These statutes were made in the time of King Robert II.

Robert, by the grace of God king of Scots, to his sheriff and bailies of Aberdeen, greeting. Know that for the correction and speeding-up of law and justice, to the honour of God and the advantage and peace of the people, we have considered certain things should be decreed and sent to you and our other officers through the kingdom, commanding [and] firmly charging that you and they publicly proclaim them in your and their bailiaries. And both you and they and all and singular our lieges and subjects should observe them under all penalties which may be applicable by that cause; and as far as is in you and them, you and they should cause [them] to be observed inviolably by others; and you should release copies to any of them who asks, and let them [in turn] release them at their own cost without delay; the tenor of which very statute and ordinance follows in these words:

The general ordinance or statute made and agreed in the council of our lord the lord King Robert II held at the monastery of Holyrood of Edinburgh in the month of November in the fourteenth year of his reign, with the common counsel and consent of the three communities assembled in the same place, so to speak at a general council.

First, our aforesaid lord king, wishing to rule according to God, and to guide judicial process and the laws of his kingdom justly and for the best, by the advice of his council, has obliged and submitted himself and with a willing spirit has undertaken that he will promptly and duly reform and repair all and singular things which shall have been committed by him, if he should commit any acts negligently, which God forbid, knowingly or in another way, against law, for any party complaining concerning him in his council, according to the way it seems to his council it ought to be repaired and reformed, the merits and circumstances of the deed committed having been heard and considered by his council.

Item, because our lord king himself is unable on each occasion to be attentive continually to the execution of justice and the law of his kingdom in person, he has desired, granted and ordained by the counsel and ordinance of his council that his firstborn son and heir the lord [John Stewart], earl of Carrick, should cause execution of common justice throughout the realm, for all who have suffered troubles or injuries at the hands of all and singular persons offending against law, either personally or by persons to be deputed by him, for whom the same earl shall be held to answer to the king and council.

Also, the justiciars,6 sheriffs, chamberlain, provosts and bailies, and the other officers of the king appointed and to be appointed by the king himself in execution of law, shall submit, answer, obey and be attentive to this lord earl, as to the person immediately appointed for this under the king, as far as concerns the execution of their offices to which they are personally sworn. And therefore all the aforesaid three communities have bound themselves, expressly undertaking in the same place, that, in the case that the same lord earl should happen to incur the king's displeasure in making the aforementioned execution, or in the case that any resistance or rebellion shall be made against him by anyone within the realm, with their counsel and help they will strengthen, support and assist him in settling the the king's displeasure and in the repressing of this resistance or rebellion, at the request and command of the said earl, according as shall be opportune or convenient to each of them for the time, or having considered the nearness and distance of the places, and according to the nature of the business to be done.

And because offences and enormous crimes have been habitually done against law for no little time, and have passed by for the most part unpunished, as, on the part of [....]8

[...]10it shall be, he shall undergo the penalty decreed by law. If, indeed, he who has confessed that he is warranty has not compered on that day, and is not a fugitive, he shall be taken by the king's officers and punished as thought convicted of theft. If, however, he shall be a fugitive, he shall at once be at the king's horn for failure to compear. And anyone who shall receive him henceforth shall be in law as subject to penalty as the exile, and the receiver will undergo the penalty that an exile ought to suffer. On the other hand, if he denies that he is warrant, he should find sufficient pledge for the sheriff that he will compear personally in his presence in his court, which [the sheriff] shall cause to be done to him without delay, and he will stand to law and judicial examination according to the declaration of the assise. And if he shall be convicted, justice shall be done to him as to an attainted robber.

Moreover, when anyone accused of any criminal cause takes himself from one sheriffdom to another, the sheriff in whose sheriffdom he will dwell shall direct his letter to the other sheriff notifying him of such a malefactor, and that other sheriff shall cause him to be cited by his sergeant, with witnesses, that he should compear in the sheriffdom of the other sheriff at a certain assigned day to stand to the declaration of the assise; [and] that if he does not do so, on completion of the term, he shall be captured by the king's officers and punished as if convicted of a criminal cause. And if he is a fugitive, he will be an exile at the horn, and wherever he is found he will be punished by the penalty decreed by law.

But if anyone mutilates, wounds or beats another from forethought malice and the party harmed wishes to prosecute him concerning this in presence of a judge, either by suit or complaint, then it will be done, and such a process conducted against such a person should proceed as is ordained above concerning homicide until he shall come to the peremptory day, on which day he shall suffer an assise; and if he is convicted concerning this by him, he will be redeemed by the judge and will make satisfaction to the party harmed according to the discretion of the judge. And if he is not prosecuted, he will be indicted of the deed and will compear in the presence of the justiciar holding his justice ayre, and then suffer an assise without delays and essonzies, and if he is convicted he will redeem his life and make satisfaction to the complaining party, as above.

It is also decreed and ordained that no one shall travel through the country in any part of the kingdom in the manner of a cateran, and any persons who shall travel as caterans, feeding on the country and consuming the goods of the earldoms and taking goods and victual by force and violence, unless they shall pay or some have been willing to give to them of their own free will, the king mandates and commands his faithful people that these caterans pillaging in such a way should be arrested, and carried to his officers, to whom he also commands that justice be done to them immediately as to exiles. And if they are unwilling to be arrested, and are perchance killed in resisting, such killers will be thoroughly unpunished and immune from charge. And any lord in the kingdom in whose lordship or protectorate such caterans exist, dwelling or wandering, shall apply all his diligent efforts towards causing them to be arrested, and immediately shall do justice concerning them, as is said.

And if it happens that the king or the person having power of governing the law under the king shall have suspicion of another lord, or if a complaint should be made to him about the same that he has not done his diligence concerning this as is said, the king or the aforementioned person having power will call that lord to his presence for compearing in his presence at a certain place and time, and he shall suffer an assise there, and, if convicted, he shall be deprived from office, if he holds one from the king, for the term of this statute, with the censure that applies.

In addition, in correction of the law, the lord earl of Fife, voluntarily and for the advantage of the country which he controls as head of the law of Clan MacDuff, granted and promised that he will protect the present statute and ordinance and cause it to be protected in all its respects within his limits through the term ordained, protesting for the freedom of his right, namely, since this was done freely and on account of the common good, as was said before, it should not turn out to his prejudice nor prejudice the said law in future.

In a similar way and for the same reason, Archibald [Douglas], lord of Galloway, granted and promised to the laying aside of all such delays, exceptions, defects and essonzies which are in the habit of being done, and to accelerating justice in his lordship of Galloway, as was said before, for the term of this statute, reserving other points of Galwegian law to himself, protesting for the freedom of his right and the said law, as above.

And in all and singular the aforenamed points concerning the offices of justiciars, sheriffs and other officers, these officers will stand before the king's accusation or of the person having power from the king, and each will suffer an assise in his presence concerning the execution of their offices in relation to the aforesaid points as often as he has any suspicion of any of them or a complaint has been made to him. And if he is convicted by assise, he will be deprived of his office for the term of the statute, and with this he shall sustain the penalty to be inflicted on him by the king, or the person having his power, and the council, according to the size and nature of the offence.

It is indeed finally unanimously decreed, ordained and agreed that all and singular the things written above should be extended to regalities and liberties, both ecclesiastical and otherwise, and they should be observed equally in all respects. And that concerning this those having such regalities and liberties will be at the accusation of the king, or of the person having his power, as often as is already said of others, as above. And if they are found culpable in this, they shall be deprived of their liberties and courts for the term of this statute.

And the king in his council bound himself on the royal word faithfully to protect and fully implement all and singular these things, as far as pertained to him. And the lord [John Stewart,] earl of Carrick, as the person established in the same place by the king for the execution of the foregoing, as far as pertains to him, performed his oath personally, touching the Holy Gospels. And furthermore all and singular the prelates, procurators of prelates and others from the clergy, earls and barons, and the burgesses who were present in the said council, personally performed their oaths, touching the Holy Gospels, in presence of the king himself and in full council, for protecting all and singular of the foregoing as far as they are able, and for maintaining, strengthening and supporting the said lord earl of Carrick, appointed under the king to the government of the law and fulfilling of justice, by the ways in which it is written.

And for the evidence of all the foregoing, our lord the king has commanded in the same place that his letters patent be made concerning the present statute and ordinance, to endure through three years from the composition of the presents, and commanded his seal to be appended to them. Therefore since it is not possible for these writings to be made for each sheriff as speedily as might, perhaps, be expedient, in order that the dangers be avoided which arise from an absence of a swift proclamation of the statute (which may truly threaten in various instances), we order you, firmly commanding that, in addition to those things which we have ordered you to do above, keeping the present letters by you, having caused proclamation in your bailiary, you by no means omit to send a copy of the same to the sheriff and his bailies of Banff nearest to you. Enacted and given at the place, month and year aforesaid, etc.

  1. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v. For further comment on this MS, see untranslated text.
  2. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  3. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  4. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  5. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  6. May be singular or plural.
  7. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  8. End of folio. The subsequent folio, which will have contained the remainder of this act, has been lost along with all the other acts contained on that folio.
  9. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  10. The act begins mid-sentence, following the lost folio.
  11. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  12. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  13. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  14. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  15. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  16. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  17. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  18. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  19. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.
  20. NAS, Haddington MS, PA5/5, f. 10r-12v.