Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DEACON, n.1 Sc. usages. Also †diacon (Abd. 1715 in Analecta Scot. (ed. Maidment) II. 232), †dickon (Ork. 1720 in P. Ork. A.S. (1929) VII. 54). [′dikən Sc., but ne.Sc., Per. + ′dəikən]

1. The president of one of the Incorporated Trades in a town; formerly an ex officio member of the Town Council. Sc. 1774  T. Pennant Tour 1772 II. 128:
The third body is the Trades-house [Glasgow]: this consists of fifty-six, of which the deacon convener is the head: there are fourteen incorporated trades, each of which has a deacon, who has a right to nominate a certain number of his trade, so as to form the house.
Sc. 1828  Scott F. M. Perth vii.:
There were bailies and deacons in the honoured number.
Rxb. 1703  in Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1902) 53:
Haveing conveined the toune counsell and old and young late baylyeas . . . togidder with the deacons and quartermasters of the haill trades.

Hence deacon-convener, the deacon who convenes and presides over the Court of the Incorporated Trades, in Edinburgh and Glasgow a member of the Town Council ex officio. Sc. 1736  Marischal Coll. Records (N.S.C. 1889) I. 418:
Likeas the said Mr. John Moir hereby constitutes and appoints the Deacon Conveener of the Trades of Aberdeen, the Seven Deacons of the above Trades. . . .
Sc. 1837  J. G. Lockhart Scott V. viii.:
Provosts, and bailies, and deacon-conveners of the trades of Edinburgh.
Sc. 1939  Abd. Bon-Accord (13 July) 8:
Each trade is complete in itself, and is entirely responsible for its own administration, but the leading officials of each incorporation form the Convener Court, which has a consultative jurisdiction over all the trades, and acts in matters common to all. That body is presided over by the Deacon Convener, and he is assisted by the Master of Trades Hospital, who is responsible for the financial side of its activities.

2. Fig. One who is a master of his craft; an expert. Gen. used with a neg. Known to Abd. correspondents, Fif.10, Kcb.10 1940. The form deyken (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 222; Abd.5 1931) is also found. Sc. 1800  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 663:
I need hardly tell you I do not pre tend to be any great deacon at authorship.
Edb. 1828  D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xx.:
But she had a great fight, it seems, to make out Daniel's bad spelling, he having been very ill yedicated, and no deacon at the pen.
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road xxvi.:
Give Fraser here the dirk; he's more a deacon wi't than you.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie I. i.:
If he wasna a deacon at book lair, he kent as weel as the maister himsel' how mony blue beans it taks to mak five.

[O.Sc. has dekin, the deacon of a craft. from 1424, also decan(e), from 1473, decon(e), from 1569, deacon, from 1566, and deacon convenar, from 1587; Lat. decanus, one in charge of ten.]

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"Deacon n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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