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Source 3: An Education Act, 1496

James was a well-educated and intelligent man. He was keen to improve the administration of justice across Scotland but this needed a supply of able men with a good knowledge and understanding of law. In 1496 Parliament passed an Education Act that required landowners to send their eldest sons to school from the ages of 8 or 9 so that they could receive a good education and progress on to study law.

Education Act, 13 June 1496

Item, it is statute and ordanit throw all the realme that all barronis and frehaldaris that ar of substance put thair eldest sonnis and airis to the sculis fra thai be aucht or nyne yeiris of age, and till remane at the grammer sculis quhill thai be competentlie foundit and have perfite Latyne, and thaireftir to remane thre yeris at the sculis of art and jure, sua that thai may have knawlege and understanding of the lawis, throw the quhilkis justice may reigne universalie throw all the realme, sua that thai that ar schireffis or jugeis ordinaris under the kingis hienes may have knawlege to do justice, that the pure pepill sulde have na need to seik oure soverane lordis principale auditouris for ilk small injure. And quhat baroune or frehaldar of substance that haldis nocht his sone at the sculis, as said is, haifand na lauchful essonze bot failyeis heirin, fra knawlege may be gotten thairof, he sall pay to the king the soume of xx l.

(Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.2, p.238 )


Item, it is decreed and ordained throughout the realm that all barons and freeholders who are wealthy put their eldest sons and heirs into school from the time they are eight or nine years old, and to remain at the grammar schools until they are competently instructed and have perfect Latin, and thereafter to remain three years at the schools of art and law, so that they may have knowledge and understanding of the laws, through which justice may reign universally throughout the realm, so that those who are sheriffs or judges ordinary under the king's highness will have the knowledge to do justice [and] that the poor people should have no need to seek our sovereign lord's principal auditors for each small injury. And any baron or freeholder of wealth whosoever who does not keep his son at school, as is said, with no lawful excuse but fails herein, from the information that can be had of it, he shall pay the king the sum of £20.

(Translation taken from Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707,



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