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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).

Magistrat(e, n. Also: magis-, magestratt, majes-, majeistrat(e, maist(e)rat, maeistrate. [ME. magestrat(e (Wyclif), magistrate (1432–50), e.m.E. maiestrate (1550), L. magistrātus magisterial rank or office, magistracy; hence, a magistrate, public functionary.]

1. The, or a, secular ruler of a nation or community; the sovereign or a member of the executive government or a civil officer charged with administering the laws.Also attrib. with law.Also common in reference to the committing of offenders by kirk sessions or other church courts to ‘the (civil) magistrate(s)’ to be punished.(1) [c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke xxii. 4, etc.] 1540 Lynd. Sat. 3938.
Be the ciuill magistrate
1558-66 Knox II. 74.
Againis the will and authoritie of the magistratis of the realme
a1568 Scott i. 172.
Caus everye stait to thair vocatioun go, Scolastik men the scriptouris to descrywe, And maiestratis to vse the swerd also
1567 Reg. Privy C. I. 536.
All kingis, princes and magistrattis
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 15.
The common magistratis and officiaris of the uniuersite
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. cvii. 7.
Obey deulie thi magistrate
Id. Ib. cxi. 28. 1571 Bann. Memor. 140. 1573 Macritchie Gypsies 63.
Gevand knawledge to the magistrattis of the cuntre or burgh of the samyn be quhat honest meane [etc.]
a1578 Pitsc. I. 18/17.
Lyk as he haid beine suppreme magistratt apprivit be the vottis of this realme
Ib. 40/33.
His hartlie messaige that come to him fre the maistratis and lordis of parlieament
Ib. 14/15, 15/15, etc. 1581 Burne Disput. 146.
That thair aucht nocht to be onie distinction of temporal magistratis in heichar or laichar degrie
1581 Bk. Univ. Kirk II. 502.
Of the office of ane christiane magistrat in the kirk
1580-92 James VI Lusus R. 46. 1592 Warrender P. (S.H.S.) II. 171. 1596 Dalr. I. 112/27, 124/5. 1609 Acts IV. 435/1.
[Commissioners for maintaining the peace are to be appointed] quhairby the ordiner magistratis and officiaris within the schyres may be better assistit
1638 Nat. Covenant in Facs. Nat. MSS. III. xcvii.
All magistrats, sheriffs etc.
a1650 Row 12.
In … England, the reformation coming in by the autoritie of the magistrat, nothing could be gotten done but according to the magistrat's desyre
1684 Dumfries & Galloway Soc. 3 Ser. XXXVI. 146.
Never to harbour … rebells … but to delate them when seen to the next magistrat or officer of the standing forces
(2) 1559–60 St. A. Kirk S. 58.
The said Besse to be committed to the civill magistrates to be punisched
1615 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 46 (24 Jan.).
The sessioune remittis hir with hir cautioner to the magistrat
1615 Ritchie Churches S. Baldred 89. 1640 Mouswald Kirk S. 1 July.
Atouer that wich the civill magistrat imposeth upon them
1649 Brechin Presb. 14.
That no penalties nor civil punishments be enjoined be any kirk session but that they be cairfull … to have a civil magistrat in every parochin who may exact the respective penalties
(3) attrib. a1578 Pitsc. II. 60/13.
Heretickis … sould be put done be the ciuiell and magistrat law

b. spec. Applied to the provost and baillies of a burgh as having administrative and judicial powers.Perh. also partly as being the (Reformed) church's ‘secular arm’. 1562-3 Winȝet I. 94/23.
[The prouestis and ballies of euiry burgh (quhome we can nocht call magistratis propirlie, as ȝe do, sen thai ar nocht principalis in a fre citie, as wes Rome, to mak lawis, bot suld be subditis to our souerane lady)
1596 Dalr. I. 127/19.]
Cities and tounes haue lykwyse thair awne provistis, bailȝies and sik vthiris magistratis, quha … beir rule bot in commoune effairis
(a) 1565 Mill Mediæv. Plays 154.
Marie … to the provest and ballies of the burgh of Abirdene greting, forsamekill as … certane seditious personis … hes … schakine of all … obedience aught to ȝow our maiestratis [etc.]
1578 Conv. Burghs I. 56.
To the … nobill lordis, burrow maisteris, judges, and maeistrates of the citie of Campfer
1579 Reg. Privy C. III. 137.
[Alms to be given] at the sicht … of the majeistratis of the toun
1581 St. A. Kirk S. 461.
[To] present … in the tolbuith of this citee to the majestrattis of the samyn ane supplicatioun
1641 Glasgow Burgesses 105. 1641 Irvine Mun. II. 51.
Gif … the maisterat put not this act to executioun to be fynit
1655 Stirling B. Rec. I. 218.(b) 1564 Perth B. Ct. 178 (10 Nov.).
And the magistratis perturbit in executioun of justice to vtheris
1578 Conv. Burghs I. 59.
To impetrat of the magistratis of Antuarp tua or thre houssis [etc.]
1572-5 Diurn. Occurr. 341. (1546) Balfour Pract. 43.
The lordis of counsall may remove … provest, ballie or officiar within burgh and charge the remanent magistratis, counsall and communitie … to cheis ane uther in his place
1584 Acts III. 361/2. 1585–6 Reg. Privy C. IV. 42. 1597 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 196.
The magestratts
1600 Reg. Privy C. VI. 125.
[They cannot find caution for the whole town, being] onlie magistratis and officiaris of the said burgh, removable fra thair officeis everie yeir at Michaelmes
1624 Peebles B. Rec. I. 363. 1630 Justiciary Cases I. 147. 1638 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 135.
That nane within this burghe who hes subscryvit the covenant … be chosin a councellour or magistratt
1656 Conv. Burghs III. 423. 1660 Rothesay B. Rec. 47.
The magistrats and landimeris being conveinet
1661 Aberd. Council Lett. IV. 167.
His disobedience and inorderly cariage towards his magistrats
1670 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. III. 143.
Albeit the supplicant … be ane old magistrat of the towne, and therefore ought to have the priviledge [etc.]
1671 Acts Sederunt 11 Feb. (Jam.).
Magistrates of burghs
1674 Edinb. B. Rec. X. 191. 1693 Irvine Mun. II. 107. 1697 Peebles B. Rec. II. 158.

2. Conduct as a magistrate or ruler; authority or rule of magistrates; magistracy. 1571 J. Maitland Maitl. F. clxxvii. 100.
Quho hes the wogue him all the warld dois wew And magistrat the man dois manifest
1596 Dalr. I. 105/22.
Quhen euerie commoune weil that evir flurished … is conteinet in certane ordours, lawis and magistrates [L. magistratibus]

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"Magistrat n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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