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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

VASSAL, n. Also Sc. form †vaishle. Sc. usages:

1. Sc. Law: one who has the exclusive possession and use of land in perpetuity in return for a fixed annual payment of feu-duty to a Superior, a Feuar. Hence sub-vassal, one to whom a vassal sub-feus a piece of land. See Subfeu.Sc. 1709 Compend of Securities 154:
Disposition of Superiority by the Superior, in Favours of a Vassal.
Sc. 1739 Morison Decisions 14507:
The vassal is not bound to accept of a new charter, disconform to his former rights.
Sc. 1761 Caled. Mercury (11 Feb.):
A Head Court is to be held in the Canongate, for collecting and in-gathering the feu duties resting by the vassals there.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii, iii. § 13:
A vassal may make over his property to a sub-vassal by a subaltern right.
Sc. 1806 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) I. 335:
Landlord and tenant Chieftain and clan Superior and vassal.
Sc. 1853 H. Barclay Justice's Digest 964:
Vassal is he who has the right of fee or property — dominium utile — distinguished from the right of superiority. or dominium directum.
Sc. 1891 J. Craigie Conveyancing 83:
A superior can raise a personal action for the feu-duty due to him by his own vassal against sub-vassals for the amount of their subfeuduties.
Sc. 1927 Gloag and Henderson Intro. Law Scot. 80:
In contracts between superior and vassal it is the general rule that they run, not strictly with the lands, but with the successors of each party in the contractual relationsnip.
Sc. 1966 Scotsman (21 Dec.) 9:
Heritable properties are now generally held by their owners as vassals of the Crown or of subject superiors whose rights derive ultimately from the Crown.

2. A maidservant (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 204, vaishle).

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"Vassal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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