also Convention. [′bʌrə, ′bɔrə, ′bɔro, bʌrg]

1. Burgh, burrowe, burrough. Chron. order.Peb. 1706 Burgh Records (1910) 175:
Nominatis provest Tweedie commissioner for this burgh to the generall convention of royall burrowes to meet at Edinburgh.
Lnk. 1708 Minutes J.P.s Lnk. (S.H.S. 1931) 26:
The clerk of the Peace of every shire, steuartry, burrough, or place in Scotland.
Cai. 1920 H. F. Campbell Cai. and Sth. 75:
In 1902 it [Pulteneytown] was united to the Burgh of Wick.

2. Borrow(e).Sc. 1700 Records Conv. Burghs (1880) 297:
And performeing of all acts and ordinances of borrowes made or to be made.
Sc. 1709 First Earl of Cromartie in Earls of Crm. (ed. Fraser 1876) II. 99:
The first possession he attempted was to require the whole shyre to chuse members of parliament for shyre and borrow at his prescription.

3. Phrases and combs.: (1) borough-acres, a piece of land belonging to a borough. These are also called burgess-acres (Bwk. 1776 Session Papers, Wilkieson v. Earl of Lauderdale (24 Sept.) 3); (2) burgh customs, customs or duties levied by a borough (Lnl.1 1937) (see quot.); (3) borrowdales, = (1), as appointed among the inhabitants; (4) borough-laird, “the owner of house-property in a burgh” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.); †(5) borrowland, lands belonging to a borough; †(6) borrow-maill, burrow meal, “the annual duty payable to the sovereign by a burgh for the enjoyment of certain rights” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); †(7) burgh-muir, borough muir, moor-land belonging to a borough; †(8) burgh of barony, a borough under the jurisdiction of a baron; †(9) burgh of regality, a borough under the jurisdiction of a Lord of Regality; see Regality: (10) burgh rood. See Ruid, n., 4.; (11) burgh-royal, royal burrow, a Scottish borough which derives its charter directly from the Crown; (12) burgh-school, a school maintained by a borough (Fif.1. Lnl.1 1937); (13) burrowstoun, borrows town, boro' toon, boroughs town, a borough (Lnl.1 1937) (see (11)). Borough-town is arch. in Eng. See -S, suff. (1).(1) Sc. 1776 Kames Gentleman Farmer 247: 
It [good marl] improves the weakest ground to equal the best borough-acres.
Wgt. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 2:
Smaller proprietors who posses portions of land called borough-acres.
(2) Edb. 1931 Scotsman (21 Nov.) 9/5:
Royal Burgh Customs Charges. So far as Edinburgh is concerned, under an Act of 1874, petty customs and duties were for the greater part abolished, but certain of them still continue in respect of the fruit and vegetable market, the wholesale poultry market, the corn market, and the cattle market. The revenue from those sources in Edinburgh for 1931 was £21,816.
(3)Lth. 1798 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (21 Nov.): 
The Minister of Dunbar lately set his glebe, consisting of about six English acres of the most inferior sort of land in the crofts and borrowdales of Dunbar, for rearing corn, to a stabler in Dunbar.
(5) Wgt. 1702 in G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 27:
Such as are not able to pay ye fine shall be . . . scourged fuirth of ye burgh and borrowland.
(6) Ags. 1719 Private Document (per Fif.1):
His majestys borrow maills adebted used and wont to be payed furth [of these Lands].
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife and Kinross 125:
William Sinclair . . . got from king James III the castle . . . with some lands . . . and an annual out of the Burrow Meals of Edinburgh.
(7) Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 561:
The borough muir, the lands belonging to the kirk-session and guildry are believed to contain coal.
Sc. 1827 Scott Surgeon's Daughter vi.:
He saw before him the rivulet which wanders through the burgh-muir of Middlemas.
(8) Sc. 1830 Scott Demonology Letter v. 161:
At Auldearne, a parish and burgh of barony.
Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife and Kinross 127:
A Mile to the East of Dysart . . . is Wester-weems, the Town is a Burgh of Barony belonging to the Earl of Weems.
(9) Sc. 1836 Penny Cycl. V. 220/1:
Musselburgh . . . was successively a burgh of barony and a burgh of regality.
Peb. [1715] A. Pennecuik Descr. of Tweeddale in Works (1815) 158, Note:
Linton, is a market town and burgh of regality.
(10)Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 406: 
Rates are imposed on houses and borough roods.
(11)Gsw. 1717 Burgh Records (ed. Marwick 1908) 622:
The provost produced in councill ane act of the royal burrows past in their generall convention.
Ayr. 1774 Petition of Magistrates and Council in A. McKay Hist. of Kilmarnock (1848) App. iii. 277:
The said burgh of barony to be erected into ane burgh-royal.
(12) Sc. 1872 W. Minto Eng. Lit. i. iii.:
The teachership of classics and mathematics in the burgh-school of Kirkcaldy.
Ayr. 1848 A. McKay Hist. of Kilmarnock xii.:
This was the origin of the burgh school of Kilmarnock.
(13) Sc. 1729 Musical Miscellany II. 56: 
The brawest beau in Borrows-town.
Sc. 1934 L. Spence in Gallov. Annual 11:
She gaed and gaed owre the kintraside speirin for her shoe in clachan and burrowstoun.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 104: 
Banff it is a boroughs toon.
Abd.(D) 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 62:
But a lady hie sae to show her knee. And to dance in a boro' toon!
Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 7:
For tho' nae bred in borrows town. He's wondrous gabby.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Sawney at Doncaster in Blackwood's Mag. (Oct.) 468:
Me and the horse, I on its back, rode our ways towards that same boroughs town of Doncaster.

[O.Sc. burch, burgh, etc., O.E. burh, burg; also O.Sc. burrow, burow, burro(u), O.E. burge, gen.sing. of burg, burh; O.Sc. borow, borrow, a common variant of burrow. corresponding to E.M.E. borrow(e), borowe, Mid.Eng. borowe, borou, borough, with o for u as in thorow, etc., thorough (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Burgh n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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