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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).

Treso(u)n(e, Tresso(u)n(e, Tra(y)soun(e, n. Also: tresown(e, treas(s)o(u)n(e, thressoun, tresoan, trewsone, tra(y)son(e, traiso(u)n, trasin, trassoun, trahiso(u)n. [ME and e.m.E. treison (a1225), tresun (a1240), trayson (1297), treson (Rolle), tresoun (Wyclif), traisoun (14th c.), tresson (c1400), treasoune (1473), AF tre(y)soun, OF traison, F. trahison.]

1. The action of being disloyal, betrayal of trust; treachery. Also in fig. context.(a) 1375 Barb. iv 109.
Tratour, A fals lourdane … maid the tresoun
1375 Barb. v 529 (C).
a1400 Leg. S. xl 866.
The knycht … viste nocht Of this tresone aganis hym wrocht
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1517 (D).
So wikked a tratour … Throw quhois tresoun Polixene, The kingis douchter … Was slane
c1400 Troy-bk. ii 1880.
c1420 Wynt. v 4359.
Tresowne till hyme done Be Modred hys systyr sone
c1420 Wynt. vii 102 (W).
He fra thinfurth suld be lele Till him, and with na tressoun dele
c1420 Wynt. viii 2289.
c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 56.
The treson telle That to thy sister trewe … Was kythit by hir husband false … For quhois gilt … Chide thir husbandis that are false
1456 Hay I 64/36.
The cas befell of the cruell tresoun of Julius Cesar
a1508 Want of Wyse Men 51 (B).
Now … trewth is tressoun, and faith is fals fekilnes
c1475 Wall. x 471.
Bruce said: Fer ma on this day we haiff losyt. Wallace ansuerd: Allace, thai war ewill cosyt Throuch thi tresson
a1508 Kennedy Pass. Christ 358.
Thai laithly lippis vntit with fals tressoun
a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 275.
Dunbar, that auld spelunk of tressoun
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 107/2.
In vice most vicius he excellis That with the vice of tressone mellis
1528 Lynd. Dreme 952.
Justice, almaist haith tynt hir sycht, … Plane wrang … debarris laute and reassoun, And small remeid is found for oppin treassoun
1531 Bell. Boece II 234.
The treason done to thaim be gile of Inglismen
1572 Sat. P. xxxiv 27.
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. i 15.
Resolu'd, by force, by subtil slight, or treassoune, To siege, and sack the rampier of my ressoune
(b) c1420 Wynt. vi 1846.
(c) 1456 Hay II 35/28.
A full fals hert, full of barate, trechery, and traysoun
a1538 Abell 10*b.
Slauchtir of lordis be trason excersit Kyng Drust
1549 Compl. 106 heading
(d) 1568 Cal. Sc. P. II 538.
1568–9 Anderson Collect. Mary IV ii 186.
The unfaithfulnes and trahisoun of our rebellis
1568–9 Curiosities Charta Chest 191.
Fals inventions … practisit agains us, to cullour thair trahisouns and wicket usurpation

2. The crime of treason.See Stair quot. in (d) and Bell Dict. Law Scotl. for the detailed significance of tresoun in Scots law.(a) 1386 Rot. Sc. II 85/2.
That nane of outher syde of the bondes forseid for thift murthir treson or ref sal change fays or be receptit in others bondys
c1420 Ratis R. 1535.
Tyll hurt the comon profyt … is wer than is tresone
14.. Acts I 23/2.
Gif ony uplandis man challangis a burges … he may nocht fecht apon the burges … bot gif it be of tresoun [L. prodicione] or of theme quhar of he sall were hym with batayle
1483–4 Acts II 165/2.
Considdering the greit tresoun slauchteris reiffis thiftis and vther enormiteis with disobeying and lychtlying of the kingis autorite
1494 Loutfut MS 113a.
Gif the batell that beis for tresoun or murthir or ony siclik criminable actioun passis to the vterest the ta partii beand discomfit … his harnes sal nocht be lousit bot … cuttit of him
1518 Treas. Acc. V 152.
The summondis of tresoun, direct apon the lard of Weddirburn
1526 Reg. Privy S. I 542/1.
Quhilk ward … now pertenis to our soverane lord be resoun of eschete throw forfatour led upoun him for crimis of tresoun and lese majeste
1535 Acts II 350/1.
That the males and dewiteis of the landis of thaim that hes bene ȝeir and day at the horne [etc.] … except crymes of tresoun and lese maieste
a1578 Pitsc. II 250/6.
Patrick Ogilve … had wreittin dyueris wreittingis for the betraissing and distructioun thairof [sc. the castle] to thair enimyes … he … confessit his tresowne
1680 Dunlop P. III 7.
Informing my Lord Rose that my husband was guelty of tresoan
(b) 1473–4 Treas. Acc. I 4.
A remissione for all accionis except tressone, murthyre, slachter and thyft
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1459.
Thairfoir thow suffer sall ane schamefull end And deith, sic as to tressoun is decreit Onto the gallous harlit be the feit
1488 Crim. Trials I i 8.
That Johne Lord Bothuile has committ and done tressoune
1540 Lynd. Sat. 952 (Ch.).
Cum nocht neir the king[i]s grace … vnder the paine of tressoun
c1540 Lynd. Syde Taillis 5.
Ȝit mak I supplicatioun, Tyll haue sum reformatioun Of ane small falt, quhilk is nocht tressoun, Thocht it be contrarie to ressoun
1548 Treas. Acc. IX 182.
To summond the clannis of Gallovay and Annerdale upoun pointtis of tressoun
1566 Anderson Collect. Mary I 38.
Sua committand oppin and manifest tressoun aganis hir hienes
1596–7 Crim. Trials II 6.
The conventioun in the new kirk is na cryme, let be a cryme of tressoun
1598–9 Crim. Trials II 81.
He can nocht be put to ane assyse, in respect that he is nocht deprehendit in a mater of tressoun … thairfoir sould haif bene summond vpone a fyftene dayis wairning
c1650 Spalding I 219.
His subiectis ar bound to ryss and assist him, wnder the pane of tressoun
(c) 1543 Reg. Privy S. III 47/2.
Ane respitt maid to Johnne Chalmer … for the tressonable abyding … at hame fra umquhile oure soverane lordis oist, … and for … thressoun in his persone and oure soverane ladyis persone … alanerlie except
1624 Elgin Rec. II 185.
Quhilk day his majestie eschapit Gowrie thressoun
(d) 1558-66 Knox II 321.
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 67.
I obteinet both lettres of horning, and lettres charging him, vnder paine of treasone to put me at libertie
1574 Dalyell Darker Superst. 648.
a1578 Pitsc. II 140/7.
1584 Gowrie P. 37 (see Tratorouslie adv.).
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 130b.
The greatest capitall crime is treason. And the greatest point of treason is against the king, or sedition contrair his majestie, his persone, his kingdome or his hoist
a1633 Hope Major Pract. I 274.
James Earle of Buchan accused of certane poynts of treasone and becumes ignobill
1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 13.
Puting of the letteres of treason aganes him to execution
1678 Mackenzie Laws & C. i xxvi 4 (1699) 132.
If a messenger were executing letters of caption against a traitor for treason, any who would deforce him would commit treason, and that were to be art and part of treason
1681 Stair Inst. iii iii § 28.
Forfeiture … is the penalty of the highest crime, to wit, treason; which at first, and by its native signification, it expresseth crimes against the life of any party under trust: so the slaughter of any person under trust, credit or power of the slayer is declared treason
1684 Lauder Observes 129.
That Sir James Dalrymple … might be cited for treason in resetting intercommoned ministers in his house
1685 Acts VIII 461/1.
That the giving or taking … of the league and covenant … shall infer the crime … of treason
(e) c1500 Harl. MS 4700 294a.
Item tratory and trasoun agane the king
1513 Doug. xi Prol. 132.
Gif he Commyttis anys trayson, suld he nocht de?
1542 Douglas Corr. 146.
Chargeing thame, under the payne of traysoun, to cum and serve the governour [etc.]
1549 Lamb Resonyng 45/14.
Thai had committit trasoun a contra Scotland
1596 Dalr. I 314/15.
1596 Dalr. II 10/6.
Of trasoun (thay) ar conuicte
1617 Sutherland Bk. II 131.
Ane act maid that quha revischid ane damisell … it suld be trasone
(f) 1573 Elgin Rec. I 142.

b. With particular qualifiers: (1) Hie, pittie treassoun, appar. borrowed from English legal practice. See OED Treason n. 2. (2) Interpretative treason, such as may be construed as treason. (3) Powder trasin, treason involving the use of gunpowder. See Pouder n. 3 b (3) for a further example.(1) 1600-1610 Melvill 377.
The sam … is giffen out … for a conspiracie … of hie treassone, against his majestie's persone and counsallours … wharfore we sould be apprehendit as seditius trators … and condemnit to … executioun
1626 Reg. Great S. 336/1.
Willelmus Dowglas … pro certis criminibus proditorie et lese majestatis forisfactus et ad mortem condemnatus erat que crimina non contra personam regis nec statum regni commissa erant sed solum lie pittie-treasoun
(2) 1682 Lauder Observes App. iv 305.
He had so mangled the Test … and swa … abused it with his slaver, that it was … agreed upon to be at least interpretative treason
(3) 1619 Inverurie 207.
Powder trasin intendit agains him

3. An act of betrayal or treason in senses 1 or (chiefly) 2 above. Also pl.(a) c1515 Asl. MS I 212/6.
Thire fyve tratouris set ane parliament at Londoun and thar put to ded mony lordis of the kingis counsall with vther diuers gret tressonnis aganis the crovne
1533 Bell. Livy I 101/28.
Scho fel ilk day in new tressouns & crymes
1600 Crim. Trials II 126.
The saidis conspiraceis, treasounis and rebelliounis
1600 Crim. Trials II 253.
Sall we trew that he culd haif devysit, his allane, sik a tressoun?
1631 Justiciary Cases I 179.
That the bussines was a tressone intended against his maiestie
a1650 Row 156.
The manifest defections and rebellions of the Apostats … for their treasonable attempts … joyned with the prooff of his Majestie's clemencie in pardoning their treasons [etc.]
(b) 1456 Hay I 254/32.
The fals feyned traisouns of thai twa ladies housbandis … the quhilkis wald avow a fals pape

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"Treson n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2022 <>



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