Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PONTIUS PILATE'S BODYGUARD, n. A jocular nickname for the Royal Scots Regiment said to have been given c.1635 during the Thirty Years' War by French troops to Hepburn's Regiment, the ancestor of the Royal Scots (see quots.). Sc. 1851  J. Grant Memoirs Sir J. Hepburn 236:
The Regimegiment de Picardie treated these claims to antiquity with ridicule, as being somewhat overstrained, and gave Hepburn's corps the sobriquet of Pontius Pilate's Guard, which the Royal Scots retain at the present day.
Sc. 1918  H. Maxwell Lowland Sc. Reg. 132:
The French officers . . . gave them in derision the nickname of “Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard”, a nickname which sticks to the Royal Scots to this day. It was in one of these disputes that an officer of Hepburn's made the famous retort that the Picardy regiment must be mistaken, for had the Scots really been Pontius Pilate's Guard and done duty at the sepulchre, the Holy Body had never left it.

Pontius pilate's bodyguard n.

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"Pontius pilate's bodyguard n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2019 <>



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