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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

MAGISTRATE, n. Also †magistreet (Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 172). Sc. usages:

1. A title given to a provost or bailie of a burgh by virtue of the powers of criminal and civil jurisdiction conferred upon him similar to those of a justice of the peace. Hence magistracy, the office of magistrate.Gsw. 1700 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (20 Jan.) 295:
The said magistrates and towne cownsell of Dumbartowne doe denude themselves in favours of the said burgh of Glasgow of the dueties formerly payable.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute i. iv. 21:
Magistrates of boroughs, though not royal, have the cognisance of debts, and questions of possession between the inhabitants . . . The magistrates of some boroughs are by their charter constituted justices of the peace within the bounds of their erection, in which case they have also a cumulative jurisdiction with the county justices.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
I am a free burgess and a magistrate o' Glasgow; Nicol Jarvie is my name, sae was my father's afore me — I am a bailie, be praised for the honour.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost ii.:
Every body kens, and I ken too, that ye're ettling at the magistracy. It's as plain as a pikestaff, gudeman, and I'll no let ye rest if ye dinna mak me a bailie's wife or a' be done.
Sc. 1830 W. Chambers Bk. of Scotland 69:
The number of magistrates varies in different towns. In some places there are four bailies, and no provost. In others there is a provost, with two or more bailies.
Sc. 1904 A. M. Anderson Crim. Law Scot. 227:
Magistrates are bound to attend the Lords of Justiciary during their circuits in the respective cities of the magistrates.
Sc. 1927 Gloag & Henderson Intro. Law Scot. 16:
The magistrates of a burgh have, under the Burgh Police Acts, 1892 and 1903, under local and personal acts, and, in the case of royal burghs, at common law, a civil and criminal jurisdiction analogous to that of the justice of the peace.

2. A red herring (Sc. 1903 E.D.D.; Rnf. 1962), shortened form of Glasgow magistrate s.v. Glesca, 3. (11).Rnf. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 119:
Ham's unco dear, sae, if ye like, we's hae a “magistrate”.

[O.Sc. magistrate, = 1., appar. used first by the Reformers, c.1560. See Winȝet Tractates (S.T.S.) I. 94.]

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



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