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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LYON, n. Also †lion. The title of the chief herald of Scotland, short for Lord Lyon King of Arms (see Lord, 2. (18)). Freq. attrib. as in Lyon Clerk (-Depute), the clerk (-depute) of the Lyon Court, Lyon Court, the Court of Heralds in Scotland, Lyon Depute, Lyon Herald, Lyon King, Lyon Office. The office is first recorded in 1377.Sc. 1703 Fountainhall Decisions II. 196:
It were absurd to make either the sheriff or lion accountable for the malversations of their mairs or messengers.
Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institute ii. 191:
The Lyon King of Arms, or King at Arms, who holds his Office by Patent under the Great Seal, attests Genealogies, admits Officers at Arms, viz. Heralds, Pursevants, and Messengers.
Sc. 1732 Records Conv. Burghs (1885) 540:
Ane action raised against the town of Edinburgh by the lord lyon before the lyon court for not matriculating the towns coat of arms.
Sc. 1760 Caled. Mercury (23 Jan.):
The Office of Dingwall Pursuivant being vacant, any person who inclines to purchase said office, may apply to Thomas Brodie, Writer to the Signet, Lyon-depute, or Robert Donaldson Lyon-clerk-depute.
Sc. 1794 Morison Decisions 15538:
There were no arms of Moir of Leckie matriculated in the Lyon-office.
Sc. 1808 Scott Marmion iv. viii.:
Down from his horse did Marmion spring, Soon as he saw the Lion-King. Note: — I am uncertain if I abuse poetical licence, by introducing Sir David Lindesay in the character of Lion-Herald, sixteen years before he obtained that office.
Sc. 1936 Sources Sc. Law (Stair Soc.) 381, 387:
Lyon Court is in origin that of the High Sennachie of Scotland, on whom rested the duty of preserving the genealogy of the Royal line . . . Until 1867 the Lord Lyon as a great officer of the Court and Household had seldom leisure to execute the routine duties of his office which were delegated to a legally qualified Lyon-Depute.
Sc. 1960 Scotsman (13 May) 8:
How stirring it would be if the Scottish magnates whom Lyon was addressing were to pay heed to his words and send their boys to Scottish day schools. But there is no chance of them doing that.

[O.Sc., Latinised as Leo heraldus, 1377, Lyone heralde, — Kinge of armes, 1474, Lord Lyon, 1632, from the armorial bearing of the Kings of Scotland, the lion rampant, which is worn on his robes, the old spelling being retained.]

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"Lyon n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Mar 2024 <>



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