The textual tradition of Stair’s Institutions, with reference to the title 'Of Liberty and Servitude'

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Abstract

This article examines the textual tradition of Stair's Institutions of the Law of Scotland with particular reference to his title "Of Liberty and Servitude". It first catalogues the manuscript copies of Stair's Institutions known to be held in Scottish libraries. The article thereafter examines the nature of the manuscript tradition, taking account of scribal practice and the circulation of manuscript texts in the seventeenth century. It then shows that variant readings of the text of "Of Liberty and Servitude" present in the extant manuscripts reveal, among other things, that those manuscripts' texts probably belong to five family groups. This has significance for reconstructing from the manuscript sources the wording of Stair' earliest text.- variant readings of the text present in manuscripts from only one family were probably introduced in their most recent common ancestor,
and so may not reflect the text as written by Stair. The article then examines the extent to which the six printed editions of the Institutions reliably reflect Stair's wording. Appendix I tries to recover the wording of Stair's authorial holograph, sets out the variant readings of the text of "Of Liberty and Servitude" present in the manuscripts and printed editions, and comments on the evolution of the text and the implications of the changes made to it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMiscellany Seven
EditorsHector L MacQueen
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherStair Society
Pages1-124
Number of pages124
Volume62
ISBN (Print)9781872517292
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

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