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

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First published 1971 (DOST Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Missive, n. Also: misive, missiwe, -yve, -ywe, -eve, (missue), misseif, myssive, -yve, -yf; messive, -iwe, -yve, -eve, -eiv. [e.m.E. missive (1577–87), F. missive (Cotgr.): cf. Missive,a.]

1. A written message or letter from one person to another.Freq. one of a formal nature, as a request or petition to an authority.(a) 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. ii. 45.
How Acontius till Cydippe anone Wrait his complaint … With vther lustie missiues mony one
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus ii. 80.
Deliuer thame [the nine Muses] this pretty small missiue
Ib. 635.
His small missiue belyue he gaif him fro Vnto thir thre, kneilling downe to the eird
Ib. 164, 537. Id. Seven S. 85.
Sa was fra hand direct sone ane missyue Poist efter poist
Ib. 715.
The empreour sone gart mak ane missiue
a1568 Scott ix. 18.
It is the hairt to quhome ȝe wret The misseif full of hairtis seir
1563 St. A. Kirk S. 152.
Thai exhibit to the superintendent ane myssyve direct to hym fra the sayd Thomas Scot
1564 Ib. 231.
Anent the stop of mariaige … mayd be twa myssivis of Patrik Lord Lindesay send to the ministeris of Largo and Cowpar
Myssyve(s, myssyvis
1570 Facs. Nat. MSS. III. lxi.
After harty commendation of my seruice vnto your rycht wyrshipfull I receaved your missive
1598 Household Bks. Jas. VI and Anne 30 Sept.
To sindrie postis derectit with misives
1620 Grant Chart. 324.
For ane troghe of gilt paper to the laird to wreit ane missiue
 Earl of Hammilton in Generall Demands Concerning the Late Covenant (1638) Sig. B 3b.
The missive once thought fit to be sent to his majesty was never rent
(b) 1554 Treas. Acc. X. 224.
To ane boy passand witht the Quenis grace messives to my lord duke and the lard of Prestoun
Ib. 235. 1597–8 Misc. Spald. C. V. 69.
To Alexr Hay, poist, to gang to my Lord Huntlye witht ane messive fra the toune concerning the apprehending of sum men with false cunȝie
1685 Rothesay B. Rec. 406.
The balȝyes of Rothesay haveing conveint in order of ane messive sent to them be Sir George Drumond provost of Edinburgh

2. An authoritative or official communication or message in letter form.(a) 1547 Armstrong Hist. Liddesdale App. lxxxiv. 1548 Treas. Acc. IX. 237.
That thai keip thair dyet to convene at Peblis … togidder with missivis to all the gentillmen of Fyf to keip the samyn
1564 Reg. Privy C. I. 283.
And thir lettres wer execut and missyves deliverit be Williame Seytoun pursevant
1579 Acts III. 151/1.
The foreyn missives … ar onlie to be subscriuit be the King
1583 Conv. Burghs I. 179.
For ansuering to his hienes thre missives concerning the myneis, the conservatour and the customar of Aberdene
1583–4 Perth B. Ct. 28 Jan.
Ordanis James Stewart … to content and pay to Margaret Stewart … conforme to ane missue producit be the said James direct to him be Johne Stewart of Appin
1588 Conv. Burghs I. 285.
Followis the tennour of the said embassadouris missive
1590 St. A. Kirk S. 690.
The sessioun hes ordanit ane missive to be send to the laird of Balcomy to conpeir before thame
1592–3 Misc. Spald. C. V. 117.
To gang with missives to Drimy, Leyis, and Cors … to adwerteis thame of the helan menis incursionis
1600 Misc. Maitl. C. III. 112.
His majestie be his missiue commanded my lord chancelar to cause proclame the parliament
c1610 Melville Mem. 283.
To the quhilk convention his maieste directyd missyues to some of the nobilitie
1617 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II. 26.
To Mr John Archbald for his paines … in directing the missives quhilk wer sent fra the counsell to the noblemen and gentlemen in Stirlingshire
1639 Remonstrance of Nobility [etc.] 18.
Justice hath been refused us, according to law … for feare to offend against missives procured against us
1679 Dumbarton B. Rec. 88.
A missive produced, signed by Sir George Mackenzie, ordering the provost and baillies … to compeir before the Privy Counsell
1697 Glasgow B. Rec. IV. 257.
For takein things to consideration anent unfree traders, as is specified in the missive directed for that effect
(b) 1578 Acts III. 97/2.
The secretar and his deputtis sall attend vpoun … the dispatche & ressait of all messyves forane

3. spec. The official letter sent to each of the members of the Convention of Burghs announcing a meeting of the Convention and listing the subjects to be discussed.Also generall missive. 1590 Conv. Burghs I. 330.
The said burch sending with the burch ewest on dispensit with ane missiue autentiklye subscryuit
Ib. 329.
Ib. 331.
1592 Ib. 387.
The samyn to be remimberit as ane speciall haid in thair missiwes
1599 Irvine Mun. II. 40.
1607 Inverness Rec. II. 55.
And thair to hawe voitit on certan heidis contenit in thair messiwe
1624 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 226.
Receave heirwith the generall missive direct from the burgh of Linlithgow for keiping of the said conventioun
Ib. 227. 1627 Conv. Burghs III. 240. 1629 Linlithgow B. Rec. 2 Oct.
And that it be ane heid of the … generall missive
1635 Dumfr. & Galloway Soc. XVII. 317.
To the clerkis for extracting of the comptis and messives to the burrowes

b. Missive dewes, dues, the payment required to reimburse the annual administrative expenses of the Convention of Burghs, which was apportioned between the various members by proportions specified in the missive announcing the following year's or a subsequent convention. Also c. shortened to: messeivs.b. (a) 1655 Banff Ann. I. 139.
[Patrick Stewart chosen commissioner for the Convention of Burghs and allowed 14 marks] for being his charges by and attour the missive deves
1677 Aberd. Council Lett. VI. 101.
The said burgh ther proportion of 3006 lib. 13 sh. 4 d. of missive dewes for 1673
1691 Pittenweem Ann. 100.
The town's ecquies and missive dewes
1697 Glasgow Stent Bk. Pref.
The soume of tuo thousand foresaid … [being] this tounes proportion of the burrow missive dues payable in July nixt
(b) 1677 Irvine Mun. II. 275.
To William Brown adjent ther proportiown of 8832 li. 12 s. of messive dewes conforme to ane acte at Glasgowe in Jully 1675 at 18 s. on ilk 100 lib. Irwins proportiown is [£80]
1676 Rothesay B. Rec. 347.
Exchequer and messive dues
c. 1677 Irvine Mun. II. 275.
Conform to ane acte of barrows at Edinbrugh in Jully 1676 Irwins proportiown of 2821 lib. 12 s. for messeivs is 25 lib. 7 s.

4. A semi-formal document in the form of a letter, in which a person commits himself to some legal undertaking or acknowledges an obligation or the discharge of a debt, etc.As a promissory note, a preliminary document interchanged by the parties to a contract, a receipt for payment, etc.Such a document was less binding than a fully formal legal document, by which in some cases it might be succeeded. More freq. missive letter, bill: see Missive a. 1508 Rentale Dunkeld 2.
Resavit … a note of ane hundreth mark aucht to my said lord … togidder witht ane missy we for the delyverance of the samyn
1572 Reg. Privy C. II. 139.
In the writting of missives and other writtis
1579–80 Ib. III. 256.
Missive from auld Erll Matho to his broder

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"Missive n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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