Our latest publication: Scottish Formularies

Professor Archie Duncan receiving 'Scottish Formularies' at a presentation at Glasgow University (Image: Mark Godfrey)

The Society's latest publication is Scottish Formularies, edited by Professor A A M Duncan. The title of this collection indicates a different substance than the title of the first study of them, Lord Cooper's Register of Brieves, 1286-1386 (Stair Society, vol 10, 1946), prepared in wartime when access to records and manuscripts was severely limited.

There are many brieves in the present collection the styles of which (and the accounts given of them in such treatises as Regiam Majestatem and Quoniam Attachiamenta) are amply borne out as practical realities by other sources, mostly of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. But there are also many texts which would have little, some no, relevance to any action at law.

The formularies are as much a political as a legal register, from a period when parliamentary acts were to acquire the force of statutes and gradually to displace the auld laws. The six manuscripts from which the formulary parts are edited here range in date from the fourteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. They are a rich source for the socio-economic and political as much as the legal history of Scotland, throwing invaluable light on the mechanisms of diplomacy and trade.

To Professor Duncan's introductory matter and annotations is added a short but specifically legal commentary by the Society's Literary Director, to provide further context for the formularies as a whole, and to expand upon their significance as a source for the legal history of Scotland.


A presentation of 'Scottish Formularies' to Professor Duncan was made on 26 October 2011 by the Society's Literary Director, Hector MacQueen. The occasion took place at the home of Scottish history in Glasgow University, 9 University Gardens, through the courtesy of Professor Duncan's successor in the chair, Professor Dauvit Broun, facilitated by Dr Elsa Hamilton. There is a large gathering of family and friends. More photos by Mark Godfrey are available on the Stair Society's Facebook pages.