Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LAWBURROWS, Also la(w)borrow(e)s, -borras, -borrous, -bohrows, -burroes, laaboroughs; ¶lee-. [′lbʌrəs]

1. Sc. Law: legal security given by one person that he will keep the peace towards another who can show reason for apprehending violence or mischief at his hands. The process corresponds to the Eng. “to enter into recognisances to keep the peace.” Gen.Sc., now mainly hist. Hence phrs. caution of lawburrows, id.; letters of lawburrows, the warrant issued to the complainer by a court under the signet and directed to messengers-at-arms, charging the person complained against to give security. “The Civil Imprisonment (Scotland) Act 1882, s. 6, rendered such Letters incompetent and substituted a petition to the Sheriff” (Sc. 1896 W. K. Morton Manual 463). Peb. 1703 Burgh Rec. Peb. (1910) 169:
The magistrats and counsell, considdering the great abuse done be James Hall … are therfor resolved to raise counsell lawborrowes against the said James.
Lnk. 1717 Minutes J.P.s (S.H.S.) 219:
The foresaid persons should have been decerned to find sufficient caution in lawburrows acted in the Court books of the saids Justices of Peace, to keep the said pursuer harmless and skaithless of them.
n.Sc. 1735 W. Fraser Chiefs of Grant (1883) II. 339:
I think a lawborras against them all would be very necessary, since they openly and avowedly declare that they will take his life.
Sc. 1787 R. Boyd Office of J.P. I. 38:
Any person who dreads bodily harm may apply to the Justices for caution of lawburrows … containing a warrant to charge the party complained of to give security that the complainer shall be kept harmless from illegal violence.
Sc. 1805 Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) I. 258:
He is upon no account to take it upon himself to grant Lawburrows as a matter of course without consulting either you or me.
Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 168:
Dinna ye think that I should tak my stick i' my hand, as a kind o' lawburrows and protection?
Bch. 1932 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 103:
In Mr Craigie's time A cud 'a' hid a Lawbohrows oot agains' ye. That wid 'a' keepit ye in aboot.
Sc. 1951 Sunday Times (29 July):
On the Isle of Lewis a crofter has brought an action of “lawburrows” against a neighbour. It must have puzzled the sheriff, for — with one exception, in 1916 — there has been no case of this kind in more than 100 years.
Sc. 1958 Daily Mail (18 Dec.):
Dockers' union official … has a month to find ¥100 as surety that he will not molest his son “for all time coming.” If not, under the old Scots law of “Lawburrows” he will go to prison for 60 days.

2. By extension: an injunction, a strict condition or admonition (Ork. 1960). Ork. 1929 Marw.:
His wife laid him under lawborrows to come home sober. He was under lawborrows no to tell.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 144:
Strict laaboroughs wis laid on him that he wis on no account tae enter.

[O.Sc. law-borch, pl. law borowis, id., from 1457, from Law, n.1 + Borrow, n.1, q.v.]

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"Lawburrows n. pl.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Sep 2020 <>



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