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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SUPPLY, n. Also †supplie, †-plee. Sc. usages. [sʌ′plɑe, †-′pli:]

1. Assistance, support, relief from want, specif. by the giving of food, money, etc., to one in need, charity. Rare or obs. in Eng.Kcd. 1700 Black Bk. Kcd. (Anderson 1843) 119:
His wife, whom he ordinarily carried on his back for supply, she being sick of the palsy.
Rxb. 1713 J. Wilson Hawick (1858) 50:
A contribution was to be collected for the supply of ane English man.
Gall. 1734 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) II. 229:
A collection to be given in for his supplee this day fourthnight.
Sc. 1771 Survey Assynt (S.H.S.) xxvi. n.:
Many Must Starve if there be No Supply provided for them.
Sc. 1791 Outlaw Murray in Child Ballads No. 305 B. xxxix.:
Ye must meet him or the morn And mak him some supply; For if he get the forest fair frae him, He'll hae Moffat-dale frae me.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 338:
A person of a decent appearance on horseback accosted him, asking supply.
ne.Sc. 1825 P. Buchan Gleanings 115:
Ye'll give a poor man some supplie; A guinea, this day, ye'll gie to me.
Sc. 1832 Scott Count Robert xx.:
To carry some supply to Count Robert, who had been left without food the whole day.
Abd. 1954 Banffshire Jnl. (24 Aug.):
When they were “some short o' supplee,” or food.

2. A collection of money for a charitable object.Ork. 1702 W. Mackintosh Glimpses Kirkwall (1887) 43:
A volunter supplie through their brugh fore the supplie of the late episcopall suffering clergie.

3. The Cess or land-tax, assessed on the rent of land, apportioned between the counties and the burghs in the ratio of five to one, and finally fixed in perpetuity by the Act of Union at approximately £48,000, calculated on a monthly basis and redeemable at option.Sc. 1754 Session Papers, Fordyce v. Urquhart (22 July) 9:
No other [than valuation by Auld and New Extent] were used until the Years 1643 and 1649, when a more perfect Form of levying public Burdens, called the Cess or new Supply, and a more equal Ratement of the Land-rent, called the valued Rent or Valuation, were begun and perfected.
Sc. 1756 Pitcalnie MSS. (15 May):
I, David Ross of Priesthill, Collector of the Supply of Rossshire, grant me to have received from the Laird of Pitcalney . . . the Sum of Two pounds, One shilling and three pence as Payment of Two Months Supply for the Terms of December and March last past due and payable to his Majesty.
Fif. 1815 J. Fernie Hist. Dunfermline 25:
The supply, the land cess, and what is termed equae, payable to government, amount to the yearly sum of £81:11:11.

Hence Commissioner of Supply, a landowner in any county, holding lands of £100 Scots of yearly valued rent, nominated annually by Parliament orig. as an assessor for the apportionment of the supply or Cess, and later for other duties (see quots.). The office was gradually superseded from 1889 onwards by later arrangements and the functions are now performed by County Councils.Gsw. 1700 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (B.R.S.) 301:
The Commissioners of supplee of the shirreffdome of Lanark.
Bnff. 1721 J. Grant Bnff. Roads (1905) 8:
Requireing all heretors, Commissioners of Supply, and Justices of the Peace, and others lyable to repair the highways.
Cai. 1753 Session Papers, Petition H. Innes (2 July):
The Commissioners of Supply are since as well as before the Union impowered to alter or rectify the Form of Valuations, when Lands formerly in the Hands of one Person are dismembred or disponed in Parcels to others.
Sc. 1810 Faculty Decisions 55:
The Magistrates of Edinburgh, who are commissioners of supply for that city.
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 184:
Under the militia acts the commissioners of supply have also power to assess for failures to make up the quota for allowances to the families of militiamen.
Clc. 1865 P. Alloa Soc. Nat. Science 6:
Mr Lothian proposed a vote of thanks to the Commissioners of Supply for the County for the gratuitous use of the Courthouse.
Sc. 1903 Session Cases (1902–3) 1214:
By the Parliamentary Reform Act of 1832 (2 and 3 William IV. cap. 65) the county freeholders (who had theretofore constituted the Parliamentary electors) were, with respect to the assessment authorised by the Act of George I., replaced by a body thereby ereated and nominated “Commissioners of Supply.”
Sc. 1942 J. E. Shaw Local Govt. Scot. 8:
Commissioners of Supply were instituted by Act of Convention in 1667. They consisted of the owners of a certain value in land. Along with the Justices of the Peace, the Commissioners of Supply had a joint charge of roads, bridges and ferries, the Justices of the Peace having no power to rate. The Commissioners of Supply collected the Cess or Land Tax which constituted the supply to the Sovereign, and every shire was burdened with a certain quota of the General Assessment. The amount fixed for Scotland by the Treaty of Union was £48,000.
Sc. 1954 Dickinson and Donaldson Source Bk. Sc. Hist. III. 300:
The commissioners appointed for each shire were soon known as the ‘county commissioners of supply,' and their duties of assessing the land-tax were later extended to include such administrative duties as the control of vagabonds, the maintenance of roads and the erection of schools.

[O.Sc. supple, assistance, support, 1428, = 3., 1667, = 2., 1689.]

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"Supply n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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