Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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INSTRUMENT, n., v. Sc. Law usages. [n. ′ɪnstrəmənt, v. ɪnstrə′mɛnt]

I. n. As in Eng., a formal legal document. Specif. a formal narrative, authenticated by a notary public, or the clerk of a court, of any proceedings of which a person interested desires to preserve a record, gen. with a view to protesting or appealing against them. Usu. in phrs. to ask, give or take instruments, to request, supply or obtain such a statement, the protester laying down a coin thereupon, as a fee for the service. The practice is now confined to the Church Courts. Sc. 1700  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 304:
It might be proper for him to lay this petitione before the parliament, in the methods and termes wherein it is conceaved; as the said petitione and ane instrument taken be them and him more fully containes.
Ayr. 1702  Munim. Irvine (1891) 119:
He thrust himself violently in upon the provest as said is and threw in a piece of money takeing instruments.
Sc. 1757  Smollett Reprisal ii. ix.:
Weel, lieutenant Oclabber, I tak instruments in your haund against the proceedings of Captain Champignon.
Abd. 1793  Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 3:
Mr Arthur Dingwall Fordyce, Commissary of Aberdeen, in the name of these heritors, went in the character of a notary-public into the inclosed plantation, and after taking an instrument of interruption, and pulling up one of the plants, directed the fishers to pass through the inclosure and plantation.
Ayr. 1826  Galt Last of Lairds viii.:
I debarred them . . . from trespassing on my ground . . . lodging instruments o' protest, in the shape of a shilling, in the hands of Caption himsell, 'cause he's a notary public.
Sc. 1952  Scotsman (20 May):
The Presbytery resolved in the following terms, “that the tenure of office of Mr M'Phail as Presbytery clerk cease forthwith.” Mr M'Phail then dissented and protested for leave to complain and took instruments and craved extracts. The adj. instrumentary, occurs in Sc. Law phr. instrumentary witness, one who witnesses the signing of an instrument.
Sc. 1722  W. Forbes Institutes I. ii. 176:
Witnesses in written Contracts, called Instrumentary witnesses.
Sc. 1838  Bell Dict. Law Scot. 502:
Instrumentary Witnesses are such as attest the subscription of parties. The witnesses to a formal written deed or instrument must be above fourteen years of age.
Sc. 1868  Acts 31 & 32 Vict. c.101. § 139:
It shall be competent for any Female Person . . . to act as an instrumentary Witness in the same Manner as any Male Person.

II. v. To register a protest against (a person) by means of such a document. Ayr. 1700  Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (22 May):
As to the setting of a schoolmasters sallary and maintenance for the poor it was anssered he had instrumented the heretors as to both conform to Law.
Abd. 1714  T. Mair Ellon Presb. Rec. (1898) 326:
To pass to Slains with a notary . . . and to require of him access to the Church . . . and if this be refused he is to “instrument” him.
Sc. 1752  J. Louthian Form of Process 74:
When the sixty days are run, and no Indictment execute, then the Prisoner instruments the Lord Advocate . . . and thereafter presents a Petition . . . for Letters of Liberation.

[O.Sc. instrument, = I., 1390.]

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"Instrument n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Feb 2019 <>



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