Scottish wills online / Schottische Testament im Internet

There is a basically genealogical site online, Scottish Documents, with copies of Scottish wills up to 1900 and a search service for others you can order. The site shows some wills in the original form, as graphics.

There is a glossary of unfamiliar words – here is an excerpt:

bq. Abuilyements [of one’s body]: clothing, or garments
Act: formal decision
addettit: indebted to, owing
air: heir
alienate: sell
aliment: a maintenance
allenarly: only, solely or exclusively
anent: concerning
annalzie: alienate, or sell
annualrent : interest on a loan, paid annually
apparent heir: not the person who “appears” to be heir to landed property, but the heir who has already succeeded to it
appraisement: valuation
articles of roup: the conditions under which the property was to be auctioned
auchtand: owing
Availl: worth, or monetary value
awand: owing

The FAQs also provide definitions, for instance of will, testament (‘testament’ has more to do with probate than wills), testament testamentar, testament dative, eik (apparently a codicil) and more.

I had hoped to see a holograph will (handschriftliches Testament) but didn’t happen on one. There are wills of famous people, so I looked for Robert Louis Stevenson, who died in Samoa at the age of 44 of tuberculosis. Henry James was one of his executors, but did not act.

bq. That the said Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson Advocate of the Scots Bar died at Vailima in the Island of Upolu, Samoa upon the third day of December Eighteen hundred and Ninety four a British Subject whose domicile of Origin was Scotch and whose Will is Valid by Scotch Law, his domicile at death being doubtful That the Deponent is Executor nominated by him along with Henry James Novelist London, (who declined to act) in his Last Will and Testament executed by him in September Eighteen hundred and ninety three …

(I like the use of ‘Scotch’ here, which is of course a perfectly good word – but then it made me want a Scotch egg, and in order to make one of those I would have to prematurely slaughter a couple of Thuringian sausages, which would be going too far).

(Thanks to Rainer Langenhan of Handakte WebLAWg for a tip-off by email).

6 thoughts on “Scottish wills online / Schottische Testament im Internet

  1. I wouldn’t use the word probate in connection with ‘Scotch’ Wills or testaments if I were you.

    A Glasgow trans. agency run by para-legals once gave me an earful: it’s called ‘confirmation’ in Scotland – quite different from the Eng. process of a testator/testatrix confirming his/her own signature on a Will under the Eng. Wills Acts 1837 and 1963.

    I was unaware Delia Smith, like Stephen Fry(-Up) a Norwich FC ‘Canaries’ supporter in South-East England, had Scottish culinary roots.

  2. I did not wish to give Delia Smith so much credit, but I wanted a photograph for any non-British readers, and I slightly preferred hers. I know about her football allegiance, but I did not know she was Scottish either, but you always have these little snippets.

    Now about the testament – let me put it differently (since you’re not me): in one meaning, testament confirms the executor(s), just as probate does in England. Sorry to be so sloppy. If any Scots don’t like that, I shall set my own Scottish half of the family on them, at least those who weren’t slaughtered by the McNabs in the 17th or 18th century.

  3. I was just being facetious about Delia. My point was a trivial one: how can a Sassenach provide an authentic recipe for a Scotch egg?

    In the same vein, I’m always bemused seeing Cockney Naked Chef, ‘Sir’ Jamie Oliver, on TV dishing up complicated Italian recipes. I suppose it shouldn’t grate (like his cheesy grin), as he used to be apprenticed to an Italian restaurant.

  4. I am really not Delia’s greatest fan. Her recipes are far too fussy. But I’m disgusted to say my reaction is based just as much on how she looks and talks (hyper-correction – ‘often’ pronounced with a T in the middle). As for Jamie Oliver, I think all my objections are superficial. He seems to put on fake Cockney, but that’s de rigueur nowadays, isn’t it? I actually think his cookbooks are rather interesting, although I have never bought one – didn’t want to be seen with it (I must be getting really old and stuffy). I understand he’s going down well in Austria. Presumably he’s on German TV too, but goodness knows where.

  5. Thanks for the culinary info.
    Maybe my grated-cheese gag wasn’t that obvious, after all.
    Jamie can be taken out of his German-dubbed persona and back into his fake Cockney accent on certain cable TV channels.
    I hear Cockney is or also used to be fashionable at Eton & Harrow public schools as well as with English accountants. We’ll leave lawyers with gor-blimey accents for now.

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