INFORMATION SHEET No. 9
Barony & Pit and Gallows
A Barony was an area of land, (not necessarily together in one place) granted by the Crown to a Tenant to be held 'in liberam baroniam' which became a unit in administration and law.
The holder or Baron had power to hold courts which dealt with civil and criminal cases of less than major importance. (The crimes reserved for royal courts were murder, rape, robbery with violence, fireraising and treason.) The crime had to have been committed within the barony or concerned its people or property. There was no uniformity of size of baronies. Baron was not a peerage title in Scotland as it was in England, but he held his land direct from the King or Queen. After c1700 the emphasis was on administration, a good neighbourhood and economic and other rules for the benefit of those living within the Barony. In 1747 the criminal jurisdiction of a Baron Court was much restricted. In the days before County or District Councils the Barony was largely a self governing community. There was an appeal to the Sheriff and the Central Courts.
Pit and Gallows.This phrase described the jurisdiction of a Baron in criminal cases. The pit was the drowning pool for women and the gallows for the men. The location of the Foulis Barony pit and gallows are not known.