Compiling the Scottish 'Practick' : the method of Morison's Dictionary

Wilson, Adelyn L. M. (2023) Compiling the Scottish 'Practick' : the method of Morison's Dictionary. The Journal of Legal History, 44 (2). pp. 159-189. ISSN 1744-0564 (

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Morison’s Dictionary is a nineteenth-century compilation of the earliest Scottish case reports, drawn from various manuscript and printed collections known collectively as the ‘practicks’. Although the Dictionary has been used widely since its publication, there has been little consideration of Morison’s method of compilation beyond some early criticisms levied by his contemporaneous indexer. This article reconstructs Morison’s method when compiling his Dictionary. It shows the extent of his use of the earlier Folio Dictionary to locate early-modern cases, particularly the volumes by Henry Home, Lord Kames. It also reveals his use of the manuscript traditions and printed editions of the practicks themselves, with reference to the collected decisions of Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington and the legal digests of Sir Robert Spottiswoode of Pentland and Sir James Balfour of Pittendreich. These examinations reveal both Morison’s method and its implications for how faithfully his Dictionary reflects the nature and content of the practicks included.