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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SERVICE, n. Sc. usages:

1. Compulsory or forced labour as a penalty for crime, penal servitude, in law phr. to adjudge one's service, in sentences of transportation: to consign (a person) to a contractor of such labour who shipped the convict to the colony and handed him over to the custody of the governor (see 1800 quot.) in accordance with the Act of 1765.Sc. 1768 Scots Mag. (July) 384:
Andrew Boyle . . indicted for stealing a pair of sheets and two shirts, at Airth, in March last, on his petitioning, and the advocate-depute's consenting, was banished to the plantations for life, his service for the first seven years adjudged to the person who shall transport him.
Sc. 1800 D. Hume Trial for Crimes II. 366:
At a still later period, when the situation of things had given occasion to permanent contracts between his Majesty's servants and individuals, for the transportation of convicts to the foreign plantations, it came to be a part of the sentence, that the services of the convict were adjudged to such contractor for a term of years; he giving bond under a certain penalty, to land the person in one of the American colonies; and to report within a year and day a regular certificate to that effect.

2. Labouring or unskilled work in gen., specif. the labouring work involved in building a house, e.g. the digging of the foundations, preparing of mortar, carrying of materials, etc. Hence serviceman, a builder's or thatcher's labourer.Ayr. 1720 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (21 Dec.) 72:
For thatchers and serviceman for thatching fourty merks . . . for a mans service in trysting straw watles scobs & divotts.
Ayr. 1745 Munim. Irvine (1891) 334:
To sclatters and service men for stripping the old prison and sclatting the new.
Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 27:
More commonly the landlord pays the materials and workmen, and the tenant carries the one, and furnishes meat and service to the other.

3. Pay, remuneration for work.Gsw. 1843 Children in Trades Report ii. i. 47:
Then he follows and gets “his service” at the warehouse; i.e. is paid for his week's work.

4. As in Eng., the serving of food or drink. Specif. (1) the serving by the elders of the elements at the Communion in Presbyterian churches. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1709 W. Steuart Collections ii. iv. § 20:
Service of tables by elders and deacons.
Fif. 1830 Perthshire Advert. (15 July):
Persons who received tokens marked No. 1, were informed that they were to sit at the first service — those who had tokens No. 2, were to come forward to the second service.

(2) the serving of refreshments, a round of drinks, specif. among the mourners at a funeral (Sc. 1825 Jam.), or guests at a wedding (em.Sc.(a), Lnk. 1970). Hence service man, one chosen to dispense this. Cf. server s.v. Serve, v.1, 1.(1)(ii).Ayr. 1788 Burns Go Fetch to me i.:
I may drink before I go, A service to my bonie lassie.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 9:
Whisky ay gars courage come, . . . For first ae service, then anither His courage syne began to gather.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail ix.:
They were so chilled that they stood in need of another service.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 316:
All they want by repeating often, Let us lift, boys, is to have another service or round of bread, cheese and whisky.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 587:
In “bidding to the burial,” no hour was mentioned, as ten o'clock in the morning was understood to be the time of assembling, and two or three o'clock in the afternoon, that of “lifting.” The intervening time was occupied in treating with “services,” the various individuals as they arrived; these “services” being interspersed with numerous lengthened prayers and graces.
Wgt. 1897 66th Report Brit. Ass. 482:
Men were appointed to hand round the refreshments, and they were called “service men”. There are generally four or five, and at times as many as six “services”. Commonly a “service man” stood at the door and proferred a glass of whisky to each one on his arrival.
Fif. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 62:
Whit dae ye think the service wis? Naethin' mair nor less than a hauf tumblerfu' o' neat whisky till every ane that wis there.

5. Sc. Law: the procedure by which heritable property is transmitted to an heir, before 1874 by inquest and Retour, thereafter by petition to court (Sc. 1798 Monthly Mag. (Sept.) 177), a special service referring to particular lands, a general service being without such restriction (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 81). See Serve, v.1, 1.(3). The procedure has been rendered obsol. by the Succession (Scotland) Act (1964).Sc. 1734 J. Spotiswood Hope's Practicks 166:
A General service, which gives to the Heir served, Right to the universum jus of the Heretage.
Sc. 1758 Faculty Decisions II. 206:
No estate can transmit, ipso jure, from the dead to the living. . . . There must be a service either special or general, . . . to transfer that right which was in the defunct to the person of the heir.
Sc. 1808 Morison Decisions App. Service 11:
Service was properly a feudal form, and intended to satisfy the superior of the heir's right of succession, and to procure investiture.
Sc. 1927 Gloag and Henderson Intro. Law Scot. 459:
Prior to 1874 . . . the heir acquired no transmissible right in the lands until he took the appropriate steps to establish his right. This he might do by service, that is by means of proceedings in which, on proving his right of succession, he obtained a decree of Court serving him heir.
Sc. 1958 Intro. Sc. Legal Hist. (Stair Soc.) 171:
Proof of heirship, if necessary, was, and is, obtained by Service, Special or General, a matter of judicial procedure. By special service an heir connects himself as such with an ancestor in relation to specific subjects in which the ancestor died infeft, whereas by general service he establishes his identity as heir in general.
Sc. 1969 M. C. Meston Succession Scot. Act (1964) 15:
Sections 27 to 50 of the Titles to Land Consolidation (Scotland) Act 1868, dealing with service of heirs, are repealed. Services will accordingly become very rare as the number of cases arising in respect of deaths prior to the commencement of the Act falls away. Power is taken by Section 35 to transfer the whole jurisdiction over services to the Sheriff of Chancery.

6. Sc. Law: = Servitude (see quot.).Sc. 1722 W. Forbes Institutes I. i. 136:
A Service is a burden upon one's Property, whereby the Proprietor, for anothers Conveniency, is either forced to allow something to be done upon his Land or Tenement, or hindered from doing that, which may be profitable to himself.

[O.Sc. service (of heirs), 1597, at Communion, 1590.]

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"Service n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Jun 2023 <>



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