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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.

NATION, n. [‡′nɑ:ʃən]

Sc. usage: one of the divisions of the student body in the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, and till 1858 of St Andrews, made according to place of birth for the purpose of electing a Rector, a survival of the system of nations in the medieval universities of Bologna and Paris.Abd. 1723 Fasti Aberdon. (S.C.) II. 14:
The whole students of the College divide themselves into the four Nations of Mar, Buchan, Murray, and Angus.
Sc. 1726 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) III. 365:
Upon the 16th of this moneth the Rector was chosen at the Colledge of Glasgow . . . when the time of choice came, the day before every class wer listed according to the four Nations in the statute, Glottiani, Transforthani, Lothiani and Gallovidiani, and the exterior strangers wer classed with the Lothiani. The Masters also classed themselves by their Nations, that is, the places where they wer born.
Sc. 1807 J. Grierson St Andrews (1838) 198:
These masters and students compose the comitia of the university, and are upon this occasion distributed into four divisions called nations, viz. Fifans, Angusians, Lothians, and Albans, according as they happen to be natives of the county of Fife, of Angus, or of Lothian, or of none of these three districts; for the denomination of Albans comprehends all those who belong to none of the other three classes. Sc. 1825 Sir Walter's Post-Bag (Partington 1932) 263: Sir [Scott], We, the Intrants of the Nations of the University of Saint Andrews have the honour of informing you that by our unanimous consent you were this day chosen as our Rector.
Sc. 1878 Sc. Univs. Commission Report I. 90 1:
In two of the Universities, Glasgow and Aberdeen, the election is by the students voting in four nations, each nation having one voice in the election.
Sc. 1934 W. M. Alexander Four Nations of Abd. Univ. 2:
Only in the four universities in Scotland do the students to-day possess the right, once widespread amongst their forerunners in continental Europe, of electing the rector. Only in Glasgow and Aberdeen do the student nations — four in number as in medieval Paris — make the election. And only in Aberdeen do they do so through the procurators of the nations. The practice in Aberdeen is thus the closest approximation now existing to the original usage.
Sc. 1946 R. G. Cant Univ. St Andrews 112:
The Commissioners appointed under the Act [of 1858] . . . decided to discard the system of voting by nations, although this was preserved in the case of Glasgow and Aberdeen.

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"Nation n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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