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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.

BEDELLUS, BIDELLUS, n. Originally the chief porter and mace-bearer in the Universities of St Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Now the macebearer in most Scottish universities; in the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee, still also the chief porter/janitor.Cf. Sacrist.Sc. 1700 R. Wodrow Early Letters (S.H.S.) 77:
I received your last of May 13th by our bedellus with your present of fosils.
Sc. 1914 Glasgow Herald 18 Dec.:
A rather unique record has just been established by the enlistment, for the fifth time, of Mr W S Mitchell, janitor and bedellus in the University of Edinburgh. Mr Mitchell rejoins his old regiment, the Black Watch, as a colour-sergeant.
Sc. 1994 Herald (14 Nov.)  5:
Glasgow School of Art student Fiona Busby presented a chair she designed on behalf of the city council to Glasgow University chancellor Lord Nickson at a graduation ceremony in the Royal Concert Hall yesterday. University bedellus George Adam holds a mace also made at the art school.
Dundee 1998 Press and Journal (27 Oct.)  6:
Almost 300 nurses and midwives received their academic qualifications from Dundee University yesteday ... The ceremony was preceded by the traditional gowned academic procession from the City Chambers across the City Square, led by the mace-bearing bedellus - an ancient university term relating to beadle and used for an official with processional duties.
Sc. 2005:
My duties as Bedellus [of St Andrews University] are purely ceremonial. I lead the academic procession, carrying the University mace, at Chapel service which is conducted every Sunday morning during term time only. I am head macebearer at all seven graduation ceremonies held in June.
Abd.16 1934:
Bidellus, bedellus. A college janitor in St Andrews and Glasgow (in Aberdeen the term is Sacrist).
Gsw. 1927 D. Murray Old College of Glasgow 307:
The Principal . . . and other members of the Senate, preceded by the bedellus bearing the mace, entered and took their seats.

[Du Cange gives this as equivalent to “bedeau,” and so covering all meanings like beadle, court usher, etc. The Scottish usage is the medieval Latin word imported from the university of Paris. There each of the four nations [student groups] had a “bedellus,” whose office was, inter alia, to carry the mace of the nation upon formal occasions (Abd.16).]

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"Bedellus n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 May 2022 <>



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