Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: Scotiae  
Pagination: 26-27
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Translation of text:

Again for civil administration [p.26] the Regions are divided into Prefectures, Corporations, or Viscounties, which they call Sheriffdoms; Seneschalsies, in the vernacular Stewartries; and Bailiwicks or Bailieries.

ìEdinburgh            ü ìAberdeen                        ü

| Berwick            |  | Inverness                        |

| Roxburgh            |  | Nairn                        |

| Selkirk            |  | Orkney                        |

| Peebles            |  | Banff                        |

| Dumfries            |  | Kirkcudbright            |

Viscounties            | Ayr                        |  | Wigtown                        |

   or Sherrif-            {Renfrew            } { Tarbert                        }

   domes            | Clackmannan |  | Bute                        |

| Kinross            |  | Linlithgow                        |

| Perth                        |  | Stirling                        |

| Cromarty            |  | Lanark                        |

| Fife                        |  | Argyll                        |

| Forfar            |  | Dunbarton                        |

îKincardine            þ  îElgin and Forres            þ

Seneschalsies or            ìMenteith            ìAnnandale

   Stewartries                        {Strathearn            {Fife

îKirkcudbright îGalloway


Bailiwicks or Bailieries            {Carrick



Constabulary            Haddington

As for the administration of that divine state which we call the Church, as the Bishops  of the rest of the world did not have fixed dioceses until the Roman Pontiff Dionysius about the year 268 assigned dioceses to Bishops, so the Bishops of the Scots discharged their episcopal duties in whatever place they were without distinction, down to the time of Malcolm III, i.e. about the year of grace 1070, when dioceses were drawn up with limits and boundaries.

Later with the passage of time this hierarchy was settled in Scotland. There are two Archbishops, of St Andrews and Glasgow, of whom the former is considered Primate of all Scotland, under whose authority are eight Bishoprics:

ìDunkeld            ìBrechin

{ Aberdeen            { Ross

| Moray            | Caithness

îDunblane            îOrkney

Under the Archbishop of Glasgow there are only three,


{ Lismore

îThe Isles

But now with the ejection of Bishops the government of the Church procedes differently, as we shall describe later.




Scottish society consists of King, Nobles, and People.

The KING, to quote from their own sacred papers, ‘is direct Lord of the whole Lordship’, and has royal authority and jurisdiction over all the classes of his kingdom, both ecclesiastical and lay.

Next to the King is his first-born son, who is called PRINCE  OF  SCOTLAND,  and is in his own right Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Ross, Baron of the Barony of Renfrew, and Steward of Scotland. The remaining children of the King are entitled simply Princes.

Among the Nobles the most ample and honoured were formerly the Thanes, that is, those who (if I understand it correctly) were ennobled solely from the duty which they performed. For the word in the ancient Anglo-Saxon tongue denotes ‘Royal Servant’. Of these the higher were called Ab-thanes, and the lower Under-thanes. But these names slowly became obsolete, after King Malcolm III bestowed the titles of Earls and Barons, brought from England by the Normans, on well-deserving nobles. Later in the course of time new titles of honour gained strength, and Scotland has just as England its Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons; the first to bring the title of Duke into Scotland was Robert III about the year of grace 1400, as within living memory James VI brought the honourable titles of Marquess and Viscount. These are classed as greater Nobles, and have a seat and vote in Parliamentary assemblies, and they are designated by their own appellation of Lords, as also are Bishops.

Among the lesser Nobles are in the first place Knights, who are created with an oath being taken, with certainly more notable solemnity than elsewhere in Europe, and are announced by the public voice of the heraldic college [?]. Secondly there are those who are simply called in the vernacular Lairds and Barons; among them formerly none were classed except those who held lands immediately from the King in chief and had the right of forks[?]. Thirdly those who are are born of the more famous families and are designated with no fixed honour are called Gentlemen. All other citizens in general, merchants, artisans, etc., are numbered among the people.




First and chief both in dignity and in power is considered the Assembly of the Estates of the Kingdom, which is called by the same name as among the English ‘Parliament’, and has the same absolute authority. It consists of a threefold classification: from the Lords Spiritual, scil. the Bishops, Abbots and Priors; from the Lords Temporal, scil. Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, Barons, and Delegates from Cities and Burghs. To these were added not long ago two Delegates also for each County. It is proclaimed at will by the King, with a fixed time appointed before it is held: when they have met, and the reasons for the meeting have been explained by the King and the Chancellor, the Lords Spiritual by themselves select eight from the Lords Temporal, the Lords Temporal likewise eight from the Lords Spiritual. Then all these together nominate eight from the Delegates of the Counties and the same number from the Delegates of the Burghs. These make up the number of 32 and are called the Lords of the Articles; along with the Chancellor, Treasurer, Keeper of the Privy Seal, Royal Secretary, etc. they admit or reject the individual proposals to be referred to the Estates, previously communicated to the King. Those admitted are carefully examined by the whole Assembly of the Estates, and those which are approved according to the number of votes are shown to the King; by movement of his sceptre he announces that he confirms or annuls; but if anything displeases the King, it is first deleted.

Craig book 1. If one whole estate opposes any decree, it will remain invalid.

In the Assemblies of Scotland (says King James VI in his third speech) no-one may speak without leave of the Chancellor, whose duty it also is to interrupt the seditious or irrelevant.

The same. The practice of the Assemblies in Scotland, believe me, is not at all populist. Twenty days before the Assemblies, it is announced to everyone at large that they should by a certain day display in writing to the royal record-keeper (whom you call Master of the Rolls) the questions to be ventilated at the coming assembly. The King examines these in private, and passes those which he approves to his Chancellor to be proposed in the Assemblies, the rest being suppressed. And if anyone brings any other matter before the Estates, he is immediately advised by the Chancellor, that no question of this kind has been approved by the King. Next laws passed by the Estates on these matters are displayed to the King. He, clearly visible with the sceptre which is held out by the Chancellor, must say, ‘I have ratified whatever has been done in these assemblies.’ For if anything displeases the King, that is accustomed to be previously brought forward and deleted.

In the year 1560 Bishops were ejected from Scotland, but recalled in 1606 in the Parliament at Perth, by James VI. But now they have again been ejected in 1637. Though that estate has been at this time removed, nonetheless Parliament consists of three divisions.

The first division of Parliament is made up of the Dukes, Marquesses, Earls and greater Barons, who individually, all of them that exist in all Scotland and are present there, have a vote.

The second division is made up of the lesser Barons, the Lairds, two elected in each region from all, which two have one vote. If these two differ among themselves and cannot agree, their vote falls and is disregarded.

The third division of Parliament are the Burgesses or Delegates of the citizens, two from the city of Edinburgh, one from each other city. Each month, at the discretion of the places, they can send another Delegate.

Parliament is still proclaimed at will by the King, through precepts from the Royal Chancery to this effect sent by its Director to the individual Lords of Parliament and its remaining divisions, and that at a predefined fixed time, to give their votes. However the King has given Parliament, at the last meeting, by Act of Parliament, the freedom of meeting at its own desire once in three years and of deliberating on matters regarding the state. The last Parliament was proclaimed in this way.

Whenever necessity requires that the estates meet in a shorter time, and then only, letters are written by the Clerk of the Privy Council to each division of Parliament, to be present within the space of 15 days, because all from the north or beyond the Dee cannot be present more quickly because of the length of their journey, and then they remain for a few days in Edinburgh; but they cannot pass any Acts of Parliament.

Decisions are made in Parliament on peace and war, on moneys, forfeiture, taxations and burdens, and other matters concerning the public state of the Kingdom.

I have judged it not irrelevant to describe in a little more detail the order and ceremony of entering Parliament. They all meet in the capital city,

  [Continuation of text]

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