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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).

Lege, Liege, Leige, n.1 and a. Also: legge, ledge, lieg, liedge, leyge, leidge, leege, leedge, leage, leadge, lige, lidge. [ME. lige (1297), lyge, lege (14th c.), leyge (14th c), liege (1399), adj. (1297, c 1350, 1362) and n. (1377, 1390, c 1400), OF. lige, liege (med. L. ligius, legius).]

1. A subject of a, or the, sovereign, bound to him (or her) by ties of allegiance; a loyal subject. The regular Sc. sense.Chiefly plur. and chiefly governed by a possess., as the Kingis, his hienes, our soverane lordis, his, our etc. liegis.For some further examples in one frequent context, see Convocatioun n. 1.(1) 1398 Acts I. 208/1.
Gif ony … has destruyt the Kingis legis with herischippis
1405 in Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 58 (see Lege lord n.). c1420 Wynt. vii. 654.
Fra that day hys legys all Oysyd hym Alysandyr the Fers to call
1456 Hay I. 123/32.
Pursuying or were making till his awin legis
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxii. 28.
Ȝour legis [M. leggis] quhy will ȝe nocht releif?
1513 Treas. Acc. IV. 416.
To pas with … lettres … for the congregatioun of our soverane lordis legis at Ellem
a1538 Abell 70 a.
The nobillis … were rad. The King gaif thame consolatioun saand, My legis, dreid nocht
a1578 Pitsc. I. 28/21.
Mvweit of gret … luife that he buire towardis the kingis and thair legis
c1650 Spalding I. 123.
Abuseing the Kingis leges with grevouss burdinges
(b) c1400 Troy-bk. ii. 2194.
Quharfor all there liegis sone … Resauede thame in thare kynryke
1405 Douglas Corr. 64 (see Lege lord n.). c1420 Wynt. ix. 1941.
All his liegis of alkyn greis
14.. Acts I. 336/2.
Thai wirk it [leather] or it be conrait in greit … skaith of the Kingis liegis
1425 Ib. II. 9/1.
That all … the Kingis liegis of the realme leif … vndir the Kingis lawis … of this realme alanerly
c1515 Asl. MS. I. 210/12.
Sa … tressonable peple as was his liegis to him, for the fader mycht nocht trast the sone [etc.]
1506 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 109.
Quhair ony maner of personis our liegis or strangearis dois incontrair this our proclamatioun
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 209.
Than leuch I quhen his liegis did allege Quhow [etc.]
1565 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xlviii.
Be oppin proclamatioun … to all and sindrie our liegs
1565 Reg. Privy C. I. 339.
Seing a greit nowmer of hir liegis causles to take on armes
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Ligeantia.
The mutuall band … betuixt the King and his subjectes, quhairby wee ar called his lieges because we ar bound … to obey & serue him
(c) 1449 Reg. Episc. Glasg. 370.
That ye mak distrublans … tyll our leigis … of burgh & land that bryngis ony gudis to the mercat of Glasgw
1475 (1610) Tracts Peerage 53.
Power to justifie to their deed our soveraine lordis leiges that ver inobedient to him
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xlviii. 107. 1594 Acts IV. 72/2.
For eiecting … or vther alleagit violent deid committit aganis thame be ony of his hienes leygis
1689 Late Proceedings 24.
Administration of justice between the King and his leiges
(d) 1424 Edinb. Chart. 213.
That our bodijs and al our gudis as yhur symplez leegis ar at your wyll now
1456 Hay II. 153/23.
For than sall he sett all thy leegies aganis thé in haterent
(e) 1468 Smit Bronnen I. ii. 1019.
Tyll his ligis
1529 Edinb. B. Rec. II. 8.
At the awnaris of the said meill met the samyne thar self till all our souerane lordis liges
(f) 1473 (? 15.. ) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 27.
For the … common proffeit of … his hienes realm and ledgis
(g) a1578 Pitsc. I. 137/16.
To denwnce weir to the King of Ingland, seing he did wex my realme and leidges saiklesle
1617 Ure Rutherglen 12.
Inhibiting all our leidges that none of them bring goods to be sold
1669 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III. 49.
Discharging our whole leidges to … intercommon with the saids rebells
1674 Highland P. I. 273.
Authority … to convocate our leidges in arms
1678 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 342.
To furnish his Majesties leidges with sufficient horses [etc.]
(h) 1604 Cochran-Patrick Coinage I. 214.
To be receaved … amongst his Highnesse liedges in any tyme comeing
1639 Declaratour Pretended Bishops Refuted 30.
They have wounded the kings honner, … and animat his liedges to rebellion
1661 Justiciary Ct. Rec. I. 14.
The said Janet … had … practised … witchcraft … and thereby had damnified … sundry of the King's liedges
(2) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxxii. 64.
Thairfoir strangeris and leigis treit
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xviii. 43.
Ȝe liegeis … with trew hairt serve the authoritie
1584 Acts III. 369/1.
Our … souerane lord … inhibites … all and sindrie liegis and subiectis quhatsumeuir of this realme … of all mellin with onie … mynes
1638 National Covenant.
Likeas all liedges are bound to maintain the Kings maiesties … authoritie
(3) sing. 1556 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxviii.
Hir partie aduersaris … thairthrow ordanis to frustrar our pure lege
c1575 Balfour Pract. 164.
Albeit it be not leasum … to ony persoun, liege of this realm, to annalȝie [etc.]
1586 Digest Justiciary Proc. L. 27.
Euerie leige is commandit to assist the heid officer
1622-6 Bisset I. 11/31.
Ressave this rolment fra ane leage of thyne

b. With adjectives: (Loyal, faithful, free etc.) subject.(1) c1420 Wynt. vi. 838.
That the kyng befor than wend For hys lele legis had bene kend
c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxi. 23.
Thy leiges leill thy byding byis full deir
1517 Reg. Privy S. I. 449/1.
To remane … trew liegis and subditis to oure soverane lord
1681 Craven Ch. in Orkney 97.
Whereupon the said bailie … and all other his majesties good leidges [secured him]
1687 Hector Renfrewshire Rec. I. 47.
Fallers upon any of his majesties peacable and frie leidges comitts crymes of high nature
(2) c1475 Wall. ix. 533.
Off Franchmen thai semblyt a battaill, xxty thousand lele legis [1570, of trew liegis] off France
c1530-40 Stewart Maitl. Fol. lxxxi. 49.
On thy heid the liberte Off all trew liegis in thy land is
(3) sing. 1549 Aberd. B. Rec. I. 271.
Tha had offendit … to the Quenis grace of Scotland in the taking … of the said William … he beand hir frie liege and subdict
1570 Sat. P. xiv. 94.
The trew liege be the rubiature In this cause salbe kend
a1578 Pitsc. I. 34/8.
Ewerie man … estemed him as ane manifest enemie and nocht ane trew ledge of this realme
1581 Moysie Mem. 33.
As guid a legge as the King had in Scotland
1585 Acts III. 400/2.
The said James euir remanand our faithfull leig and subiect
1586 Reg. Privy C. IV. 70.
[Though still a rebel he] hantis … to and fra in the cuntrey as gif he wer his [the King's] frie lieg
1626 Garden Worthies 134.
The King … laiks a loiall leege
1662 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 210.
It was … the taking of ane frie leidge

c. The liegis (of a realm). 1456 Hay I. 111/2.
That he occupyit … the kirk gude or ourthrew … the legis of the papalitee
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 2426.
[He] syne gart ordane day of parliament Quhare all the legis of his landis was lent
1545 Reg. Privy C. I. 11.
Quharethrow gret hurt … may engenner amongis the liegis of this realm
1550 Ib. 85.
We … charge … all and sindrie our soverane ladyis liegis … that nane of thame tak upon hand … to do ony hurt … to ony of the liegis of the realme of Ingland
1584 Acts III. 369/1. 1629 Justiciary Cases I. 124.
The … leigis of this realme

d. ellipt. The liegis, the loyal subjects of the realm. Also the frie leigis.Uncommon in the 16th c., when 1 (1) above is the usual style, but common in the 17th.(a) c1500-c1512 Dunb. lxxvii. 52.
The legeis all did to thair lady loutt
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. clxxiv. 2.
Sair is the recent murmur and regrat Amang the leges rysin off the lait
1625 Justiciary Cases I. 31.
Ane forme of metting … so necessar for the weill of the legis
1629 Ib. 123.
The usearis of fals measouris … decevand the legis thairby
(b) 1498 Acta Conc. II. 287.
Opin proclamacione warnyng the pepill, liegis and officaris to mak provision
1543 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xxv.
With convocatioun … of the liegis bodin in feir of weir
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 136.
Nane of the lieges sould breake the Kings saif conduct
16.. R. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II. 401.
The subjects called in thair styl the lieges petitioned the Prince
(c) 1570 Bann. Memor. 23.
How this estate [sc. the Scottish realm] is dividit in factiones, … the gentlemen and commones vniuersallie, in the whole leiges
a1585 Maitl. Q. li. 37.
The leigis can na greter sckayth sustein
1641 Acts V. 559/1.
Anent ther … journey horsis for serveing of the leiges
1642 Wemyss of Bogie MSS.
Sic formes of hostilitie as is intolerabillto ony of the frieleigis
(d) 1605 Reg. Privy C. VII. 70.
He having, with convocation of the ledgies, casten doun the same [seat in the church of Dunscore]
1639 Justiciary Cases I. 301.
And lettres of intercommoning uset aganis the ledges
(e) a1633 Hope Major Pract. I. 129.
That the inhibitione execut against the father could not stop the leidges to buy from the sone
1638 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 62.
[Endangering] the liberties … of the quholl leidges
1672 Acts VIII. 81/1.
[The] bookes of enrolment shall be patent to the leidges
1681 Edinb. B. Rec. XI. 10.
Frieing the … high streets of many boyes … whoe constantly molests … the leidges by begging upon the same
1689 Acts IX. 39/1.
That the chargeing of the leidges with lawborrowes, at the Kings instance, … were contrary to law
(f) 1641 Acts V. (1817) 484/1.
That the said laird … and the rest of the leedges may be … skeathles of the saidis rebelles
(g) 1645 Ecclesia Antiqua 63.
[Extorting] the leadges resorting hereto for thair [lodgings]
(h) 1644 Wemyss Corr. 89.
Young Drumme … did newer … shoot a shoott to the prejudice off anie off the lidges

2. Used to render med. L. ligius a vassal or liege man of any overlord. 1494 Loutfut MS. 111 b.
I ȝour lege man, or, lege to our souerane lord presentis me heir [etc.]
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii. 15.
Except he … be his liege (bondman) [L. ligius] or natiue (borne man) or dwelland vpon his land

3. One's feudal lord, to whom one owes allegiance; ? one's sovereign. 1513 Doug. xii. Prol. 248.
The larkis … Lovys thar lege with tonys curyus, Baith to Dame Natur and the fresch Venus

4. attrib. and adj. a. Liege King, = to whom the allegiance of a loyal subject is due. Also Lege lord. c1420 Wynt. vii. 492 (W).
Till I wes … steward With my liege king Sanct Edward
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Ligeantia.
And he is called our liege king because he suld maintene & defend vs

b. Leige band, the contract or bond of allegiance. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) 90.
The lord … maid the King fewta and leige band, Till hald of him his lordschip and his land

c. Of the subjects of a sovereign: Bound by ties of allegiance, loyal. Also Lege man. 1570-3 Bann. Trans. 431.
His majesties coinyie was daylie counterfute … and gewin out as lawfull money amonge his hienes ledge people
1630-1651 Gordon Geneal. Hist. 466.
How the Earl of Southerland hade apprehended the king's leidge and free subjects

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"Lege n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Sep 2022 <>



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