Note the Scots plural form –is (we’d use –s/-es), and the Scots past participle –it (we’d use –ed), which you may want to drop off a word when looking for definition.

U, v & w were interchangeable before spelling was regulated. Also ‘i‘s in place of ‘j‘s (or otherwise when in Roman numerals).

Qu – is often used instead of “wh“. Hence the abbreviations qm – “whom” / qr – “where” / qch – “which“.

Þ þThorn – “th“. Often a “y” is used instead as in “Ye olde pub“, which was always said “The old pub“.

Ʒ ʒYogh – “y“. An archaic Scots letter that made the surname “Menʒies” pronounced “Mingus”. Often a z replaces it being aesthetically similar rather than for the “z” sound.

The  majority of archaic Scots text becomes clearer on reading it aloud. The  varying spelling can make it seem like a daunting task but I find  saying the text out loud usually makes it obvious.

Abrogat   Repealed. 

Accompt   Account. 

Accres    Increase.

Adscrived   Subscribed. 

Adwysse    Advice.

Aell    Ale. 

Aeriare    To build aeries as hawks. 

Aitht   An oath or pledge. 

Allanerlie / Allenerly   Only. 

Almoigne   Tenure where a religious corporation holds lands given to them and their successors forever.

Alluterlie   Completely / Entirely.

Amanuensis   Transcriber – someone who writes/types up documents or dictation. 

Analyt    Transfer. 

Ane   A. / An. 

Anent   About. 

    Abbreviation of Anno [year]. 

Appenage    Patrimony. 

Appryle    April.

Appunctuat   Fixed by agreement. / Appointed. 

Arras    Tapestry / ies.

Arrysse    Arise.

Assoilzied   Absolved, released from blame.

Ather    Either.

Auctoritey    Authority.

Auen    Own.

Aught   Eighth.

Ayrschep   Heirship. 

Bakyne    Baked.

Balzirie    Baillie.

Bangster   Bully.

Barronfrew    Renfrew.

Beadle   Church official who may keep records/assist in religious functions. 

Begud   Began. 

Behoved    Found it necessary.

Betuix   Between. 

Bignes   Size.

Bigod   Bigoted.

Brifflie    Briefly.

Brueria    A thicket of broom.

Brunt    Burned.

Burna    A burn or brook. 

Byilzeitt    Boiled. 

Calceia-ae    A causeway. 

Calumnies    Lies. / Slanders. 

Caparison    Harness / saddle covering.

Cessionaris   One to whom a cession of property is made. (Usually coupled with “assignais”/”assignay”) 

Chalmer    Chamber / room. 

Cherisse    Cherish.

Chikynis    Chickens. 

Chirurgian   Surgeon. 

Claia wiscata    A wattled hut. 

Cnoll    A knoll. 

Cobella    A coble, or flat fishing boat. 

Coillis    Coal. 

Compeir / Compear(ed)   Appear in court. 

Composition    Agreement.

Concurse    Consent.

Contravenier    Offender.

Contumacious   Stubbornly disobedient towards authority. 

Contumely   Insolent or insulting language or treatment.

Coram / Quorum   Company / gathering.

Corda    An instrument of hunting. 

Craying    Melting.

Croise / Croyse    Cross.

Croysaid    Crusade.

Cundos(um)    The ridge of a hill. 

Cudbear   Purplish / red dye from some lichens. 

Cuik    Cook.

Cunzie    Coinage.

Dae    Doe (female deer).

Deasoil   Clockwise. 

Delate   Report. 

Demitted   Resigned. 

Denunced    Denounced. / Proclaimed.

Depones   Gives testimony.

Depredat(ion)    Driving away cattle with use of arms.

Detruded   Discarded. 

Diffident   Reticent / Lacks Confidence. 

Disinterested   Unbiased / Actions taken without thought of personal gain. 

Dispone   Legally transfer property. 

Disson   Dozen. 

Divers   Diverse / Various. 

Dowis    Doves. 

Durst   Dare. 

Eleemosynary   Relating to charity. 

Egyptians   Gypsies. 

Enfilade   Direct a volley of gunfire along a course. 

Enlarged    Released.

Enow   Enough. 

Erd   Earth.

Ere    Before.

Escheat    Forfeiture of property.

Extrude    Extract.

Fader    Father. 

Falda    A fold. 

Fomenter   Inciter. 

Forby    Besides. 

Forfault    Forfeit. 

Forisveiae / Forsveiae    A penalty for trespassing; perhaps for turning out of a road. 

Fraught    Travel by water.

Furnisar    Supplier. 

Gallepyn    Turnspit / under-servant. 

Grait    Greet / Great  (context req.) 

Grateumly    Greatly.

Grimell    Grumble.

Gif    If. 

Gile   A Gill, still used in the north of England for the cleft of a hill of the channel of a brook. 

Gossep    Godparent.

Guerra    [En]Querré/Enquiry.

Haill   Whole.

Hain    Enclose.

Haldin    Held.

Halghes / Halkahs / Halechs / Hauhwes    Haughs or meadows.

Harrang    Speech.

Haud    Hold.

Heighted   Raised.

Heithertills    Until now.

Hes   Has / His (context req.). 

Hogaster    Perhaps a hog or young sheep. 

Hogus / Hogh    A hill or mount. 

Imprimis    Firstly.

Incontinently    Immediately.

Indewe    Endow.

Indytit   Indicted. Accused / Charged with a crime. 

Infeft(ment)   Official or symbolic bestowal of heritable land on a person. 

Inlangis / Enlang   Along.

Intermedle    Interfere.

Inwere    Civil war.

Inwitt    Invite.

Insewing    Ensuing.

Iter    Roman footpath.

J (roman numeral)   1 – the last “i” can be a “j” but denote the same number.

Jois   To enjoy. / Have the use of. 

Joynter    Jointure. The estate held by a wife for as long as she survives her husband.

Julij    July.

Junij    June.

Kist    Chest.

Kitching/Kiching    Kitchen. 

Klept   Named. 

Ladit    Laden.

Laidnar    Larder. 

Land    In relation to Edinburgh’s history, lands were buildings containing apartments. 

Landae    Arable lands. 

Lauandrie    Laundry. 

Laute   Loyalty. 

Lazar House   Leper hospital or place where lepers were quarantined to. 

Lecche    Small stream through a ditch. 

Leid    Load.

Leidge   Subject.

Lent    Slow (fever).

Lèse-majesté    Treason.

Lesum    Legally permissible.

Libra / lib / (l., s., & d).    £, (pounds, shillings & pence). 

Licentiat    Allow.

Limer    Thief / Villain / Rogue.

Logiae    Lodges. 

Lollardry / Lollardy   Mediaeval English movement for ecclesiastical reform. 

Lubberdly   Lazy / Idle. 

Lyand   Lies – position-wise rather than fibbing. 

Maij    May.

Mannyr   Till or cultivate. 

Manrent    A solemn oath to support another.

Markque (Letter of)    Authorisation from a Regent for the holder to seek redress from any national of the country that did them wrong.

Mayling   The action of leasing property. 

Meetest    Best.

Manteined    Maintained.

Mercat   Market. 

Mereburne    A boundary stream. 

Meruaille    Marvel.

Moeta    A meute or cry of hounds.

Mon be    Must be. 

Montebanck    Charlatan / Con man.

MS. / MSS. Manuscript/(s).

Murren    Grumbling.

Murthering    Murdering.

Mussa    A moss or peat bog. 

Nather    Neither.

Nayn / Nane    None. 

Nutrix    Wet nurse. 

Obloquy    Strong public condemnation.

Orison    Plea / Prayer.

Ouklie    Weekly. 

Pasquil   Satyrical rhyme. 

Pastisar    Pastry chef. 

Pecuniall    Pecuniary / Monetary. Relating to money.

Perfyte    Perfect.

Persewes    Pursues.

Petae / Petaria    Peats, a peatary or peat moss.

Placks    A type of coin.

Privity/ey    Knowledge.

Prodigies    Omens.

Promove    Promote.

Propyn    Something given as a gift.

Prorogat    Extend / Lengthen.

Pryce    Seizure. / Something seized.

Quha    Who.

Quhairin    Wherein. 

Quholsome    Wholesome.

Quhome    Whom. 

Quhilk   Which. 

Quhingear / Quhinzeir   Short sword or dagger. From the Gaelic ‘Cuinnsear’. Sometimes ‘Whinger’.

Quhipt   Whipped. 

Quhyt   White. 

Quytclaim    To Renounce a Claim. 

Rae    Roe deer.

Rancountred   Engaged (in battle).

Randred    Rendered.

Reiterat   Repeated. 

Relict   Widow. 

Repone  Reinstate. 

Repyn    Complain.

Requyste    Request.

Resaitting    Receiving / Accepting.

Reseing    Resign.

Restand   Restituted / Restored. 

Reuelled    Ruled.

Rockariss/Rokkaris    Rockers [nannies] of royal infants. 

Rubricate  Add decorative initial to a manuscript. 

Ryal    A type of coin.

Scalinga    A summer hut used by hill shepherds. 

Schenes    Scenes.

Sederunt   The sitting of an ecclestiastical assembly. 

Senistrously    Maliciously. 

Sic    Such. 

Sicklyk    Such like / such as. 

Sicus    A syke or ditch. 

Sickirast   Securest. 

Simpliciter    Simply.

Sinistrows    Misleading.

Sklaitts    Slates.

Sorner    Someone who stays in your house & eats your food without contributing. (Scrounger is what we’d use but sorning was considered a crime.)

Soverty    Surety.

Spoliated    Plundered / robbed. 

Stagnum    A yare or wear in a river. 

Staincros    Stone cross.  

Standande Stane    Standing stone. 

Sture    Conflict.

Subscriving    Signing.

Symmer    Summer. 

Targe    Shield.

Teinds   Rent from land that maintained the local clergy. 

Tergiversation    Equivocation. 

Thairanent   Thereabouts. 

Therof / þerof   Thereof.

Thesaur / Thesaurer     Treasure / Treasurer.

Tinsell    Loss.

Toucher / Tocher    Dowrie.

Traist    Trust.

Trewes    Truce.

Trims    Dresses.

Trump(e)ry    Deceit. 

Toures    Towers.

Traist    Trust. 

Trigild    The penalty / fine for destroying trees. 

Tulʒie, Tulyie    Skirmish.

Turbae / Turbaria    Turfs, a place from which turf for fuel is cut. 

Twichit / Tuich   Touched / touch. 

Umquhill   Deceased. 

Utwere    Foreign war? 

Veschell    Vessel / utensil. 

Viands    Food / Edibles. 

Vilepend    Express contempt.

Violaris    Viol players / instrumentalists. 

Vyne/Wyne    Wine. 

Vynter    Winter. 

Waccand    Vacant.

Waickand   Alert. 

Waiked / Waulked   Thumped. 

Waxes    Says a lot.

Weill   Wellbeing / veal (context required). 

Wes   Was. 

Whilom   Previously. / Formerly.

Wictuall(s)    Victuals. / Food. / Provisions.

Widdershins   Anti-clockwise. 

Wodset / Wadset   To give / pledge in security, specifically a mortgage (land or other heritable property).

Wotting    Voting.

Wounted    Usual.

Wpoun   Upon. 

Wsse    Use.

Wther   Other.

Wtherwayes    Otherwise.

Ye / þe   The.

Yklept    Previously named. 

Yis   Ice. 

Zeir(e) / ʒeir(e)   Year. 

Zow / ʒow   You.

For anyone interested, I direct you to the  online Dictionary of the Scots Language.

For ‘Balfour’s Historical Works’, the original transcript (rather than the updated) mentions dates often as being the “(no.) of the ides of (month)”, or the “(no.) of the kalends of (month)”, and “(no.) of the nons of (month)”. I initially took as read the date was the (no.) of the (month) but I quickly found I was wrong. If you come across a date mentioned in this way, to obtain the correct date referred to please visit a Medieval English Calendar, it’s a super handy site for this purpose.

For further information of any Acts of Parliament mentioned in ‘Balfour’s Historical Works’, or elsewhere in Random Scottish History, that interest you I recommend the University of St. Andrews’ Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707.